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It Was A Memorable Year. Indeed!
by Jon Schuller

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We've all seen how certain years in movie history have become more famous than others, crammed full with blockbuster movies and films that won multiple awards. I've written a few past columns about those years and the immortal pictures that captured the public's attention, praise and love. 40 years ago, 1977, saw yet another long list of movies that we still watch today. This month is the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest and most popular movies of all time, Star Wars. It grossed $307 million compared to the #2 film, Smokey and The Bandit, which made $126 million. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was #3. The Goodbye Girl was #4; Saturday Night Fever was #5; then Oh, God, A Bridge Too Far, The Deep, The Spy Who Loved Me and Annie Hall (which grossed $38 million) taking the 6th through the 10th places. There were many Academy Awards and Golden Globes. There were totally186 films that premiered all over the world in 1977. The scope and variety of all these movies are wide and interesting. To mention a few others:
Black Sunday
The Duelists
Fun with Dick and
Jane
High Anxiety
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Looking For Mr. Goodbar
New York, New York
Roots (on television)
Semi-Tough
Sorcerer
Telefon
The Eagle Has Landed

Of course, I could spend an entire column (actually a few) on Star Wars and what it did for the movie business and audiences around the world. It put Science Fiction back into the public consciousness and spawned imitators everywhere. It had many additional "chapters" and it is the 2nd highest grossing film of all time. So many books, toys and other memorabilia have been produced as a direct result of the popularity of this film.

But if you just look at the other 9 movies featured in the top 10 list, plus the others I mentioned, it's easy to see that we've got films in 1977 that appeal to an extensive audience; films that covered wide-ranging subjects and plots. Fact and fiction across the board, including another incredibly successful movie character, James Bond.

Annie Hall won the Academy Award for Best Picture and started a fashion trend for women. Woody Allen wins for Best Director for the
same ground-breaking movie. Richard Dreyfuss wins for Best Actor in The Goodbye Girl. Diane Keaton wins for Best Actress in Annie Hall. Jason Robards and Vanessa Redgrave win Best Supporting Oscars for Julia. Burt Reynolds creates the Bandit and a whole genre of car chase comedies. Steven Spielberg cements his reputation for making memorable films when he creates Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a science fiction film with a rather human viewpoint. The Disco Era comes to life in Brooklyn in Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta shows off his dancing and acting skills. A true story from World War II is dramatically shown in A Bridge Too Far. Crossed Swords (The Prince and the Pauper) features an impressive cast of Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Rex Harrison, Ernest Borgnine, Charlton Heston, George C. Scott and Sir Rex Harrison. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo starred the famous amazing Volkswagen Beetle. And a song that would become a signature for Frank Sinatra starting in 1978 was actually sung first by Liza Minnelli in the movie of the same name in 1977. There are
sports movies like Slap Shot and Semi-Tough and a real tear jerker in You Light Up My Life.

1939, 1941, 1986 are previous years I've featured in past columns. Like 1977, there were incredible films being shown that have created legendary stories about the films themselves and the men and women who created them. What is constantly fascinating and enjoyable for me as a writer about the movies is that we, as audiences and movie lovers, never have to worry that motion pictures will become dull or repetitive. Yes, of course, there are the usual dumb films that somehow seem to have an appeal somewhere, but that's the exception rather than the rule. The writers who create the characters, the actors who bring them to life and the directors who mold all the disparate elements into a finished product these people are constantly doing these things again and again, year after year. This year's Academy Awards showed us how virtually infinite the creative process can go in the movies. I won't run out of subject matter and audiences everywhere won't run out of the movies they love to watch.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.


Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

Has Anything Changed in 50 Years?

I'm Climbing, Damn It. OK?

The Time Machine for Everyone

A Momentous Year for Movies and Me.

How Does It Feel To Be 75 Years Old?

All Columns


Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for over 26 years.I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 47 years (as of December 22, 2015) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).



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