YEAR OF FURIOUS FILMS: 1976
Year of Furious Films is our newest series on FC where we’ll be choosing our favorite films from each designated year. You may notice that we won’t be going in chronological order, it’ll be more random, but that’s really part of the fun. We’ll be covering a wide array of movies from various eras spanning from the 20th century to the modern age. We hope you enjoy these lists and that they’ll inspire you to give the movies a watch or even a rewatch if you’ve already seen them.
Rocky (Dir: John G Avildsen)
Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in this Academy Award winning American sports classic about a down and out boxer who gets a chance of a lifetime when the Heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) picks him to fight in a special 4th of July exhibition bout. Co-starring Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith.
Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings (Dir: John Badham)
Bingo Long (Billy Dee Williams) a star pitcher in the Negro League decides to quit his team after being treated badly by the management. Bingo makes a plan to gather a group of rebellious players like himself and hit the road to play teams across the Midwest without anyone to hinder their efforts. A rollicking, sports comedy adventure with superb performances. Co-starring James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, Stan Shaw, Tony Burton.
Two Minute Warning (Dir: Larry Peerce)
In this tension filled 70s thriller, Police Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston) and SWAT sergeant Chris Button (John Cassavetes) are tasked to stop a crazed sniper who has hidden out atop the L.A. Coliseum during a championship football game. The film also follows the interconnecting stories of attendees at the event as the anti-terrorist mission is underway. Co-starring Beau Bridges, Gena Rowlands, Martin Balsam, David Janssen, Jack Klugman, Brock Peters.
Breaking Point (Dir: Bob Clark)
While witnessing a beating of a business owner in his neighborhood, ex-Marine Michael McBain (Bo Svenson) stops two hitmen from killing the man. With the counsel of Lt. Frank Sirriani (Robert Culp) McBain then decides to identify and testify against the two men who he soon finds out belong to a larger organization that was responsible for the attempted hit. Pretty soon McBain’s own family is targeted and he must do whatever he can to protect them. A tense crime film from the director of Black Christmas and A Christmas Story.
Obsession (Dir: Brian DePalma)
Inspired by Hitchcock’s Vertigo, this hit DePalma psychological thriller stars Cliff Robertson as Michael Courtland, a New Orleans real estate developer whose wife and daughter are kidnapped and held for ransom. In a tragic accident during the money drop, they are killed along with their kidnappers. 15 years later Courtland is still obsessed and haunted by the past tragedy. While on a trip to Italy, he encounters a young woman named Sandra (Genevieve Bujold) who miraculously looks exactly like his late wife and soon his life is thrown into turmoil once again. Co-starring John Lithgow.
A police officer (Harvey Keitel) who was busted for selling speed on the job (hence his moniker) decides to do something that’s similar to police work and applies to be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). When he arrives at F & B EMT Service, he meets the owner Harry Fishbine (Allen Garfield) and the other guys on the crew including “Mother” (Bill Cosby) the resident rebel and Murdoch (Larry Hagman) who is a loudmouth jerk everyone seems to dislike. The apple of everyone’s lustful eye at H & B is the secretary and aspiring EMT, Jennifer aka “Jugs” played by the gorgeous Raquel Welch.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Dir: Charles B. Pierce)
A chilling semi-documentary horror/thriller based on the legend of the “Phantom Killer”, a mysterious masked psychopath who terrorized the residents of Texarkana in the 1940s. Starring Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine and Dawn Wells.
Bugsy Malone (Dir: Alan Parker)
What would happen if you took a Hollywood gangster film set during Prohibition and replaced the adults with kids and bullets with whipped cream? Well that would be this quirky musical comedy where the underworld is filled with rascally, wisecrackin characters, catchy songs and lots of laughs. Starring Scott Baio and Jodie Foster. Featuring a fantastic soundtrack by singer/songwriter Paul Williams.
Years before CGI was the norm for special effects, the late Dino DeLaurentis produced this retelling of the 1933 classic starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. Instead of miniatures, King Kong was played by a man in a gorilla suit. While it sounds hokey, it was an extremely well made film for it’s time and unlike Peter Jackson’s dismal 2005 remake it had a story that featured interesting, likeable characters that made you care about what happened to them.
Mikey and Nicky (Dir: Elaine May)
Nicky (John Cassavetes) has stolen money from his boss, a mobster and is on the run. While he hides out in a NYC hotel, he calls his best friend Mikey (Peter Falk) for help. After trying to calm Nicky down and relieving his worsening ulcer, Mikey takes his pal out on the town. Meanwhile a hit man is on the prowl for the two friends as they discuss the many personal issues happening in their lives. This movie was mired in production and editing troubles due to May’s difficulties with the studio. It was a failure upon its release but remains a cult classic with film aficionados.
