Tuesday, November 28, 2006

140. Rating Game Redux 1: 3 '70s

In an effort to encourage my natural laziness, I have decided to use this blog for occasional reprints of "Ratings Game" lists that I've assembled for our local paper, The Register-Mail. Some of these have been in non-movie categories, but I will offer here only the cinematic lists. (And as proof of my simultaneously industrious and self-indulgent nature, I will supply addenda in boldface.)

Three Greatest '70s Stars

Robert DeNiro
If these days he seems content to mug his way through comedies, it's easy to argue it's because he burnt out in the '70s; just consider the roles he tackled: Bang the Drum Slowly, Mean Streets, The Godfather II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and in 1980, Raging Bull. I'm exhausted just looking at the titles.

Of course, he always seems on the verge of a major commitment; his upcoming CIA movie may not be the King Lear I've been hoping from him, but at least it reveals he knows he can do more than Focker-baiting--even though he's awfully good at it. Then again, the real strength he may be showing here is as a director. So I'm still waiting.

Bruce Lee
With about six appearances on film in his entire career--as many as DeNiro in this one decade--Lee still completely remade cinema’s notion of what an action picture could look like or be about, let alone how it could move.

I must admit, though, that my real affection for Bruce Lee lies in the genre he helped create--and which is at its best when it waxes poetic (Hidden Croucher, Dragging Tiger, or whatever the heck it is) or hysteric (Kung Fu Hustle); and better yet, in the memory of seeing one of his movies thirty years or so ago in a Cuban neighborhood movie theater. With my abuelita, no less, who screamed hysterically and wondered loudly--as did the entire audience about everything they had to exclaim--where they managed to get all that ketchup.

Jack Nicholson
Smilin' Jack. Jack--make that Knave--of Hearts. The big grin and the bigger trouble that came with it. In other words, the real '70s show.

Nicholson belongs here most of all; originally, I realized that such a list also demanded Burt Reynolds, Karen Black, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, John Cazale--not to mention Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier, Alex Rocco and Richard Conte. But "The Ratings Game" calls for three and no more; a cruel mistress in a small paper. So I now make partial amends.

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