Top ten movies of the year, 1975 edition

Once again I play the “best films of the year, some decades back” game with Jesse Walker and LAGuy.  This time the year is… 1975, a year for epic cinematic invention from and about a culture wracked by transformation and doubt.  Jesse’s post is online, as is LAGuy’s.

Three Days of the CondorIn1975 I was eight years old, a very quiet kid growing up on Long Island, spending as much time as possible at the local public library.  When I wasn’t watching movies:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail From the opening credits through the final collapse, one of the greatest comedies of all time.
  2. Mirror An impressionistic film that leaps through memories by association and personal logics, this is one of Tarkovsky’s sweetest and interior works.  It also has perhaps the most understated, yet powerful scenes about life under dictatorship.
  3. Three Days of the Condor A finely crafted espionage thriller which turns one’s own government into the enemy.  It also has a fun phone phreaking scene, a very bad postman, and ends with a still useful thwack at the New York Times.
  4. Barry Lyndon A twentieth-century interpretation of a nineteenth-century take on the 18th century, Kubrick majestically creates a grand novel for the screen.   LAGuy says you should only take it in doses, which is wise – like a big novel, you need to put it down sometimes, to walk away and let it reverberate.
  5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest A fine allegory from the depth of the counterculture, and an artifact from the great antipsychiatry movement.  A grinning yet despairing ode to individualism in/as madness.
  6. Picnic at Hanging Rock A movie so saturated with dread as to nearly be a horror film, its mystery builds and resonates without relief, but with beauty.  A nice pairing with Mirror or any Tarkovsky, for that matter.
  7. Rocky Horror Picture Show Obviously.
  8. Shivers Maybe the purest Cronenberg movie, a streamlined dose of body horror.  Monsters of the id made manifest in flesh, right in an apartment at the acme of contemporary science and style.  The first post-Pill horror movie.
  9. Nashville An anti-epic epic, a sprawling interlocking web of mysteries, and a love letter to music.
  10. Jaws One of Spielberg’s few real successes, this horror film disguised as a thriller wears a fish story as a cover and somehow makes it all work. As an eight-year-old living on Long Island, who loved to swim, especially in the ocean, this naturally struck home.

Honorable mentions:

  • The Man Who Would Be King An interesting movie to review during the war(s) on terror.
  • Dog Day Afternoon The art of the heist.
  • Salo, 120 Days of Sodom Pasolini is one of the great directors, and here he gazes deeply into the worst the 20th century had to offer: Sade as a gateway drug to fascism.
  • Death Race 2000 The b movie at its inspired best, raking America over the coals, and fast.  Brrrrm!
  • A Boy and His Dog The C movie doing its thing, peeling away the bottom of the American mind in a post-atomic morality fable.  A fine double feature with One Flew Over.
  • Rollerball Because I hate sports movies.  Weirdly elegiac when not manic with its gleeful, invented sport.
  • Deep Red (Hatchet Murders) Giallo.
  • The Flying Guillotine When Asian martial arts movies go mad, they go to strange places.
  • Stepford Wives A strange transmission from the era of women’s lib.
  • Love and Death A delirious comedy for people who love Russian lit.  Also good for others.
  • The Land That Time Forgot I’m pretty sure it blew my 8-year-old mind.

Very bad movies: Mitchell!

Haven’t seen, or can’t remember well enough to say: Night Moves; Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer; The Magic Flute; Posse; Monsieur Pointu; Dersu Uzala; The Passenger; Dolemite.  I’m not sure if I saw Lisztomania or dreamt it.


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4 Responses to Top ten movies of the year, 1975 edition

  1. CogDog says:

    Vivid memories of seeing Jaws in the theater, it was big and terrifying.

  2. Steven Kaye says:

    What sticks in my mind from Jaws especially is the hand on the beach. With the crabs.

    Night Moves is of course wonderful, and I can’t understand how PajamaGuy can prefer Three Days of the Condor above it.

    I want to see Day of the Locust, having read and loved the book.

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