1977 Movie Review: TENTACLES, 1977

Movie Reviews

Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis

Stars: John Huston, Shelley Winters and Bo Hopkins 


Several people disappear from and at the sea. Their bodies are found gnawed to the skeleton, even the marrow is missing…


It’s pretty rancid, although it’s the perfect party picture to screen in the background as your guests get suitably soused.

June 16, 2015 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

A Jaw’s rip-off.

May 8, 2010 | Rating: C | Full Review…


December 18, 2007 | Rating: 1/5

John Huston and Shelley Winters in a clunky monster movie? Even the Octopus is up in arms.

August 1, 2005 | Rating: 0/5



1977 Movie Review: STROSZEK, 1977


Movie Reviews

Directed by Werner Herzog
Starring: Bruno S., Eva Mattes, Clemens Scheitz, Wilhelm von Homburg, Burkhard Driest, Clayton Szalpinski
Review by Jordan Young


In Berlin, an alcoholic man, recently released from prison, joins his elderly friend and a prostitute in a determined dream to leave Germany and seek a better life in Wisconsin.


Herzog continues to blow minds of the viewer’s of 1977’s Stroszek. This film depicts three pariah’s in their native Berlin, and their overseas quest to find happiness in Plainfield, Wisconsin. The pariah’s include a prostitute (Eva), a ex-con alcoholic (the titular character Bruno Stroszek) and an old, reclusive, brittle Scheitz.

Roger Ebert wrote that this film is “one of the oddest films evermade.” This is because of it’s seemingly non sequitur segments,jarring examples of music, and it’s drastic setting changes. Not to mention that this is almost cinema en plein air, meaning this entire film is comprised of found people and places that add dramatically to the overall feel of the movie.

Bruno himself was a street musician, found by Herzog, Bruno was also a diagnosed schizophrenic… which apparently added to his troubled character due to his magnificent performance. I found myself however, sympathizing with the character of Eva much more in the beginning. She goes through some pretty miserable times, but then seems to adjust rather well to American life.

Bruno and his pack of friends quickly realize that the American dream, is just that… a dream. This reality arrives to them at the exact same time that the banker starts pestering them about their mortgage payments. This banker again was found by Herzog, but his character is just miserly enough, to make any viewer want to punch him in the face.

As Scott McCloud theorizes in Understanding Comics, no non sequitur is actually in fact a non sequitur. The fun part is about these scenes in Stroszek is, any meaning that you can create from these scenes, is the correct answer… it’s what you take from it. Therein lies, the genius of Herzog, the readers (or viewers) create their meaning. DON’T BELIEVE ANY CRITIC ABOUT THE CHICKEN SCENE! Let the chicken mean what you want it to mean. (You will know what I’m talking about.)

See this movie for Bruno’s magnificent performance, as he takes you off the beaten path of the typical character you have to love, and sets you up for his endearing depiction of a man trying to earnestly find happiness.

Very touching view of the struggles that we all go through. My belief is that Herzog tried to depict how utterly confounding life can be at any given point and time. Except where a mainstream director shows a tough life through a montage and a stereotypical song, Herzog shows a side of America we wish we could distance ourselves from. Keep in mind viewer, this is German Art House film. It will be a challenging, but extremely rewarding experience.


1977 Movie Review: STAR WARS, 1977

Movie Review
Directed by George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford
Review by Andrew Kosarko


As the adventure begins, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), an impulsive but goodhearted young man who lives on the dusty planet of Tatooine with his aunt and uncle, longs for the exciting life of a Rebel soldier. The Rebels, led by the headstrong Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), are fighting against the evil Empire, which has set about destroying planets inhabited by innocent citizens with the Death Star, a fearsome planetlike craft commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and the eternally frightful Darth Vader (David Prowse, with the voice of James Earl Jones). When Luke’s aunt and uncle are murdered by the Empire’s imperial stormtroopers and he mysteriously finds a distress message from Princess Leia in one of his androids, R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), he must set out to find Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), a mysterious old hermit with incredible powers. On his journey, Luke is aided by the roguish, sarcastic mercenary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his towering furry sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) as they run into a host of perilous situations while trying to rescue the princess–and the entire galaxy.


A long time ago, in a Hollywood far, far away…..George Lucas was an innovative film maker. Well, I’m a little shocked. I can’t believe this film series has been reviewed yet. So I’m doing it before anyone else beats me to the punch. I also think it’s kind of interesting seeing as I’m one of the few people to “review the first Star Wars Film” after the prequels have come out. So lets get into it, shall we?

