Live Poll: The Dark Side of New Hollywood

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The American cinema of the 1960s was dominated by big-budgeted tentpole productions in an attempt to lure viewers away from television. When the box office returns struggled to justify the expenses, the old studio system saw a shift towards more diverse and risk-taking movies. These were often made by young directors who saw themselves as the central creative forces, or auteurs.

This so-called "New Hollywood" came to an end in the late 70s and early 80s, after a number of ambitious "auteur" productions had flopped and the modern blockbuster era led to a renaissance of the studio system.

You may find more information on Wikipedia, newwavefilms, and screenprism.

It is impossible to define any movement in an all-satisfying way. However, these aspects are often mentioned to characterize the cinematic era we are dealing with:

-challenging narrative and technical conventions-a tendency to shoot movies on location as opposed to sound stages-potential for explicit violence and nudity-targeted towards a young demographic-reconciliation of artistic ambition and entertainment, or even favoring of the former-individual expression -critical of society-morally ambiguous-open or tragic endings

The word "New Hollywood" is usually used today in a positive way, but where there is light there is also shadow.

Which negative aspect do you think most applies to "New Hollywood"?

List: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls044564997/

Poll: https://www.imdb.com/poll/coP1tzXqJVo/
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albstein

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Posted 3 months ago

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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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First thought was The Godfather, before I looked at the list. That's for Dramas.
MASH For Comedies.

FYC
It's gonna sound strange but the movie Animal House (1978) had Hollywood scrambling to try and out do the classic comedy. The frenzied and haphazardly thrown together movies that followed were very bad or no better than Animal House. Eventually it culminated in some really sick ideas making it to the screen.
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albstein

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Is Animal House tied to New Hollywood in any way? I always thought it was more of a thing of its own. Maybe I'm missing a point.
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ElMo

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I think it can be regarded as a MASH in a campus, 
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Yes a MASH at a Fraternity House!!
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albstein

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But didn't the movies that came after Animal House pretty much belong to another era? Depending on your source, New Hollywood starts in 1967 and ends somewhere between 1976 (that's even before Animal House) and 1982.
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ElMo

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The New Hollywood era ends with its last masterpiece Raging Bull in 1980 and the epic failure of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate that caused the bankruptcy of United Artists and put the final nail on the cinema d'auteur coffin.

So it's pretty much 1967-1980, there were still many New Hollywood movies to come between 1976 and 1980: An Unmarried Woman, Coming Home, Being There, Bound for Glory, Opening Night, Gloria, Apocalypse Now, All That Jazz etc.
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albstein

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I guess that Star Wars is seen as the movie that ended New Hollywood in some versions but yeah, 1980 makes more sense, with a few movies that were "late to the party" like King of Comedy and The Verdict in '82.
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ElMo

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The male gaze is obvious, I hated MASH for that, it was one thing to harass "Hot Lips" the way they did but why on Earth did she start acting like a dumb blonde during the football game? I never got that part. Yes, I don't feel like you need to be a feminist to denounce the way some movies objectify or mistreat women but MASH made me angry on that level... a film that raised a similar reaction was Catch Me If You Can, I never got why the film hasn't been more criticized for its superficial depiction of women as people who are easy to fool, all you have to do is have the playboyish charm of Leo, to be a smooth-talker and offer a necklace and BINGO! (she's in your pocket) and the hostess part always made me cringe... speaking about New Hollywood, there's the infamous scene where Steve McQueen slaps the hell out of Ali McGraw in The Getaway.

What you said about Taxi Driver is true and I guess that's why Rocky ended up winning the Best Picture Oscar, same grim reality, same streets, same urban alienation, but this time, the character emerges from the stink and becomes an inspirational figure than a self-proclaimed vigilante. Rocky is a fine specimen of the New Hollywood era but certainly one of those that signaled the end of an era.

Still, I just love that era, by far the most interesting, creative, fascinating and consistent (quality-wise) chapters of Hollywood history, I just saw recently Mickey and Nicky and it blew my mind.
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albstein

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speaking about New Hollywood, there's the infamous scene where Steve McQueen slaps the hell out of Ali McGraw in The Getaway.

I always thought that in any other movie, we would be asked to root for McQueen and look down on McGraw. But the scene goes on for so long and is so ugly and with the context of the movie, I get the feeling that Peckinpah doesn't want it to make that easy.

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Taxi Driver is really both the high point of New Hollywood and the antithesis to its dark side. Most of these movies are about some guys who struggle in life, and it's great that their conflicts are never really resolved, not even in a violent cop fantasy like Dirty Harry. But most of these movies find some kind of scapegoat, it's either a woman, or an even more violent and distasteful character, or society as a whole.

And Travis Bickle tries to blame them all. He paints the 'madonna' like a whore because she doesn't lower herself to his depraved existence, he wants to "wash all this scum from the streets", gets a gun and shoots down the pimps. But the fact that the world is rotten is never an excuse for how Travis acts. The movie makes it very clear that he is his own worst enemy, exemplified in that great mirror scene.


