The Movie Bloggers Roundtable is a feature where I join up with four esteemed movie bloggers and we share our thoughts on a certain subject. Everyone on the panel will share their thoughts and feelings on the topic of the day and then we share them with you. The panel may change from post to post and hopefully we will get a wide range and interesting mix of opinions and perspectives.
Today’s roundtable discussion is inspired by my pal Ruth over at FlixChatter (one of the absolute best movie blogs around). It’s a question that I found incredibly intriguing and it had me thinking on it for several days afterwards. It deals with the different decades and the movies that defined them. Joining me for this roundtable is Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger, Michael from It Rains…You Get Wet, Cindy from CindyBruchman.com, and Richard from Kirkham A Movie A Day. Now I can easily say that I LOVE THESE BLOGS and if you haven’t been frequenting their sites you should. So lets get to this week’s question:
What has been the greatest decade for movies?
Keith (Keith & the Movies)
I had this question in mind for a later date, but after reading Ruth’s post I just had to talk more about it. This is really difficult because every decade has had its own flavor and has contributed to the world of cinema in different ways. I have a personal affection for the 1980s mainly because those were my teen years and so many of those films nurtured my love for cinema. But was it the greatest decade for movies? I don’t know. I think arguments could be made for almost every decade. But after sloshing it around for a while my pick is the 1950s.
The 1950s were an interesting time for movies. We were beginning to see a genuine shift in how movies were being made and how stories were being told. At the same time the decade still held on to some of the things that made the 1940s so special. The 50s gave us big screen debuts from all-time great performers like Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and Audrey Hepburn. It gave us Hitchcock’s best including “Rear WIndow” and “Vertigo”, Kurosawa’s masterpiece “The Seven Samurai”, arguably the best musical ever made “Singin’ in the Rain”, and I could go on and on. The number of true cinema classics that found their genesis in the 1950s is astonishing.
More personally the 1950s also delivered some of my favorite movie trends. Science fiction and creature features were a staple throughout the decade with fun movies like “Them!”, “The Thing from Another World”, and “Godzilla” just to name a few. The late 50s also gave birth to the French New Wave, a movement that has influenced some of cinema’s greatest directors even today. Masters like Truffaut and Chabrol laid the foundation for the run of great New Wave classics that would come through the 60s. This just skims the surface of what made the 1950s great and it’s hard to find a decade any better.
Zoe (The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger)
So I have been thinking of the best decade for movies and I have to say, that after all the scratching, weighing up and contemplating that I have done, I am going to give it to 2000-2009. The sheer magic that was wrought in cinema during that time is simply staggering. There are amazing titles, some of the best performances of all time, and technology had so much advanced that it really made all the difference in the world. Granted, things like The Godfather, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, the Indiana Jones movies, the original Star Wars trilogy, etc. came from other decades, but in terms on consistency the 2000s get it. Hands down.
Michael (It Rains…You Get Wet)
Easily, it’s the 70s. A particular span of time that proved to be one of the most tumultuous for many in the latter half of the 20th century. A decade filled with economic downturns, disillusionment, and the realization that things really could get a Hell of a lot worst. And did. The timing for film couldn’t have been better, though. For all of its crises and missteps, corruption and loss of idealism, the Me Decade heralded some of the absolute best cinema this country had to offer for the period.
The uncertainty and controversy, which followed the waning years of the Vietnam War, aroused an atmosphere that prompted directors and producers to reflect so distinctly upon the eyes of movie audiences. Prompted seemingly from watershed moments, crossroads, and/or deflated dreams, nothing could hold the tide back. It shouldn’t surprise that the era’s off-beat and imaginative comedies, challenging dramatic themes, and the stellar crime films of the period have rarely been surpassed.