The Story: The perfect depiction of “the heroes’ journey.” Anyone who has an interest in storytelling should study this film along with the ideals of the Heroes’ Journey. The structure is perfect. There’s never a boring moment, the story is always pushing forward and revealing more and more about our characters. Those characters are also, near perfect with defining attributes that you would never question their purpose of involvement. Luke Skywalker is at the start of his journey under the guidance of Obi-wan Kenobi. Accompanied by our outside eyes and ears, the druids of C3PO and R2D2, they join forced with the rugged pirate Han Solo and his furry side kick, Chewbacca. Not only does Lucas have excellent stories to tell, but he tells it in a masterful of ways. Chewbacca never speaks a word of English, nor has subtitles and yet we understand everything he’s saying by others’ retorts. Same with R2D2. Obi-wan is wise and mysterious, teaching without teaching. Han Solo, well, one of my favorite words in my reviews is “badass.” And there is no other word that can describe him. And last but not least, we have our strong heroin who is just as tough, if not stronger, than her farm boy brother. The real strength in this film is the story. Luke progresses from farm boy, to new adventurer to growing hero, to a savior of the rebellion. And of course, no one can forget the greatest villain of all time, Darth Vader. It just doesn’t get more evil and sinister than him.

Acting: In the documentary, “Empire of Dreams” which I would suggest to anyone after they’ve seen the Original Trilogy, Carrie Fisher speaks of George Lucas’ dialogue; “You can write this stuff but you can’t speak it.” Which is why the acting is so extraordinary in this film. It’s the same dialogue in the new prequels, but notice how it’s not hard to listen to when Luke or Leia speak it, opposed to Hayden Christianson.

Mark Hamill / Luke Skywalker – Now, Star Wars, in a sense, is “before my time.” I know absolutely nothing of Mark Hamill’s early work. All I know is he did a Christmas episode with the muppets and later went on to portray the voice of the Joker on Batman the animated series. Nevertheless, Hamill is the perfect casting for the young farm boy with a heart of gold and the naïve courage to march into a detention center.

Carrie Fisher / Princess Leia Organa – Now I wasn’t around during the feminist era, but I’m sure this was a product or lightning rod of it. Fisher plays the role strong and intelligent. She’s a damsel in distress, but she fights back instead of waiting for the hero to come save her. She is the personification of the Rebellion.

Harrison Ford / Han Solo – I know this role has lead to so many other things for Ford, but I don’t think he’s had a better role. Blade Runner comes close, but still. Han Solo is his defining role. He’s smart, charming, clever, bold, head strong and selfish. I can’t think of a more enjoyable role to play without being a bad guy.

Alec Guinness / Obi Wan Kenobi – The man delivers every line like it’s Shakespeare, and it was just what was needed seeing as these films are the closest we’ve gotten since Billy-Bob Shakespeare put his pen down. Guinness is strikes us as honorable, wise and trustworthy from the second he shows up. Although, to this day I still wonder how he made that weird ass whistling noise to scare off the sand people.

Directing: “Faster and more intense” was Lucas’ main direction to his cast. Which I wish he could have resurrected that phrase when directing the slow prequels. He’s at his best here with the limitations that he had to deal with. This was hard, dirty, gritty rough hands work. Which is one of the strengths of the film. It’s realism in it’s production design and even in the visual and special effects. Lucas did the best he could with what he had.

Cinematography: Old school 70’s cinematography. While there isn’t any really ground breaking shots or techniques in the realistic shots, it’s still well covered.

Production Design: Very strong. It’s futuristic, er, well, in this case, historic. Well, it’s far more advanced than what we ever, at the time of it’s release, thought possible. Or even dreamed. Yet it has a slightly gritty look to it. Not a Bladerunner look per say, but still, not sterile either. It really helps establish the world(s) that we’re playing in as believable.

Editing: For the most part it’s sufficient for what it does. I still don’t know how the shot of the storm trooper bumping his head on the door when they bust in and find C3PO and R2D2 was left in, but ok, whatever. Where I do have to give it some credit is covering the lightsaber duel between Vader and Kenobi. Guinness being his age and only instructed in proper swordsman ship was limited in what he could do (Check out some of the special features and the footage from it all). The edit makes it look like he still has some fight in him.

STAR WARS IMAGESScore: One of the truly remarkable aspects of the entire film. It lifts the material from the scale of amazing to epic. John Williams hit two big scores (no pun intended) in this era with both Star Wars and Jaws. He establishes himself as one who doesn’t resort to gimmicks and remains with the classical approach to music writing, while keeping in tune with the emotional context of the story.

Special Effects: Now this is what’s groundbreaking. There’s a great collaboration between the production team and the visual effects team. The ships combined with the green screens and compilations of layers create some of the most realistic and invigorating elements in the film. The shots and editing can’t really be complimented, seeing as most of them are ripped off from old stock footage of dog fights.

In closing: The beginning of great film making starts here, and ends in the same place. George Lucas both created the most amazing aspects of the film world and then bastardized them by abusing them too much. Letting them spew out into other films and basically demolishing the “aww factor” in movies. The work done in this film was earned and hard done. Lately the cinema business has become lazy and cheaper with the same mind set. Sadly, it takes all the fun out of the movies. Regardless of it’s lasting effects in movies, this film still stands the test of time. It’s engaging, entertaining, interesting and fun. And it’s got a little bit, ok, a LOT of moral lesson whipped into it. But it’s neither preachy nor too subtle. Star Wars is the movie of our century. It still effects film making today, and will remain to for many years to come.

star wars

1977 Movie Review: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, 1977

James Bond Movie Review

Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel and Bernard Lee
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes


Seven foot tall, steel toothed nemesis Jaws chases Bond around while Bond and Russian Agent triple X try to stop megalomaniac Stromberg, who is obsessed with life at sea, from starting a global war. All the while Triple X is bent on revenge of the murder of her lover who Bond had killed on a previous mission.


