The whole movie has a winning sadness about it; take away the story’s sensational aspects and what you have is a study in loneliness. Richard Gere’s performance is central to that effect, and some of his scenes — reading the morning paper, rearranging some paintings, selecting a wardrobe — underline the emptiness of his life. We leave American Gigolo with the curious feeling that if women weren’t paying this man to sleep with them, he’d be paying them: He needs the human connection and he has a certain shyness, a loner quality, that makes it easier for him when love seems to be just another deal.
— Roger Ebert, in his review of Paul Schader’s 1980 film

The whole movie has a winning sadness about it; take away the story’s sensational aspects and what you have is a study in loneliness. Richard Gere’s performance is central to that effect, and some of his scenes — reading the morning paper, rearranging some paintings, selecting a wardrobe — underline the emptiness of his life. We leave American Gigolo with the curious feeling that if women weren’t paying this man to sleep with them, he’d be paying them: He needs the human connection and he has a certain shyness, a loner quality, that makes it easier for him when love seems to be just another deal.

— Roger Ebert, in his review of Paul Schader’s 1980 film

 
Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven has been praised for its painterly images and evocative score, but criticized for its muted emotions: Although passions erupt in a deadly love triangle, all the feelings are somehow held at arm’s length. This observation is true enough, if you think only about the actions of the adults in the story. But watching this 1978 film again recently, I was struck more than ever with the conviction that this is the story of a teenage girl, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart. We do not feel the full passion of the adults because it is not her passion: It is seen at a distance, as a phenomenon, like the weather, or the plague of grasshoppers that signals the beginning of the end.
— Roger Ebert, December 7, 1997, on Linda Manz’s incredible performance, documented when she was just 16-years old

Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven has been praised for its painterly images and evocative score, but criticized for its muted emotions: Although passions erupt in a deadly love triangle, all the feelings are somehow held at arm’s length. This observation is true enough, if you think only about the actions of the adults in the story. But watching this 1978 film again recently, I was struck more than ever with the conviction that this is the story of a teenage girl, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart. We do not feel the full passion of the adults because it is not her passion: It is seen at a distance, as a phenomenon, like the weather, or the plague of grasshoppers that signals the beginning of the end.

— Roger Ebert, December 7, 1997, on Linda Manz’s incredible performance, documented when she was just 16-years old

…In the original release 20th Century-Fox decided to play up the sensational elements in The Panic in Needle Park, and to overlook the qualities that make this a special and sometimes extraordinary movie. The New York Times carried one of those public confession ads that apologize for the ads that have gone before. “Did our ads blow it for The Panic in Needle Park!” the studio says. Their mistake (according to the current ad) was to play up the drama and love story in the movie, and play down the shock, the horror, the strong stuff. “If you see it,” the ad now promises, “it will sear your senses forever. And that’s the truth.”Well, not quite. The shocking documentary details are there, and sometimes they work but usually they break a tone instead of creating one. That’s because (if you’ll permit me, 20th Century-Fox) this film is indeed a love story, and more specifically a carefully observed portrait of two human beings. If you go to see needles and blood and depravity, you may well be disappointed; the movie is more intelligent than your expectations.That may be because of Joan Didion’s contribution; she wrote the screenplay with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, but somehow I think the character of the girl, Helen, came out of Didion’s private resources.
— Roger Ebert, in his 1971 review of Jerry Schatzberg’s film, about which screenwriter Joan Didion was interviewed by IFC

…In the original release 20th Century-Fox decided to play up the sensational elements in The Panic in Needle Park, and to overlook the qualities that make this a special and sometimes extraordinary movie. The New York Times carried one of those public confession ads that apologize for the ads that have gone before. “Did our ads blow it for The Panic in Needle Park!” the studio says. Their mistake (according to the current ad) was to play up the drama and love story in the movie, and play down the shock, the horror, the strong stuff. “If you see it,” the ad now promises, “it will sear your senses forever. And that’s the truth.”