From the big and important films (The Godfather, Chinatown, Jaws, Star Wars) to the small and decidedly underestimated (Halloween, The Long Goodbye, The Driver, Sorcerer), this decade had it all…and in spades. Cast back on us via celluloid, in movie houses by filmmakers who’d tasted the same bitter tea the era had served up. Lastly, though the decade did not invent or even introduce the character of the anti-hero, that protagonist certainly came into its own during this distinct ten-year stretch.
Richard (Kirkham A Movie A Day)
So, the cynical side in me wants to believe that Keith selected me because of my clearly expressed view contained in my on-line moniker and Avatar. My ego wants to believe that I was asked because my writing on-line about movies from different time periods has been interesting enough to make it appear that I might make some insightful comments. The movie lover in my soul however knows that I’ve been asked to speak for the greatest decade in movies because of my passion. I cannot disappoint any of those selves or my friend Keith, the greatest decade of movies ever was the 1970s. If I were more knowledgeable about foreign language films, the 50s could have snuck in here or if I limited myself to the sheer quantity of great films than it might be the 30s. There are however a couple of different characteristics that I would use in defense of the 70s as the greatest decade.
I don’t think any other decade has the range of styles and subject matter that the seventies did. In 1970 “Airport” was a best picture nominee. It was a soap opera melodrama with a single unique idea, disaster, at it’s heart. Ten years later, “Apocalypse Now” was a best picture nominee and the distance traveled between those two styles of film is daunting. The studio film had given way to the movie brats of film school and their highly personalized view of cinema. In 1971 “Fiddler on the Roof” was a best picture nominee and it was as much “Tradition” as you can get. Back to 1979, and another musical is nominated for best picture, “All That Jazz”, which is a meta picture about a filmmaker, making a movie and a musical simultaneously and it is autobiographical. The mindsets between these bookend years could not be more different. In the center of the decade were films that made genre films acceptable mainstream fare; pictures like “The Exorcist”, “Star Wars” and “Superman”. The greatest film of the 1970s also changed how movies were exhibited, marketed, exploited and analyzed, “Jaws” changed everything. With the exception of the movie studios being divested of their theater chains, the box office returns and audience reaction to “Jaws” did more to change the movie business than the addition of sound. It also happens to be the greatest picture made since the 1930s.
I can’t imagine any decade could match the quantity of movies from the 1930s, after all the Dream Factory was cranking them out like cars on an assembly line. Pound for pound however, 1975 could match up against 1939 very well. The degree of autonomy that directors and writers had in the 1970s may never be seen again except in the new world of You Tube and VOD. Those are the places that movies like “Taxi Driver” or “The Conversation” would have to end up. Too many opinions from too many directions mean that more recent films will never be as raw. In the 70s, Science Fiction films could explore ideas without having to have gargantuan budgets. Off beat characters could be the focal point of a story, and everybody was OK with that. In later decades, if a character was unique in some way, that would be the marketing strategy. In the 70s, everybody just expected the characters to have character.
If you consider the firepower of 1970s films, no other decade comes close to the quality of movies made in a ten year period. Look at someones list of ten greatest movies of all time, I’d be surprised if a third of them did not come from that decade: The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, Rocky, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Network, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, The Exorcist. If your list is specialized to a genre, Gangster Films, Cult Movies, Sports Films, Science Fiction, somewhere on those lists are at least two movies that were made in the 1970s, and for some lists it would be more than half. Stars still mattered in the seventies and the list of actors and actresses who made their biggest marks in the 70s is a long one. If this were a boxing match, in my view it would be like one of those Mike Tyson fights in the early part of his career, a knockout in the first or second round. The winner and undisputed heavyweight champion of movie decades, the 1970s.
It’s obvious to me that the 1990s were the best years in film. Drama defined the decade because of the contributions of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers.
Tom Hanks. He owned the decade. Sure, there were mediocre choices like That Thing You Do! in 1996 or in 1992, as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own. He managed to put his personal stamp on the film with the memorable phrase, “There’s no crying in baseball!”