Silent Movie (Dir: Mel Brooks)
Mel Funn (Mel Brooks) a Hollywood film director who is recovering from a drinking problem, pitches a new idea to Big Picture Studios: the first silent film in 40 years! Together with his pals Dom Bell (Dom DeLuise) and Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman), Funn sets out to find a cast of all star actors for his big comeback opus. Mel Brooks shot the film in traditional silent movie style (title cards, music only) and it’s a really funn retro experience. Featuring cameos from Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman, James Caan, Bernadette Peters, Sid Caesar, Liza Minelli, Anne Bancroft and Marcel Marceau.
Burnt Offerings (Dir: Dan Curtis)
Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Bette Davis star in this weird thriller about a family that move into a haunted old house in California. As opposed to ghosts creeping the residents out, this place actually feeds off the lifeforces from its occupants and kills the weakest of them. Co-starring Burgess Meredith, Anthony James. Lee H. Montgomery.
The Tenant (Dir: Roman Polanski)
Roman Polanski plays Trelkovsky a mild mannered gentlemen who rents an apartment in Paris. He soon discovers the previous resident, an Egyptologist committed suicide by throwing herself out the window. As he continues living in the building, strange, disturbing things begin occurring, leading him into a macabre maze of madness. This was the 3rd part of Polanski’s “Apartment trilogy” which included Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby.
St. Ives (Dir: Michael Winner)
Charles Bronson is Raymond St. Ives, a crime reporter/ex-cop who is hired by wealthy Abner Procane (John Houseman) to get back several important ledgers stolen from his safe. St. Ives gets caught up in a mystery concerning the thieves who stole the documents when they begin turning up dead. Co-starring Jacqueline Bissett, Maximillian Schell. Featuring cameos by future stars Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund.
Nickleodeon (Dir: Peter Bogdanovich)
Ryan O’Neal stars as Leo Harrigan, a enthusiastic silent film director who is trying to complete his movies featuring star Buck Greenway (Burt Reynolds) with the help of a dedicated production crew including young Alice Forsythe (Tatum O’Neal), Franklin Frank (John Ritter) and Jim (James Best). A box office dud that in retrospect is a quirky, enjoyable gem. Based on true stories told to Peter Bogdanovich by silent film directors Alan Dwan anbd Raoul Walsh.
Paul Schrader’s hellish tale of urban alienation and violence as seen through the eyes of Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) a lonely Vietnam vet/cab driver who is slowly descending into madness. A timeless, potent and striking masterwork of cinema storytelling. Also featuring a truly genius score by Hitchcock’s collaborator Bernard Herrmann. The music cues move from sleazy to morose to furious!! NOTE: Hermann’s final score. Scorsese dedicated the film to him. Click here to read our review of the 2011 restoration.
The Song Remains The Same (Dir: Peter Clifton, Joe Massot)
A thrilling Led Zeppelin concert documentary shot over the course of three nights at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1973. Along with the exciting rock n’ roll performances, it includes vignettes with the musicians (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones) about their outside lives to give viewers a glimpse into their personalities.
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is tormented by her religion obsessed mother (Piper Laurie) and her high school classmates. It’s only a matter of time before she strikes back using her newly found telekinetic abilities which suddenly appear after her first menstruation. DePalma’s use of coal black humor mixed with teen angst, utter goofiness and visual stylization is in large part what makes this film such an enjoyable movie that stands the test of time. Co-starring Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, John Travolta.
The Enforcer (Dir: James Fargo)
In this 3rd installment of the Dirty Harry series, San Francisco police inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) returns to take on a group of criminals called the “People’s Revolutionary Strike Force” who are committing various crimes to get rich. Callahan must also contend with a new partner (Tyne Daly) that represents the feminist movement of the era. Co-starring Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, Deveren Bookwalter.
The Front (Dir: Martin Ritt)
Woody Allen plays Howard Prince, a restaraunt cashier whose good friend, TV writer Al Miller (Michael Murphy) has been blacklisted as a Communist. Al comes up with an idea to have Howard sign off on his scripts so he can get paid and continue being an artist. Things go well at first, but when other blacklisted writers begin hiring Howard to work for them as well, the complications for him begin. A poignant, comical commentary on the consequences of corruption in the government. Co-starring Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Andrea Marcovicci.
In California, a ruthless gang called “Street Thunder” target a newly vacated police station when one of their victims flees and hides out inside. A few of the lingering office workers, a cop and a group of inmates en route to a prison get caught in the middle and must team up to fend off the deadly attack. A cult hit inspired by Howard Hawks’ Western masterpiece Rio Bravo. Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston.
