Even as amazing as it was, the original ‘Alien’ was not the only great movie released in 1979. Our Roundtable this week looks at some other notable titles that hit theater screens that year.
As a refresher, Wikipedia has a list of movies released in 1979.
I was too young in 1979 to see ‘Alien’ in theaters, but I wasn’t too young to see ‘Rocky II‘, the first ‘Rocky’ movie I ever watched, and still one of my favorites in the series.
Only 9 at the time, I remember feeling that the fight at the end was actually happening live as I watched it. I also remember myself, along with a few hundred adults, screaming at the screen for Rocky to get up in that last round.
The movie was a hit, but it’s never been particularly beloved by critics. Despite that, I think it contains one of the most powerful moments in all of movie history – when Rocky runs and has the children of Philadelphia running with him. I don’t know if it was Stallone or someone else who thought of that, if it was in the original script or thought up on set, but it’s a hugely powerful moment that never fails to move me.
I love the character of Rocky Balboa, and I love ‘Rocky II’.
The end of ‘Spartacus’ is cinema gold, the kind that is intertwined with the culture and politics of its era with a near timeless subtlety. When the prisoners’ selfless cry of identity is satirized in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian‘, it really is no less brilliant. (“I’m Brian, and so’s my wife.”) That’s just one of the reasons why the ‘Life of Brian’ is both an amazing feat and an enduring hilarious classic.
M. Enois Duarte
With so many options to choose from, I’m picking Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre‘ as my favorite film of 1979. It’s a highly-stylized interpretation of F.W. Murnau’s influential 1922 classic, successfully synthesizing traditional horror tropes with the poetic craftsmanship of a skilled master. The arthouse film is continuously immersed in a thick, ominous and atmospheric layer of gloom and death, making it one of the most beautiful and elegant horror features ever created.
With Klaus Kinski’s unearthly performance as Count Dracula, Herzog and cinematographer Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein’s camerawork is simply phenomenal, leaving audiences with eerie images and evocative visuals that continue to haunt me to this day.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
There are so many films from 1979 that mean far more to me, but upon hearing that year mentioned, no movie springs to mind so immediately as ‘The Amityville Horror‘. I share my parents’ lifelong love of horror cinema. For the longest time, my mother semi-jokingly insisted that it was because she watched ‘The Amityville Horror’ while I was still in utero. It was the most terrifying movie she’d ever experienced, and she theorized that her fear and adrenaline somehow filtered its way through her body and into me, leaving me hopelessly addicted to the genre.
I think I was in high school when I finally mustered up the nerve to subject myself to the unspeakable nightmares of ‘The Amityville Horror’ that had been built up in my mind for so many years. I quickly discovered two things. First, ‘The Amityville Horror’ is excruciatingly dull. Essentially nothing happens throughout the entirety of the film. The biggest scare comes in the form of two little red dots meant to signify a demonic pig’s eyes. Second, the copyright date was 1979, so it turns out that I was 8 months old by the time ‘The Amityville Horror’ first roared into theaters. This story my mother had told me for so many years had absolutely no basis in reality! Her memories of this were so vivid that she refused to believe that this is, in fact, a 1979 release.
To the best of my memory, the first movie I ever saw at a theater happened in 1979. Unfortunately, Disney’s ‘The Black Hole’ wasn’t exactly a film for the ages. I can’t bring myself to watch it as an adult, but I have no doubt it’s awful.
1979 was a pretty terrific year for movies overall. No disrespect to Oscar’s choice for Best Picture, the emotionally powerful divorce drama ‘Kramer vs. Kramer‘, but Francis Coppola’s amazing ‘Apocalypse Now‘ was in my opinion the greatest work of cinematic art that year. (The other nominees – ‘All That Jazz‘, ‘Norma Rae‘, and ‘Breaking Away‘ – were no slouches either.)
Although it didn’t make Oscar’s Best Picture shortlist, ‘Manhattan‘ remains one of Woody Allen’s best films.
‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture‘ burned up the box office charts as sci-fi fans lined up to see their favorite TV show turned into a big-budget movie. While many left disappointed and still dismiss it, I maintain that it’s the franchise’s most underrated entry.
James Bond also went to outer space with the goofy ‘Moonraker‘. It’s not a good movie (typically rated at or near the bottom of the franchise’s ranks), but it has a lot of camp appeal if you look at it as an example of 1970s cheese.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ‘The Muppet Movie‘. It’s not easy being green.
What other noteworthy movies from 1979 have we missed? Tell us your favorites in the Comments.