1970’s

[7.5] Jack Weston stars in this gay-themed screwball comedy based on a stage play by Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!). Weston plays a frumpy, middle-aged man hiding out in a New York bath house from a brother (Jerry Stiller) who plans to kill him so he won’t inherit the family business. At the bath house, Weston meets a handful of bizarre characters who end up …

[9.0] Brad Davis (Querelle, Chariots of Fire) stars in this true story about an American named Billy Hayes who was sent to a dehumanizing Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hash over the border. Originally sentenced to four years, Hayes learned just 53 days before his parole that the Turkish government upped his term to a minimum of 30 years. While his girlfriend and family …

[6.5] This American/Japanese animated venture would be the first feature-length movie journey into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Produced by Rankin/Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Last Unicorn) and animated by the studio that would later become Studio Ghibli, The Hobbit is a brisk 77-minute adaptation that features many folksy songs and a notable voice cast led by John Huston as Gandalf. While it may be …

[7.5] Documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter) bring us inside the isolated world of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric aunt and first cousin, ‘Big’ Edie and ‘Little’ Edie Beale. The women, 79 and 57 respectively, live in squalor at the title mansion, a dilapidated house full of garbage, cats, and raccoons. As former socialites and entertainers, they spend their days reminiscing about the past, …

[6.5] Martin Rosen brings to life Richard Adams’ novel about a group of rabbits who leave their burrows and face a series of deadly hardships in search of a new home. Watership Down is one of the more serious animated films geared toward children. Under its episodic adventure narrative, it’s really a meditation on the ever-present risk and inevitability of death. Not all of the …

[7.5] Writer/director Steven Spielberg follows up his immensely successful Jaws with this tale of extra-terrestrials and government conspiracy. Richard Dreyfuss stars as a family man whose encounter with a UFO brings him into contact with a grieving mother (Melinda Dillon) whose young son has been kidnapped by aliens. Together, they are haunted by visions of a mountain. When they figure out their mysterious, shared vision …

[7.0] After the success of Star Wars two years earlier, Paramount was quick to launch their own cinematic foray into outer space with the first Star Trek feature film. Star Trek: The Motion Picture reunites the crew from the TV show, which by then had developed a cult following. But when audiences showed up for the film’s big opening weekend, the film wasn’t quite what …

[5.5] Gary Grimes and Jerry Houser reprise their roles from the emotionally charged Summer of ’42 in this lackluster, somewhat pointless follow-up. Whereas Summer of ’42 was very much about a young man’s sexual awakening with an older woman, Class of ’44 is more of a slice-of-life movie with no overarching narrative goal. It sees Grimes and Houser’s characters off to college while their friend …

[7.0] If you can get past the ghastly sight of swarthy Sean Connery running around in a red diaper for two hours, you might enjoy this heady sci-fi flick from writer/director John Boorman (Excalibur, Deliverance). It’s the year 2293 and Connery plays Zed, a man whose God, Zardoz, raised him to be a savage killer. But when Zed stows away to another world, he comes …

[4.5] Patrick Dennis’ 1955 best-selling novel Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade was first adapted into a stage play, then a film starring Rosalind Russell, and then a stage musical, and then into Mame, a film musical starring Lucille Ball. All the versions follow young orphaned Patrick’s adventures with his only remaining living relative, an eccentric aunt with a zest for life and a flare for …

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