This list is a result of recently reading author David Gordon’s article on Crime Reads. Like David, I grew up and lived in New York during its grittiest down and dirty days. It’s a bit ironic that during New York’s ugliest days some of the best films set in the city were made during that time. I was already a movie freak, and while I liked a wide variety of movies I found myself attracted to crime films at a very young age. Two of the earliest I remember seeing on the big screen were Al Capone and Baby Face Nelson. While most parents took their under ten years of age kids to only Disney films, my folks took me to more adult movies too including gangster films.
Without further ado, here are my favorite crimes films from the 1970’s.
“This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker and I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob Banks!” – Warren Beatty
The first time I saw Arthur Penn’s now iconic Bonnie and Clyde was soon after its release in 1967. It was at a Manhattan theater and the audience, including me, was at times unsure how to respond to what we saw on the screen. In the language of the sixties – it was mind blowing! New York Times critic Bosley Crowther didn’t think so. When his scalding review came out, there was no doubt where he stood. He disliked the film immensely. He wrote calling it in part, “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cut-ups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.” In fairness, Crowther wasn’t the only critic of the day to knock the film. The studio faced with the negative reviews pulled the film from circulation. Continue reading →
Across 110th Street is an intense, nasty, hard-boiled heist film that from its opening moments to its final freeze frame finish never lets up. The pacing furious and deadly. Shot on location, mostly in Harlem, this film is too easily characterized as just another blaxploitation film; it’s not, this is a top-notch crime film that is a must-see for crime film connoisseurs. Continue reading →
I saw first saw The Last Picture Show back in 1971 at a twin theater called the Columbia 1 and 2 located on 2nd Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When the film opened, it created a phenomenon with audiences crowding the sidewalks in long lines waiting for the next available show. The Last Picture Show was only director Peter Bogdanovich’s second film; the first was the low budget Targets. Exquisitely filmed in black and white by Robert Surtees (The Graduate, Act of Violence, The Collector) the cinematography visually expresses and adds immensely to the bleakness of a dying small Texas town. Continue reading →
The 1970’s in film ranks as one of the best decades in its history. It’s up there with the 1930’s and 1950’s. The Godfather 1 & 2, Mean Streets, The Last Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Five Easy Pieces, All the President’s Men, American Graffiti, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Apocalypse Now, The Exorcist, Chinatown, A Clockwork Orange, Rocky, The Sting, The Shining, Dog Day Afternoon, The French Connection, The Conversation, Serpico and many more. Comedies had their share of greatness too, led by Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, in a decade that thrived on great cinema. Continue reading →
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed. (Joseph Heller, Catch-22) Continue reading →
Robert Mitchum may have been a little long in the tooth to play Philip Marlowe, and the film itself is no hipster revisionist tale like Robert Altman did with The Long Goodbye just a few years earlier. Farewell, My Lovely is a straight throwback to the classic days of Bogart, Powell, and Montgomery. Mitchum, of course, starred in many classic noirs: Out of the Past, Angel Face, The Racket and Where Danger Lives are just a few. This was Mitchum’s first time portraying the P.I. In 1978, Mitchum would again play Marlowe in the Michael Winner remake of The Big Sleep. That film was a bit of a misfire. While not as bad as its reputation, let’s just say Bogart and Howard Hawks have nothing to worry about. Continue reading →
When I lived in New York City, I rode the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan every workday. The ride from where I lived to 23rd street in Manhattan took about forty-five minutes to an hour each way. It was perfect reading time. There was nothing else to do but stare at other passengers and that could only get you in trouble. I cannot count the number of books I read during that daily trek. One of them was John Godey’s bestselling urban thriller, The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three. Both the book and the 1974 film exploit the always present fears New Yorkers internally experience when they find themselves caught in enclosed spaces and escape is out of your hands. Continue reading →
“I was born in a crossfire hurricane…” – The Rolling Stones.
For the first time since 1966, The Rolling Stones were touring America. It was 1969, and the venues were large palaces like Madison Square Garden. It was a month-long tour that began in early November and cumulated one month later. The Stones were on fire. Jagger is in top form strutting on stage like a rooster let loose in a hen house. The music is raw, and the audience primed. The MSG concerts would be preserved with the best cuts eventually finding their way on vinyl in 1970 as Get Your Ya Ya’s Out. The Stones agreed to end their tour with a free concert in California, a sort of west coast version of Woodstock. Continue reading →
The Odd Couple was one of those shows that was never a huge hit during its original TV run. For five-seasons it ran on ABC and not once did it crack the Top 20 in the Neilson ratings. However, once the show was cancelled and put in syndication, it became a favorite, still running today on various cable stations and streaming services. The shows two stars made more money once the show went into syndication than they did during the original run.
The show was based on Neil Simon’s hit Broadway play  that opened in March of 1965 and ran for more than two years. Walter Matthau played Oscar Madison, the sloppy, gambling sports-writer for The New York Herald with Art Carney as the finicky television news writer, Felix Unger.  The play won numerous Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Actor for Matthau, and Best…