I just saw recently Mickey and Nicky and it blew my mind.

We started this movie once and my father turned it off, saying that it's pointless (which is unintended praise in most cases). Been trying to find it ever since and now discovered it's on youtube thanks to another thread by you :)
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ElMo

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If you think The Getaway scene is ugly, you should check the elbow punch from Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, a movie I absolutely adore because Peckinpah put all his heart in that story and even the ugliest side of it where you can include a debatable vision on women based on the Madonna/Whote complex, which was a duality often mirrored in Scorsese movies, starting with his debut.

But I think there were two kinds of movies as far as violence was concerned:

- movies where violence was considered as a necessary evil in a world that turned out to be so ugly and disillusioned it brought up the worst of humanity, men became violent in spite of their "good nature": Paul Kersey, Michael Corleone, John McCabe, Carrie White...

- movies where violence, like you said, was the extension of an existential need that couldn't find a sane way to express itself, whether it's society or family's fault is beside the point, violence has a point because the world allowed it to happen: Travis Bickle, Alex DeLarge, Kit & Holly, Col. Walter Kurtz, even Bonnie and Clyde would count as the seminal 'New Hollywood' villains.

So no matter what, violence spoke a statement about the character and his environment, and I guess the rampant sexism was one of these environmental aspects, when you think about it, the only significant female character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is also the most despicable, the film is shown from a male standpoint, and Nurse Ratched is a villain so diluted in her own petty obsessions with order that she became a living metaphor for castration. 

Maybe the traditional image of women, the mother, was among the social burdens artists tried to get rid of during the New Hollywood period, and the so-called sexual freedom exemplified in these films was just a way to assert this freedom, in One Flew, it's sex with a whore that cured Billy Bibbit until the nurse chained him again to his insecurities by mentioning guess who? His mother.

Yep, I guess it was a sort of Freudian impulse, cinema got "mature" not by killing the father but the mother and the image of women was subverted... even Bonnie gave herself to Clyde, when he showed her his gun, notice that he couldn't use the symbolic one properly but he was still a good trigger, violence was an extension of manhood and a way to dominate women. 

Even The Graduate is remarkably misogynistic in the way it rewards the efforts of a stalker, who uses a lesser form of violence which is pressure after it made Mrs. Robinson a last-minute villain for no apparent reason (at least, the ending shows that maybe Elaine is figuring that her mother was probably right after all)

I love all these films, The Graduate and One Flew are among my favorite but I just noticed that many of my favorites don't paint flattering portraits of women... The Godfather can get away with it because of the film's very context but otherwise, one can't say that New Hollywood was a crowning achievement for women. 

Maybe this is why people strongly responded to Rocky where you don't have a man who's too good for his woman, or a couple in a crime but two humble and good persons made for each other. Same with Annie Hall the year after...

Lol, I could just talk on and on about New Hollywood...
(Edited)
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albstein

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I thought the exact same things about Cuckoo's Nest and The Graduate recently. You can throw in Kramer vs. Kramer as well, where the selfish wife goes off to "find herself" and leaves her husband with the child, only to return and claim custody. It's not so much that the individual movies are misogynist (although the stalking in The Graduate is problematic) but that there is a limited set of roles women can have in 1970s cinema. On their own, these movies just tell a story, but as a large chain they reinforce stereotypes.
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albstein

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Conversations like this one give me more insight than most reviews these days...
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) May qualify for your list also.
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albstein

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Which list?
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ElMo

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Still, there are counter-examples, I just rewatched "Bob & Carol & Alice & Ted" tonight, what a fabulous movie! It's a two-faced mirror projecting our own frustrations while allowing us to project our own insecurities...and underneath the little comedic quips, there’s a mirror reflecting the kind of things we try to hide for ourselves because it’s the right thing to do but deeply inside, we feel it’s not. It doesn’t cheat with reality but through some hip humor and an edgy je-ne-sais-quoi, it manages to undress the institution of marriage and revealing its ultimate paradox:  the person we spend the most of our lives with is perhaps the one we talk the least to. 

Speaking of marriage, you're right about Kramer vs. Kramer, what makes Joanna a good person is her ultimate sacrifice at the end, but many movies that dealt wth dysfunctional families/ divorces in the late 70's and early 80's gave the mother the bad role, in The Champ, Dunaway is indirectly responsible for the champ's decision to get back to the ring, in Ordinary People, Mary Tyler Moore turns out to be a selfish self-absorbed woman who couldn't grieve the loss of her son or did it in the worst possible way...
 
