Movie Moments: 1970s
This week we return to my latest series of meanders through the past seven decades. In Movie Moments, we’re looking at what was topping the charts at the box office, some of the biggest names around, and which films mean the most to me when I look back in time. And there will even be a spot of music each time to bring back memories. We began in the 1950s; last month we looked at the 1960s. Today on our stroll down movie memory lane, we reach the 1970s.
This was the decade when I left home to go to University, got thrown out of University for failing all my exams, subsequently, after resits, going on to get both a degree and a doctorate, while at the same time getting married. Quite a busy time, all in all. Living in London, we had access not only to local cinemas but also to those in Leicester Square. So we saw many of the top movies on the big screens when they first came out.
This was the time when several of the long-running franchises first appeared. I remember the audience cheering without a hint of irony when Superman, played by the late-lamented Christopher Reeve, told Lois Lane he was on Earth to fight for “truth, justice and the American way.” It was only when I played that clip again the other day that I remembered her rejoinder: “you’re going to end up fighting every elected official in this country.” And I thought political cynicism was a 21st Century trait.
Every time I watch a Star Wars movie, as those static opening words “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away” are followed by the scrolling text and yet another stirring John Williams theme, I’m taken back to a huge cinema in London and an-ongoing discussion of why George Lucas started the series at part IV.
Other great movies and performances of that decade include Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; Marlon Brando in The Godfather (and who can forget that horse’s head?); Paul Newman and Robert Redford teaming up again in The Sting; and an early Spielberg epic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
But my main memory of this decade is of a classic rock musical that I’ve seen so many times, both on film and as a stage show that I know virtually every word of the script; me and millions of others. The film opened in 1975, two years after the play arrived in London.
Over the years, I have seen a variety of casts including Jason Donavon as Frank N Furter and both Nicholas Parsons and Ainsley Harriot as the Narrator. But for all fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, there won’t be anyone to beat Tim Curry as the doctor, Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff and Meatloaf as the doomed biker, Eddie. So really, there’s only one way to end today’s piece, isn’t there. Time warp, anyone?