"A majority of the SF films of 1969-1979 were downbeat and even gloomy, and even in the adventure films their heroes were hard-pressed just to survive, let alone survive cheerfully."
Early in 2013, I indulged in a little movie buff list making, briefly discussing what I thought were the 10 best science fiction films of the 1960s. Somewhat to my surprise, that piece has proven to be pretty much the biggest hit-grabber on this blog. So it seems a no-brainer to roll right on to the next decade. With the decline of the old-school studio system and the rise of the new jack, maverick independent directors, intent on stripped-down realism and politically-minded, morally complex scripts, the early 1970s ushered in a sort of second "Golden Age" of movie making. This adventurous focus spread to all genres, and it could be argued that more serious, thought-provoking, idea-based science fiction films were released in that short span of 10 years than in all the 30-plus years before or since. Not everything you'll find on the below list can be said to be groundbreaking in comparison to the rich world of written SF, but certainly, when it comes to cinematic sci-fi, the 70s were a fertile ground indeed. Coming hot on the heels of several turbulent years of political unrest and growing paranoia and distrust of the government, 70s sci-fi reflected this unease and pessimism, with a string of films that combined visual flair with a bleak, dystopian power. These films are even more remarkable from the vantage point of today, when Hollywood studios seem straitjacketed in "play it safe" mode, churning out blockbuster after blockbuster full of dazzling F/X but generally devoid of originality or deep thought.
Many actors grow old and slow down, like we all do. They appear in fewer and fewer films, and those that do often are stuck in movies that don’t feature their best work, or are unworthy of their talents. Some retire at their peak, such as Cary Grant or Randolph Scott, and live out their remaining decades in wealth and self-imposed privacy. Others keep working in projects of decreasing quality, and their final films are embarrassments best left forgotten (Errol Flynn in Cuban Rebel Girls, anyone? Or Joan Crawford in Trog?)
But some actors die in the saddle, working hard to the end, and if they’re lucky, in movies actually worthy of their talents.
Here are five particularly memorable cinematic swan songs. All five actors were either dying when they made their final films, or (in Oliver Reed’s case) died during filming. This adds a poignancy to their work, certainly, but doesn’t detract from the fact that these men went out on a high note, delivering performances that rank alongside their very best.
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
Tipping My Fedora
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Classic TV and Film Cafe
Just a Cineast
She Blogged By Night
Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema
Out of the Past -
A Classic Film Blog
Pretty Sinister Books
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
In So Many Words...
Greenbriar Picture Shows
My Love of Old Hollywood
Tales of the Easily Distracted
Another Old Movie Blog
Lasso the Movies
Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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