Continue reading 1967 was the year that American cinema grew up.Hollywood’s Golden Age of the ’30s and ’40s had long since given way to the sword-and-sandal epics of the ’50s and ’60s.The handsome younger brother of Shirley Mac Laine was all over his films, not just starring (Mc Cabe and Mrs.Miller), but writing (Shampoo), producing (Bonnie and Clyde) and casting. And the way we made it was very much like the way the Americans were in Vietnam.Helping the cause was 1967’s removal of the Hays Code in favor of the MPAA rating system.That meant filmmakers could make sexier, more violent films, as long as they carried a particular rating.
Scholar David Thomson put it best: “Like Coppola on The Godfather, Spielberg asserted his own role and deftly organized the elements of a rollercoaster entertainment without sacrificing inner meanings.” This, my friends, is the essence of The Film Spectrum, a website that urges future filmmakers to find that “sweet spot” of riveting first-time experience, yet increasing depth on repeat viewings.Dennis Hopper was stoned out of his mind and unable to remember his lines, and supporting actors like Sam Bottoms dropped acid and speed throughout the production.Perhaps most problematic was Coppola himself, who was filled with enough hubris after the success of the two Godfather films that he tried to tackle material that had licked even the great Orson Welles, who wound up doing Citizen Kane instead.If that wasn’t enough, Marlon Brando threatened to take his million dollars and run, annoyed at the production delays.While he ultimately agreed to stay, he showed up overweight without having read the film’s source novel, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899).
If you won’t take it from me, take it from Billy Wilder: “When people try to belittle The Exorcist or Jaws, I just think these people are crazy. Spielberg knows exactly what he did, and he did it brilliantly.” And so, let’s all come to grips with a simple fact: Jaws is not only massive entertainment, it remains one of the best directed movies ever made. The title and title song of “High Noon” tell us everything we need to know about Fred Zinnemann’s western masterpiece.