Joe watches pretty much more films in a given year than any human I know. He may be a robot.
Check him out on this episode of the My Favorite Movie Podcast (very cool show):
1975 has one of the deepest benches as far as great movies are concerned, so it was cool to dig in beneath the crust and find the underrated treasures underneath. Thanks as always Brian for letting me participate, particularly since I get to hype people on The Drowning Pool yet again.
SHIVERS (1975; David Cronenberg)If this were anything other than David Cronenberg's debut feature, it would probably be anything but "underrated." But stacked up against stuff like Videodrome or The Fly, it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle - the thing is, though, it's just as good in its own way as those more established classics, and has a creepy sexual juju that feels right out of the filmmaker's prime period.
FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975; John Frankenheimer)I'd say that a big part of the movie-loving populace doesn't even know this movie exists, let alone that it's sort of great. Not the fully-realized masterpiece that the first film is, with a much more relaxed pace, but it does have one of the all-time great abrupt endings, as well as an extended set-piece in which Popeye Doyle kicks heroin mostly by way of yelling about Mickey Mantle.
COONSKIN (1975; Ralph Bakshi)
I've watched a lot of movies from the 1970s, and they represent a kind of golden age as far as racial representation is concerned. Back then, it probably seemed like we were on our way to a racially diverse utopia, with black characters finally getting the chance to break out of the subservient stereotypes that they were dominated by during the studio era. Unfortunately though, outmoded stereotypes have had a weird kind of persistence, and a movie like Coonskin that exists to skewer these stereotypical images in as over-the-top manner as possible have a continued relevance. The kind of movie that makes you wonder if you might get in trouble for watching it.
RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975; Jack Starrett)Great, muscular chase thriller starring Peter Fonda and Warren Oates on the run from a nebulous Satanic cabal. Need more than that? I dunno what to tell you.
THE DROWNING POOL (1975; Stuart Rosenberg)
Anyone who knows me knows that I will take any opportunity to rep for The Drowning Pool, 1975's little-loved sequel to the earlier (and much more famous) Paul Newman detective joint Harper. This is a big leap forward form the older film, though, both in terms of Newman's screen persona (which had aged to perfection by this point) and the cinematography, handled here by Gordon Willis - the result being that even in those moments when this sounds like a middling episode of The Rockford Files, it always looks like The Godfather. A pleasant combination, to say the least.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975; Robert Clouse)Here we have a dystopian future odyssey from Robert "Enter the Dragon" Clouse. Legend has it that this was originally supposed to be a Hollywood vehicle for Gordon Liu, but when that fell apart Yul Brynner was brought in instead. He's not a good substitute for Liu, but he brings his own kind of stoic magic to the titular Ultimate Warrior. Max Von Sydow is also hanging around, which is always good.
ZORRO (1975; Duccio Tessari)If you only know Alain Delon from his cooler-than-cool collaborations with Jean-Pierre Melville, you might be as shocked as I was to learn that he played Zorro in a 1975 production. This is supposedly the movie that inspired producer Illya Salkind to realize there was a place on the big screen for comic book type superheroes, and then he went on to make Superman, so this might actually be ground zero for the current superhero craze. It's actually much different than modern superhero movies though, small in scale and light on its feet (maybe a little too light, honestly). It ends on one of the best movie sword fights ever filmed, preceded by one of the best movie sword fight opening lines ever filmed. But you probably stopped reading after "Alain Delon played Zorro," so I won't bother going on.