Revisiting movies from the early 1970s, I recently watched Howard W. Koch’s rather ugly cop feature Badge 373 (1973), with Robert Duvall as a rule-breaking, racist misogynist NYC detective; Willard (1971), Daniel Mann’s adaptation of Stephen Gilbert’s dark horror novel Ratman’s Notebooks; and two features by George Roy Hill, his faithful adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) and his most personal, and best, film The Great Waldo Pepper (1975).
The usual year-end round-up – not necessarily the best movies or disks, but some of the ones I most enjoyed, from high art to entertaining trash. The sheer range of what’s available should lay to rest any lingering rumours about the demise of physical media.
From trash to art, boxed sets enhance the viewing experience by providing a broader context for individual movies – here, four more features from William Castle, The Trilogy of Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and a grab bag of five horrors from poverty row distributor Hemisphere.
Indicator showcase four of producer-director William Castle’s best-known movies in their first box set devoted to the showmen, better known for his marketing gimmicks than his cinematic accomplishments. With excellent transfers and copious extras, the set confirms that Castle was a great entertainer.
Two early films from the career of Albert Finney receive excellent releases from Indicator. Finney’s Charlie Bubbles (1968) and Stephen Frears’ Gumshoe (1971) showcase the actor’s strengths and weaknesses.
Three movies from producer-director Stanley Kramer, spread across two decades, highlight his liberal sensibilities … and expose the limits of that liberalism in the face of a messy world.
Recent Blu-rays from Indicator serve up a feast of British exploitation horror with Bloody Terror, a lavish box set of five features (1976-87) by Norman J. Warren. plus Richard Marquand’s first feature, The Legacy (1978).
Indicator’s third box set of Hammer movies highlights some interesting issues about the treatment of race in popular culture.
Some more brief comments on recent viewing: classic horror, Italian crime action from Umberto Lenzi, gender-bending art from France and exploitation from Australia, the U.S. and the Philippines.
Recent viewing includes an obscure arty film by the producer of Blow-Up and a pair of lesser known horrors from the heyday of British Gothic.