The reason I think The Spy Who Loved Me was so successful was that they found a balance with Bond that they were aiming to get back since Goldfinger. Stromberg is a classic Bond megalomaniac and Jaws a menacing unstoppable nemesis to Bond. Moore feels more balanced even with playing Bond with a great sense of humor and seriousness.

Although it is over the top the film lends itself well to the world where Bond lives. Another great Bond car appears, the Lotus Esprit, that one ups the Aston Martin by turning into a submarine.

The relationship Bond has with his leading lady, Russian agent Triple X Anya Amasova, played by Barbara Bach is an interesting change. She is a rival to bond in all respects. License to kill, has her own gadgets and openly and willingly will betray bond to bring what information she needs to the KGB. It is the first time Bond is pitted with a female that is portrayed as an equal, or even better, to him. There are more to come, a new string of Bond girls where they are less objects to Bond which is a great thing and test to the times changing.

Part of the fun in this film is the on going battle between bond and Jaws, who becomes a classic Bond bad guy. How can Bond destroy an impossible enemy? He can’t in this film, so he battles Jaws out of his way constantly throughout the movie to get to his main objectives. When the audience sees Jaws there is a sense of dread for Bond every time, because we never know when he is coming next, but he is always in the back of our minds that he will be there soon to try and kill Bond.

The Spy Who Loved Me is considered by most the best Roger Moore film. It is grandiose, flashy and action packed. Carly Simon’s theme Nobody Does it Better is also a great song, but the questions about Bond using his license to kill without disregard to whom he is killing make the film deeper than some of the previous films. The fact that Bond takes away Amasova’s lover is very powerful and she is forced to forgive him, because of the nature of their work. The one flaw in this film is that she sleeps with Bond anyway, which doesn’t seem all that realistic, but Bond always gets the girl no matter what he has done.


1977 Movie Review: A SPECIAL DAY, 1977

Movie Reviews

Directed by: Ettore Scola

Starring: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastrioanni, John Vernon,


It’s a very special day in 1939—the day Hitler first visits Mussolini in Rome. The event has been marked by a massive Fascist party rally and parade, drawing everyone in the city. An entire tenement block leaves for the parade, except housewife Antonietta and unemployed radio announcer Gabriele. A chance meeting causes the pair to return to each other’s company over and over during the day and in the space of a few short hours, they have formed a very close and ultimately redemptive bond. REVIEW:

Archival footage shows the arrival of Hitler and his highest-ranking Nazi cohorts by train and Mussolini’s Fascist army meeting and greeting them in Rome. A radio announcer gives full details of the historic event while giant swastikas float in the breeze, the streets choked with spectators. The announcer says that the Fascist forces are there in preparation for the next day, when an even bigger event will take place.

Daylight dawns over a tenement block in central Rome. The date is May 8, 1939—the day after the one the archival footage presented and the day of a huge Fascist party rally and parade. Pauletta (Françoise Berd), the caretaker of the block of flats, unveils a huge Nazi flag next to the Italian flag. In one of the flats, long-suffering mother and housewife Antonietta (Sophia Loren) goes from room to room, waking up all six of her children as well as her husband, Emanuele (John Vernon). It is nearly six, and if any of them are late for the rally, she doesn’t want them to complain to her. A flurry of activity results as the children, from little boy Vittorio to Antonietta’s surly and spoiled daughters Maria Luisa (Alessandra Mussolini) and Romana (Patricia Bazzo). Antonietta angrily discovers dirty pictures in the bed of Fabio (Maurizio Del Paoloantonio), but when she scolds him, he says that his father gave them to him.

Emanuele is a fervent Party member and exhorts his children to their patriotic duty as they have breakfast. Emanuele clearly has no respect for Antonietta, calling her lazy even though she has clearly gotten up hours before dawn to prepare the rest of the family. As the family make a mass exodus, in patriotic costume and their best clothes, streaming out into the courtyard with all the other families, Emanuele wonders that Antonietta doesn’t go to the rally. She says she has too much work to do. At last, the entire tenement empties, and only Antonietta and the caretaker are left in the silent building.

Or so she thinks. Going about her chores as if in a dream, Antonietta is flung into action when the family mynah bird flies out the window and across the courtyard to the flat opposite. Antonietta tries to signal to the man in the flat (Marcello Mastroianni), but he isn’t paying attention. Inside the flat, we see he has stacks of papers surrounding him as well as a gun. The impression is made that he is about to shoot himself. Antonietta arrives and asks for his help to rescue the bird. He helps her to rescue the bird and is relieved at the interruption. The loudspeaker radio announcer detailing every detail of the rally can be heard through every moment of the next few hours. Antonietta wants to make a quick getaway back to the safety of her flat, but the man introduces himself as Gabriele. Antonietta notices his copy of The Three Musketeers, which she accidentally confuses with The Four Musketeers, an extremely popular Italian radio serial of the time. Gabriele asks her to take the book with her, but she declines and leaves.

