Tag Archives: Film

The So-So Seventies

It wasn’t the best of times, but it wasn’t the worst of times either.  Not so much the Me Decade, as the meh decade.  Soft rock – the oxymoronic soundtrack to the 70s, that and disco, and the Grateful Dead.  I’m OK, You’re OK.  Transcendental meditation.  I watched Watergate, the Bicentennial, and Son of Sam on TV.  The Vietnam War ended and Saturday Night Live began.  Nixon, Ford and Carter occupied the White House.  We waited in line for gas, first in ’74, then again in ’79.  I saw Godspell – twice.

Here are some of my favorite films, books and music from the 1970s.

Favorite 60s Books

Thomas Pynchon  Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 (1973)
Kurt Vonnegut  Breakfast of Champions (1973)
Richard Dawkins  The Selfish Gene (1976)
E.E. Cummings  Complete Poems 1913-1962 (1972)
Toni Morrison  Song of Solomon (1977)
John Rawls  A Theory of Justice (1971)
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward  All the President’s Men (1974)
Robert M. Pirsig  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (1974)
Frances Moore Lappé  Diet for a Small Planet (1971)
Alice S. Rossi (ed.)  The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir (1973)
E.L. Doctorow  Ragtime (1975)
Tom Robbins  Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976)
John Cheever  The Stories of John Cheever (1978)
Augustus Napier & Carl Whitaker  The Family Crucible (1978)
Leon Edel  Henry James: A Life (1953-1972)
E.O. Wilson  On Human Nature (1978)
Steve Martin  Cruel Shoes (1979)

Favorite 70s Music

The Velvet Underground  Loaded (1970)
Van Morrison  Moondance (1970)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young  Déjà vu (1970)
Derek and The Dominos   Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
John Lennon  John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Al Green  Compact Command Performances: 14 Greatest Hits (1970-1974)
Hound Dog Taylor  Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (1971)
Carole King  Tapestry (1971)
Joni Mitchell  Blue (1971)
The Who  Who’s Next (1971)
T. Rex   Electric Warrior (1971)
Neil Young  Harvest (1972)
Randy Newman  Sail Away (1972)
Yes  Close to the Edge (1972)
The Modern Lovers  The Modern Lovers (rec. 1972, rel. 1976)
Bob Marley  Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (1972-1983)
Dave Holland  Conference of the Birds (1973)
Pink Floyd  The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Paul Simon  There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973)
The Who  Quadrophenia (1973)
Yes  Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)
Joe Pass  Virtuoso (1974)
Bob Dylan  Blood on the Tracks (1975)
Bruce Springsteen  Born to Run (1975)
Pink Floyd  Wish You Were Here (1975)
Patti Smith  Horses (1975)
Early Music Consort of London  Music of the Gothic Era (1976)
Renaissance  Live at Carnegie Hall (1976)
Albert Collins  Ice Pickin’ (1978)
Giuseppe Verdi  Otello (Domingo; Scotto; Levine) (1978)
Elvis Costello  This Year’s Model (1978)
The Roches  The Roches (1979)
Talking Heads  Fear of Music (1979)

Favorite 70s Films

Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)
The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
The Godfather: Part II (Coppola, 1974)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975)
Taxi Driver (Scorcese, 1976)
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Herzog, 1974)
Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
Annie Hall (Allen, 1977)
3 Women (Altman, 1977)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel, 1972)
Badlands (Malick, 1973)
Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci, 1972)
Cries and Whispers (Bergman, 1972)
A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes, 1974)
Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972)
Five Easy Pieces (Rafelson, 1970)
The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich, 1971)
A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)
MASH (Altman, 1970)
Harold and Maude (Ashby, 1971)
The Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1975)
Nashville (Altman, 1975)
Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Fassbinder, 1979)

The Seismic Sixties

All my earliest memories come from this decade.  My first books and first movies.  Bambi at the drive-in.  Mary Poppins.  The mysteries of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  The Bounty Trilogy.  Jules Verne.  First explorations of nature in my backyard.  First day of school.  My first library card.  Reading books in the ‘back back’ of the light blue station wagon.  My first fishing pole – catching sunnies and, once, a snapping turtle, in the Saddle Brook.  My first trip on an airplane – visiting the pilot in the cockpit.    Watching the Apollo astronauts on TV.  The shooting of Bobby Kennedy.  The Vietnam War on the evening news.  Hippies making out in Glen Rock Park.

