By John H. Foote
Ok, after 20 of the finest American films of the seventies we have arrived at the films I consider to be the 10 finest of the decade. No one else, just me and my opinion alone.
The films listed here were selected after an agonizing selection process that saw some the truly great movies of the seventies passed over. Being There (1979), Shampoo (1975), Patton (1970), The French Connection (1971), Rocky (1978), Superman (1978) and The Last Detail (1973) we’re gently bumped in favour of the 20 previous films and these final 10.
I have already been emailed and received personal messages on Facebook, all which I have read, though I take those calling me vulgarities less serious than I took the others. Yes there were some good arguments, yes it hurt me to not include many of the fore mentioned films, as well as your choices: Badlands (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), Heaven Can Wait (1978) or Slap Shot (1978).
The film many called me out for omitting, many believing it must be in the top 10, was Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978), which you will not find among the top ten. There is no denying the craft, the extraordinary tension of the scenes in Vietnam, or the poetic beauty of the scenes in Pennsylvania before and after the trio goes off to war. My reasons for not including the film are the blatant lies Michael Camino told, his xenophobic portrayal of the Viet Cong people, and again the warped fantasy of Vietnam he passed off as truth, making himself witness to it. Cimino, claimed he had been attached to a Green Beret unit during the war and had treated men who told him of the enemy gambling as prisoners were force under threat of death to play Russian Roulette. As the Viet Cong gambled.
Lies. All lies.
Cimino had never been part of the American military, had in fact never been out of the country until in made the film in Thailand. He never treated any soldiers, therefore no one told him about Russian Roulette. That narrative component came from a screenplay he had read called The Man Who Came to Play, about an average American who arrives in Las Vegas to play that very game for big money, if he survives.
To fabricate lies about a war that took the lives of nearly 60,000 young Americans is shamelessly irresponsible. Further to paint the Viet Cong people as cold, unfeeling maniacs was entirely shameful.
I felt ill reading about his lies.
Yes, The Deer Hunter has much to admire, but the stench of his lies ruin the film for me. So no, it is not among the thirty best of the decade.
Please enjoy my choices.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.