Gabriele receives a phone call from “Marco,” who it soon becomes clear is his absent lover. They argue and hint at a future that looks very bleak. Gabriele goes soon after to Antonietta’s flat and gives her the book anyway. He asks her for a cup of coffee, and she begins the long laborious process of hand grinding he beans. She takes the opportunity to try to tidy up and at the same time improve her appearance (she is dressed in an old housedress and dressing gown). They are interrupted by the arrival of Pauletta, who mean-spiritedly warns Antonietta against Gabriele. Gabriele decides he should probably leave, but Antonietta convinces him to stay for his coffee. She finds out that he is a radio announcer who was recently fired. He looks at the albums dedicated to Mussolini that she has put together, and he is both impressed and saddened by her devotion to “Il Duce.” She notes that she has six children and if she has a seventh the family will be eligible for the Large Family subsidy; as a bachelor, Gabriele has to pay a Celibacy Tax.

Pauletta interferes once again, intimating that Gabriele is not to be trusted because he is an antifascist. She also says Antonietta’s washing on the roof is dry. Antonietta says that he is in the flat fixing a light. Gabriele fixes the light but is rebuffed by Antonietta. She goes up to the roof to get her washing, while Gabriele follows her, ostensibly to avoid meeting Pauletta on his way back to his flat. Up on the roof, Gabriele surprises Antonietta by wrapping her up in a sheet, allowing her to laugh for the first time all day. Then she grows angry, saying that “all you men are the same,” and implies that Gabriele has only been after her to have a casual affair. Gabriele admits to her that the reason he was fired from the radio station was because of “degenerate behavior.” Antonietta gradually realizes that he means he has been ostracized for being gay—or “queer,” as he calls it. Gabriele is hurt by Antonietta’s attitude since has just bared his soul to her, and grows angry, attacking her and pretending to assault her. He chases her down the stairs and shouts for the entire complex to hear. Will the two remain friends on this special day? Or will scandal and unhappiness result when Emanuele and the children return?

A Special Day (Una giornata particolare in Italian) was nominated for two Oscars and two Palme D’Ors. It was a joint production with Canadian production company Canafox, and several of the actors, including the superb John Vernon, were Canadian. Set in one location and following the Aristotelian conceits of drama, it takes place in 24 hours. Its backdrop story is a dramatic and ominous one—Mussolini and Hitler and the takeover of Fascism—but its main story is a quiet and relatively uneventful one. Still, it is a powerful drama beautifully filmed by Scola and acted by the two leads.

Sophia Loren seems to have gone to extraordinary lengths to dull down her incredible good looks to exude Antonietta’s unhappiness. Trapped in a marriage to a cheating husband she doesn’t respect, her days filled endlessly with dreary chores, self-admittedly a woman of little education, she seems to go about in a perpetual cloud of exhaustion and tedium. We get this information, and the sense that her devotion to the Party and to radio are there because she has nothing else, mostly from the way Loren performs rather than the script. Mastroianni also beautifully underplays the erudition, the repression, and the extreme kindness at the heart of Gabriele’s character. For once in her life, Antonietta has found a man who doesn’t act like a man—that is, he cleans up after himself, he cooks, and he treats her as a human being rather than a housewife-robot. The two are trapped in different ways, and for that reason they create a unique bond that is touching to watch develop.

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1977 Movie Review: SORCERER, 1977

Classic Movie Review
Directed by William Friedkin
Starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou
Review by Tony Taylor


Four men, whose past actions have condemned them to a life of living hell in a Latin American country, are hired to transport a deadly and unstable supply of nitroglycerin 218 miles through treacherous jungle.


William “Billy” Friedkin could do no wrong. In 1971, THE FRENCH CONNECTION made Friedkin the youngest man to ever receive the Academy Award for Best director. By 1974, Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST was on its way to becoming the highest grossing film ever. So, the night THE EXORCIST opened in Paris, Friedkin wanted to meet French Filmmakers particularly Henri-Georges Clouzot whose films had an inspired the young Friedkin to become a filmmaker. After dinner, Clouzot asked Friedkin about what his next project would be. Friedkin replied that he wanted to remake Clouzot’s WAGES OF FEAR. Clouzot was astounded that Friedkin would want to waste his time with what he considered “tired shit”. Friedkin insisted that Clouzot give him his blessing. Flattered, the French director relented. As Friedkin was leaving, he promised Clouzot that his version would not be as good as the original. Three years later, Friedkin’s remake, SORCERER, would premiere and become a resounding flop. Friedkin’s career would never be the same and his film would be readily forgotten in that summer of STAR WARS.

Putting history aside, a reevaluation of SORCERER shows a relentless and epic movie done by a filmmaker at the height of his power. Starting slowly at first and culminating to a tense and horrific journey through the jungle, Friedkin’s movie plunges the viewer into a bleak and desolate environment whose every sound, color, smell, and emotion radiate from the screen to reflect the plight of Friedkin’s characters and their situation.

