I came of age during the heyday of the Hollywood fantasy blockbuster, a 12-year-old during the summer of 1984 reveling in one transformative glossy popcorn movie after another. However, one of my most profound movie experiences came earlier, watching Kramer vs. Kramer at age 7 in 1979, and maybe that innoculated me with a taste for the earthy and intimate texture of 1970s filmmaking. I may have been entranced by the spectacle of movies from the 1980s, but I fell in love with the art of movies from the 1970s. It wasn't until my later teen years, when I discovered Taxi Driver (1976) and The Godfather, Parts 1 & 2 (1972-1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Exorcist (1973) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (all among my 20 favorite movies of all-time), that I understood how the 1970s defined best what I craved from movies.
"New Hollywood" is one of a few nicknames for that period of American filmmaking that began in the late 1960s as the movie studios caved to counterculture pressure from inside and out and allowed a new crop of rebellious and movie-saturated young directors to put their personal visions on-screen. This era stretched into the early 1980s, by which time the reverberations of Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) had shifted Hollywood's focus away from adult dramas and toward more expensive summer crowd-pleasers. However, some filmmakers from that era, like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, have not only remained relevant through their own continued reinvention, but the indie boom of the 1990s was saturated in “New Hollywood” influences, inspiring yet another new generation of filmmakers with the 1970s' spirit by-proxy.
Flickchart's "New Hollywood" filter spans from 1966-1982, from Monte Hellman's The Shooting to Hal Ashby's Lookin' to Get Out. It contains almost 300 movies, just over half of which are already on my chart, and two-thirds of those are ranked higher than 50%. One-third of my 100 favorite movies are from this period. Of the movies from the "New Hollywood" filter that aren't already on my chart, I've watched several before — many while reading Peter Biskind's excellent book on the period, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, at the tail-end of the 1990s — but I need to revisit them. Others I may have skipped because of my struggles to connect with a director's style (see John Cassavetes, below), some because of subject matter (see Midnight Express, below), but most of the others I haven't seen because there are just too many movies and too little life. Greg Dean Schmitz is doing me a favor by bringing this list to my Silver Screen Streak movie challenge and stands as good a chance as any one of a long, enjoyable streak. As long as Cassavetes doesn’t muck it up for both of us.
I’ll watch the first two movies from each list, giving each participant the chance to avoid an instant exit and maybe even earn some free passes.
The first two movies on this list are: