Favourite Films of 1975
Monday is about movies. And sometimes TV. I've started this ongoing series around favourite films of each year. I haven't carried on with it for a while. So, Here we are with 1975...
It’s been a wee while since I’ve hit you with a list of favourite films from one year. In fact, this is the first time this year, certainly. Every few weeks, I started listing my favourite films from the first few years of the 1970s. We’re still dealing with films made outside of/ahead of my lifetime. And obviously, even in the late 70s and early 80s it will mostly be films I saw many years after they were released. But the idea is that each list for each year is the things that have had the biggest impact on me.
There’s no issue with listing the most obvious films - Chinatown in 1974 for instance, but sometimes there’s a reason I won’t pick an obvious film - like The Godfather or even The Godfather II. There’s also the chance I just haven’t yet seen a film that’s on most people’s list for that particular year. For example, I won’t be listing Barry Lyndon as one of my favourites in 1975. Because, get this: I’ve never ever seen it! I’ve seen every single Stanley Kubrick film. But I have never seen that. I own it on DVD, and it’s never quite felt like the right time. Well, all that changes next week. I’ve joined the Wellington Film Society, and they are opening with Barry Lyndon. (It’s one of the reasons I paid the annual fee, just to attend Barry Lyndon in the way it was meant to be seen, treating it like a concert). Anyway, there’ll be other films from 1975 that I will include that are utterly obvious.
It’s one of my favourite films by anyone ever, featuring one of my favourite performances by anyone ever — and the proof I use, most often, when people talk too coo-ingly about Robert De Niro and forget all about Al. I also love the fact that it’s got no music in it. That blew me away. As a soundtrack-fanatic, I’m as obsessed by this film and its total lack of score as I am by drummer-less jazz trio albums. I sometimes think there’s no film better than this.
It’s fair to say this had a profound effect on me. Just loved it. My folks let me watch it when I was fairly young, we videotaped it off late night TV and the whole family watched it. Which was really cool. I just loved the music. Obviously there’s amazing performances (Tim Curry) but to me it was mostly about the music to begin with…I then realised it had been a huge influence on the type of silly creature-feature horror I would later hunt out too. All of this is somewhat amusing, because, as a rule, I fucking hate musicals.
I watched this, for the first time in at least 30 years, just recently. And was so pleasantly surprised by what a great story it was, and a great film still. I had also just recently read the book. This movie was so terrifying when I watched it as a kid that it almost counts as trauma. (That’s horror leaving its actual mark). It left such a dent. I was even scared the next day in broad daylight in my family backyward Para pool.
I believe this film deserves its reputation so thoroughly, and I’d always been sure of that, but just to be 100% I did watch it recently — and my god I was all but weeping. Just a brutal, beautiful, brilliant movie. Everything is good about it really. Okay, so there’s maybe a 10-minute lag in the final third, perhaps, but that’s just movies of that time. Man. Wow. Just superb.
I keep thinking I must see Nashville again — but at the same time it is so thorougly burned into me.
And here’s five notable mentions – again in no particular order:
Quite possibly the first time I was aware I was watching a Hal Ashby film, and almost certainly the first time I thought I was seeing something brilliant that also happened to feature Warren Beaty. This was instrumental in me ‘getting’ him as a movie presence. Great film. Wonder how it’s held up. At the same time, don’t really care / imagine it hasn’t!
This is such a camp load of nonsense, oh but back in the early 1990s I was obsessed with anything music-related in a movie, or any movie that featured music so heavily. So this arrived, after The Wall in my timeline, and it was my proper way in to the music of The Who. I love this movie, for the memories of it. Obsessing over it. Watching it almost weekly for a time. I’d like to keep my memories of it as they are without ever ruining them by watching it again.
Just love this Michelangelo Antonioni film — and another featuring Jack Nicholson in the year 1975. He was on the start of a monumental roll here really, Chinatown and The Last Detail in the recent rearview mirror, banking this alongside Cuckoo — amazing. Love the mood and shots in this film, one of those bonkers-but-brilliant head-scratchers.
Love and Death
As time rolls on and Woody Allen banks more detractors, and seems less of a presence in the film world, it’s nice — in the complicated world of enjoying the art without endorsing the artist — to remember the early, funny films, but also the comedies like this that were smart and silly. I just have such strong memories attached to the ‘research’ of films like this; me just reading up and finding whatever I could get my hands on, somewhat wishing I’d actually studied film at university…
This list needs more horror. And Body Horror too. Well, there’s no one better than David Cronenberg, and I love these early body horror films in particular. Saw Shivers recently, and just fell in love with it all over again, and then followed it up with Rabid and The Fly and, well, almost everything….still working through his catalogue for the re-watch repeats, and loving all of it.
So, there it is then — my list of faves from 1975. This felt harder to get to than the previous years, but still some obvious bangers and lots of brilliance. But what’s on your list, what are your films of 1975?
Won’t leave it so long before I attack 1976, as I have to keep the momentum going if I’m going to get anywhere near done with these year-lists.
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