HOLLYWOOD FILMS OF THE SEVENTIES by Seth & Philip Dray Cagin

HOLLYWOOD FILMS OF THE SEVENTIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For Cagin and Dray, film-scholars in the Carlos Clarens mold, Hollywood had a ""golden age"" from the late Sixties to the late Seventies--when countercultural, youth-oriented, revolutionary themes were absorbed into the mainstream. Here, then, they trace those themes through ""seminal, transitional, and exemplary"" films of the period, sometimes leaning too hard on their socio-political premise but doing a sturdy, balanced job overall. The precursor-landmarks: the skeptical, maverick work of Stanley Kubrick (subversive Dr. Strangelove, mind-opening 2001); the antiheroic spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone (""perfectly in tune with the spirit of revisionism that underlay the counterculture""); Roger Corman's biker flicks (dubiously glorified here). The major touchstone movie: Easy Rider, of course, ""a violent and rude unmasking of latent impulses, resulting in the momentary triumph of revolutionary values."" And the authors go on to analyze the anti-Establishment, autonomy-seeking elements in both good films and not-so-good ones: Five Easy Pieces, Bonnie and Clyde, Carnal Knowledge (""the new willingness to plumb the pathologies of love""); the documentary Hearts and Minds; the historical revisionism of M*A*S*H, Patton, Little Big Man; campus films, youth-cult films; and The God- father, which is seen (rather too simplistically) as a culmination of those countercultural trends, ""Hollywood's requiem for the American Dream."" Cagin and Dray also seem to overreach in their survey of post-golden-age disillusionment and escape--with ""allegorical"" Jaws and Exorcist, the evasion of ""capitalism, imperialism, aggression and racism"" in Apocalypse Now. But, for the most part, even if one doesn't accept the vaguely Marxist approach underlying this chronicle, it offers solid, informed film-by-film analysis--in decent workaday prose that only occasionally strays into dated journalese (""right on,"" ""let it all hang out"") or film-school jargon.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row