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Fowler’s Flix 07.11.19: The Sensational Seventies (And Maybe a Couple from 1980)

Arrow Video
The gang at QSKY rides the airwaves in the 1978 flick "FM."
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With my birth coming in on the tail-end of the Seventies—1978, to be precise—I’ve always nonsensically wished to have been born just a decade earlier, if only to be a part of the world of brilliantly original filmmaking that not only came out at the time, but was never repeated again. It was a time when original voices were not only sought, but heard, from the quiet independents to the monstrous big-budget outings like…

Filmed in the ultimate seventies movie-going experience—SENSURROUND—1974’s disaster spectacular Earthquake (Shout! Factory) was the pinnacle of motion picture destruction for years to come and, now on Blue-ray the multiple histrionic plots and primitive special effects are still more entertaining than recent films like, say, San Andreas. Here, gun-toting actor Charlton Heston leads an all-star cast through the wreckage of a collapsed City of Angels, where it becomes both the ultimate study of man’s kindness in tragedy and, of course, his tragic malfeasance as well.

One of the most underrated film of the 70s, I strongly urge rock fans to give FM (Arrow Video) another twist on the dial. Made at a time when broadcasters and other assorted programmers were local superstars because they actually gave a damn about something other than money, Dugan (Michael Brandon) leads his QSKY staff on a strike when the corporate heads want them to shill for the U.S. Army; you couldn’t make a film like this today without the chicken-hawks shutting you down…it’s a good thing that FM was made yesterday, right?

From the radio dial to the printed page, Joan Micklin Silver’s 1977 slice of life in an alt-weekly, Between the Lines (Cohen Film Collection) is very much, when I started writing for them, what I thought it was going to be and, sadly, what it wasn’t. A then-burgeoning cast that includes Jeff Goldblum, John Heard and Michael J. Pollard, to name a few, typically deal with small paychecks and upcoming deadlines until a big name publishing company buys them up and it’s times to put up or shut up. Remember when anti-corporate takes were a much loved feature of the best countercultural features?

An even sadder portrait is a film I’ve written about here before—Anne Bancroft’s directorial debut Fatso (Shout! Factory). Dom DeLuise gives his all in a serio-comic performance that should have been more lauded upon release; he’s Dominic, an Italian-American who has lived his entire life from a chubby boy to an overweight man. When his cousin dies at 39 from the same problems that Dom is facing, he wants to get thinner, but it seems as though the world—and his own food addictions—are seemingly against him.

When originally released, 1980’s Can’t Stop the Music (Shout! Factory) was widely regarded as one of the most notorious bombs ever made; it all but killed—quote/unquote—the career of stars the Village People. But, about forty years later, I’d be amiss if I didn’t admit it’s one of my favorite films from the maligned decade. Basically an origin story showcasing how an overly-excited Steve Guttenberg and a playfully-sexy Valerie Perrine conceived and concaved a cadre of already-made manly stereotypes built for the disco-scene, it’s a film whose very definition is “has to be seen just to be believed”, at least for the “Milkshake” sequence alone.

Finally, on the boob tube, audiences in 1975, hungry for a replacement to the long-canceled Star Trek series, found similarly short-lived hope with Space:1999 (Shout! Factory), the complete series of which is collected here on Blu-ray. Starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, this show took place in the futuristic time of, of course, 1999, when nuclear waste on the moon set the satellite—and the denizens of Moonbase Alpha—on a wild trip through the cosmos. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of Thunderbirds fame, this program may not have gotten the 90s right, but perhaps they were just as few years behind.

We’ll see, I suppose.

Next week: The Yari Film Group enters the world of Blu-ray…

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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