Like it’s 1977

Well, following my 1985, 1967, and 1986 movie marathons, I’m now done with my journey back to 1977. Just like for 1967, I kept it to down to 10 films, and it was pretty easy for me to come up with the list of films to watch — I immediately came up with all 10 (which you’ll find listed below, in alphabetical order), a mix of classics, stuff that I loved as a kid, and stuff I’d never seen but always meant to watch. Yet again, as much as I enjoy watching these old films, I also enjoy taking the time trip back to that particular year — the intensity of watching a bunch of films from one year tells you a lot about that year, as much from what is on screen, to the way the films are put together and acted. What’s next? 1987 of course, and from the list I’ve already started putting together, I think I may hit 50-60 films.

  1. Annie Hall
  2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  3. Exorcist II: The Heretic
  4. Pumping Iron
  5. Saturday Night Fever
  6. Slap Shot
  7. Smokey and the Bandit
  8. Star Wars
  9. Suspiria
  10. The Kentucky Fried Movie

Suspiria

My first taste of Dario Argento was watching Phenomena earlier this year (yeah, I know, kinda silly that it took me so long) as part of my 1985 movie marathon. I ended up not liking that movie at all, but even then I knew that Suspiria was considered his true classic. Well, it is indeed, and I found myself really enjoying it. From the insanely insane (and spooky, and groovy, and…) soundtrack by Goblin to the creepy cast and decor, this was very entertaining to watch — sure, the horror elements aren’t as shocking as I’m sure they were at the time, but I could appreciate the intensity of what was happening. Most of the acting is still pretty bad (apart from the main character), and the voice dubbing is distracting, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the film as a whole.

Smokey and the Bandit

I was really expecting not to enjoy watching this — I knew that I loved it as a kid, but I was sure it would feel too corny and probably unfunny to me now. Lo and behold, I had an absolute blast watching it again. Sure, a lot of it is nostalgia — and finding comfort in a lot of the gags that I actually remembered — but from the classic theme song to the charisma of Burt Reynolds and company, and the exciting car chases, I won’t lie, I liked it a lot (for what it is, a silly comedy of the era).

The Kentucky Fried Movie

Look, this was never a good movie, but as a kid, it was a pretty crazy movie to watch, and that’s probably more because of the nudity (boobs galore) than for the comedy. As a kid I loved the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker stuff (Airplane, Top SecretNaked Gun, etc.) and this is pretty much a proto version of that. How has it aged? Well, not particularly well, and there are bits that are way too long and boring, but I won’t lie, there are still some good chuckles to be had here and there (the family that moves beyond the death of their son by still including his body in family activities), as well as some pretty biting commentary that still rings true today. I was also surprised by how many of the gags I still remembered (“show me your nuts”).

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

When I started watching this I wasn’t really feeling it, and immediately was thinking that it was going to be a bit of a slog to get through. Sure, I had fond memories of enjoying it when I was a kid, but I hadn’t re-watched in ages. Then, after about the first half hour, I started getting sucked in, and I was completely “in” until the end. This is still a fantastic take on the alien movie, and you can already see that Spielberg is really something special. I also love that it’s a movie that doesn’t really include much conflict, and the joy on Dreyfuss’s character’s face when he gets chosen to enter the craft is just, well, joyous.

Pumping Iron

This is it, the film that gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger. As famous/infamous as this documentary is, I’d never seen it, and so didn’t really know much of what to expect (other than the famous scene where you see Arnie smoking a joint after he wins the title). I did enjoy this, although you have to take it more as a “slice of life/day in the life” kind of presentation on the topic, instead of something that really tries to examine and explain a particular topic. There’s barely any narration, and so it’s just mostly light interviews with all of the people involved, and the dialogue bits that happen as the cameras follow these dudes in their quest to, well, pump iron like no man has pumped iron before. But it was pretty entertaining, and yes, Arnie shines through, and it’s fun to see the machiavellian tendencies he reveals (“I can just tell him to do the wrong thing”).

Exorcist II: The Heretic

As I start winding down my 1977 movie marathon (when I started, I immediately picked the 10 movies I was going to watch), this is definitely one of the weirdest of the bunch. The original Exorcist is of course a classic (but to be honest, one that I haven’t revisited in years), and I think I may have never watched this sequel, and just sorta remembered that it was never considered a good follow-up. As expected, it’s all over the place, and you never get the tense and horrifying elements that I remember from the original. That said, I still had a fun time watching it, sort of in awe of where it goes, and how weird it all is — a lot of it focuses on hypnosis that is done through a light flashing contraption — and that so many known and respected actors are part of it.

Saturday Night Fever

I’m definitely taking my time with my 1977 movie marathon (maybe it should be called a 1977 “crawl” instead), as I have to be in the mood. A couple of weeks ago I watched Saturday Night Fever for the first time in forever, and it made me realize that, I think I really like disco music? Just like I remembered, the highlights of the movie are all of the disco sequences, with the drama behind it all less interesting (to me at least). But yeah, when it comes to all of the scenes in the club, Travolta really comes off as an amazing performer.

Slap Shot

Continuing with movies from 1977, this is one of those classics that I really loved as a kid — I mean, I am Canadian after all, and it’s not like we get a lot of movies about hockey. Watching it again now (for the first time in ages), it still has all those classic/fun moments that I remember — mostly anything with the Hanson Brothers — but a lot of it is a bit on the boring side, when it comes to the dramatic elements of the film. But pretty much anything on the ice is a joy to take in again.

Annie Hall

My second film of 1977 was Annie Hall. I won’t lie, there comes a certain uneasiness with watching something by Woody Allen these days, but I’ve loved and enjoyed his films all my life, and this is certainly one of his best, if not the best. Re-watching it now — for the first time in ages — I found it just as entertaining as ever, and was completely transported to his NYC of the late 70s.