While the anti-establishment rebels of 1969's Easy Rider were morphing into the nostalgic yuppies of 1983's The Big Chill, Seventies movies brought us everything from killer sharks, blaxploitation, and teen comedies to haunting views of a divided America at war. Indeed, as Peter Lev persuasively argues in this book, the films of the 1970s constitute a kind of conversation about what American society is and should be--open, diverse, and egalitarian, or stubbornly resistant to change.
Examining forty films thematically, Lev explores the conflicting visions presented within ten different film genres or subjects:
o Hippies (Easy Rider, Alice's Restaurant)
o Cops (The French Connection, Dirty Harry)
o Disasters and Conspiracies (Jaws, Chinatown)
o End of the Sixties (Nashville, The Big Chill)
o Art, Sex, and Hollywood (Last Tango in Paris)
o Teens (American Graffiti, Animal House)
o War (Patton, Apocalypse Now)
o African-Americans (Shaft, Superfly)
o Feminisms (An Unmarried Woman, The China Syndrome)
o Future Visions (Star Wars, Blade Runner)
As accessible to ordinary moviegoers as to film scholars, Lev's book is an essential companion to these familiar, well-loved movies.
Lev (mass communication, Towson Univ.) examines how American cinema in the Seventies portrayed society's progress toward diversity and egalitarianism. Focusing on themes and genres rather than the auteur approach, Lev groups the 39 films discussed in chapters that include "Hippie Generation" (Five Easy Pieces, Alice's Restaurant), and "Whose Future?" (Star Wars, Alien). His academic, almost literary explication and interpretation works especially well with more cerebral films, such as Apocalypse Now, but is less successful with action films and "Blaxploitation to African American" films. There are many good insights, including the observation that much of the philosophy and beliefs of the Sixties counterculture was not really portrayed in films until the very end of the decade (in films like Easy Rider) and then really flourished in the films of the Seventies. Lev also explores the impact of the increasing importance of marketing and the changing venues for films (cable, videos, pay-per-view). Marc Sigoloff's The Films of the Seventies (LJ 7/84), a detailed filmography of the period, is a good complementary reference source for Lev's essays. Recommended for academic and film libraries.--Richard W. Grefrath, Univ. of Nevada Lib., Reno Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\