Well, not quite. The shocking documentary details are there, and sometimes they work but usually they break a tone instead of creating one. That’s because (if you’ll permit me, 20th Century-Fox) this film is indeed a love story, and more specifically a carefully observed portrait of two human beings. If you go to see needles and blood and depravity, you may well be disappointed; the movie is more intelligent than your expectations.

That may be because of Joan Didion’s contribution; she wrote the screenplay with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, but somehow I think the character of the girl, Helen, came out of Didion’s private resources.

— Roger Ebert, in his 1971 review of Jerry Schatzberg’s film, about which screenwriter Joan Didion was interviewed by IFC

(Source: flowerscrackconcrete)

When a film so resolutely refuses to deliver on the level of plot, what we are left with is tone. The Passenger (1975) is about being in a place where nobody knows you or wants to know you, and you are struck by your insignificance. There was a world where it was important that Robertson was Robertson and Locke was Locke. In the desert among strangers, it is not even important that Robertson be Robertson and Locke be Locke. The little white car that crisscrosses the square in the final shot belongs to a driving school. To its driver, it is important to pass the course and get a driver’s license. Robertson and Locke disappear, and this is first gear, this is second, here is the clutch, here is the brake.
— Roger Ebert, in his 2005 revised review

When a film so resolutely refuses to deliver on the level of plot, what we are left with is tone. The Passenger (1975) is about being in a place where nobody knows you or wants to know you, and you are struck by your insignificance. There was a world where it was important that Robertson was Robertson and Locke was Locke. In the desert among strangers, it is not even important that Robertson be Robertson and Locke be Locke. The little white car that crisscrosses the square in the final shot belongs to a driving school. To its driver, it is important to pass the course and get a driver’s license. Robertson and Locke disappear, and this is first gear, this is second, here is the clutch, here is the brake.

— Roger Ebert, in his 2005 revised review

Sydney Lumet (1924-2011) directed movies of all sorts, but it was his crime pictures for which I’ll remember him most fondly, most notably Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Prince of the City (1981).
Roger Ebert said the following of him, “To say he lacked a noticeable visual style is a compliment. He reduced every scene to its necessary elements, and filmed them, he liked to say, ‘invisibly.’ You should not be thinking about the camera. He wanted you to think about the characters and the story.”

Sydney Lumet (1924-2011) directed movies of all sorts, but it was his crime pictures for which I’ll remember him most fondly, most notably Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Prince of the City (1981).

Roger Ebert said the following of him, “To say he lacked a noticeable visual style is a compliment. He reduced every scene to its necessary elements, and filmed them, he liked to say, ‘invisibly.’ You should not be thinking about the camera. He wanted you to think about the characters and the story.”

 
I think I can feel Sam Peckinpah’s heart beating and head pounding in every frame in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), a film he made during a period of alcoholic fear and trembling. I believe its hero, Bennie, completes his task with the same dogged courage as Peckinpah used to complete the movie, and that Bennie’s exhaustion, disgust and despair at the end might mirror Peckinpah’s own. I sense that the emotional weather on the set seeped onto the screen, haunting it with a buried level of passion. If there is anything to the auteur theory, then Alfredo Garcia is the most autobiographical film Peckinpah ever made.
— Roger Ebert on Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), directed by Sam Peckinpah, pictured above with Warren Oates on the set of the film

I think I can feel Sam Peckinpah’s heart beating and head pounding in every frame in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), a film he made during a period of alcoholic fear and trembling. I believe its hero, Bennie, completes his task with the same dogged courage as Peckinpah used to complete the movie, and that Bennie’s exhaustion, disgust and despair at the end might mirror Peckinpah’s own. I sense that the emotional weather on the set seeped onto the screen, haunting it with a buried level of passion. If there is anything to the auteur theory, then Alfredo Garcia is the most autobiographical film Peckinpah ever made.

