There is an awful lot that has been and can be written about this film. I touched briefly on 1967’s impact on American cinema a few years back, so I’m not really going to delve into that aspect of the film, though I will point out a few things that made it a game-changer. I remember when I first saw this film, I wasn’t all that impressed to be honest. But the more I watch it the more its genius reveals itself to me. I saw it on the big screen at the Castro last spring and I am so glad that I did. A few weeks ago some kind stranger anonymously bought it for me from my Amazon wishlist, so I decided it was time for another revisit. The result is going to be this rather epic look at what I now realize is one of the most exquisitely directed films of all time. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it only won one: Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Katharine Ross, Best Actress Anne Bancroft, Best Actor Dustin Hoffman, Best Director Mike Nichols (won) and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Doolittle, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and winner In The Heat of the Night.
Mr. Holland: Let me ask you a question.
Gertrude Lang: Alright.
Mr. Holland: When you look in the mirror, what do you like best about yourself?
Gertrude Lang: My hair.
Mr. Holland: Why?
Gertrude Lang: Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset.
Mr. Holland: Play the sunset.
My first memories of American Graffiti mostly revolve around my love of the film’s soundtrack. I remember watching it as a little kid and not really being able to follow the plot, but absolutely falling in love with the soundtrack. It’s perhaps the best soundtrack of all time. That may be debatable, but I’ll stick with my opinion there. Apparently George Lucas wrote the screenplay after being challenge on the set of THX-1138 by Francis Ford Coppola to write something that mainstream audiences would enjoy. Lucas then set the film in 1962 around the cruising culture he remembered as a teenager in Modesto. The result was a ridiculously successful film full of early-60s, pre-Vietnam-era nostalgia. The film had a $775,000 budget and wound up grossing $118 mil. It was also nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actress Candy Clark, Best Director and Best Picture. It was up against A Touch of Class, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist and winner The Sting.
I don’t have a memory of the first time I saw this film; I think that’s because I was very little when I first saw it and I don’t remember a world wherein Jaws didn’t exist. I thought it would be fitting to write about this film as summer ends since it was the first summer blockbuster and to this day one of the most critically acclaimed. I love this film. I have seen it so many times now, including at least once in theaters, that I practically have it memorized. It’s only rated PG, but somehow it is insanely terrifying – even upon repeat viewings. I think Spielberg managed to create a film that is the perfect combination of chilling, exiting, heartfelt and innovative. What also makes this film work so well is the great performances from everyone in the cast. It’s almost as if they made a B movie at an A-list calibre (much like Hitchcock’s Psycho). It was nominated for four Academy Awards and won three – Best Film Editing (won), Best Score – John Williams (won), Best Sound (won) and Best Picture. It was up against Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Nashville and winner One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
This film looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s based on the comic book series of the same name by Warren Ellis and helmed by German director Robert Schwentke. The cast list reads like a dream: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine. I love that Borgnine is still making films! And Helen Mirren wielding a machine gun? Priceless.
Trailer and synopsis after the cut.
This film was up for five Oscars, including Best Picture, ultimately losing to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Richard Dreyfuss did, however, win Best Actor – at 29 he was the youngest winner until Adrien Brody won for 2002’s The Pianist. Dreyfuss also won Best Actor at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, the Kansas City Film Critics and the LA Film Critics for his portrayal of some-time Shakespearean actor Elliot Garfield. Marsha Mason was also up for Best Actress, Quinn Cummings for Best Supporting Actress and Neil Simon for Best Original Screenplay – his only nomination in that category (he was nominated in the Adapted Screenplay category 3 times).