If you’re in New York City and you haven’t checked it out already, you’ve still got five days left to catch “William Lustig Presents: The Seventies – Buried Treasures,” a series of rare 70s cult, crime and B flicks, curated by the director of the “Maniac Cop” series. The program runs until Friday, August 15 at Anthology Film Archives.
Anthology’s description of the series: “Ever since William Lustig came to Anthology last summer to present his ‘Maniac Cop’ films as part of our ‘New York City Vigilantes’ series, we’ve been hoping to bring him back in the guise of guest-curator. Undersung filmmaker and founder of the indispensable Home Media label Blue Underground, Lustig is a veritable fountain of wisdom on the subject of the cinema’s unsavory margins. This summer, Lustig will be turning his attention to the subversive genre films of 1970s Hollywood, unearthing a handful of treasures that have been languishing in studio vaults for decades.”
“Cinema of the 1970s has become so mythologized that it’s easy to miss the simpler, unknown pleasures lurking in the shadows of Altman, Scorsese and Cassavetes,” writes Nicolas Rapold at Time Out. “With ‘Buried Treasures,’ Anthology Film Archives hauls out a heart-attack platter of studio genre delights, courtesy of guest programmer and founder of the cult DVD label Blue Underground, William Lustig. Featuring he-men on payback missions, rich jaded humor and burnt-out Nixon-era mood to spare, these fun, no-nonsense B movies of yesteryear annihilate the bloated blockbusters of today. ‘They’re wonderful, unpretentious, pure action films,’ says Lustig. ‘To the people running the studios, film history begins with ‘The Godfather’—and they ignore these movies altogether.'”
“Lustig’s nine-film selection of genre nuggets for Anthology draws out affinities,” notes the Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton. “There’s the expected racial tension, downmarket location shoots, and budget-free no-FX physicality. Cops and criminals alike give lip service to keeping ‘independent’ and impermeable amid conglomerations and stifling organizations (corrupt police brass or the mob). Rank-looking character-actors, a mugshot book of SAG scumbags, fill backroom warrens. They all seem to be festering in the same organism: You could imagine Michael Lerner’s porn shop in ‘Busting’ paying off Freebie and the Bean’s honcho Jack Kruschen, who’d have The Stone Killer’s raggy scarecrow Paul Koslo buy a piece off Emile Meyer’s slushy-voiced gunrunner from ‘The Outfit’ for a hit in the Juárez cathouse from ‘Rolling Thunder,’ and so on.”
David Savage at Cinema Retro asks Lustig about how he chose the films in the series. “‘My first criteria was to choose films which are not available on DVD, or they are long out of print on VHS. I had to start with a list that was three times as long. . . but all are worthy of cult status. It’s a shame because most of these are still owned by major studios and for whatever reason they don’t feel they are worthy of making them available to a new generation [on DVD].'”
Tonight, Monday, August 10, you can catch a pair of films from 1972: Jacques Deray’s “The Outside Man,” starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ann-Margret, and Douglas Hickox’s “Sitting Target,” starring Oliver Reed.