A Decade Under the Influence

Last night, without even really trying to, I got sucked into the documentary A Decade Under The Influence. I meant only to watch a little of part one, and I ended up sitting right through all 3 hours of it. I found it fascinating. This remains my favorite period of American cinema, although really the 70’s as they relate to film really start for me around 1966 and end around 1977. The stuff I think of as “70’s New Hollywood Cinema” was pretty much over before the decade ended, with a little bit of flare up here and there after that time, like Raging Bull and Apocolypse Now. A few years back I read the Peter Biskind book on a similar topic, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and enjoyed it greatly.

I think the documentary is well worth watching on IFC or renting the DVDs. One of the bits of trivia I learned was that director Paul Mazursky (An Unmarried Woman is my favorite of his) was the grandfather on “Once and Again” a few years back. I’m not sure I had ever seen him interviewed, and as soon as I saw him I thought “Wasn’t that guy Phil Brooks?” My only real complaint with the documentary, other than the typical “Why wasn’t X in it?” which they run a disclaimer about was that there was way too much Julie Christie. She’s a good actress and all, but a lot of her opinions on movements and filmmaking and such seemed a little half-baked and there was no subject they didn’t show her weighing in on. I’d have rather heard more from Friedkin and Lumet and Hopper and Scorcese, and less from her.

I’d also have liked it if they had included someone that I think was wildly influential, but just not normally thought of in this circle – John Waters. I think the deal is that while all these guys pat themselves on the back as the “bad boys of cinema” for pushing the envelope in the studio system, Waters didn’t even attempt to play the studio game and seems to have that counted against him. For whatever reason, he never seems to be included in the club and I wager he couldn’t care less.

As a disclaimer of my own, I link to the DUTI website above, but I don’t think too much of it. It’s all flash, and if you attempt to hit the unqualified URL (the same URL they flash in the documentary) you get a “Virtual directory cannot be listed” error. They didn’t even put in a default page for god sake! Plus, it is all flash. Knowing the domain, I had to go to Google just to find an entrance into the damn website. I suspect that’s why the discussion board has so few posts, because it is a very large effort just to get to the site even when you see the link on TV. Very bad, someone should spank the web guys for this.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.