1972 Ten Best Movies


The exterminating supper.

1972: Unstable mix of old guard and young pups, with Bunuel weighing in with one of his greatest films, a defiantly surreal comedy that gives the lie to the idea that older directors tail off badly when past their prime. Avanti! and Fat City give similar evidence. As for the young and not-destined-to-be-old, 1972 was a rocket-booster year for Fassbinder, as he moved from being a prolific wunderkind to suddenly arriving as a new master. That merits two slots on the ’72 ten.

1. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel)

2. The Merchant of the Four Seasons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

3. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog)

4. Bad Company (Robert Benton)

5. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)

6. Avanti! (Billy Wilder)

7. Fat City (John Huston)

8. Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci)

9. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Fassbinder)

10. Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah)

I love Robert Benton’s Bad Company, and will post something longer about it tomorrow.

Got The Godfather there at #5. I know it keeps getting voted the greatest film of the modern age, but #5 for 1972 seems about right for its skillful entertainment, iconic acting, juicy dialogue. But it’s no Bad Company.

A list of the near-misses from this Ten form a Major League starting line-up: Hitchcock (Frenzy), Rohmer (Chloe in the Afternoon), Tarkovsky (Solaris), Altman (Images), Bergman (Cries and Whispers), Boorman (Deliverance). And Robert Aldrich had the terrific Ulzana’s Raid, Bogdanovich had the wonderful What’s Up, Doc?, and Stephen Frears had the very fetching Gumshoe. That’s an impressive year. And I am not forgetting Peter H. Hunt’s faithful adapation of the Broadway musical 1776, which goes into my “favorite movies” queue. But it’s really pretty good, too.

Next week: 1940.