1976: the last hurrah of the American western

Posted by · 10:14 am · July 17th, 2009

The western was not yet dead in 1976 when  four high-profile installments were released to varying degrees of success. Four years later, of course, Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” would kill the genre for several years (and United Artists for longer), and though it has seen ups and downs in the years since, for the most […]

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The Duke’s greatest hits

Posted by · 9:59 am · June 12th, 2009

As Kris mentioned Wednesday, this week marks the 30th anniversary of John Wayne’s death.  I’ve always respected Wayne’s performances and have for a long time, long before it was fashionable, to be sure. It was considered somewhat ridiculous for an acting student to admire Wayne’s work in the 1970s and 1980s. My God, we were […]

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Oscar nominations that made me cheer

Posted by · 3:37 pm · November 16th, 2008

Over the years I have been watching and studying the Oscars in earnest, since about 1974 (age 13).  It has always been a nice surprise when an unexpected actor, director or film made the cut to the final five.  It’s a special kind of high. I remember reacting with surprise and genuine happiness when Giancarlo […]

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The under-appreciated

Posted by · 9:52 am · September 21st, 2008

We all know that there are brilliant films that sometimes never find an audience, slipping out of theatres long before they should and often disappearing into the void of the home market. In fairness, the advent of VHS and now DVD has allowed for such films to be re-discovered by future generations, and VHS was […]

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Peter Finch and the posthumous Oscar

Posted by · 2:05 pm · July 26th, 2008

Peter Finch’es wide-eyed, frantic performance as newsman Howard Beale in Sidney Lumet’s “Network” became a touchstone for North America in 1976 because we too were “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” Vietnam was over, though the vets were struggling with their various personal horrors.  Nixon had resigned, leaving a mistrustful America […]

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Respect for The Duke

Posted by · 4:08 am · June 25th, 2008

In light of Kris’s recent westerns piece, I thought it might be worth it to give some space to what I believe to be one of the most underrated actors of all time. Cinematical recently carried a marvelous article on John Wayne, supporting the belief that the screen legend was an exceptional actor (in the […]

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1976: a great year and Oscar blew it

Posted by · 6:18 am · May 31st, 2008

Continuing the conversation on great years for movies (1974 being my pick for the best), I thought I’d dig into a season rich with material that slipped through Oscar’s fingers. The American bicentennial year was loaded with wonderful films — ground-breaking works that stunned both audiences and critics with their mastery. Three of them were […]

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