The Big Chill

The mixture of political activism and popular culture often labeled ''the sixties'' in American social history had little impact on the Hollywood film industry during the decade of the 1960s. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) was adopted by young audiences as an allegory of their feelings of alienation, but this film was a heavily disguised version of contemporary tensions. The Graduate (1968) is another example of youthful alienation, but Benjamin Braddock, protagonist of that film, is hardly an example...

Apocalypse

Patton (1970) and Apocalypse Now1 (1979) bookend the decade of the 1970s with two very different pictures of the American military at war. The first, a studio epic from Twentieth Century-Fox, gives a portrait of an eccentric general within a generally positive view of the U.S. Army in World War II. The second, made independently and at great expense by director Francis Coppola (though with financial backing mainly loans from United Artists), presents a complex and far more negative portrayal of...

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The teen film genre first flourished in the 1950s, when Hollywood discovered that its slimmed-down, post-TV audience consisted primarily of teenagers and young adults. The leading writers, directors, and producers of the fifties were middle-aged and beyond, but nevertheless the film industry began to make teenpics. Notable titles of the period include The Wild One, Rebel without a Cause, The Blackboard Jungle, and Rock around the Clock, as well as the films of Elvis Presley and Frankie and...

Dirty Harry Death Wish

The French Connection Vigilantes and Easy Rider, Alice's Restaurant, and Five Easy Pieces suggest that at least some of the youth culture films of 1969-1970 were modest and self-critical in their approach, and that they aimed at reaching a broad audience. Alice's Restaurant is the most specifically political of the three films, but it is very far from being militant. Nevertheless, it would be naive to expect that hippie films represent any sort of consensus or even leading direction in the...

Leadbelly Killer of Sheep

Films made by and for the African American community have a long history. In the silent film period, Oscar Micheaux and others were already making feature films with black casts for black audiences. In the 1930s, with the advent of sound films, this approach to film was formularized as ''race movies,'' low-budget films for the African American audience which often repeated the most popular white genres mystery, Western, and so on. Black people appeared in Hollywood films only in stereotyped...

The Parallax View Chinatown

The period from 1970 to 1975 in the United States was a time of malaise, to use a term later popularized by Jimmy Carter. The Vietnam War continued, even though official U.S. policy spoke of Vietnamization and peace. The booming economy of the 1960s staggered into a period of recession and inflation, impelled by the war but especially by the OPEC oil price shock. The price of gasoline quadrupled in a few months because of OPEC's rationing of supply. Americans queued up in their cars to buy the...

Five Easy Pieces

The roots of Easy Rider lie primarily in the Hollywood B movie, also known in the 1960s as the ''exploitation film.'' Producer actor Peter Fonda, director actor Dennis Hopper, actor Jack Nicholson, and cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs had all worked for Roger Corman's production unit at American International Pictures. The story idea of Easy Rider, credited to Peter Fonda, stems from exploitation movies Fonda had acted in for Corman, especially The Wild Angels motorcycles and The Trip drugs . As...