Roger Ebert on Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), directed by Sam Peckinpah, pictured above with Warren Oates on the set of the film

The deification began with Julian Barry’s play, adapted for Bob Fosse’s Lenny, and continued with Albert Goldman’s book Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!! and the Lenny Bruce Performance Film. His albums are back in the record stores and, all things considered, [Lenny Bruce] is still one of our most successful comedians.All of this myth-making involves playing fast and loose with the facts, which do not make Lenny Bruce out as quite the heroic figure we’re now asked to accept. But no matter. If the film Lenny works as fiction, that’s all we have the right to expect. The problem is that it doesn’t. Bob Fosse, who captured a time and form of show business so memorably in Cabaret, tries this time for a quasi-documentary style that gets in the way of his, and Lenny’s, material. And Dustin Hoffman, good as he is in the title role, is never quite permitted to put together an organic, three-dimensional character.
— Roger Ebert, from his November 10, 1974 review of Lenny
(image via fuckyeahmovieposters)

The deification began with Julian Barry’s play, adapted for Bob Fosse’s Lenny, and continued with Albert Goldman’s book Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!! and the Lenny Bruce Performance Film. His albums are back in the record stores and, all things considered, [Lenny Bruce] is still one of our most successful comedians.

All of this myth-making involves playing fast and loose with the facts, which do not make Lenny Bruce out as quite the heroic figure we’re now asked to accept. But no matter. If the film Lenny works as fiction, that’s all we have the right to expect. The problem is that it doesn’t. Bob Fosse, who captured a time and form of show business so memorably in Cabaret, tries this time for a quasi-documentary style that gets in the way of his, and Lenny’s, material. And Dustin Hoffman, good as he is in the title role, is never quite permitted to put together an organic, three-dimensional character.

Roger Ebert, from his November 10, 1974 review of Lenny

(image via fuckyeahmovieposters)

Jerry Lewis, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese on the set of The King of Comedy (1982), perhaps one of the most under-rated of Scorsese’s works.

Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy is one of the most arid, painful, wounded movies I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe Scorsese made it; instead of the big-city life, the violence and sexuality of his movies like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets, what we have here is an agonizing portrait of lonely, angry people with their emotions all tightly bottled up. This is a movie that seems ready to explode — but somehow it never does.
That lack of release disturbed me the fist time I saw The King of Comedy, back in January. I kept straining forward, waiting for the movie to let loose and it kept frustrating me. Maybe that was the idea. This is a movie about rejection, with a hero who never admits that he has been rejected and so there is neither comic nor tragic release — just the postponement of pain.
— Roger Ebert, in his May 15, 1983 review

(photo via phasechangesyndrome)

Jerry Lewis, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese on the set of The King of Comedy (1982), perhaps one of the most under-rated of Scorsese’s works.

Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy is one of the most arid, painful, wounded movies I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe Scorsese made it; instead of the big-city life, the violence and sexuality of his movies like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets, what we have here is an agonizing portrait of lonely, angry people with their emotions all tightly bottled up. This is a movie that seems ready to explode — but somehow it never does.

That lack of release disturbed me the fist time I saw The King of Comedy, back in January. I kept straining forward, waiting for the movie to let loose and it kept frustrating me. Maybe that was the idea. This is a movie about rejection, with a hero who never admits that he has been rejected and so there is neither comic nor tragic release — just the postponement of pain.

— Roger Ebert, in his May 15, 1983 review

(photo via phasechangesyndrome)

…Love scores an altogether unreasonable triumph over common sense in Minnie and Moskowitz, the new comedy by John Cassavetes. The movie is sort of a fairy tale, Cassavetes says; it’s dedicated to all the people who didn’t marry the person they should have. It is a movie on the side of love, and it is one of the finest movies of the year.
— Roger Ebert, in his February 14, 1972 review of Minnie and Moskowitz (1972)

…Love scores an altogether unreasonable triumph over common sense in Minnie and Moskowitz, the new comedy by John Cassavetes. The movie is sort of a fairy tale, Cassavetes says; it’s dedicated to all the people who didn’t marry the person they should have. It is a movie on the side of love, and it is one of the finest movies of the year.