SORCERER’s characters are not without sin. Vera Cruz. A man(Rabal)enters the apartment of another man and murders him in cold blood. Jerusalem. Three students destroy a public building with a bomb and all those around it. They are tracked down by the Israeli Police, two are killed and one (Amidou) escapes. France. A wealthy businessman (Cremer) steals money from his family bank (in which he is an officer) to cover losses in the stock market. He begs his brother-in-law to intercede with his father on his behalf, but when that request is denied, his brother-in-law commits suicide and the businessman flees the country. New Jersey. A gang of thieves robs a local parish wounding a priest whose brother is the local don. As they escape with the money, there is an argument in the car and it collides with a tractor trailer. One of the thieves (Scheider) manages to crawl away as the police arrive. But the police aren’t the problem. The don has ordered a hit on the man vowing revenge at any cost. The man, along with the three other characters, finds himself in Latin America and his own personal hell. The only chance of escape is the offer from an oil company to transport unstable nitroglycerin through the jungle in two trucks. The explosives are to be used in attempt to cap a geyser of fire that is the result of sabotage at the main drilling rig.

From this point, SORCERER becomes more of an experience than a film. I believe that it is Friedkin’s documentary background that enables all of his films to transport the viewer into an emotional state both repulsive and enticing at the same time. I challenge any viewer to sit through the scene where two trucks cross a dilapidated bridge and not be moved by the intensity of such an experience especially since all of this was done in a time before CGI effects could trick the mind and astound the eye

SORCERER is not an easy journey for its characters or the viewer. These are desperate men whose only redeemable quality is the fact that the viewer understands that the character’s lives could end at any moment with the slightest jostle of what they carry across the jungle. With the anticipation of such a horrible incident, the viewer will find it hard to turn away even though they may bear no strong attraction to such men.

With such an ambiguous title (“Sorcerer” is the name of one of the trucks transporting the nitro), a not-so-headlining cast, and a subject matter especially grim, it could be understood why Friedkin’s SORCERER never found its audience especially in the shadow of STAR WARS. However, I highly recommend this movie. SORCERER is truly a cinematic experience that builds with every continuing minute demonstrating an uncompromising vision from its director. Like all pieces of fine art, SORCERER will continue to confound, exasperate, excite, and challenge its viewer in the years to come.

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1977 Movie Review: SLAP SHOT, 1977

Movie Review

Directed by George Roy Hill
Starring: Paul Newman, Strother Martin, Michael Ontkean, Lindsay Crouse
Review by Megan Powers


The Charlestown Chief’s hockey team is about to be folded due to tough financial times. Player-Coach Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) is determined to keep his team afloat even if he has to lie and scheme to make it happen.


There was no fanfare for Slap Shot during it initial release in 1977. Many critics were put off by its coarse language and locker room humor. But over the years the film has grown in stature. Slap Shot is considered one of the best sports films of the past 50 years, according to sports author Dan Jenkins. Hockey New rated Slap Shot as the Best Hockey film ever made. The critical reevaluation continues to be positive and the film has earned cult status from Entertainment Weekly in their list of the Top 50 Cult Films. In 1998 Maxim magazine named Slap Shot the “Best Guy Movie of All Time.” It’s ironic that a woman, Nancy Dowd wrote this Best Guy Movie of All Time.

Nancy Dowd based the Slap Shot story on the experiences her brother Ned Dowd had while playing minor league hockey for the Johnstown Jets in the 70’s. Violence was a huge selling point for the minor league. Ned told his sister that the team was going to be sold. She asked who owned the club and he didn’t know. Dowd moved to the area to be inspired and wrote Slap Shot. This accounts for the authenticity of the films language and situations. I love the fact that this profanity-laden outrageous comedy was written by a woman. Her characters are vivid and hilariously real. As funny as the film is, there is a very real economic dread throughout. The mill that employs most of the town is shutting down, which puts the hockey team in danger of folding.

The unknown owner of the team plans to fold the operation. This prompts the coach and fellow player Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) to plant news stories that Florida is interested in starting a hockey team. This ruse helps keep the team’s morale up and results in winning games. Florida wanting a hockey team was a great joke when this film came out. The thought was ridiculous or was until 1992 when the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hockey team debuted and went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Dunlop continues to try and find out who the teams owner is, so he can talk them out of folding the team. Meanwhile, the General Manager Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) adds the Hanson Brothers, three violent goons to the team. Dunlop protests and doesn’t let the brothers play. When Dunlop eventually lets the Hanson’s play, they are an instant hit with the fans. The Hanson’s are the ultimate violent goons, creating mayhem on the ice. They check players into the boards, slamming players onto the ice and even slapping the opposing players on the bench with their hockey sticks. The Chiefs gain more fans and win more games by being outrageously violent on the ice. During the warm up before the game, the Hanson’s start a brawl. Next we see the Hansons and the rest of the Chiefs bloodied and bruised listening to the National Anthem. A referee skates over to yell at Steve Hanson about not pulling any funny stuff. The Brother tell the ref, “I’m trying to listen to the f**king song.” The ref looks chagrinned. This sequence is so funny in its absurdity.

