Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oscars 1970!!--An Introduction to the Year and the Movies

The soon-to-be creator of the "Godfather" films pens an Oscar-winning screenplay about a controversial U.S. General; a Harvard jock loves the doomed daughter of a poor Italian baker, and Kleenex sales reach record proportions; a Grand-Hotel-of-the-skies packs 'em in and thus the popular Disaster Film genre is born; an oilfield roughneck returns to his privileged origins and struggles to find himself; and a subversive group of Korean War surgeons hilariously offend the establishment, in what knowing young viewers see as a savage commentary on Vietnam.

It's finally second annual 40-year retrospective on the Academy Awards!  In time for Tuesday's 2010 Nomination announcement.

I loved the movie year 1970.

No sooner did the schizophrenic 1969 Oscars honor the old guard while recognizing experimentation and taboo, than the cinema of 1970 continued breaking boundaries while seeming to hold fast to old formulas and crowd-pleasers.  Creativity won the day, and the results were some of the most original and interesting films ever made.  Though a few have dated poorly, the best movies of 1970 remain as innovative and exciting to today's audiences as they were in their original release.

I'll devote the following series of posts to the major categories: Best Picture and all the Acting categories.  First, tomorrow I'll start with an overview of movies in 1970, and look at some really interesting races in all the other categories:.
For instance, Scorsese's favorite film editor is nominated for a groundbreaking Documentary; the world's most famous rock group wins its first and only Oscar; a Swedish master wins the Thalberg Award; an Italian visionary goes toe-to-toe with a Hollywood maverick; and the last surviving member of the blacklisted Hollywood 10  wins his second Oscar, nearly 30 years after his first victory.  (Any guesses as to the identity of the aforementioned?)

Let's set up the series with a brief look at 1970, a year of upheaval and milestone.

The Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia.  Anti-war protests swept the nation, and on the campus of Kent State University four students were killed by National Guardsmen trying to quell a riot.  President Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency, and signed the 26th Amendment, giving 18-year-olds the right to vote.  Hard-hat construction workers clashed with protesters on Wall Street in New York. 
Nixon later announced the withdrawal of 40,000 troops from Vietnam before Christmas.  1970 saw the very first Earth Day.  Apollo 13 Astronauts uttered the famous line, "Houston, we've got a problem". Anwar Sadat was named the President of Egypt (and would be assassinated in 1981).  Ronald Reagan wins a second term as Governor of California. Muhammad Ali testified before the supreme court after refusing induction into the Army.

In 1970 The Beatles released the album "Let It Be", and the movie of the same name.  1970 saw the premier of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Monday Night Football, the first appearance of the "Doonesbury" comic strip, and the formation of the US Animal Welfare Act.  1970 saw the birth of actress Uma Thurman and Hamburger Helper.  (No connection between the last two...)

In 1970, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died of drug overdose; Gypsy Rose Lee, a queen of Burlesque, dies.  "Hello Dolly ends its Broadway run after 2,844 performances; The Beatles go their separate ways (and George Harrison scores the first solo hit of the group with "My Sweet Lord".)

Native American author Dee Brown publishes the hugely influential "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee". 

And Alvin Toffler published "Future Shock," and argued that technology was changing so rapidly that individuals could find themselves strangers in their own cultures. This prophetic work might have its logical result 40 years later in films like "Inception" and "The Social Network."

Let's start our look back at Oscar year 1970 with a listen to that year's Best Song, "For All We Know", from the movie "Lovers and Other Strangers".  A lighthearted contemporary (for its day) story about love and marriage, it boasted a cast including Gig Young, Richard Castellano, Bea Arthur, Anne Meara, Cloris Leachman, Diane Keaton, and Bonnie Bedelia.  The song is sung during the wedding scene.

I included the popular and excellent version sung by "The Carpenters". (Click on the link to hear the song)
Welcome aboard....I look forward to sharing this look back....


  1. Yes! Been looking forward to this! I love Lovers and Other Strangers, by the way. Keaton's first film, and that song is wonderful!

  2. This looks like a fun series of posts!

  3. Another great year to get your teeth into, can't wait to hear what you have to say.

  4. Wow - great throwback! Admittedly, though you consider it tame, I'm pretty sure Patton was my first encounter with most swear words... thanks to my WWII vet grandpa's adoration of that movie above all things. :)