— Roger Ebert, in his February 14, 1972 review of Minnie and Moskowitz (1972)

Annie Hall contains more intellectual wit and cultural references than any other movie ever to win the Oscar for best picture, and in winning the award in 1977 it edged out Star Wars, an outcome unthinkable today. The victory marked the beginning of Woody Allen’s career as an important filmmaker (his earlier work was funny but slight) and it signaled the end of the 1970s golden age of American movies. With Star Wars, the age of the blockbuster was upon us, and movies this quirky and idiosyncratic would find themselves shouldered aside by Hollywood’s greed for mega-hits. Annie Hall grossed about $40 million—less than any other modern best picture winner, and less than the budgets of many of them.
— Rober Ebert
(image via fuckyeahmovieposters)

Annie Hall contains more intellectual wit and cultural references than any other movie ever to win the Oscar for best picture, and in winning the award in 1977 it edged out Star Wars, an outcome unthinkable today. The victory marked the beginning of Woody Allen’s career as an important filmmaker (his earlier work was funny but slight) and it signaled the end of the 1970s golden age of American movies. With Star Wars, the age of the blockbuster was upon us, and movies this quirky and idiosyncratic would find themselves shouldered aside by Hollywood’s greed for mega-hits. Annie Hall grossed about $40 million—less than any other modern best picture winner, and less than the budgets of many of them.

Rober Ebert

(image via fuckyeahmovieposters)

One of the greats. His second feature, it is easily Peter Boddanovich’s best. Though Paper Moon (1973) and Saint Jack (1979) are both fantastic films, they both feel distinctly minor next to this truly timeless film.
 
The Last Picture Show has been described as an evocation of the classic Hollywood narrative film. It is more than that; it is a belated entry in that age — the best film of 1951, you might say. Using period songs and decor to create nostalgia is familiar enough, but to tunnel down to the visual level and get that right, too, and in a way that will affect audiences even if they aren’t aware how, is one hell of a directing accomplishment. Movies create our dreams as well as reflect them, and when we lose the movies we lose the dreams. I wonder if Bogdanovich’s film doesn’t at last explain what it was that Pauline Kael, and a lot of the rest of us, lost at the movies.
— Roger Ebert in his original review of the film from 1971

One of the greats. His second feature, it is easily Peter Boddanovich’s best. Though Paper Moon (1973) and Saint Jack (1979) are both fantastic films, they both feel distinctly minor next to this truly timeless film.

The Last Picture Show has been described as an evocation of the classic Hollywood narrative film. It is more than that; it is a belated entry in that age — the best film of 1951, you might say. Using period songs and decor to create nostalgia is familiar enough, but to tunnel down to the visual level and get that right, too, and in a way that will affect audiences even if they aren’t aware how, is one hell of a directing accomplishment. Movies create our dreams as well as reflect them, and when we lose the movies we lose the dreams. I wonder if Bogdanovich’s film doesn’t at last explain what it was that Pauline Kael, and a lot of the rest of us, lost at the movies.

Roger Ebert in his original review of the film from 1971

Chelsea Girls poster by Alan Aldridge, 1966. Roger Ebert review from June 26, 1967.
(via anneyhall)

Chelsea Girls poster by Alan Aldridge, 1966. Roger Ebert review from June 26, 1967.

(via anneyhall)

Classic scene from one of my Top Ten Favorite Films, Five Easy Pieces (1970). It’s the greatest of director Bob Rafelson’s films, and the first in his threepeat (I consider the hallmark of every great filmmaker to be the ability to make three truly great films in a row) — which also included The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) and Stay Hungry (1976).  Read Roger Ebert’s review from 1970. 

