In this week’s Roundtable, let’s look back in time a little and mark some milestones. What was the best movie released the year you were born? This may or may not happen to be the film that won the Oscar that year, but we’re really interested in movies from your birth year that you’ve actually seen and enjoyed.
I was born in 1969, and while most would associate that year with ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ or perhaps Best Picture winner ‘Midnight Cowboy’, for me there’s only one name that comes to mind: Bond… James Bond.
Yes, 1969 marked one of the most interesting Bond movies to date, as George Lazenby got his one and only shot playing 007 in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service‘. For many Bond fans, Lazenby represents the worst of the actors to play the character. However, the movie itself contains one of the franchise’s best scripts ever, as Bond falls in love, gets married and loses his bride at the hands of his number one nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played here by Telly Savalas). It’s the only Bond movie to end on a downer, and for that reason, it’s also one of the most memorable films in the series.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I was born all the way back in 1978, and that means I was “released” alongside the likes of ‘Animal House’, ‘Superman’, ‘Halloween’, ‘Grease’ and ‘The Deer Hunter’. That’s obviously exceptional company to keep. More significantly for me, though, 1978 also marked the debut of ‘Dawn of the Dead‘. My introduction to the film came courtesy of a triple feature of ‘Night’, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Day of the Dead’ at the tender age of 11 or so. (Thanks, Dad!)
It’s hard to fully convey what a profound impact George Romero’s zombie epic has had on my life. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is the movie that made me fall in love with the medium. I’d been surrounded by horror flicks for my entire life up to that point, but my decades-long fascination with the genre really dates back to that one Sunday afternoon. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is to blame for zombies being the only movie monsters to really unnerve me. I’ve devoured ‘Dawn’ endlessly over the past quarter-century, and it to my eyes remains a stone-cold classic and has aged spectacularly well. As hyperbolic as it might sound, I sincerely think I’d be a very different person if not for that movie at that age.
The year was 1978. The newcomer was me. The movies were ‘Grease’, ‘Halloween’, ‘The Deer Hunter’, ‘Animal House’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’, ‘Watership Down’, ‘Jaws 2’, ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and ‘Days of Heaven’. Among others. Not being a horror fan, ‘Halloween’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ are not my favorites. I think ‘Animal House’ is vastly overrated. ‘Watership Down’ scared the ever-living shit out of me when I was a kid. ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is okay, but someone else can wait to sit through ‘Days of Heaven’. ‘Jaws 2’ is… ‘Jaws 2’. ‘The Deer Hunter’ I haven’t seen (shame on me).
But one movie captured my imagination like none other. When I was little, I used to go absolutely insane whenever it aired on TV. For me, the best movie from the year I was born is ‘Superman: The Movie‘ featuring the only Superman who will ever matter, Christopher Reeve.
Let’s see what opened in 1982. ‘First Blood’, ‘The Thing’, ‘Conan the Barbarian’, ‘Wrath of Khan’ and ‘Pink Floyd: The Wall’ are all great movies. There’s even ‘E.T.’, ‘Poltergeist’, ‘Sophie’s Choice’, ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’. But then came one of the year’s biggest bombs: ‘Blade Runner‘. With one of the most visually influential films of all-time, 1982 has a strong case for being one of the best year’s in film, period.
When I was younger – much younger, in fact – I had a thing where I was under the impression that if a movie was older than me, then it was crap. ‘Star Wars’ was my favorite movie growing up, and being released the year after I was born kind of saved it from my own law in my twisted little pre-teen mind. Of course, I’ve wised up over the years since then.
Now if I had to pick a favorite film from my birth year of 1976, I think I’d have to go with ‘Rocky‘ – although ‘Taxi Driver’ is a close second. The story about the Italian Stallion is just an all-around great piece of cinema and the film that truly made Sylvester Stallone a star. But really, mom, couldn’t you have held me in for another month and a half?
I looked through the various lists of movies from 1972: the top grossing films, the most Oscars, the best user ratings. Even though it’s the obvious choice showing up at the top of all the lists, I have to go with ‘The Godfather‘. I’d like to pretend that this movie didn’t make much of an impression on me and that the mafia genre is not really my thing. However, I’ve read all the ‘Godfather’ books and seen all the movies multiple times. Just as this film became the benchmark for a generation of mafia movies (and some say for the mobsters themselves), its vocabulary has become ingrained in me as well. I’ve occasionally uttered such phrases as, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” or “going to the mattresses.” I’ve also developed a distrust for people named Fredo. The movie left a lasting impression well beyond 1972.
While many know 1980 as the year that ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was released, I’m especially proud of it being the year that ‘Airplane!‘ hit the big screen. Although completely inappropriate for children, it’s somehow a movie that I recall watching frequently throughout my childhood. The movie has so many memorable lines and bits.
“I’ve got a drinking problem.”
“Don’t call me Shirley.”
Regarding coffee: “I take it black, like my men.”
“You ever seen a grown man naked?”
“Do you like movies about gladiators.”
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.”
It’s too bad this style of humor has died off.
1974 was a pretty huge year for film. It’s next to impossible to decide whether Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown‘ or Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather, Part II‘ is allegedly a better movie than the other. They’re both stone-cold masterpieces. If I were absolutely forced at gunpoint to choose, I’d probably go with ‘Chinatown’, if only because it’s a standalone work that doesn’t require having seen a previous movie to fully appreciate.
Although often overlooked, Coppola also released another, smaller-scale film that year, the paranoid conspiracy thriller ‘The Conversation‘, which is also great, great movie that deserves to be more widely seen.
What was the best movie released during your birth year? Tell us in the Comments.