1971 Ten Best Movies

twoenglishgirlsWithout the warmth or buoyancy of Jules and Jim, Francois Truffaut’s second adaptation of a novel by Henri-Pierre Roche is nowhere near as famous or beloved as that earlier classic. But Two English Girls is a great, beautiful film, another triangle with certain eternal truths at play (and three cherishable actors: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Kika Markham, and Stacey Tendeter). It’s also another strong argument in favor of voiceover narration, that film-school taboo that can be a lovely part of the movie experience.

It just nips another sustained dream of a period piece, Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a Pacific Northwestern that revises but also deepens the conventions of a genre, a drizzly depiction of the American Dream that could only have been made in 1971. That anxious moment in history might explain the road movies and the violent urban pictures surfacing in the new wised-up cinema. Maybe the uncertainty explains why, overall, this feels like a somewhat off year for film. The ten best of 1971:

1. Two English Girls (Francois Truffaut)

2. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman)

3. Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman)

4.  The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci)

5. Duel (Steven Spielberg)

6. The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich)

7. The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir (Jean Renoir)

8. Klute (Alan J. Pakula)

9. Red Psalm (Miklos Jansco)

10. The Hired Hand (Peter Fonda)

Snuck that last one in there because The Hired Hand is such an unexpected little gem, with a splendid role for Warren Oates. Those road movies, Two-Lane Blacktop (another Warren Oates triumph) and Duel, have both worn well, in their different ways. Just missed the other big-city sprees, The French Connection and Dirty Harry, Polanski’s troubling Macbeth, and Sergio Leone’s crazy Duck You Sucker.

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One Response

  1. Besides Dirty Harry and The French Connection this was also the year of A Clockwork Orange, Murmur of the Heart, Walkabout, Straw Dogs and Get Carter.

    Pretty good year any way you slice it.

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