Other Notable Films from 1969
The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah was a great director, but this movie about the end of the old west outlaws is probably his crowning achievement. It was revolutionary for its graphic violence (going much farther than Bonnie and Clyde), and its use of multiple quick-cut angles and slow motion. In the National Film Registry, and named #79 on the last AFI list.
Easy Rider: One of the definitive counterculture films that bridged the 60’s to the 70’s, it helped make the careers of Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper (who also directed) and Peter Fonda. It features one of the great soundtracks ever, featuring rock classics “The Weight” by The Band and “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, along with songs from Jimi Hendrix and The Byrds. In the National Film Registry.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?: This movie about a marathon dance contest during the great depression still holds the record for most Oscar nominations without getting a Best Picture nomination (nine, including Director, Actress and Screenplay). I wish I did get a chance to review it for this project, because it’s outstanding and one of the best movies about the depression ever made-although it does wallow in its cynicism too much, I’ve never seen a film get across the feelings of desperation and exhaustion so effectively.
Women in Love: The breakout film for the always…interesting…British director Ken Russell, and possibly his best work. In 1970 (when it was released in the U.S.), it was nominated for four Oscars, winning Glenda Jackson Best Actress.
The Learning Tree: The first Hollywood film to be directed by an African-American (Gordon Parks, who would later make Shaft). In the National Film Registry.
1969 Nominees in Review
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: A-
Midnight Cowboy: B+ (Won Best Picture)
Anne of the Thousand Days: C
Hello, Dolly!: D+
Replace the bottom two with The Wild Bunch and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? And this is an outstanding slate of films; as is, there is an obvious contrast between the great films representing where mainstream movies were heading and the films that were the dying sputtering coughs of Old Hollywood. Midnight Cowboy was a solid choice that I can’t argue with that vehemently, especially since it was trying to “do more” than its main competition from Hollywood (as a foreign film had no real chance sadly enough).
Next year begins a new decade, but it would take a couple more years to really feel like the 70’s. For 1970: The first in a series of disaster films that spawned 3 sequels and a legendary parody; A movie whose title is a reference to works by Mozart, Bach and Chopin; A movie that was filmed at Harvard and a future Oscar-winning alumni of the University made his film debut in it; and two war movies (one about WWII, the other Korea) that were heavily influenced by the ongoing war in Vietnam