Though I may be dating myself, I still remember sneaking up late some evenings as a kid and watching “At The Movies” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Was it foreshadowing to my future as a film writer and contributor? Perhaps. But what it certainly did solidify was my appreciation for other critics, particularly opening up my mind to films I hadn’t heard of, or wouldn’t normally consider watching.
Now I am not quite old enough (by a long shot) to have lived in the 1970s, but it was undoubtedly the greatest decade for American cinema (1940s anyone?) and amongst the infamous titles, there are surely a few gems that fell through the proverbial cracks.
In this delightfully nostalgic special from 1979, Siskel and Ebert discuss a few of the films that they loved and the public didn’t appreciate. I recently attended a screening of “Sorcerer” and I must say I agree completely with Ebert –– it’s a strong, undulating film not only abounding with meticulous special effects, but with a real humanizing struggle of the everyman. Largely considered a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s breathlessly thrilling “The Wages of Fear,” “Sorcerer” was William Friedkin’s passion project, and a must-see for any of his fans (or Ebert’s, for that matter).
The thumb-twiddling duo also praise Arthur Penn’s “Night Moves” starring the inimitable Gene Hackman as a private eye, though they both admit the ending is difficult to wrap your head around. The performances in Robert Benton’s “The Late Show” from Lily Tomlin and Art Carney are not to be missed, nor is Dustin Hoffman’s turn (despite legal battles) in 1978’s “Straight Time.”
If you haven’t seen any of these films and have some spare time this weekend, take some unfettered advice from Gene and Roger. [Eyes On Cinema]