The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXXVI)

I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.

This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.

I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:

1975-1979

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter. Nice contained little thriller. Very memorable. You’ve heard of this one. It’s one of Carpenter’s best.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Hilarious movie. One of the great sports movies and great comedies. An alcoholic former ballplayer coaches a bunch of misfit kids. An all-time classic. I am wary of the person who deliberately avoids seeing this movie.

Bound for Glory (1976)

The fifth Best Picture nominee opposite Rocky, All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver. (No, seriously.) It’s a biopic of Woody Guthrie starring David Carradine. Won an Oscar for Cinematography, considered one of the most gorgeously shot films of all time.

Bugsy Malone (1976)

There’s no proper way to explain this movie. You’re either gonna get it or you won’t. This was already going to be a novelty because of the conceit, but then there’s this whole other factor on top of it that makes it doubly weird.

Okay — it’s a 30s gangster movie… starring children. They wrote a gangster movie and then decided, “Let’s have the entire cast be kids.” And when they gun each other down, the guns shoot frosting.Scott Baio is Bugsy Malone and Jodie Foster plays the gangster’s moll. The kid who plays the main antagonist is terrific. It’s a really bizarre movie. But what makes it really weird is the fact that Paul Williams, who did the music (oh, did I mention — it’s a musical), through some sort of miscommunication, recorded his and other adults’ voices for all the songs. So when the kids sing, adults voices come out. It’s so weird. But it’s amazing. Oh, and I guess I should also mention that this movie was directed by Alan Parker, who followed this movie with Midnight Express. As you do. It’s one of those movies that’s so unique in the history of film that you almost have to see it. But trust me when I say — you’re either gonna get this or you won’t. It’s kind of like Rocky Horror. Either you completely get it or you will never have any idea what all the fuss is.

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)

What a forgotten film. Even the title. You see this and you’re like, “Okay.” But listen to this: it stars James Caan and Elliot Gould as small time con men. They get thrown in jail with Michael Caine, a big time bank robber. Caine is planning a big time job when he’s out, and Caan and Gould manage to steal the plans and escape…. on the day Caine gets paroled. So the rest of the film is the two sides trying to rob the bank first. Oh, and the movie also stars Diane Keaton, Charles Durning, Burt Young and Lesley Ann Warren. Almost nobody remembers this movie. This is a real hidden gem for you.

The Last Tycoon (1976)

Elia Kazan’s final film. Based on (coincidentally) F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel (which was unfinished). It’s about a movie producer working himself to death. Stars Robert De Niro. Also in it are Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum, Jack Nicholson, Jeanne Moreau, Donald Pleasance, Ray Milland, Dana Andrews, John Carradine, Jeff Corey, Seymour Cassel and Anjelica Huston. Oh, and Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay. Maybe see it. By now, you should realize that when you see a bunch of names like that around a film, there’s a very high chance it’ll be worthwhile.

Logan’s Run (1976)

Pretty famous movie. Futuristic society where everyone over the age of 30 is killed. Naturally our main character doesn’t want that to happen. Stars Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Also has Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov in it. Good stuff. Classic sci fi.

The Shootist (1976)

John Wayne’s last movie. It’s essential. He plays a dying gunfighter who wants to die with dignity. It’s incredible. Jimmy Stewart is also in this, as are Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, Harry Morgan, John Carradine and Scatman Crothers. Great movie. You need to see this one if you haven’t.

Silent Movie (1976)

Mel Brooks made a silent movie. It’s really funny. Everyone always knows this for the one joke of who speaks the only line in the movie. It’s funny, though. You can never go wrong with Mel Brooks. Loaded with cameos. Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, Sid Caesar, Harold Gould and Bernadette Peters play actual characters (though basically themselves), and then also showing up in this are Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds and James Caan. I love that, coming off of Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, he says “let’s make a silent movie.” That’s awesome.

Silver Streak (1976)

What an underrated comedy. This is actually almost a comedy version of a noir from the 50s. Or a Hitchcock movie. The entire movie takes place on a train voyage. Gene Wilder is a regular guy who gets caught up in a bunch of crazy shit. Richard Pryor and Jill Clayburgh also star. Ned Beatty is also in this, and is great. Patrick McGoohan, Clifton Games, Scatman Crothers, Fred Willard and Richard Kiel (Jaws!) are also in it. GREAT action comedy that should not be missed.