Dunlop finally blackmails McGrath into telling him who the owner is. The owner is a well off widow living in the suburbs with her children. She thanks Dunlop for making the team winners and that she could easily sell them, but she prefers to fold the team and use them as a tax write off. Dunlop pleads with her to think of the people on the team, but she won’t change her mind. He insults her before he leaves and returns to the team and tells them the truth during their final game. There is no buyer for the team. He asks the team to play old-time hockey and play the game clean. They all agree and they hear the line up for the game. The Chiefs are facing the toughest, most legendary underhanded players. They are outmatched in brutality when they play clean and they are losing the game.

During the first period, McGrath flips out, telling the team that there are NHL scouts in the audience. Next we see the Chiefs back to a slugfest on the ice. Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) is benched because he won’t fight. Braden is an excellent player without resorting to fighting. Braden skates out to center ice and does a striptease. An opposing player demands the referee to make Braden stop stripping yelling, “That’s disgusting.” The ref doesn’t and the player sucker-punches the ref. The game is forfeit to the Chiefs who win the championship. Braden skates around the rink in his jockstrap.

Slap Shot is another 70’s film that is gritty and realistic. The locations are perfect in depicting a community having financial difficulties. The situations and characters are funny because they are believable. Dowd’s dialogue is entertainingly blue and yet totally natural coming out of the characters. Somehow she’s made the coarse language seem perfectly normal in this world of sports, which I’m sure it is, but so many times in films, bad language seems to be there for no real reason. The characters use of foul language is false and is uninspired. Dowd’s characters would talk this way, so it is fitting. It has been said that f**k is said 176 times in the film. I would love to know who counted them all.

Paul Newman is excellent as the aging morally slippery Coach, who thinks he’s seen it all. Newman had said this was one of his favorite films to make. He is clearly enjoying himself and does his own skating. He is charming and a rascal. George Roy Hill directed Newman for the third time in this film. They worked together on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973). The cinematography by Victor J Kemper shows us exciting action scenes on the ice. All the actors are wonderful especially the real life hockey players and non professional actors playing the Hanson Brothers: Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and David Hanson leave an indelible mark as the id’s gone wild brothers. Yvon Barrette is great as the Chief’s put-upon goalie, Denis Lemieux. Jennifer Warren, Lindsay Crouse and Michael Ontkean all contribute to the wonderful cast.

I keep going back and watching Slap Shot over and over again and I rediscover it each time. The scenes that make me laugh out loud are too numerous to cite. I enjoy the normalcy of some of the set ups. A local hang out where the players are engrossed in a soap opera on TV, while they have a drink is amusing or when the players are watching a woman exercising on TV with rapt lascivious attention as they pass the time before a game. This film is a pitch perfect comedy and great sports movie. Discover this underrated rough gem for yourself.

There really is so much to recommend ‘Gilda’. There is a reason that it has been used (The Shawshank Redemption anyone?) over and over again, gets referred to over and over again and has a substantial fan following even now. It is a fabulous movie in so many ways. Few movies even now can boast the great plot, great characters, superb acting, and intelligent directing.

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1977 Movie Review: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, 1977

Movie Reviews

Directed by John Badham
Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Paul Pape and Donna Pescow
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya


Tony Manero, a tough kid from Brooklyn lives for Saturday nights when he can indulge in his favourite things: drugs, women and disco. But when he meets a woman who challenges his moves on the dance floor and in life, Tony is forced to face the consequences of his choices, his relationships and whether dancing is his future.


“Fuck the Future!”

That strut. That hair. That tight, white suit. It’s pop culture, it’s iconic, it’s Saturday night at the disco. John Badham’s Saturday Night Fever was released in 1977 when large masses were screaming: “death to disco!” The success of the film prevented that from happening.

The film follows Tony Manero (John Travolta), a foul-mouthed, 20-year old from Brooklyn who finds joy on the dance floor every Saturday night. His days are spent stirring up trouble with his friends, working at a paint store and fighting with his family. At the 2001 Odyssey, a club in Brooklyn, Tony commands attention and admiration. He’s liquid sex on the dance floor, spinning, thrusting and sliding. The ladies love Tony and Tony loves who he becomes under the disco ball. But when he meets Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) she refuses to talk or dance with him, challenging his worth. “You’re a cliché,” she tells him. “You’re nowhere, on your way to no place.” See, she has dreams. Dreams that involve life on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. And what does Tony have? He has disco, man. And when he finally gets Stephanie to agree to enter a dance competition with him, Tony is ready to achieve his dream. But as he begins to examine the people and choices around him, Tony is forced to question whether his dream will get him anywhere.

The film can be categorized as a musical, but utilizes music in an interesting way. While characters do not burst into song, the music that plays over a scene is incredibly significant, underscoring important emotions and feelings. Songs are played in their entirety while Tony showcases his stellar dance moves in visually fascinating shots. Amazing choreography, angles and editing display some of the most electric dancing seen in a musical. The Bee Gees’ thumping baseline and falsetto cries are heard all over the soundtrack, stamping their mark on the era of disco. The lyrics to their songs not only emphasize the boiling hot emotions of Tony and his friends, but also the desperation, disillusionment and unfulfilling lifestyle of the Bay Bridge youth:

“Music loud and women warm.
I’ve been kicked around since I was born.
Life goin’ nowhere. Somebody help me.”