But consider this blockbuster list:
1990, Bonfire of the Vanities
1993, Philadelphia (Best Acting Oscar)
1993, Sleepless in Seattle
1994, Forrest Gump (Best Acting Oscar)
1995, Toy Story
1995, Apollo 13
1998, Saving Private Ryan
1999, The Green Mile
1999, Toy Story 2
Many would say Saving Private Ryan is THE best war film. His ability to represent the common man with simplistic charm reminiscent of the great Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy only won one Oscar in 1940 with The Philadelphia Story. Of course, Tom Hanks greeted the new century with strong performances but it was the 1990s where he became the legend his is today.
Steven Spielberg. His relationship with Tom Hanks in films has served them both well. Not only is Saving Private Ryan arguably the best war film which is a Spielberg masterpiece, Spielberg gets the credit for the best film ever made with Schindler’s List. That’s a subjective claim, but no one would disagree that Schindler’s List is one of the finest films in the history of film making. It happened in the 1990s. What else did Steven Spielberg put out that decade? Two personal favorites are Jurassic Park from 1993 and Amistad in 1998.
Speaking of directors and actors teaming up, how about Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro in the 1990s? The best gangster films combined with strong acting in DeNiro’s career:
Martin Scorsese Robert DeNiro
1990, Goodfellas 1990, Goodfellas
1991, Cape Fear 1991, Cape Fear
1993, The Age of Innocence 1993, This Boys Life
1995, Casino 1995, Heat 1997, Wag the Dog
Other explosive directors that created iconic drama in the 1990s were Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers. Look what they did during the decade:
Quentin Tarantino Coen Brothers
1992, Reservoir Dogs 1990, Miller’s Crossing
1994, Pulp Fiction 1991, Barton Fink
1997, Jackie Brown 1996, Fargo
1998, The Big Lebowski
If you disagreed that Schindler’s List wasn’t the best film of the decade, then you probably think along with a million other critics that Pulp Fiction was the best film of the decade. If you are a Coen Brothers fan, then you probably are a cult follower of the Dude and drink White Russians as a token of homage. I know that’s when I was snookered with Jeff Bridges as an actor.
Finally, if the above reasons doesn’t convince you, here are more random films from the 1990s that I personally favor:
L.A. Confidential, Mission Impossible, Being John Malkovich, Rushmore,Contact, Sense and Sensibility, Elizabeth, Dogma, Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves, Sling Blade, The Piano,
Star Trek: First Contact, and Run Lola Run.
Are you convinced now that the 1900s was the best decade in film-making history?
So what is the consensus?
I want to thank Zoe, Michael, Richard, and Cindy for participating in this third Movie Bloggers Roundtable. You have heard our thoughts, now we want to hear yours. Do you like the feature? More importantly, which decade do you think is the best and why? There are a ton of good defenses for each. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
What a great roundtable! Thanks so much, Keith, for the invite to join in with a fantastic group of bloggers. You included, my friend.
And I loved many of your 50s picks, Keith.
Thanks my friend. If you think about it its really a difficult question because each cinema decade has their argument. I think that’s what fascinated me so much about the question.
No thank you! Your contribution was wonderful (even if it wasn’t the 50s)! 😉
Look forward to having you do it again sometimes!
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Hitchcock and Kurosawa are strong points for the fifties. So is “Singin in the Rain”. The Brosnan Bond films undermine the 2000s for me instead of enhancing them. Cindy has the right director but the wrong decade. Clearly only Michael knows what he is talking about. (lol). I liked everyone’s claims, they made each decade sound special. Thanks so much Keith for including me in this Roundtable with this great group of writers. I enjoyed reading their points and writing my own.
Thanks so much Richard. It was really fun comparing thoughts and listening to defenses. More often than not I found myself nodding as I was reading saying “yep, they make a good point”. You all added so much to it!
