Major American studios find themselves in severe financial crisis
Hollywood 10 February 1970. The problems experienced by many of the leading Hollywood studios during the late 60’s have worsened over the past year, forcing companies to cut back on production plans, cancel some projects outright, and dismiss large numbers of employees. According to an article in the Hollywood Reporter, “the film studios are continuing to trim staffs as they liquidate inventories estimated at $400 million. MCA (which owns Universal) and 20th (Fox) hit new lows for the year on the New York stock exchange”. The report further describes the high level of redundancy at four companies in particular - Universal, MGM, Fox and Warners - where revenues and profits have fallen dramatically. Only Universal has stayed in the black, while the other three are awash with red ink, with combined total losses between them amounting to $100 million, and no end yet in sight. Despite management shake-ups that have taken place.
20th Century Fox plunges to all-time low with Russ Meyer feature.
Los Angeles 17 June. 1970 In spite of its title, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, has nothing to do with the novel by Jacqueline Sussman. It is a sexploitation movie directed by “skin flick” king Russ Meyer, a World War II combat cameraman and former Playboy photographer who has made millions out of drive-in fodder like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Featuring lots of sex and violence.
For years the cheerfully vulgar Meyer has been ridiculed by the Hollywood establishment as a pedlar of Schlock, but the huge success of his 1968 Vixen, which took $5 million in rentals on an investment of $75000 excited the interest of profit-hungry Fox who let him loose as producer-director on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
`Love Story ` guarantees the public a good cry.
New York 16 December. 1970 The death of a beautiful woman, is always a poetic subject.” says Paramount
Executive Robert Evans, who encouraged writer Erich Segal to write the best selling novel Love Story and has now brought it to the screen. It’s just an old fashioned three-handkerchief weepie, with a dash of Romeo and Juliet, in which bankers son Ryan O’Neil woes and wins Italian immigrants’ daughter Ali McGraw in the face of parental opposition only to lose her to a tastefully fatal illness.
General George C. Patton marches away from his Oscar victory
Los Angeles 15 April 1971. A first-class uproar broke out at the 43rd Academy Awards ceremony when George C. Scott refused to accept the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the controversial World War II General
Stanley Kubrick discomforts with a devastating look at the future.
London 20 December 1971 Stanley Kubrick’s latest project A Clockwork Orange, will no doubt shock those who believe in the reassuring prospect of social progress. Adapted from the novel by Anthony Burgess, it is a frightening prophetic vision of a Britain of the future in which roaming gangs of young men have adopted violence as their only way of life.
In one sequence, Alex, (Malcolm McDowell), a brutal teenaged hood, the head of the band of Droods, beats a woman to death with a giant phallic sculpture. Sent to prison for murder, Alex becomes a guinea pig in a rehabilitation programme based on aversion therapy, and emerges having lost his soul.
Shades of Judy Garland as Liza Minnelli lights up the screen.
New York 14 February 1972. In only her fourth feature, Liza Minnelli lights up the screen as the wild and electrifying Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, which was shown last night before an invited audience that included the cast and director. The role was clearly tailored to suit Liza’s exuberant style and warm, throaty voice, reminiscent of her mother - Judy Garland. The brashness that covers the insecurities of Berlin in the 30`s . Of course she is too good a singer to be found in such a sleazy dive as the Kit Kat Club, but who cares? Her songs are put over with such bite and passion, and her acting carries a moving conviction.
Boredom with life kills of George Sanders
Barcelona 25 April 1972. The lifeless body of George Sanders has been discovered in a hotel room in Casteldefels, Barcelona. He had committed suicide with a drug overdose, and left a note which blamed it all on boredom. “Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool.” For over 30 years Sanders has padded down a path of silky villainy and purring caddishness, dispensing sneers and disdainful dialogue with an inimitable studied weariness. In fact the pose concealed an insecure man and immensely hard-working actor whose career reached a peak inn 1950 with All About Eve. Nature created Sanders to play Addison de Witt the waspish theatre critic whose voice-over provides a barbed commentary to that films’ back-stage back-stabbing.