So in the spirit of that immense decade, here are my top films, books and music of the 1960s.  To see the complete lists, check out the menu at the top of the page.

Favorite 60s Films

 (Fellini, 1963)
Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux [My Life to Live] (Godard, 1962)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
La dolce vita (Fellini, 1960)
À bout de souffle [Breathless] (Godard, 1960)
Repulsion (Polanski, 1965)
Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960)
L’avventura [The Adventure] (Antonioni, 1960)
El ángel exterminador [The Exterminating Angel] (Buñuel, 1962)
Jules et Jim [Jules and Jim] (Truffaut, 1962)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
La jetée [The Pier] (Marker, 1962)
Nóż w wodzie [Knife in the Water] (Polanski, 1962)
The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962)
Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962)
Le procès [The Trial] (Welles, 1962)
The Servant (Losey, 1963)
Bande à part [Band of Outsiders] (Godard, 1964)
Faces (Cassavetes, 1968)
Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969)

Favorite 60s Books

Thomas Pynchon  V. (1963)
Gabriel García Márquez  One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
Tom Wolfe  The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
Kurt Vonnegut  Cat’s Cradle (1963)
James Watson  The Double Helix (1968)
J.D. Salinger  Franny and Zooey (1961)
Jorge Luis Borges  Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings (1962)
William Hinton  Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (1966)
Doris Lessing  The Golden Notebook (1962)
John Barth  Giles Goat-Boy (1966)
William L. Shirer  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (1960)
Anthony Burgess  A Clockwork Orange (1962)
Richard Taylor  Metaphysics (1963)
Frank Rhodes  Fossils (1962)

Favorite 60s Music

Patsy Cline  12 Greatest Hits (1957-1963)
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles   The Ultimate Collection (1959-1972)
Wes Montgomery  The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)
Freddie King   Hide Away: The Best of Freddy King (1960-1966)
Etta James   The Sweetest Peaches: The Chess Years, Part 1 (1960-1966)
Bill Evans  Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
Johann Sebastian Bach  St. Matthew Passion (Klemperer) (1961)
Dexter Gordon  Go (1962)
Lee Morgan  The Sidewinder (1964)
Gustav Mahler  Das Lied von der Erde (Ludwig/Klemperer) (1964-1966)
Joe Henderson  Inner Urge (1965)
Wayne Shorter  Speak No Evil (1965)
Sun Ra   The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra (1965)
John Coltrane   A Love Supreme (1965)
B.B. King   Live at the Regal (1965)
The Beatles   Rubber Soul (1965)
Bob Dylan   Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Various Artists   Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era (1965-1968)
Richard Wagner  Tristan und Isolde (Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele/Böhm; Nilsson; Windgassen; Ludwig) (1966)
Bob Dylan   Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Larry Young  Unity (1966)
Various Artists   Chicago/The Blues/Today! (1966)
The Beatles  Revolver (1966)
Albert King   King of the Blues Guitar (1966-1968)
Jefferson Airplane  The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (1966-1969)
Janis Joplin  Greatest Hits (1966-1970)
The Velvet Underground  The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
The Beatles  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Aretha Franklin  The Very Best of Aretha Franklin: The ’60s (1967-1970)
Van Morrison  Astral Weeks (1968)
The Beatles  The Beatles [White Album] (1968)
Claudio Monteverdi   Orfeo (Ensemble Vocal et Instrumental de Lausanne/Corboz) (1968)
Various Artists   Tropicália: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound (1968-1970)
Dusty Springfield  Dusty in Memphis (1969)
The Who  Tommy (1969)
Crosby, Stills & Nash   Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
The Band  The Band (1969)
The Beatles  Abbey Road (1969)

The Fabulous Fifties

Svenska: Svensk standardkök från 1950-talets s...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve often felt that I was born just a little too late – if I had been born in the 1950s instead of the 1960s, I would have been around for all those anti-Vietnam campus protests, and the beginning of the counterculture.  They seemed like heady, exciting times to me (especially when I was a teenager in the 1970s) and I felt like I had missed out on the time of my life.