Fun read Keith, obviously we all have different taste in films but it’s nice to see other people’s onion on this subject. You have another vote for the 70s as the best for films, I mean look at what that decade gave us: Jaws, Star Wars, The Godfather 1 & 2, Superman, The French Connection, Apocalypse Now, Rocky, Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, Dirty Harry and so much more that I can go on and on about that decade. Funny enough, I hate everything about the 70s, the clothing, music, cars and a bunch of other things but I love the films, LOL.
In a distant second would be the 90s, so many great films but the late 90s also gave us some great stinkers that made tons of money at the box office, so I have to dock it down.
Love what you say about the 70s! LOL! I’m the same way. The hair, the fashion, etc. eeeck! But it was a good time for movies.
For me the 50s were equally diverse. Even more amazing is how movies really started crossing boundaries and going in new directions.
But you know, great arguments could be made for the 40s, 60s, and 80s. That’s what I found to be so great about this particular question.
Yeah, you can’t really argue with that. So many classic films came out of the 70s.
The 70s are getting a lot of love so far.
For sure. The 80s had some of the very best horror films, though. A lot of classics and a lot of so bad they’re good genre films came out of the 80s.
I think the 80s was the decade of the trend movies. Slasher horror, sex comedies, teen flicks, etc. They all had heavy runs in popularity during the 80s.
Great article, some very good arguments put forward by all!
Thanks so much Stu. Be ready. I may be calling on you sometimes!
I’ll dust off my best suit!
Reblogged this on The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger and commented:
I was honoured to be able to participate in Keith’s Movie Bloggers Roundtable, where we were asked which was the best decade for movies. Head on over to see the responses!
Thank you very much Keith, this was a lot of fun! Great responses here!
No, thank you Zoe! Sooo glad you agreed to take part.
Zoe, I love your decade! If Tom Hanks “owned” the 90s, I’d say Clint Eastwood owned the 00s. Great job.
The 2000s were strong and they did give me a few of my favorite films ever made: No Country for Old Men, Gladiator, and There Will Be Blood!
🙂 Thanks Cindy! I was very torn between the 90s and 00s, but ultimately the 00s had to win. I love Tom Hanks, so your decade perfectly reflects him in his element!
The ’70s overall were probably the best but 1987 is the best year period.
I’m standing my ground (alone) for the 1950s, but the 70s seem to be getting all the love. But I love that you single out 1987! What a great year for movies! Here’s what I mean:
Exactly! And don’t forget North Shore, Hard Ticket to Hawaii, RoboCop, Summer School, Overboard, The Princess Bride, Born in East L.A., etc.
Yep, yep, yep!
Great feature Keith!! A great read from all involved. Got to go with Cindy though, the 90’s wins hands down for me 🙂
Arrrrgggghhhh!!!! Everyone hates me and the 1950s!!! WHYYYYY?!?!?!
Ahem, sorry for that. Thanks my friend. Appreciate you reading. These are fun features to do. Already planning the forth one!
I’m surprised no one picked the 1960s. I would have chosen that or the 70s.
It seems the 70s is the top choice. I really think this reflects a general apathy towards older decades. I’ve wrote about this in the past but not many folks today really love the films of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and to some extent the 60s. I’m not saying anyone’s choices here are wrong. Not at all. It’s just a trend that I’ve noticed thought my years of blogging and I’m not surprised to see it reflected here. Interesting stuff.
Keith, what an outstanding series you have here; love it and thanks for letting me join the auspicious group 🙂 The fifties was a great decade and your argument is sound–Paul Newman and Brando in the same decade? Audrey Hepburn? Alfred Hitchcock at his height? Power-hitting club!
Thanks Cindy and I’m so grateful you were willing to contribute! I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again! 🙂
I think everyone has made a great argument. For me the 50s just stood up. I was a teen during the 80s and so many of those films are dear to me. But I don’t think that decade (as a whole) was as great or as significant as the 50s. Cinema was doing so many cool things then.
Have you noticed the correlation between odd years making the best films of their decade? The 30s was stellar. 50s., 70s, 90s…all a notch above.
