Category Archives: 1974

Blu-Ray News #138: Freebie And The Bean (1974).

Directed by Richard Rush
Starring Alan Arkin, James Caan, Loretta Swit, Jack Kruschen, Mike Kellin, Paul Koslo, Linda Marsh, Alex Rocco, Valerie Harper

Warner Archive has announced Freebie And The Bean (1974) for an upcoming Blu-Ray release. Some will probably ask why.

This highly un-PC movie, which switches from violent action flick to comedy almost frame by frame, divides film fans more than about movie I can think of (those that even remember it). Many hate it for the reasons I just listed. Me, I love it — partly for those same things.

But there’s more to it than that. It’s a master class in vehicular stunts — they tear up a lot of cars in this thing, and it always looks like actual pedestrians are in real peril. It’s got both Alex Rocco and Paul Koslo in it. Alan Arkin is as good as ever, and James Caan was on a real roll at this time — The Godfather (1972), Slither (1973, a personal favorite), The Gambler (1974), The Godfather: Part II (1972) and Rollerball (1975).

Laszlo Kovacs (behind camera) shooting Arkin and Caan on a construction crane.

What’s more, the Blu-Ray will give us a chance to really appreciate Laszlo Kovacs’ Panavision San Francisco photography, which takes us to places you don’t see in more scenic SF films like Vertigo (1958), Bullitt (1968) and What’s Up, Doc? (1972). It’s a great-looking, gritty movie. And, in my opinion, it’s a thousand times better than the cop/buddy movies that came later, like those Lethal Weapon things. I can’t wait to see it in high definition.

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Filed under 1974, Alan Arkin, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Caan, Laszlo Kovacs, Richard Rush, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #104: The Yakuza (1974).

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Directed by Sydney Pollack
Starring Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith, Herb Edelman, Richard Jordan

A lotta folks are gonna be happy about this one. Warner Archive has Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza (1974) on the way on Blu-Ray — in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s a great look at Japanese culture, with a typically terrific performance from Robert Mitchum and some incredible action sequences. This is one of those movies I heard a whole lot about before I finally caught up with it — and it actually lived up to all the hype.

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Filed under 1974, DVD/Blu-ray News, Robert Mitchum, Sydney Pollack, Warner Archive

Gene Wilder, RIP.

Wilder Wonka

The great Gene Wilder has passed away. For those of us who grew up in the 70s, he was in so much good stuff — Bonnie And Clyde (1967), The Producers (1968), Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971, above), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and many more.

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Wilder with Zero Mostel and Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ The Producers. When you have Mostel, Mars and Wilder in the same frame, how can it not be funny?

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Filed under 1967, 1968, 1971, 1974, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks

Blu-ray News #57: Airport, The Complete Collection (1970-1979).

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Universal has always been big on “franchises,” from the Universal Monsters and Ma And Pa Kettle to Back To The Future and Tremors.

Certainly one of their biggest would have to be the Airport pictures. And while they’re a cases study in the Law Of Diminishing Returns, there’s still something about them, something we can all own on Blu-ray in June.

Airport (1970)
Directed by George Seaton
Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson

Van Heflin (in his last movie) blows a hole in Dean Martin’s plane. Shot in 70mm Todd-AO by Ernest Laszlo, it was a massive success — and kick-started the disaster movie craze of the 70s. Note the Easter ad for Radio City Music Hall.

Airport ’75 (1974)
Directed by Jack Smight
Starring Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Helen Reddy, Gloria Swanson, Linda Blair

A small plane runs into the cockpit of a 747, leaving no one to fly the plane. It seems to be the movie most parodied in Airplane! (1980).

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Airport ’77 (1977)
Directed by Jarry Jameson
Starring Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, James Stewart, George Kennedy, Brenda Vaccaro, Christopher Lee, Joseph Cotton

A hijacked 747 crashes and sinks in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Concorde: Airport ’79 (1979)
Directed by David Lowell Rich
Starring Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, Sylvia Kristal, George Kennedy, Eddie Albert, Charo, John Davidson

Where the previous pictures had the likes of Helen Hayes, James Stewart, Gloria Swanson and Joseph Cotton in supporting roles, here we have Charo and Sybil Danning. It plays like a TV movie, and a bad one at that.

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Filed under 1970, 1974, 1977, 1979, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Dean Martin, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Universal (-International)

Blu-ray News #54: The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974).

Pelham

Directed by Joseph Sargent
Starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam. Hector Elizondo, James Broderick, Dick O’Neill, Jerry Stiller, Kenneth McMillan, Doris Roberts, Tony Roberts

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974) has one of the greatest assemblages of New York character actors ever, and it shows how to seamlessly weave humor into a suspense film — without diluting the suspense. And David Shire’s score is just terrific.

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Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw): “Now, then, ladies and gentlemen, do you see this gun? It fires 750 rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition per minute. In other words, if all of you simultaneously were to rush me, not a single one of you would get any closer than you are right now. I do hope I’ve made myself understood.”

This is a movie I appreciate a little more every time I see it. Since catching its first network TV airing (with its dialogue looped, edited and just plain monkeyed with to a crazy degree), it’s become one of my favorite films of the 70s.

Kino Lorber will release a special edition Blu-ray in July, packed with interviews, commentaries and other cool stuff. Can’t wait. “Gesundheit.”

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Filed under 1974, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Robert Shaw, Walter Matthau

RIP, George Kennedy.

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George Kennedy
(February 18, 1925 – February 28, 2016)

George Kennedy, one of Hollywood’s finest, and busiest, character actors, has passed away at 91.

Kennedy made so many good movies in the 60s and 70s (he was plenty busy in TV, too), it’s hard to keep track of them. Charade (1963). The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965), in which he and John Wayne execute one of the most perfectly-timed hits in all of cinema — as Wayne smacks Kennedy in the face with the spoke of a wagon wheel. Cool Hand Luke (1967, above), as Dragline — which landed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The Dirty Dozen (1967). And a personal favorite, Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974).

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Filed under 1967, 1974, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne

RIP, Alex Rocco.

Screen shot 2015-07-19 at 11.47.54 PM

Alex Rocco
February 29, 1936 – July 18, 2015

Alex Rocco is one of my favorite 70s character actors, appearing in a couple pictures I really love: Slither (1973) and Freebie And The Bean (1974). Of course, he was also Moe Green in The Godfather (1972). He passed away on Saturday.

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Rocco only has one scene in Freebie (both images here), as a DA who tells James Caan and Alan Arkin they don’t have enough evidence (and that they’re idiots), but he’s hysterical — and Caan and Arkin have to work hard to keep up. I love those goofy 70s comedies.

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Filed under 1972, 1973, 1974, Alan Arkin, James Caan