Tag Archives: All The President’s Men

A Great Movie You’ve Probably Never Seen, Vol. I

21 Apr

“I’m sure you’ll find this amusing, but I’m afraid of the dark.”

                                      Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) in Klute, 1971, dir. Alan J. Pakula

Anyone working in movies has influences. I certainly have quite a few. Spielberg and DePalma, for instance, both had an enormous effect on me when I was younger. While I’d loved movies all my life, it was after seeing JawsClose Encounters and, particularly, Dressed to Kill that I started to become aware of the camera, of film grammar (English was already my favorite subject so this was not a huge leap) and the other ways these storytellers went about their craft. Spielberg continues to be an influence, of course, the guy continually blows my mind. And there are many other directors who have had an effect, from Hitchcock to Nolan, Wyler to Nichols, Hawkes to Polanski, David Lean. My biggest influence, though, is Alan J. Pakula.

One of the most vivid movie memories I have is going to see Pakula’s adaptation of All The President’s Men with my mom one evening at the Park Plaza Twin Cinema, about which you’ve heard before. I wasn’t old enough to care about Watergate when it was actually occurring, so when I saw the movie a couple of years later, most of what I saw was new to me. The depiction of the Washington Post newsroom is legendary; the movie apparently caused a huge upswing in applications to journalism school. But more than anything, I was transfixed by the style of the movie and how the filmmaker was able to take something that should have been pretty boring and not only rivet me, but at times really scare me. It was my first experience with Pakula.

All The President’s Men (1976) is the third in Pakula’s “70’s paranoia trilogy”, the others being Klute (1971) and The Parallax View (1974).  I saw these in reverse: President’s Men in the theatre, Parallax a couple of years later on TV and Klute many years later in film school. President’s Men, among many other great achievements, has one of the best screenplays ever written. William Goldman deservedly won an Oscar for the film and I am continually amazed, each time I watch the movie, by both the film and the screenplay. Parallax is a weird, creepy, unsettling film starring Warren Beatty, essentially Pakula’s riff on the Kennedy assassination. It’s terrific. And then there is Klute, one of the best films of all time.

Click here to dive into ‘Klute’!

The Greatest Decade for Movies

16 Mar

Is there a better decade for film than the 1970s? Feel free to try to convince me otherwise, but I doubt you’ll have much luck. Taken as a whole, the films of the 70s combine into a dazzling, divergent whole that challenges and delights, devastates and uplifts, while also remaining extremely relevant many years later. 

 

We don’t call “On Food And Film” hyperbolic for no reason. 

 

I’ll admit I fell in love with movies during the 70s. My parents, thankfully, loved movies and we often went to the theatre as a family. In my early childhood, there were three main theaters in my hometown. My favorite was The Village Theatre on Gulfway Drive, which sat over 1100 people! It was a huge, wonderful theatre with an enormous screen. It even had a balcony, which we loved as kids…. and loved even more as high-schoolers. Also a great theatre was The Park Plaza Twin Cinema, which was our town’s first double theatre. The Park Plaza had two theaters flanking a giant lobby with crystal chandeliers and a beautiful concession area. The theaters themselves were large and long, sloping beautifully down to very wide screens. Finally, we had a double drive in, Don’s Drive In, which was classic to a drive-in in every sense. My brother and I loved the drive-in but it was harder to convince my parents to venture there. I did have my first experience with James Bond at Don’s Drive In, a reissue double feature of Goldfinger and Thunderball. I’ve been a Bond addict ever since. And Don’s was where I saw the original King Kong for the first time, an incredible experience on the ginormous drive-in screen.

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