Coppola films the blood. Sweat and tears of a Mafia family
New York 15 March 1972. Adapted from Mario Puzo’s best selling Mafia saga, The Godfather, has opened here to acclaim. Paramount’s selection of Francis Ford Coppola to direct this expensive project, after Richard Brooks, Peter Yates and Costas-Gravas refused., was surprising, considering that his main reputation so far is as a screen-writer, and his films as director have not been commercially successful. The production was beset with difficulties. Before shooting began, the Italian-American Civil Rights League held a rally in Madison Square Gardens and raised $600,000 towards attempts to stop the film which they claimed was a slur on their community.
The Cannes Festival is rocked by controversy
Cannes 25 May 1973. When they chose Jean Eustache’s film The Mother and the Whore, and Marco Ferreri’s work, Blow-Out, at Cannes Festival, the selection committee could not have foreseen the furore that would ensue. Eustache’s work provoked loud protests during and after screening, primarily because of its crude dialogue. The director was almost physically assaulted when he exited the auditorium with Jean Moreau,
who had taken his arm in friendship.The 215-minute film of a menage a trois is witty, verbose and erotic, and consists mainly of monologues, conversations and confessions. The showing of Blow-Out, was the last straw. The story of four middle-aged men literally eating themselves to death was met with cries of “Nauseating and Disgusting.”
Bob and Barbra act out thirty years of nostalgia
New York 17 October 1973. Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford are an unlikely pairing in Sydney Pollack’s The Way We Were,
A romantic drama set against three decades of American political history. She is a left-wing activist and he’s a Waspish literary type who meet, marry and divorce as the Second World War gives way to the Cold War and the menace of McCarthyism. The screenplay is by Arthur Laurents, who lived through the days of fear and betrayal in Hollywood in the 1950’s. However, director Pollack has been quick to re-assure moviegoers that the film is a romance rather than a political tract, adding, “but I hope that audiences also ponder some of the movie’s serious undertones.” Redford gracefully plays second fiddle to Streisand, who apparently insisted on some of his scenes being cut.
Bertrand Blier takes French cinema into new field
Paris 20 March 1974. Berttand Blier’s third feature, Going Places, could become the film that best represents those socially, morally, and sexually liberated young people who emerge from the tumultuous events of May 1968. The director (the son of the well-known roly-poly screen actor Bernard Blier) has adapted his own 1972 novel, the French title of which is slang for testicles. The movies `heroes` are two young layabouts (Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere), who steal cars and break into houses, usually as a prelude to abducting, seducing and otherwise exploiting women.
French screens are assailed by pornography
Paris 28 August 1974.The announcement yesterday by President Valery Giscard-d’Estaing of the lifting of most film censorship has
particularly delighted the producers and distributors of pornographic movies, a side of the industry which is flourishing. In fact, the mode for porno has been in full swing for some time, and business has never been better. Some of the better porno movies have left the “ghetto” of specialised theatres, even making it tot the prestigious picture palaces along the Champs Elyssees, as well as those cinemas in the Latin Quarter usually designated for Art Movies. This has been the case with Emmanuelle, which is an unprecedented box-office triumph for this type of film. In addition, Sylvia Kristel, the 22 year-old Dutch actress in the title roll, has become in a matter of weeks, a real star of the screen.
Disaster becoming a new Hollywood genre
New York 18 December 1974. Movie companies have been rediscovering a genre which was popular in the late 30’s, when such titles as San Francisco, with its 1906 earthquake climax, The Good -
Earth, with its plague of locusts, and The Rains Came(1939), rated highly with audiences. Now, able to take advantage of the latest advances in special effects, the Hollywood studios are once again promoting disasters in a big way. What with Airport, in 1970 and The Poseidon Adventure by Fox in 1972, things have been really heating up with the release of Airport 1975, and Earthquake, the most recent offering is Towering Inferno, in which a starry cast, that includes William Holden, Steve McQueen and Fred Astaire, are trapped by fire in the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Hairdresser at the service of his customers
New York 11 February 1975. Warren Beatty’s fingerprints are all over his latest picture, Shampoo, directed by Hal Ashby, Beatty is the star producer and, with current hot property Robert Towne, co-writer of this sweet and sour comedy, with a political message. Set on the ve of the 1968 presidential election, it follows the amorous adventures of Beatty’s hairstylist to the stars (he `does` Barbara Rush) as he gradually grasps the emptiness of his existence.