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

Classic war movie. Richard Attenborough directs. It’s about Operation Market-Garden, for World War II buffs. Basically a failed attempt to capture some German bridges. This movie stars everyone. Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neal, Gene Hackman, Dirk Borgarde, Edward Fox, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan, Maximilian Schell, Liv Ullmann, Elliott Gould, Denholm Elliott, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, John Ratzenberger even! It’s a badass movie. You gotta see this big, ensemble war movies.

The Choirboys (1977)

Nice little 70s hidden gem. Robert Aldrich directs. It’s about a bunch of cups who decide to blow off steam at night by having “choir practice” — which basically means they all get together and get shitfaced at night. And they do a lot of crazy shit. It’s almost like MASH but with cops. Stars Charles Durning, Lou Gossett Jr., Randy Quaid, James Woods, Burt Young. I really enjoyed this one.

Eraserhead (1977)

I guess you can call this essential. But I’m okay with it not being on the original list. If we move the 500 to 1000 films, then I’d put this on there. It’s not even a movie I can explain. It’s just an experience. David Lynch is one of those directors where, even if you don’t understand what the hell his movies are about, you can still really enjoy the experience.

High Anxiety (1977)

Mel Brooks again. Doing Hitchcock. Great stuff. Just see it. Mel Brooks parodying a genre is always something you should see. Oh, and Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman are in this too. See it. It’s great. One of his best.

Julia (1977)

A Best Picture nominee this year. Actually really compelling. About Lillian Hellman, the playwright who wrote The Children’s Hour, Watch on the Rhine and The Little Foxes, who gets a message from an old friend named Julia who is now fighting the Nazis, asking for help smuggling money into Nazi Germany. It’s almost like The Third Man, in that sense. Mysterious message from a friend you haven’t heard from in years who tells you they need your help. Except here, it’s more of a drama and a thriller. Jane Fonda stars as Hellman, Vanessa Redgrave is Julia. She won Best Supporting Actress for this. Jason Robards won Best Supporting Actor for this as well. He plays Dashiell Hammett. And Maximilian Schell is also in this and was also nominated for Supporting Actor. Meryl Streep and Hal Holbrook also appear. It’s a good movie. Some tense sequences as Hellman smuggles the money. It’s a strong film. Definitely one of the underrated great films of the 70s.

The Late Show (1977)

Hidden gem. Robert Benton wrote and directed this. It’s a neo-noir. Art Carney is a retired PI who has to figure out who murdered his partner. Lily Tomlin costars. Really good movie. This is one of those 70s hidden gems that everyone talks about as a hidden gem. But it still isn’t

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

Diane Keaton won Best Actress for Annie Hall, a more memorable and more iconic performance, but this performance is also part of the backbone of that victory. She had a hell of a year. This performance is something else. She plays a kindergarten teacher who goes out at night, looking for dangerous men to have sex with. The idea is that she’s this prim and proper teacher by day, and goes out with really abusive men at night. She’s really good here. Written and directed by Richard Brooks and also has great supporting performances by Richard Gere and Tuesday Weld. Also, William Atherton, Tom Berenger and LeVar Burton are in it.

New York, New York (1977)

Do people even know that the song was actually from this movie? Yes, the Sinatra song they play when the Yankees win. It was originally Liza Minnelli’s song. And it was actually written for this movie. A Martin Scorsese movie. He followed up Taxi Driver with this, a big budget musical meant to evoke the 30s, though it’s Scorsese, so it’s really dark. Definitely not a proper genre for Scorsese. But the movie is good. Robert De Niro is a saxophonist and Liza Minnelli is a singer, and we follow their romance. It’s really good, just — well, you’ll see. The climactic performance of the song is something else.

Slap Shot (1977)

One of the great sports movies of all time. Paul Newman. George Roy Hill. A hockey team isn’t doing well, so they decide to start beating the shit out of their opponents. A hilarious movie. It also has Strother Martin in it!

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Classic comedy. Essential film for all. Burt Reynolds is the Bandit, who has to move a bunch of beer across state lines, while being hunted by Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason, the man). And we throw in Sally Field for good measure. Great movie, great car chases. Became its own franchise. Was anybody cooler than Burt Reynolds in the 70s?

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