So I was thinking about the 1950s and I decided to look through my literature, music and films lists to find my favorites from that decade.  Here are the results:


Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950)
All About Eve (Mankiewicz, 1950)
Sunset Blvd. (Wilder, 1950)
Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson, 1951)
Ikiru (Kurosawa, 1952)
Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly & Donen, 1952)
Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati, 1953)
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, 1953)
The Band Wagon (Minnelli, 1953)
The Earrings of Madame de… (Ophüls, 1953)
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)
The Apu Trilogy (Ray, 1955-1959)
The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957)
Nights of Cabiria (Fellini, 1957)
Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)


T-Bone Walker, The Complete Imperial Recordings (1950-1954)
Elmore James, The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James (1951-1961)
Sarah Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan (with Clifford Brown) (1954)
Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions (1954-1955)
Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, Clyde McPhatter, The Clovers, Atlantic & Atco Remasters Series: Sampler One (1954-1958)
Jascha Heifetz, Beethoven and Brahms: Violin Concertos (1955)
Buddy Holly, Memorial Collection (1955-1959)
Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight (1955-1965)
Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier (Karajan; Schwarzkopf; Ludwig) (1956)
Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)
Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus (1956)
Thelonious Monk, Brilliant Corners (1956)
Nat “King” Cole, After Midnight (1956)
Otis Rush, The Classic Cobra Recordings (1956-1958)
Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story (Original Broadway Cast) (1957)
The Everly Brothers, Cadence Classics: Their 20 Greatest Hits (1957-1960)
Champion Jack Dupree, Blues From the Gutter (1958)
The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out (1959)
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (1959)
Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)


J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian (1951)
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
Isaac Asimov, Foundation; Foundation & Empire; Second Foundation (1951-1953)
Samuel Beckett, Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable (1951-1953)
A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic (1952)
Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1953)
J. D. Salinger, Nine Stories (1953)
Walter Kaufmann (ed.), Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre (1953)
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1953)
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (1954)
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955)
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction (1955)
William Golding, The Inheritors (1955)
J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words (1955)
James Agee, A Death in the Family (1957)
Harold Brodkey, First Love and Other Sorrows (1958)
Günter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959)

To see my five-star albums, books and films, click on the appropriate tab at the top of the page.  I’m interested in what you think, and what your favorites are.

A New Way of Making Lists

All you listers out there will be interested to know that I have been experimenting with a new listing method that overcomes one of the worst frustrations listers face: the numerical limit.  Top 10 this.  Best 100 that.  The difficulty, if you love something, isn’t coming up with 10, or 100, but getting it down to the required number.  When I compiled my Top 100 Movies list, I started with over 200: cutting those last 25 movies to get down to 100 was a painful experience, and it felt very arbitrary – is Mildred Pierce really better than Cool Hand Luke?

But thanks to a number of websites that ask members to give ratings (1-5 stars, usually, sometimes 1-10) to books, movies, albums, etc., there is another, less frustrating option: listing your 5-star rated items.  Instead of arbitrarily cutting off your favorites at 10 or 100, you can list every book, movie, album, etc,, that you gave the highest rating.  The total number is irrelevant: it could be 7, 99, or 274.  This method provides a more accurate depiction of your favorites and, more importantly avoids the awful pain of cutting just to reach an arbitrary number.

Here are the results of my experiments:

Books: http://beckchris.com/the-lists/literature-lists/my-five-star-books/
Films: http://beckchris.com/the-lists/movie-lists/my-five-star-films/
Music: http://beckchris.com/the-lists/music-lists/my-five-star-albums/