That’s really interesting. Haven’t thought of that. The only slight difference would be the 40s. I REALLY love some of the great films of that decade. Otherwise I see what you mean. Fascinating point.
YAY! I’m glad that my question for Ruth’s post inspired this awesome conversation! Great job.
It certainly did. I have a list of questions put aside for these posts and that was one of them. But after reading it there it quickly moved to the front. It’s such a fascinating discussion. Thanks for reading.
Thanks for the link love Keith and Drew for the fantastic Five for the Fifth question!
Man, it goes to show I need to see more films from the 70s! I like a lot of the espionage/cold war thrillers from that era, but surely there are film from other genres worth checking out. For me, the 90s is perhaps the most memorable genre because that’s when I started to really appreciate film. There are lots of my favorites from that decade!
I’m with you on the 70s Ruth. Some really great movies from that decade. But it was also a decade that featured many movies that lots of people love but that I think are overrated. Apocalypse Now instantly comes to mind. The 90s was a strong decade and some other have mentioned it. Alas I am alone in my love for the 50s. In fact I’m the only one in the comments or as part of the roundtable who picked a decade earlier than the 70s! LOL
Great read, Keith & co. My vote is also for the 70s for all the reasons Richard gave.
Thanks so much. The 70s once again. It’s funny, there are more than one decade that I would put before it. Yet sooo many love it (and none earlier than the 70s have been picked aside from my pick of the 50s).
We’re just scarred that way, Keith 😉
Great piece here folks. I love Cindy’s argument on the 90’s. I do believe that was a very strong decade for cinema. Not only was I forming my love for cinema at that time but it did produce some marvellous stuff: DeNiro and Scorsese were still strong with Goodfellas, Tarantino arrived, and The Coen brothers were delivering some excellent work. In fact, in my personal Top Ten there are more films from the 90’s than any other decade… The Big Lebowski, Trainspotting, LA Confidential, The Thin Red Line.
However, I’d have to agree with Michael and Richard on the 70’s. This was the decade that proved that film had indeed become a true new art form with endless possibilities. DeNiro, Pacino, Nicholson, Streep, Hoffman all came into their own and the countless directors that helped them. Sure some may have worked before then but the 70’s is were cinema really captured the imagination of viewers and so many classics were delivered that it’s hard to mention them all.
Great question though, and one that will inspire debate for many of us and many generations to follow.
I’ll gladly accept whatever support I get. 😉 Thanks, Mark.
I don’t know, there hasn’t been as much debate as I had hoped. I’m really surprised to see so much 70s love. Great movie decade but for me it didn’t quite match some of the others. And many of the filmmakers there were actually building on the foundation that the earlier filmmakers of the 50s and 60s laid. It’s really fun to debate this and in the end its fairly difficult to have a definitive choice. Truth is each decade has had shining moments.
Each decade certainly does have it’s highlights and I absolutely agree that the 50’s & 60’s laid the ground to build on but I just feel that the 70’s took that and ran with it. Much more directors and actors were willing to go that extra length to realise their visions. The material and delivery became more daring and challenging on tougher issues. It could also be said that they became more violent and political. Again, though, there are strong arguments for any decade and I suppose a big factor is in personal preference. Who’s to say that Kubrick’s (1957) Paths of Glory is any less revolutionary than, say, Cimino’s (1978) The Deer Hunter or Spielberg’s (1998) Saving Private Ryan? – Just a few examples of war movies and the impact they had on our consciousness. Very strong work can be found across the board. No doubt about. The 70’s just resonated more with me (and this is really only American cinema I’ve mentioned here). If European or Eastern cinema was to be considered I could even find my 70’s preference under question…
Damn! I’m confused now 😉
LOL, it is confusing isn’t it. When you allow yourself to dissect the decades and examine all of the great films that came out of each, it’s next to impossible to come to a sound conclusion. At least that was the case for me. For some reason I just kept coming back to 1950s. But I’ve heard more than one compelling argument for the 70s.