The Bad News Bears (Dir: Michael Ritchie)
Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is a middle aged alcoholic/former minor league baseball player who cleans pools. When the local city council hires him to coach “The Bears”, a team of under achieving misfits, he tries to turn them from losers into winners. A funny, heartwarming sports comedy classic that hits a homerun. Co-starring Tatum O’Neal, Jackie Earle Haley, Vic Morrow, Brandon Cruz.
In New York City a series of murders prompt police detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) to begin an investigation. What he discovers is something truly bizarre. Each of the killers claim that “God told them to do it”. An offbeat thriller that blurs the line between supernatural thriller and crime procedural. Co-starring Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Robert Drivas, Richard Lynch and a cameo by comedian Andy Kaufman.
The House with The Laughing Windows (Dir: Pupi Avati)
An artist named Stefano (Lino Capolicchio) gets hired to restore a fresco depicting the martyrdom of St Sebastian on the rotting wall of a small Italian church. While he works on the mural he begins a relationship with a local schoolteacher (Francesca Marciano), he also learns more about the painter who created the artwork. The disturbing legend goes that the man and his two insane sisters were sadistic killers and he used their murders as inspiration for his work. As Stefano toils away, he is criticized by the townspeople and soon after his boss and others begin turning up dead. A excellent giallo from the tail end of the genre’s run.
Glynn Turman stars as a college student who, after being put in a trance, is possessed by the spirit of a long dead New Orleans gangster who seeks revenge for past evils committed by a former friend. Glynn Turman transforms from a quiet, polite guy into a foulmouthed, violent pimp and its just crazy stuff. One of the Blaxploitation era’s best supernatural thrillers that gave another twist on the themes presented in The Exorcist and Abby. Co-starring Louis Gossett Jr.
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Dir: John Cassavetes)
Ben Gazzara (Road House) plays nightclub owner Cosmo Vitelli who has an outstanding gambling debt which he owes to a mob supported loanshark. When Vitelli makes it known that he can’t fulfill his entire payment, the mob uses it as a ploy to force him to be a hitman for one night. Vitelli relents but when his life is threatened he goes ahead with the assassination of a man he thinks is a small time criminal, but who is actually the head of the Chinese mafia on the West Coast. The supporting cast features Seymour Cassel and Timothy Carey who both appeared together in Minnie and Moskowitz.
The Last Hard Men (Dir: Andrew V McLaglen)
In the early 1900s, a newly retired Arizona Ranger Sam Burgade (Charlton Heston) discovers his old foe Zach Provo (James Coburn) has escaped from Yuma prison. While Burgade expects Provo to pull a robbery with his gang, the bandit is actually looking for personal revenge and decides to get back at Burgade by kidnapping his daughter Susan (Barbara Hershey). Co-starring Michael Parks, Larry Wilcox, Chris Mitchum, Thalmus Rasulala.
David Carradine stars as legendary folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie in this Depression era road movie based on the book of the same name. From his exuberant personality and confident stroll to his grassroots style of singing, Carradine brings Guthrie’s story to life in an extremely engaging and memorable way. Co-starring Ronny Cox, Randy Quaid.
The Last Tycoon (Dir: Elia Kazan)
Based on the unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald about legendary Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg, Robert DeNiro is Monroe Stahr, the production chief of one of the biggest studios during Hollywood’s Golden Age. The story follows Stahr as he deals with film shoots, business dealings and a romance with a young woman (Ingrid Boulting). Co-starring an all star cast of actors including Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Nicholson, Donald Pleasence.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (Dir: Nicolas Gessner)
In a small Maine town, a young girl named Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) has been left alone in her home by her father, a poet. Meanwhile she gets to know a local boy (Scott Jacoby) and is bothered by Frank Hallet (Martin Sheen) the creepy son of her landlady. When various accidents begin occuring around Rynn, it becomes apparent that her quiet, friendly demeanor may not be for real.
Logan’s Run (Dir: Michael Anderson)
In an alternate future, the limit of peoples’ aging is 30 years after which they must be executed through a ritual called Carousel. Each person’s age is shown through a lifeclock crystal which is embedded in their hand. If anyone tries to evade their death sentence, they become runners (escapees) and are then tracked down by special agents called “Sandmen”. Logan 5 (Michael York) is one of these officers. Due some circumstances beyond his control, Logan reaches his limited age earlier than expected and becomes a runner himself. He tries to infiltrate an “underground railroad” type operation where people can survive while living in a secret area called “Sanctuary”. Co-starring Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov
Thomas “Babe” Levy (Dustin Hoffman) a college student finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse when his brother (Roy Scheider) a government agent is killed by an infamous Nazi in hisding (Laurence Olivier) that is trying to retrieve a cache of priceless diamonds he stole from Holocaust victims during World War II.
