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We had movies like Vanishing Point, The Godfather, Rollerball, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Harold & Maude, A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Taxi Driver, Deliverance, Slaughterhouse Five, Zardoz, The China Syndrome, The Andromeda Strain, The Parallax View, Picnic at Hanging Rock, A Boy & his Dog, Network, The Hospital, and a whole lot more I can't even think of right now. Movies that just absolutely could not get made these days. Or in the case of Rollerball, just re-made with an action overload & a deficit of heart & soul.The '70s was the last great decade of American cinema. Many of the greatest film's ever made came from that era. That is when the American auteur flourished. Sure we had a lot of goofy, genre and just bad films in the '70s, but it was the decade that allowed the greats like Scorsese, Allen, Coppola, Altman, Ashby, Kubrick, Polanski and many more were allowed to make films that were personal and not marketed to any demographic. And the studios were behind them, as well, with decent budgets. They trusted the artists. By 1981 the lingering effects of JAWS (1975) and STAR WARS (1977), coupled with the massive failure (it destroyed Paramount Studios) of Michael Cimino's epic HEAVEN'S GATE (1981) had changed the manner in which studios selected, produced and marketed film. Why waste money on unreliable dreamers that might occasionally strike gold when you can guarantee an ongoing profit by regurgitating remakes and sequels and comedies geared towards 15 year olds? Very few directors have anywhere near that autonomy anymore. Some of the leftovers from that great decade still do to some extent. The Coen Brothers, Paul thomas Anderson, Alexander Payne… a few others. But the '70s were the high point, very little has come close to the best of that decade, since.
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