Alright, I confess. I love the Seventies. The post-Vietnam 1970’s formed me as a person and provided an aesthetic sense and a moral core.

When I am down and out or emotionally drained, I simply Timebend back to the Seventies and all is well in the world again. A smiley face can heal many ills. Perhaps that’s why I am so enchanted by Technicolor curves and why I am so wholly engaged by WordPress emoticons.

Music doesn’t transport me to 1975. Art does not transport me back. Movies bring me home. There is something about a 1970’s Los Angeles movie — shot in and around the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles — that creates tremendous melancholia and a sense of belonging I do not have in my present life in the current world.

As a Nebraska boy born and bred in one town for the first 23 years of living — the movies were an escape from the prison of the ordinary — a release from the deadly pressure of a dulling, grey, Midwestern expectation — that suffocated and suffered. You earned your life through your deeds. Wishes were never rewards.

Attending the movies on a hot summer day — where you shivered in the dark and wondered in the freezing chill of air conditioning at the shimmering lives on the screen above you — made your corner of the world right again and provided insight and experiences beyond the self that could heal and propel the spirit beyond city limits and state borders.

The urban core was brought to the boy. If I watch the right 1970’s movie I can instantly taste, smell and feel the sun on my face from 30 years ago. It is an eerie transportation and transformation. Movies are my uncommon touchstone and it is startling to be so quickly removed from the present and be placed in the past where life — and its yearnings — were questioned but never answered.

18 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    When I think of 1970s movies I think of the Richard Roundtree “Shaft” series and the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. In my city in the South, there were whites who picketed the theatre showing of Shaft because it starred a cool dude who was African-American.
    I never really thought of those movies as exploiting black audiences, I thought of them as an avenue for black expression. The music of Isaac Hayes was cool, too. Groovy, man.
    Donna

  2. Hey Donna —
    Yes, the rise of Blaxploitation films happened in the 1970s. That movement was both chaining and freeing. The movies played into stereotypes but the Black artists who made the films were then able to move into the mainstream a bit better after finding financial successes with those films.

  3. I love 70s movies, though I watched those in 80s/90s!
    Movies were surely “a great escape” from everyday life, and for me it was a “window to a different world” too!
    Once we had a discussion among our friends about choosing our first three all-time favorites and heading to an exile for life. I started with “Roman Holiday” and ended up choosing 25 instead on 3!!! 😀

  4. Hi Katha —
    Yes, movies have a way of creating touchstones across culture — and they can incite a universal yearning for this lost and memories forgotten. Unlike any other fleeting art form, movies are the same experience for everyone across generations because frame-for-frame every sound and image is perfectly preserved and identical from copy to copy.

  5. Hi David,
    I am right with you on the 70’s movies. I still think many of the best are from that time, and like you I get transported back.
    It was not just the well made films that get me, but also the campy and the cheap. The kung fu and horror movies of the seventies were just spectacular, reveling in their cheap costs and low quality. It was just good fun.
    It was something about the shift in attitudes from the 60’s, which could be preachy. Also about that time, acting stopped being as camp as in the past. Another ingredient was that special effect were improving, but still not to the point where you could carry a movie with the effects, you still needed to spin a good yarn.
    I get saddened these days when my favorites from the seventies get redone, all glitz and fluff, with none of the feeling or quality of the product from days gone by.
    Funny thing is how Tarrantino can get so close to the feel of that time, but he was a junkie of that era. The movies were his drug. Also, as I love old horror, Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects had a 70’s effect on me. That movie could have come straight from that era.
    I find myself looking forward to seeing Zombie’s take on another late 70’s classic, Halloween. As he was a fan and junkie of the cinema like Tarrantino, and has already produced two films that hearken back to the era, I feel this could be a great flick.
    The 70’s stand as a transition time, and the movies project that. I for one think that was a golden age that will be looked back on as one of the best times for Tinseltown.
    This was a great post David, thanks for transporting me back this morning!

  6. arin —
    Yes, books are also a conditional escape — but reading them is intimate and personal. The words are the same but the experience varies from person to person as imagination takes over to define the unknown.

  7. Eban!
    Yes! You’re in the mix of it! 1970’s movies have a definite look and feel across time and space. There is a different between the preaching of the 60’s and the bling-blang of the 1980’s. There was a serious to the work. Seeing a car and clothing from the decade brings back a flood of memory and feeling unlike any other era.
    Rob Zombie’s movies scare me.
    Quentin is fine talent. Sometimes he gets lost within himself and forgets he’s here to entertain us.
    There’s nothing like seeing a 1970’s movie set in New York for a taste of the real Gold Age of the city in proper color and culture. Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” from 1971 is a perfect example of tasting that decade in real time for me:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067589/
    “The Odd Couple” TV show that ran from 70-75 is another real delight for seeing NYC is palpable glory when they do street shots.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065329/

  8. Yes, arin, movies take imagination — but the same experience is shared between people without any wiggle room. The blue you see is the blue I see because it is defined for us on the screen. Books rely on a certain filling in of experience that the movies do not. You can spend a lot of time arguing interpretation but not the facts contained in the frames because they never change.

  9. Hi David,
    I loved the 1970s also. I was born in 1970, so all of the fun years of being able to be carefree and just a kid were during those times. (The same can be said of the 1980s and 1990s, but there was more homework involved during those years).
    Whenever it starts to feel warm and get close to the end of the school year, I always think back to the days of spending almost every day of the summer riding bikes and lounging around the swimming pool. Sometimes a cool breeze can bring back memories of playing whiffle ball with neighborhood kids.

  10. Right, Chris! Memory is a powerful thing.
    “That 70’s Show” has nothing on the real 70s we lived through — that show is mocking and off-target in so many ways.
    I grew up listening to Nebraska football on the radio on cool Saturday afternoons with a crispness in the air and leaves falling. As a kid you acted out the game in your backyard as it was being played.
    We also lived near Nebraska Wesleyan University so every Friday night you could hear the roar of the crowd flowing across the night. All those voices. Powerful stuff!
    Even today, on some Fall days here on the East Coast, there is that same Nebraska crispness in the air and you say out loud to no one in particular: “Football Weather.”

  11. Oh memory lane ……….
    M*A*S*H
    One Flew over a Cuckoos Nest
    Rollerball
    A Clockwork Orange
    James Bond Films
    Blazing Saddles
    Apocalypse Now
    The Deer Hunter
    The Day of the Jackal
    The French Connection
    I could go on forever ……………….. wistful sigh

  12. Oh, wow, Nicola! You’re right on it! What great movies!
    There was a certain realism in the 70’s movies that was quite pleasing. You could see how the world looked back then and the experience was recorded in situ and then locked in a memory box.
    The movies of the 80’s and 90’s were more escapist entertainment where realism was thrown out for fantasy, surreal action and CGI.

  13. Hmmm…interesting differences based on where and how one grew up. The post-Vietnam ’70s weren’t my favorite time at all. Many of my friends were dealing with the loss of their fathers, or dealing with fathers returned them disabled. Many of those men were friends of my family so it affected me as well.
    Add a general depression and disillusionment amoung the military (My family’s occupation) and it made for a “less than golden” time for me.
    The television and movies of that era wer GROOVIN’ though 🙂

  14. The 10’s will probably be as miserable for the military families as the 70’s were for you and yours, jonolon.
    For me the 70’s were the last remaining moments of a golden era in individual entertaining much like the 50’s indicated the end of the Golden Age of group television and theatre efforts.
    The 80’s were disco, the 90’s were boy bands and now everyone is a star and famous without an ounce of training or aesthetic.