Sunday, December 17, 2017

Movie ads from the 1960s and 70s

In my random rummaging through materials I've collected over the years, I found these movie ads that were cut out from newspapers, old and yellowing now. It was most likely my aunt who cut them out. There doesn't appear to be any real reason why these particular movies were selected, but we certainly don't see these kinds of ads any more.

The Conversation, 1974

Very few American directors had a decade like Francis Ford Coppola did in the 1970s. It began on a high note — winning an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for 'Patton,' to the enormous success and influence of 'The Godfather' movies, and capping off the decade is the magnificent, epic, delirious 'Apocalypse Now.' Stuffed in the middle of all that was this genius little film, 'The Conversation.' Quietly eerie, almost surreal at times, Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who eventually succumbs to the surrounding paranoia. It has to do with secret recordings, which was the the topic of the day. The film, released in 1974, also stars the late marvelous John Cazale. Coppola competed against himself in the Best Picture category that year, but as we know 'The Godfather Part II' picked up the statuette.

The only film Bruce Lee completed as a director. Released as 'Way of the Dragon' overseas in 1972. Lee died in July 1973, aged 32.

Here's something you definitely don't see any more. An ad for an explicitly pornographic movie in the pages of your local paper (although this is almost certainly from The New York Times), with critics unashamedly weighing in the quality of the work. This is from 1972. The film's star, Marilyn Chambers, died in 2009 at the age of the 56.

The only reason to stick 'Dumbo' onto a double bill with 'Snowball Express' is get somebody, anybody, into the theater. These were the lean years (1972) for the Disney brand, still floundering less than a decade after Walt Disney's death. These were the years of 'The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes' and the like. It would take Disney another 15 years or so to get out of the doldrums, with 'The Little Mermaid,' and of course the studio has been winning ever since.

'Dumbo' was first released in 1941, and, while it was one of the shortest of Disney's animated features (64 minutes), it proved to be a huge hit for the studio, even though (or perhaps because of) it was released just weeks prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

'Easy Come, Easy Go' and 'Alvarez Kelly,' 1966

Good God. What a double feature, from 1966. Elvis, one of the most dynamic performers of all time, looks like a wax figure here.  He had been churning out these movies ever since his return from the Army several years earlier, and this was the period when Hollywood couldn't grapple with what was happening in the real world. Stars like Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope kept making movies, but each one was worse then the previous. Same was true for Elvis. John Wayne was in limbo, too, making a series of minor westerns, one after the other. Jimmy Stewart was making gooey family comedies, along with a couple of tough westerns, but Hollywood was beginning to get it. Biker B-movies were making some money, and 'Easy Rider' was just a few years away.

This is what Roger Ebert wrote when he saw the movie, saying he had never been do an Elvis movie, or bought a single Elvis record, but that it was his job to go review the movie:

"But I went. It was my duty, and I did it. I went to my neighborhood theater, and I went inside for the Saturday matinee, and I sat down with the kids and the teenage couples, and I saw the movie. And if you think this has all been an elaborate buildup for some unexpected surprise like I liked it, you're wrong. I was miserable from beginning to end."

I haven't seen 'Alvarez Kelly,' but it received pretty good reviews at the time. It was directed by the prolific Edward Dmytryk.

From The Burlington Free Press: 'The Sweet Ride' was released in 1968. The graphics department certainly worked overtime on this one. This was sort of a beatnik (already out of date) version of a surfer movie. Ludicrous in almost every way.

The Bette Davis movie also looks like a howler. In this she plays a Mrs. Taggart, in what was probably optimistically called a 'black comedy.' The New York Times blandly noted that it was Miss Davis's 78th movie, but had little else to say about it.

Here's another version of 'The Sweet Ride,' reprinted because of the poignant message posted at the bottom of the ad:

This is obviously Paul Mazursky's 'Harry & Tonto,' released in 1974. This is a sweet, lovely little film, with a wistful, wonderful ending and a beautiful performance by Art Carney, who won the Oscar that year for best leading performance, beating out Albert Finney ('Murder on the Orient Express'), Dustin Hoffman ('Lenny'), Jack Nicholson ('Chinatown'), and Al Pacino ('Serpico').