Very cool idea for a discussion! God I don’t know how you guys made these decisions…there have been way too many awesome movies over the years, and I am way too indecisive. Bahaha. Great job, you lot! 🙂
Hey thanks so much! It’s really next to impossible to have a definitive right answer. Each decade has arguments that could be made in its defense. So glad you enjoyed the discussion.
Definitely not the easiest question I have ever been asked…
First, just wanted to say that you have a nice blog. have read some of your articles. But this is a very good post and a tough question. Although the 70’s does have the great influential movies, I would say that the 90’s was more enjoyable.
The 90′ had great serious movies, but it also had some great popcorn movies and even some very funny comedies. (and even Adam Sandler’s debut was a bit welcomed, I would say.lol. but basically the 90’s had a great variety. anyway to share an answer, i would give the greatest decade to the 90’s.
Thanks so much for the kind words. Really hope you’ll continue to stop by. This is the third roundtable I’ve done and I think this is the most interesting question so far. I love the comments too. So many great reasons why the decades are great.
Probably the most interesting movie blog post I have ever read. Great idea, Keith … Always find it so cool when bloggers can inspire one another. Really, this post gave me a lot to think about. Personally, I would have given it either to the 50s or 90s based off the information in this post, but everyone has a compelling argument. I would have loved to have heard a podcast on this subject. Thanks for this post! Definitely has inspired me to think of new ideas!
Thanks so much Kristen! This is the third Roundtable I’ve done and people seem to really enjoy them. And the question fascinates me. It is so open for debate and its almost impossible to be definitive.
Stay tuned. I very well may be calling on you to join one soon! 🙂
In that case, I’m really looking forward to it! 🙂
I did not look earlier but it occurred to me that another measure might be a quality ranking by an objective group of critics. The AFI might be accused of a lot of things but I doubt bias for a particular decade would be one of them. On their list of 100 greatest films, 15 were from the 1950s, good showing Keith, and they did exclude non- English language films. Cindy, 11 films from the 90s made the AFI list. That’s more than 10 percent so it was certainly not an unreasonable choice but it is average. Now I wonder which decade had the most? Thirties had a dozen, and three of those were from the magic year of 1939. More than 20% of the Top 100 films on the AFI list came from a decade that has been maligned for it’s hairstyles, automobiles and music. Hey, I know it’s not a numbers game, and I agree with Keith that there is not as much love for earlier decades, that probably reflects a bias from exposure and the recency effect. Just as when people argue hypotheticals concerning match-ups between baseball teams from different eras or boxers separated by fifty years, we are going to grasp what straws we can find. I just found this one and threw it in the mix. (I thought everyone else arguments were better than this idea, but I decided to keep the conversation going).
Very interesting observation and one I haven’t thought about. It may be because I’ve only occasionally glanced at AFI but the 20% is definitely a compelling argument.
I guess where I would dampen things is in the quality of some of those films representing the 70s. I think possibly more than any other decade, the 70s has more movies that are considered classics that I think are overrated. I mentioned Apocalypse Now elsewhere. Annie Hall is another. Then there is A Clockwork Orange – a movie I find utterly unwatchable. And even One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I really like that film but I don’t think it’s as great as many do. AFI has it way ahead of Jaws, a vastly superior film IMO.
And then you have Oscar winners like Rocky which is also on AFI’s list. That baffles me. Good movie, but one of the 100 Greatest? They list it above The African Queen, Raiders, Modern Times, Goodfellas, 12 Angry Men, etc!!! They will rate Rocky so high and exclude a movie like Mean Streets which would have represented the 70s better.
So basically I don’t even know what my point is. Maybe to poke holes in the AFI or just explain why I haven’t always understood their thinking. Either way, considering them definitely adds to the conversation! 🙂
Your point taken, I’ve had my run in with AFI and their selections over the years. If there’s one thing that has created a niche for them, literally put them onto the air waves and into moviegoers heads (in good and bad ways), it is their fairly recent propensity to create lists.