Classic scene from one of my Top Ten Favorite Films, Five Easy Pieces (1970). It’s the greatest of director Bob Rafelson’s films, and the first in his threepeat (I consider the hallmark of every great filmmaker to be the ability to make three truly great films in a row) — which also included The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) and Stay Hungry (1976).  Read Roger Ebert’s review from 1970. 

(Source: putablueribbononmybrain, via hoppernicholson)

Vincent Canby’s New York Times review of Escape from Alcatraz from June 22, 1979.
This was a favorite of mine growing up, as I obsessed over all things Clint Eastwood-related. It was the last good film by director Don Siegel, as was it the last of five films on which he collaborated with Eastwood. These also included Coogan’s Bluff, The Beguiled, Two Mules For Sister Sara and the great Dirty Harry, which ranks among my favorite films of all time.
Speaking of, Roger Ebert had the following to say about Dirty Harry In his 1971 review of the film:
The movie clearly and unmistakably gives us a character who understands the Bill of Rights, understands his legal responsibility as a police officer, and nevertheless takes retribution into his own hands. Sure, Scorpio is portrayed as the most vicious, perverted, warped monster we can imagine — but that’s part of the same stacked deck. The movie’s moral position is fascist. No doubt about it.

Vincent Canby’s New York Times review of Escape from Alcatraz from June 22, 1979.

This was a favorite of mine growing up, as I obsessed over all things Clint Eastwood-related. It was the last good film by director Don Siegel, as was it the last of five films on which he collaborated with Eastwood. These also included Coogan’s Bluff, The Beguiled, Two Mules For Sister Sara and the great Dirty Harry, which ranks among my favorite films of all time.

Speaking of, Roger Ebert had the following to say about Dirty Harry In his 1971 review of the film:

The movie clearly and unmistakably gives us a character who understands the Bill of Rights, understands his legal responsibility as a police officer, and nevertheless takes retribution into his own hands. Sure, Scorpio is portrayed as the most vicious, perverted, warped monster we can imagine — but that’s part of the same stacked deck. The movie’s moral position is fascist. No doubt about it.

It’s one of my favorite Scorsese films. Here’s an O.G. review of the film by Roger Ebert from December 1, 1974, with this passage which I feel kinda nails it:
The movie has been both attacked and defended on feminist grounds, but I think it belongs somewhere outside ideology, maybe in the area of contemporary myth and romance. There are scenes in which we take Alice and her journey perfectly seriously, there are scenes of harrowing reality and then there are other scenes (including some hilarious passages in a restaurant where she waits on tables) where Scorsese edges into slight, cheerful exaggeration. There are times, indeed, when the movie seems less about Alice than it does about the speculations and daydreams of a lot of women about her age, who identify with the liberation of other women, but are unsure on the subject of themselves.
From Wikipedia:Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Diane Ladd was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but lost to Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express, and Robert Getchell was nominated for the Academy Award For Best Original Screenplay but lost to Robert Towne for Chinatown.

It’s one of my favorite Scorsese films. Here’s an O.G. review of the film by Roger Ebert from December 1, 1974, with this passage which I feel kinda nails it:

The movie has been both attacked and defended on feminist grounds, but I think it belongs somewhere outside ideology, maybe in the area of contemporary myth and romance. There are scenes in which we take Alice and her journey perfectly seriously, there are scenes of harrowing reality and then there are other scenes (including some hilarious passages in a restaurant where she waits on tables) where Scorsese edges into slight, cheerful exaggeration. There are times, indeed, when the movie seems less about Alice than it does about the speculations and daydreams of a lot of women about her age, who identify with the liberation of other women, but are unsure on the subject of themselves.

From Wikipedia:
Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Diane Ladd was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but lost to Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express, and Robert Getchell was nominated for the Academy Award For Best Original Screenplay but lost to Robert Towne for Chinatown.