All the President’s Men (Dir: Alan Pakula)
One of the best political thrillers based on true events surrounding the Nixon Watergate scandal and the two Washington Post reporters who covered it. Starring Robert Redford as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein with Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook and Jason Robards.
Jimmy Wang Yu is the One Armed Boxer and he’s being tracked down by the Master of The Flying Guillotine aka Fung Sheng Wu Chi when he receives a message that his students Chow Fu and Chow Lung have been killed by a one armed man. Fung swears to get revenge by any means necessary. One of the greatest martial arts movies that is inventive and extremely entertaining.
Network (Dir: Sidney Lumet)
Writer Paddy Chayefsky’s emotionally stirring drama about the world of broadcast news and the colorful characters who inhabit it. The film examines mass communication madness where viewers are becoming both desensitized and misled. The moral: It’s all about ratings at the end of the day! Our favorite character is of course the angry, burnt out anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a man who is (just like this website in terms of movies) “not going to take it anymore!”. Starring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall.
Car Wash (Dir: Michael Schultz)
A funky, irreverant comedy classic about a day in the lives of multi-racial workers at a Los Angeles car wash. The cast is filled with incredible actors, comedians and musicians including Franklyn Ajaye, Bill Duke, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Danny DeVito, Antonio Fargas, The Pointer Sisters and Lorraine Gary. Written by future director Joel Schumacher. Featuring the hit song “Car Wash” by Rose Royce.
With his fourth directorial outing Clint Eastwood headed back into familiar western genre territory, this time telling the Civil War era tale of a Missouri farmer whose wife and son are murdered by a band of corrupt Union soldiers known as “Red Legs” hired to wipe out all Southern rebels. After the war is over, Josey refuses to turn himself into the Union, thus making him a wanted man. To get the drop on Wales, the Union Red Legs hire one of Josey’s old Confederate guerrilla fighter friends (John Vernon) to help track him down. Co-starring Sam Bottoms, Bill McKinney.
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Dir: Blake Edwards)
The bumbling French Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) visits his former boss Chief Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) in the mental hospital and accidentally drives him mad once again. Not long after, Dreyfus escapes and tries to kill Clouseau with a “bimb” but fails. He next puts together a gang of criminals to help him kidnap Professor Hugo Fassbender (Richard Vernon) and his daughter Margo to force him to build a doomsday device. Meanwhile Clouseau begins his investigation of Fassbender’s dissapearance and the screwball hilarity ensues. Co-starring Lesley Ann Down, Burt Kwouk. The fifth film in the Pink Panther series is filled with lots o’ sidesplitting laughs.
The Missouri Breaks (Dir: Arthur Penn)
In The Old West, Tom Logan (Jack Nicholson) is the leader of a cattle rustling gang who are seeking revenge on an evil land baron named Braxton for the hanging of their close friend. As the group commit more robberies to survive, Logan begins a relationship with Braxton’s daughter (Kathleen Lloyd). Seeking justice for the stolen horses and death of his foreman, Braxton hires a bounty hunter Robert E. Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) an eccentric that sets off to get Logan and his pals using oddball methods. Co-starring Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid, Frederic Forrest.
The Shootist (Dir: Don Siegel)
John Wayne is legendary gunfighter J.B. Books, who, in his elder years, finds out he is dying from cancer. Books decides to rent a room from Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) a widow who lives with her son Gillam (Ron Howard) in Carson City, Nevada. When word gets out that Books is close to death, his old enemies and men who want fame begin to appear in town looking for him. Books is forced to fend off his attackers while he contemplates his life and legacy. This was Wayne’s final film role and one of his best. Co-starring James Stewart, Richard Boone, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers.
Silver Streak (Dir: Arthur Hiller)
A book editor named George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) gets on a train “The Silver Streak” from L.A. to Chicago to attend his sister’s wedding. While onboard George thinks he witnessed the murder of an art professor who is on a publicity tour for a book about Rembrandt. As George tries to figure out what the hell is going on, he encounters criminal Grover T. Muldoon (Richard Pryor) and the two work together to try to get out of their wacky predicament. Co-starring Jill Clayburgh, Ned Beatty, Patrick McGoohan, Richard Kiel. This was the first of four comedic collaborations between Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
The Omen (Dir: Richard Donner)
An American ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) try to make sense of their young son Damien’s strange behavior. Everyone seems to be dying around him. When they find out he is actually the Anti-Christ, their only hope is to find a way to destroy him. How can a father kill his own son, even if it is the prince of darkness reborn? This remains one of the most shocking psychological horror-thrillers of the 1970s after The Exorcist.