Needless to say, each of these has also generated their own discussion, if not downright vehement disagreement among the movie-going public, on what film truly deserved a Top 10, or 100… whatever, placement on the various categories the AFI centered on, beginning back in 1998. I like your examples. I’m certainly ambivalent toward Annie Hall and A Clockwork Orange.
Maybe this would be another source of a roundtable subject? ;-).
I like it! That could be a great discussion (or multiple ones for that matter). Thanks for that.
It’s a real toughie, this one. It’d have to be a toss up between the 70s and the 90s for me, so I’d probably go for the 90s. But yeah, the 50s were cool… 😉
Those seem to be the two big favorites from this 50s-hating crowd! 😉
I’m with Cindy.
Great work here everyone. I think I would go with the 70s myself, but you guys made some strong arguments for the other decades. Especially nice to see the 2000s included, as I don’t think it usually gets enough credit when talking about the best.
The 70s win another vote. I gotta say I’m very surprised out just how many have picked that decade. It’s been the popular choice by a pretty large margin.
Thanks for reading my friend. I may be looking you up to join a future roundtable.
I think I would go with the 60’s but as you say a case can be made for all of them!
Great feature as always Keith 🙂
Thanks man and it’s great to hear someone go with a decade earlier than the 70s. Before you I was the only one that did. LOL
Haha yeah I noticed!
You just have so many good films in the 60’s… to name but a few:
Once Upon a Time in the West
La Dolce Vita
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
So many want to list films from the eras that they favor and that makes a little sense, each decade has its bright spots. The strongest argument I saw for the Fifties was Keith’s point that this was the Golden Age of Alfred Hitchcock and the coming of age of actors like Brando. Here’s another point for the fifties, this is when the screen widened and CinemaScope and VistaVision arrived as an answer to the Television.Drive-In culture peaked in this decade.Topics that had previously been taboo were now discussed, sometimes indirectly but they were not ignored anymore. I still think the seventies has the edge but not just because of the particular films but because of the sensibilities of the era. The sixties was a transition period, from power in the studios and producers to the shift to power in the hands of directors and agents.
Plus the sixties saw the demise if the Hollywood Production Code which opened the door for the edgier content that we got during the 70s. The 60s were definitely transition years in Hollywood.
The other thing no one has mention about the 50s was it was the golden years for the venerable western. Revisionism really started peaking in the 60s for the oater, but the structure and moral complexity reflected the best of those 50s efforts. Any of Anthony Mann’s that decade, Henry King’s splendid ‘The Gunfighter’, Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, Zinneman’s ‘High Noon’, Steven’s ‘Shane’, Dawes’ original ‘3:10 to Yuma’, William Wyler’s ‘The Big Country’, Budd Boetticher’s ‘Seven Men From Now’, and of course, any of John Ford’s during this period (The Searchers, Rio Grande, etc.). Many more exists, as this decade was loaded with them, but you get the drift. Certainly, another highlight for this era, Keith. I recommend heading over to my western and film noir colleague Colin’s blog, Riding the High Country for his ongoing efforts at examing this now underappreciated genre.
My father has always been a fan of westerns so I was introduced to so many of these films at a young age . The 50s were certainly loaded with unique westerns many of which separated themselves from the normal mold.
Haha, you know what, the 70s were a fantastic film decade. Looking back, there are so many genres that were “made” then and so many film genres that broke out of the box then. Incredible innovative decade. Mad Max, Star Wars, Alien, Grease, Jaws, Rocky, Blazing Saddles, The French Connection, The Sting… I could just keep going! Of course every decade has something memorable, but the 70s gave us so much.
You and so many others are really supporting the 70s. It’s hard to argue a case against it. As you said, so many good movies and genres definitely defined themselves during the decade. I still lean towards the 50s though but I think I’m all alone on that one! 🙂
And there ain’t nothing wrong with that!
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