Archive for the ‘1975’ Category

Back in 1975, Roy Scheider had a blockbuster hit with Jaws. But that year he also performed in an indie movie that bombed at the box office and got incredibly bad reviews. I always wanted to see this movie as a kid (being a fan of Roy Scheider), but it was such an obscure title that it was never shown on tv. Nor did I ever see it in a rental store. But now, anno 2018, it’s available on itunes!

It’s actually not all that bad. It’s a great trip back to the early seventies, when everyone smoked everywhere. At work, at parties, inside the living rooms. The movie is darkly lit and the soundtrack has only a few tracks that keep being repeated over and over again. It does feel more like a stage play than an actual movie as it’s set in only a few locations and the dialogue is important. It’s about a girl that comes from out-of-town to find a future in the big city. She ends up sharing an apartment with a messy wannabe actress, who encourages her to go party instead of cleaning up. At the party she meets a doctor from a nearby hospital who manages to get her into his bed. Bam. She’s in love! But he just sees it as a one night stand. Bam. Her heart is broken! Moreover, a few days later he’s going on a date with her crazy roommate (what are the odds!) and she needs to confront him again. But she grows stronger out of the experience!

It’s a silly movie. It’s about a girl discovering herself in the big city. It’s like Girls (never seen that show though) or Sex And The City, but then 4,5 decades ago. Jeannie Berlin is quite good as the quirky main character. Roy Scheider is just okay. Being a romantic lead has never been his thing.

there’s no trailer as such, but a clip on youtube:

Mandingo – *

Posted: March 3, 2013 in 1975, Drama, Historical, USA, X

It’s clever of the Saturn multimedia store to sell the dvd of Mandingo for 5 euro, while Django Unchained is still scoring at the box office. It’s a fair price for an old movie that probably would never ever sell if it weren’t for the success of Tarantino’s latest masterpiece.

Mandingo was made in the mid seventies before Roots and long before Amistad. It was apparently the first time that a movie showed the atrocities of slavery and didn’t try to glamorize them like other movies did. It was quite a success back then and quite a shocker too. After all, the atrocities are really cruel and all the white men (and women) are mean. Now, some critics praise the movie for having changed the image of slavery in Hollywood, others just call it racist. I just call it a bad movie.

It starts of really bad. The acting, the dialogue, the soundtrack, the editing, the directing of the action scenes… it’s really tough to persevere. Aside of all the technical failures, there’s also the unsettling tone of the story. The main characters treat the slaves as animals. I’m sure that’s what some slave owners did, but i prefer to get a more nuanced look at things. When Tarantino makes it so grotesque that it becomes funny, it’s also unsettling, but at least you understand that he means to be critical. In this movie however, the acts of abuse are shown without any form of cynicism and sarcasm and it almost feels like the director is supportive of it. The main reason for that is the lack of strong black characters. This Ken Norton was a professional boxer at the time of the movie’s release, so he wasn’t an actor and it shows. You can’t root for them, because you can’t really care for them.

The dvd synopsis mentions that this is a movie about mandingo fighting, but there’s really only one scene that shows an actual fight. And yes, it’s very identical to the mandingo fighting scene in Django Unchained. The rest is just a very silly story about the son of a plantation owner who gets married, finds out his wife isn’t a virgin during the wedding night, decides to buy a black bed wench that he starts caring for more than his own wife, also buys a mandingo fighter, who ends up having (involuntary) sex with the masters wife . And in between all that you see some shocking treatments of slaves. There’s this one scene where a doctor tells a small black boy to sleep at the end of his masters bed like some kind of kitten and then tells the master to put his feet on the belly of the kid, because it will cure his arthritis. Now even if that may have occurred, it’s still very silly to show it in a motion picture. And bad.

It took me 38 years to see Jaws on a big screen! I have waited for this day since I saw the movie for the first time back when I was 12 or so. Jaws! I have three different VHS cassettes and two different DVD-releases. I have a dozen of books published on the phenomenon and I’ve collected even more dozens of articles over the years. I’ve written an essay about it in college. My friends from back in the nineties have given me hundreds of Jaws-like postcards, mugs, bottle openers, teddy bears, t-shirts, magnets, key chains, etc….  I’ve seen Spielberg’s masterpiece more than 20 times. at least. Yet, it took me this long to see it at the movies. But I did and I wasn’t disappointed. I was even surprised to see things that I had never noticed before. Minor details but still. I was ALL ALONE in the theatre room, which gave it an even personal touch. It may not have been the biggest screen in the world, but it was bigger than any flatscreen in any home I’ve been. So hooray!

Still my favorite movie of all times!