Manic Jack Nicholson brilliant in `Cuckoo’s Nest`
New York 20 November 1975. For his second American movie, exiled Czech director Milos Foreman has brought his humour and sharp observation to bear on One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest, derived from Ken Kesey’s 1962 counter-culture bestseller. Kirk Douglas who had starred in the dramatisation on Broadway, tried for years to get a film version off the ground, but his son Michael And Saul Zaentz pulled it off as producers at a cost of £3 million. Although the 60’s setting of the state mental institution still stands for a metaphor for a conformist society, the film has replaced the novel’s drug-induced subjectivity with a more realistic stance.
`All the President’s Men` causes a sensation
New York 8 April 1976. The political scandal that rocked the world has come to the screen. In All the President’s Men, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters whose investigations into the Watergate break-in played a large part in the downfall of President Nixon, Redford, familiar with political skullduggery since making The Candidate brought the screen rights to Woodward and Bernstein’s book for $225,000 brought in Oscar winning screenwriter William Goldman and persuaded Hoffman to play Bernstein on the strength of his script.
King Kong is back four decades later
New York 18 December 1976. Sam Goldwyn once said, “If they loved it once they will love it twice.” Slamming Sam would have had to eat his words over producer Dino de Laurentis’ botched remake of King Kong. Here, newcomer Jessica Lange flounders in a feminist version of the role made famous by Fay
Worse, however, was de Laurentis’ publicity blitz that his Kong was a 40-foot robot and a miracle of modern technology. Except for a few shots, the great ape is impersonated by a man in a gorilla suit, designed and worn by make-up man Rick Baker. Willis O’Brien must be turning in his grave.
Robert De Niro compelling in `Taxi Driver`
Cannes 28 May 1976. The ‘president of this years Cannes Festival jury, the American playwright Tennessee Williams, has made it known that he considers Taxi Driver far too violent. Therefore, it was rather surprising that the Martin Scorsese movie was awarded the Palm D’or . Indeed Taxi Driver is probably the most violent film seen at Cannes
The main character played magnificently by Robert De Niro, is a paranoid loner, alienated from urban society. A Vietnam vet, he sees New York as “an open sewer”, stressed by the directors hellish vision of the city.
Chaplin dies on
Christmas Day 1977
`Star Wars` is an $11 million revelation
New York 25 May 1977. Both Universal and United Artists turned down the chance to produce Star Wars, directed by 33 year-old George Lucas. Twentieth Century Fox finally accepted, giving Lucas complete control during the four years of preparation and a relatively modest budget of $11 million, of which half went towards the sets and special effects. Shot in Guatemala, Tunisia and Death Valley, with interiors at Elstree Studios in England, the film is so spectacular that it looks as if it cost three times as much. Obviously influenced by the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, as well as tales of knights of old, it tells of how Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) assisted by space pilot Han Solo(Harrison Ford) rescues Princess Leila (Carrie Fisher) from Darth Vader
David Begelman affair, or Hollywoodgate
New York 6 April ‘78. David Begelman’s departure from the presidency of Colombia Pictures is the culmination of
an extraordinary series of events. An actor discovered he had been credited with a payment of $10000 which he had never received. It turned out that a cheque for this amount had been forged and cashed by Begelman, who subsequently admitted to embezzling more than $60,000 from the studio.
The sudden death of Elvis Presley shocks millions of his fans.
Memphis 16 August 1977. Elvis Presley has died of a heart attack at his Graceland mansion, where he was living with his daughter Lisa-Marie. Since April the 42 year-old singer had been having serious health problems caused by repeated shots of Demarol and morphine. At 2pm. His companion Ginger Alden found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. He died on route to the hospital.
Superman flies high over humdrum world.
New York 15 December 1978. Joel Schuster and Jerome Siegel’s comic-strip hero Superman made his screen debut in Sam Katzman’s gimcrack 1948 serial.
This time, at considerably greater expense, Christopher Reeve assumes the role of the man of steel in Superman - The Movie, directed by Richard Donner. Sidestepping the camp cliches celebrated by Batman 12 years ago, Donner and his screen writing team tread a fine line between gently satirizing the original character and hymning his superhuman feats of strength. Christopher Reeve, an accomplished stage actor with an academic background, brings bags of ironic charm to the role of the self-effacing Clark Kent - dispensing a stream of earnest advice to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane - and dons his alter ego’s red cape and blue tights with equal aplomb. Gene Hackman was reputed to have been paid $2 million to play Superman’s eccentric enemy, Lex Luthor.
