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A Very Good Year, No Doubt
by Jon Schuller

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On January 1, 1969, Chris and I left London after getting married in December, 1968 and flew to the United States. It was a whirlwind time then getting Chris' visa confirmed as we had to spend many emotional days going around London (the U.S. Embassy, the Israeli Embassy and Scotland Yard) to make sure everything with her paperwork was alright. Not much of a honeymoon. I surprised her with an apartment and furniture in New Jersey. She'd never been to America before. I was madly in love and still am. 1969 was also a great year for movies.

Over 200 movies premiered in 1969 and there are many that became classics still being enjoyed 50 years later. Many famous actors and actresses made their cinema debuts in 1969. Here's a short list:
Bob Balaban in Midnight Cowboy
Bonnie Bedelia in The Gypsy Moths
Ed Begley Jr. in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
David Bowie in The Virgin Soldiers
Jill Clayburgh in The Wedding Party
Bruce Davison in Last Summer
Sam Elliott in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Farrah Fawcett in Love Is a Funny Thing
Bridget Fonda in Easy Rider
Melanie Griffith in Smith!
George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Ian McKellen in A Touch of Love
Ryan O'Neal in The Big Bounce
Al Pacino in Me, Natalie
Savage in The Master Beater
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hercules in New York
Sam Shepard in Me and My Brother
Christopher Walken in Me and My Brother
M. Emmet Walsh in Midnight Cowboy
The talents here are many and their premiers were just the beginnings of great careers and great films.

When I write a compendium column like this one, cataloging all the different types of movies in a particular year, the fun comes from comparing the variety and incredible uniqueness of so many wonderful pictures: dramas, histories, mysteries, fantasies, musicals, wars, science fiction and pictures exclusively for kids (of all ages).

Let's look at a list and see how different they all are:
Alice's Restaurant
Anne of the Thousand Days
The Arrangement
Battle of Britain
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (a groundbreaking movie)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cactus Flower
Easy Rider
Goodbye, Columbus
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (a successful remake as a musical)
Hamlet Hello, Dolly If It's Tuesday, It Must be Belgium
Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury on screen)
The Italian Job
John and Mary
Mackenna's Gold
Marooned (was released on November 10, 1969; ill-fated Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.)
Midnight Cowboy
Oh! What a Lovely War
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Sam Whiskey
The Secret of Santa Vittoria
Support Your Local Sheriff
Sweet Charity
Take the Money and Run
Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here
True Grit
The Wild Bunch
Where Eagles Dare

In terms of Top Ten box office success, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was the #1 grossing film of 1969 with over $102 million. The others were
2.Midnight Cowboy $44,785,053
3.Easy Rider $41,728,598
4.Hello, Dolly! $33,208,099
5.Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice $31,897,253
6.The Italian Job $31,678,778
7.True Grit $31,132,592
8.Cactus Flower $25,889,208
9.Goodbye, Columbus $22,939,805
10. On Her Majesty's Secret Service $22,774,493

The Academy Awards also reflected the incredible diversity and creativity of the films in 1969:
Picture: Midnight Cowboy - Hellman-Schlesinger
Best Director: John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy
Best Actor: John Wayne True Grit
Best Actress: Maggie Smith The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Best Supporting Actor: Gig Young − They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Best Supporting Actress: Goldie Hawn − Cactus Flower
Best Foreign Language Film: Z − directed by Costa-Gavras, Algeria
The Golden Globe Awards' choices were all different from the Academy Awards, but definitely no less exciting and diverse. Obviously I didn't list all of the 200+ movies made; I simply tried to highlight many that I consider to be truly outstanding and, in some cases, immortal.

If you have an opportunity to re-visit some of these films, please take it. My columns attempt to reflect my lifetime love of the movies and this one is no exception. No matter what the subject, the plot, the characters, the direction, the music or the locations, so many of the films from 1969 not only help us remember and reflect on the actual realities of that year, but the incredible amount of hard work it took to make these pictures and release them. We are truly fortunate to be able to simply reach for our remote control in the comfort of our homes and watch them whenever we wish.

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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:

Have You Been Spying On Me Lately? For How Long?

But Can She Act? That's What I Want to Know

They're Not the Same People They Used To Be

Time Does Fly When We Watch Movies

Before Minimum or Maximum, There Was Only Prison

All Columns

Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.

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