As the song screams, “we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive,” Tony, in a moment of clarity muses, “There are ways of killin’ yourself without killin’ yourself.”

America in the late 70s was experiencing the effects of the Vietnam War, Watergate and a recession. American citizens were starting to focus on the consequences of their choices as well as the choices that were available to them. While Saturday Night Fever was about fun, escapism and hedonism it was also about the choices one can make in order to grow or accept the status quo. As Tony starts to examine the choices of his parents, his older brother who leaves the priesthood and his friends who repeat the mistakes of the past, he realizes the quiet acceptance present in his life. Tony doesn’t win because he earns it; he gets the prize because he’s popular. And for Tony, he wants to earn his place on the top like he earned his four dollar raise. Because for him, the only time “someone told me I was good in my life [was] this raise today, and dancing at the disco!”

The film alternates from the busy streets of New York to the flashing, coloured lights of the underground disco clubs. Clothes are bright, bold and flashy. Tony lovingly tends to his hair, standing up for it’s right to look fresh against the constant thumping of his father’s hand. The women are sexy, hair feathered à la Ms. Fawcett in her nipple-centric famous photo (which hangs on Tony’s wall). If one chose to enter the doors of the 2001 Odyssey, they had better look good. The high steel pillars of the Brooklyn Bridge at night where the boys challenge their mortality are contrasted with the strobe lights and disco balls where the boys challenge their longevity. And during the week, on days that aren’t Saturday, life goes on; simple, boring and repetitive.

The plot isn’t incredibly original with most characters displaying little self-awareness. But John Travolta manages to give a racist, sexist, cocky character a sense of vulnerability, which ultimately carries the film. The character of Tony isn’t heroic, or even likable, but he questions his world, and that requires some courage. Winning the dance competition is supposed to validate his dreams, but instead Tony is forced to accept his superficial status, the rape of a girl he could’ve have protected and the loss of a friend who needed him. Disillusioned, angry and frustrated he rides a subway into the night, ending up at Stephanie’s apartment. And finally, he brings himself to do what he failed to before: sincerely ask for forgiveness, friendship and help.

Sometimes cheesy, but thoroughly entertaining, Saturday Night Fever is a film that can hold up even more than thirty years after it’s original release. Through the marriage of music and cinema, this film takes a journey into adulthood from the eyes of a brash, passionate kid searching for purpose. It successfully captures the energy, joy and electricity of the underground disco era and the youth that lived for the music.

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1977 Movie Review: NEW YORK NEW YORK, 1977

Movie Reviews

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Georgie Auld
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya


Jimmy Doyle and Francine Evans meet in New York as young, struggling musicians. They fall in love, get married and struggle with fame, career and marriage, all against the backdrop of the 40’s big band era.


“You do not leave me! I leave you!”

Part musical, part film-noir, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York is an epic love story following the rise and fall of two struggling artists.

It’s V-J Day, 1945. The war has just ended and young Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro) is itching to have some fun. Enter Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli), classy, polished and utterly uninterested in Jimmy. A long fast-talking, insult-throwing scene sets their love story on course. The film follows their crazy, mismatched pairing as they struggle to make it in the music business in the city that never sleeps.

The look of the film shifts between gritty and stylized. The film showcases the busy, dirty bars in New York against the film noir rain-slicked streets. Some scenes are filmed in bright daylight or stark darkness with other scenes shot with gauzy filters re-creating the look of the 1940’s musical, with soft lighting and extreme close-ups. Utilizing these techniques, Scorsese creates a mood that is equally dark and exuberant; much like the relationship between the two lovers.

With many scenes largely improvised, the plot sometimes falters then gains momentum. The editing however, keeps most of the film consistently moving forward. Both actors bring amazing performances with De Niro more New York street-punk and Minnelli channeling the 40’s musical, film-noir dame. This slight mismatch works for the film as it slides between convention and satire; the characters are sometimes talented artists then raging egomaniacs.

As any epic love story, the couple endures difficulties and in this case it is Jimmy’s insecurity as Francine’s career catapults her into the limelight. The more Jimmy struggles to be a well-recognized saxophone player, the easier it seems for Francine to launch her singing career. The fights that ensue are painful, dark and violent. Apparently, Scorsese encouraged both actors toward more physical acting which escalated and ended up putting them all in the hospital! But the resulting scene is intimate and disturbing, giving brevity to the complexity of their marriage.

The film does not use the musical convention where actors suddenly burst into song. Instead, the singing and sax playing is all organic; as they’re rehearsing, auditioning or performing. De Niro learned to play the sax even though the sound was dubbed and in the film, he hardly sings. Minnelli however sings her heart out! She has the ability to convey a range of emotions through controlled, precise vocal performances. The “Happy Endings” sequence near the end of the film showcases her singing, dancing and comedic talent. It is at this moment that the film takes a break to highlight a musical convention: the performance within the performance. Utilizing large-scale sets, choreographed dancers and many costume changes, it is light, funny and entertaining. And of course, her performance of the title song written by John Kander and Fred Ebb went on to become one of the most famous songs sung in history.