Cimino and war-scarred American Psyche.
New York 15 December 1978. Michael Cimino’s second feature (following Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) is the epically conceived The Deer Hunter, which attempts to address the
Effect of the Vietnam War on the American Psyche. The three hour film accurately captures the mood of America at the moment - the need to find some justification for the war. It focuses on the lives of three steelworkers - Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage, before and after their Vietnam experiences. Using the camera as an observer, Cimino allows the narrative to unfold in an almost documentary style.
Coppola at the heart of darkness.
New York 15 August 1979. The making of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film, was almost as apocalyptic as its subject. This work on the Vietnam War (loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness , started shooting
In March 1976 on location in the Philippines, where Coppola and his team had planned to work for 13 weeks. They finished 238 days later having raised the budget from $12 million to $31 million. Much of this came out of
Coppola’s own pocket and from funding for which he, as an independent producer, could be held accountable. During the course of filming, the director faced many difficulties, including a typhoon that destroyed most of the huge and expensive sets. He also had problems with top-billed, top-salaried Marlon Brando, who appears as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz very far on into the two-and-a-half hour movie. After a week, Harvey Keitel in the role of Captain Benjamin Willard on the quest for Kurtz, had to be replaced by Martin Sheen, who then suffered a heart attack.. To top all a civil war then erupted in the Philippines depriving Coppola of the helicopters he needed.
`China Syndrome comes horribly to life
Pennsylvania 2 March 1979. The crisis which has gripped the nuclear power station at Three Mile Island has given a
Terrifying topicality to the China Syndrome, released two weeks a go. The title refer to a meltdown in a nuclear reactor triggering an uncontainable fire which, theoretically,could burn through to China.
They say it could not happen but The China Syndrome entertains the possibility of a serious nuclear accident being hushed up. Jane Fonda plays the journalist on the trail of a hot story, and Michael Douglas who also produces, is her intrepid cameraman. Jack Lemmon co-stars as the plant’s chief engineer, undergoing his own emotional meltdown as disaster looms.
Jean Seberg falls victim to despair.
Paris 8 September 1979. This evening in a side-street of the 16th arrondissement , the corpse of Jean Seberg was found in the back of a car. The American-born actress had disappeared from her home a week ago. Eleven days earlier, on returning from filming in Guyana , she attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself in front of a subway train. She succeeded on her second attempt with an overdose of sleeping pills. The 40 year-old Seberg shot to fame at the age of 17 playing the title role in Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan. She later moved to France and for a while was married to the writer and film-maker Romain Gary.
OSCARS (ACADEMY AWARDS)
1970 - Best Film - Midnight Cowboy, Best Actor - John Wayne (True Grit), Best Actress - Maggie Smith(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
1971 - Best Film - Patton, Best Actor - George C. Scott (Patton), Best Actress - Glenda Jackson (Women in Love)
1972 - Best Film - The French Connection, Best Actor - Gene Hackman(The French Connection), Best Actress - Jane Fonda (Klute)
1973 - Best Film - The Godfather, Best Actor - Marlon Brando (The Godfather), Best Actress - Liza Minnelli(Cabaret)
1974 - Best Film - The Sting, Best Actor - Jack Lemmon (Save the Tiger), Best Actress - Glenda Jackson (/A Touch of Class)
1975 - Best Film - The Godfather Part II, Best Actor - Art Carney(Harry and Tonto), Best Actress - Ellen Burstyn(Alice doesn't Live Here Anymore)
1976- Best Film - One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, - Best Actor - Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over..), Best Actress - Louise Fletcher(One Flew Over...)
1977- Best Film - Rocky, Best Actor - Peter Finch (Network),- Best Actress - Faye Dunaway (Network)
1978- Best Film - Annie Hall, Best Actor - Richard Dreyfuss(The Goodbye Girl), Best Actress - Diane Keaton (Annie Hall)
1979- Best Film - The Deer Hunter, - Best Actor - Jon Voight(coming Home), Best Actress - Jane Fonda (Coming Home)
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