22 August, 2013

I Was Given 1977. Let Me Explain.

            Hello, class!

            So my dear friend John Rios ropes me into one of those “I give you a year, you list your ten favorite movies” things on Facebook.  And I’m game.  My year?  1977.   Easy, I think.  There’s ‘Star Wars’ – the seminal film that year – and ‘Annie Hall’ – the film that would win Best Picture that year.  Yep, easy.  But then I google a list of 1977 films and find –
‘A Bridge Too Far’
            ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’
‘Saturday Night Fever’
and ‘The Spy Who Loved Me.’

Shit.  Now I’m going to have to write-up something.  Yep, here we go.

            Movie tickets cost $2.25 and ‘Star Wars’ brought in $461,000.  (And probably the most famous – but not widely known – story there is Mr. Lucas was ordered – ordered – to open the film with (the then traditional) Opening Credits.  He refuses and decides to distribute the film independently.  (I wonder how that worked out for him.)

            And ‘Annie Hall?’  Mr. Allen became the fourth person in Oscar history to be nominated in a single year as both an Actor and Screenwriter (after those shmucks Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Sylvester Stallone);  and Allen was the first person since Welles to be nominated in the same year for Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Director.  And ‘Annie Hall’s’ win for United Artists made it the first studio to win three Best Pictures in a row;  the second wouldn’t be until DreamWorks (1999-2001). 
            Outside The Oscars?  Disney releases ‘The Rescuers’ which – long before Jeffrey Katzenberg’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ and John Lassiter’s ‘Toy Story' -- saves animation at the company;  and that same year the company releases one of its own instant classics, ‘The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh.’

            Okay, films in 1977.  So far we have (in alphabetical order) –

‘A Bridge Too Far’
‘Annie Hall’
            ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’
'Saturday Night Fever'
‘Star Wars’
‘The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh’
‘The Rescuers’
and 'The Spy Who Loved Me.'

Well, that’s nine.  And this is a “Top 10” list, so I only need one more.  What else was released in 1977?  I can’t imagine I missed anything.  Duh, how about --

‘High Anxiety’
‘Smokey And The Bandit’
and ‘The Goodbye Girl.'

            And those “little two” in there;  ‘Julia’ and ‘The Goodbye Girl?’  The first only won Jason Robards Best Supporting Actor (and he the only person to win in that category two years in a row), and Vanessa Redgrave Best Supporting Actress.  (‘Julia’s’ also the film that premiered little what’s-her-name Meryl Streep.)  And ‘The Goodbye Girl?’  The film began as a screenplay called ‘Bogart Slept Here’ (essentially Neil Simon’s take on what happened to Dustin Hoffman after he became a star) that was to star Robert De Niro.  But after several table readings, it was decided Mr. De Niro wasn't right for the role, and Richard Dreyfuss was brought in to try out with (already cast) Marsha Mason.  At the end of that reading, Mr. Simon decided, "[The script] doesn't work, but they do."  So he rewrote the screenplay in six weeks.  The result?  Mr. Dreyfuss won his first Academy Award.

            All right, so now in our “Top 10 of 1977” we have –

            ‘A Bridge Too Far’
‘Annie Hall’
            ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’
‘High Anxiety’
‘Saturday Night Fever’
‘Smokey And The Bandit’
‘Star Wars’
‘The Goodbye Girl’
‘The Spy Who Loved Me’
            and ‘The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh.’

            I think I reached “ten,” haven’t I?  You do the math.

            ‘Close Encounters.’  How are you doing with those potatoes?  ‘Network.’  Are you mad as hell and can’t take it anymore?  ‘Saturday Night Fever.’  Shall we dance?  ‘Slapshot.’  Widely considered one of the great sports movies, and if you’re a Paul Newman fan and haven’t seen it, how dare you.  ‘Sorcerer.’  Don’t let the title fool you, it has nothing to do with Medieval Times Magic and is a great thriller backed by no less than William Friedkin and Roy Scheider.  (And those of you that know, the truck on that bridge?)  And then there's ‘The Spy Who Loved Me.'  We should all ski so well.

            Needless to say, ’77 was a bit better than just ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Annie Hall.’  Though even those two are great.

            Screen on, class.

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