The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Sunday, December 29, 2013
THE YEAR I ENTERED NURSERY SCHOOL: I've reeled off my favorite films of
2003, 1993, and 1983. You may have anticipated what's coming next.

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1973, it gave its Best Picture award to a fun comedy called The Sting. That one made it into my list of honorable mentions, but it didn't break into the top 10:

1. F for Fake
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Welles and Oja Kodar

A deliberately deceitful documentary, bordering on a mockumentary, about storytelling, filmmaking, forgery, and other forms of fakery.

2. The Long Goodbye
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett, from a novel by Raymond Chandler

I have heard this anti-noir condemned on the grounds that no one is less suited to play Philip Marlowe than Elliott Gould. I say that's part of the point.

3. Badlands
Written and directed by Terrence Malick

"Loooooove...love is strange."

4. The Last Detail
Directed by Hal Ashby
Written by Robert Towne, from a novel by Darryl Ponicsan

Part of that amazing streak Jack Nicholson had in the early to mid 1970s, when it must have seemed like he was incapable of starring in a bad movie.

5. Charley Varrick
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Dean Riesner and Howard Rodman, from a novel by John Reese

One of Hollywood's most individualistic directors offers an elegy for individualism.

6. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Directed by Peter Yates
Written by Paul Monash, from a novel by George V. Higgins

The book is great too, but it doesn't have Robert Mitchum.

7. Mean Streets
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Scorsese and Mardik Martin

An ur-movie whose influence echoes from The Bad Lieutenant to The Wire.

8. Paper Moon
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Written by Alvin Sargent, from a novel by Joe David Brown

If Bogdanovich's career had ended here, he'd be a legend.

9. Day for Night
Directed by François Truffaut
Written by Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, and Suzanne Schiffman

There's a whole genre of movies about making movies, from The Cameraman to 8 1/2 to Ed Wood to, um, Hardbodies 2, which isn't any good but it's the first specimen of the genre I ever saw, watching cable one night in my teens, so I'll mention it too. Day for Night is one of the best of these.

10. Sleeper
Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Allen and Marshall Brickman

They could've called it They Saved Hitler's Nose.

Honorable mentions:

11. Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman)
12. Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg)
13. Serpico (Sidney Lumet)
14. Juvenile Court (Frederick Wiseman)
15. Frank Film (Frank Mouris)
16. High Plains Drifter (Clint Eastwood)
17. The Sting (George Roy Hill)
18. My Name is Nobody (Tonino Valerii, Sergio Leone)
19. Hell Up in Harlem (Larry Cohen)
20. The Marcus-Nelson Murders (Joseph Sargent)

Finally, a tip of the hat to Lindsay Anderson's uneven but sporadically brilliant O Lucky Man!, which made it onto my list the last time I covered this year but got squeezed out this time around.

Of the films of 1973 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Amarcord and Touki Bouki.


posted by Jesse 8:11 AM
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