New York, New York, is a love story between two people who are bonded through music. The last scene breaks the convention of the happy ending, allowing the viewer to come to their own conclusions about the fate of the troubled lovers. Sometimes adhering to the conventions of the musical and sometimes satirizing those very conventions, the film is an interesting, visually stunning piece of work.

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1977 Movie Review: THE LAST WAVE, 1977

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Directed by Peter Weir
Starring: Richard Chamberlain, Olivia Hamnett, David Gulpilil, Frederick Parslow, Vivean Gray
Review by Trevor Hogg


An Australian attorney defends a group of aborigines who are charged with killing one of their own for violating a tribal taboo. As the murder case progresses, he becomes plagued by apocalyptic visions of water that entwine him with the prophetical beliefs of his clients.


The roving Australian director, Peter Weir, encountered his creative muse while on holiday in Tunisia. “I found a buried Roman head, a beautiful piece of marble which I somehow knew I was going to find. It was an extraordinary experience,” the respected filmmaker remarked upon recalling his moment of premonition. “I wondered what if a lawyer had found it, someone whom it was harder to assimilate, the rational man rather than the filmmaker who deals with the imagination.” The idea percolated to the point of becoming the starting point for The Last Wave.

It was not the first time the Australian had worked with Aboriginal actor, Gulpilil, who gained international attention as the star in Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout. “I used him in a T.V. episode in a very straightforward part,” Weir stated. “He was being persecuted by a white overseer in an historical series, and we were chatting in a bar one night after work; he said some things about his family, and then suddenly he said a sentence. It was something like, ‘You see my father and I and that’s why the moon isn’t.” Peter Weir was confused by the remark. “I thought about it that night and the next morning and suddenly I realized what it was. That he was talking about another perception. He was talking about an experience for which there are no words. He’d seen something in another way. That was a breakthrough for me, firstly in writing the screenplay, and secondly in my future conversations with him because then I would look out for these moments or I would provoke them.”

To ensure an authentic representation of Aboriginal culture, the director flew to Darwin where he met with Nandjiwarra Amagula, a respected tribal elder and magistrate on Groote Island. “Anything with the Aboriginals underwent change,” Peter Weir replied. “Nandjiwarra was the key. In accepting to do the film, he accepted the principal of recreating a lost Sydney tribe and their symbols and tokens.” However, there were certain conditions; Nandjiwarra would not allow the use of existing tribal symbols which resulted in the art director creating fictional ones.

Weir continued. “I wanted the film to show the contrast between the European without the dreaming and the tribal person with the dreaming, and we talked about some of those things. Later, Nandji, changed quite a bit of dialogue and asked for certain things be put in.” He went on to give an example. “The dinner scene with the family, which is my favourite scene. It was really constructed by Gulpilil and Nandjiwarra. Nandjiwarra put in all the lines about the law and the law being more important than man, and that is really the heart of the film. It was a marvelous day of filming, one where you call ‘cut’ and nothing really changes, the conversation continues. At the lunch break they didn’t really care about leaving; the conversation between Chamberlain and Nandjiwarra continued.”

On casting Richard Chamberlain as the corporate tax attorney turned trial lawyer, the renowned filmmaker responded, “There was something in his face, there was some alien quality, and in my story my character had that quality. I had one actor, an Australian I thought of using but he was unavailable. Also, we couldn’t raise all the money in Australia. Chamberlain’s name occurred to somebody and I remembered that face, those eyes in particular.”

The Last Wave begins with a group of schoolchildren playing a game of cricket; however, they are quickly forced inside by an abrupt hail storm. The strange weather intensifies as David (Chamberlain) becomes obsessed with the ongoing murder trial. Haunted by images suggesting that the end of the world is at hand, he recruits one of the defendants (Gulpilil) to be his spiritual advisor. David’s apocalyptic visions climax when he confronts a tribal shaman (Nandjiwarra) in a sacred subterranean site located beneath the city. David escapes so to warn the people above of the imminent natural disaster. He collapses in hopelessness upon witnessing the rise of a great wave high above the urban landscape.

“I think I have to be honest and say that I didn’t find the solution to the problem of how to end the film,” confessed Weir when addressing the controversial conclusion to the movie. “There is no ending. I was painted into a corner. I have seen it happen with other filmmakers dealing in this kind of area. You can’t end it. You can try to be clever, and I tried a couple of other endings that did stop short of any wave, but they were just too neat. The ending just plagued me, and it was an extremely unhappy period. Part way through the film we broke over Easter. I remember a terrible few days wrestling with this ending and pretending I had found a solution to it.” He also went on to state. “It’s just the last chapter that is missing. I just have to leave it; don’t look back.” Upon further reflection, the storyteller admitted he would have approached things differently. “I think if I did the film today, I would…stay in the court of law.”

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