(Edited)
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Yours.
Will leave the analogies up to you.
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albstein

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Ed, you mean the list for this poll? It's not about individual movies, but about aspects that apply to the cinematic movement as a whole.
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Is it just me or "M*A*S*H" (1972-1983) TV series was way more revolutionary and better from any perspective then M*A*S*H (1970)? I was a big fan of the series since childhood, but only have seen the movie much later and, while it had its moments it seemed much more disjointed and had less sympathetic and surprisingly more one-dimensional characters then the series. It's still a well-made movie, it's just that in my opinion it paved a way to a way better series. 
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ElMo

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I'm not familiar with the series but I've never got the appeal of the film, why Ebert was so enthusiastic about it, why it won the Golden Palm... for me, it was just a bunch of mildly narcissistic perverts exceeding their "medical" status and acting like libido-driven bullies. I hated the way they treated "Hot Lips" and the way she was treated by the film especially during the game. The whole "war is hell" excuse can be used for any war movie and I don't think it really works for MASH, okay "war is hell" so "Hot Lips" or Duvall's character had it coming?! It's a well-made film but too disjointed and too mean-spirited for me to enjoy it.

The only thing I love about it is the opening song!
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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ElM., if movie did nothing or little for you, you might still try the series, because in my humble opinion it easily gets right everything that the movie got wrong. Despite (at least initially) being a sitcom it almost single-handedly changed a landscape of television at the time and, in a way, many modern serious shows are there thanks to how revolutionary the series was. 

As it is really hard to describe, just watch the opening scene of the pilot. It's amazing how seamlessly it goes from comedy which is not that forced to a jarring depiction of war. It gives you the immediate impression that jolly state of mind is basically a way to cope with the horror of the situation for all of these people. Whole show surprisingly went like that. Even the characters who seemed as jerks had hidden depths that were acknowledged by other characters and writers alike, no situation was witnessed from just one angle and overall it is surprisingly deep for a comedy series.  
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ElMo

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I just never had the opportunity to discover the series, I grew up in the 80's where many 60s-70s shows were re-run so I was familiar with "Hogan's Heroes" and "Starsky and Hutch" but "M*A*S*H" was never aired unfortunately. It's not that the movie did nothing to me but for me it had the appeal of an overlong Benny Hill sketch, lacking the good spirit :)
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Dimos Dicoudis

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"but only have seen the movie much later and, while it had its moments it seemed much more disjointed and had less sympathetic and surprisingly more one-dimensional characters then the series. "

This is often the problem with films. Lack of time to properly develop the featured and supporting characters. A television series has more of an opportunity to flesh out a character's background and personality, and to explore different aspects of them over time.
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NarniaisAwesome

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I say #2 or #3 is the most awful thing.  #4, on the other hand, is delightful!  Such good riffing material.  :)  Nothing beats a perm, a scraggy beard, and 'wacitcha wacitcha' music!
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albstein

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I also enjoy the 1970s aesthetics (from a safe distance), and to be honest I also like bleak and cynical movies, as long as the cynicism serves a purpose.
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NarniaisAwesome

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Yeah, 'depressing' movies can be interesting as long as they actually go somewhere, and maybe have a happy ending.
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Dimos Dicoudis

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I don't particularly like happy endings. I grew up with Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comic books, and the stories often ended with the characters either failing to achieve their goals, gaining a hollow victory, or ending up with less resources than the ones they started out with. Doomed by either their own faults, or by the faults of the people surrounding them.

What I do mind, is when the "dark" or depressing ending seems to have no connection with the story's previous events. I was frustrated the first time I watched "Time Bandits" (1981) because the finale has the protagonist witnessing his parents' deaths, seemingly becoming homeless, and the film leaves his fate unresolved. 

This had precious little to do with whatever the protagonist experienced throughout the film, and seems suspiciously like ending the film in a cliff-hanger. 
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Dimos Dicoudis great thoughts on endings. I loved sad but well-thought and logical endings ever since childhood. I guess first experience like that for me was Le professionel (1981) when I was like 2 to 4 years old. Having a sad ending easily elevates this movie above genre conventions and, along with terrific score makes it all the more great. Music alone can actually elevate the movie, as seen in The Running Man (1987), which has a great score which would not have been out-of-place in a less loose adaptation of the much more serious original novel. 

It's interesting how hard mainstream filmmakers have to try this days to achieve sad endings which would satisfy people. More often then not they fail, because mainstream audience has this remissions to old-time happy ending once in a while. I remember things like that in mid-2000's and it is also evident now, when great movies with endings not being all peaches and cream receiving significantly less praise. 
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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The Dark Bump of the Moon
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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Live Pollhttps://www.imdb.com/poll/coP1tzXqJVo/?ref_=po_fp Cheers! and applause : )
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Jessica, Champion

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Congrats!

I noticed a typo in #1: Save for a few exceptions, women are often marginalized or treated as mere sex objects
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albstein

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Thanks, and I'll ask for the re-push :)
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Congrats Alb
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Congratulations Son_of_albstein on your 96th live poll! As of 29-May-2019 9:11 PM Pacific your polls have 97,436 or more votes, for an average of 1,015 votes per poll.

The Dark Side of New Hollywood
7772nd Live Poll: https://www.imdb.com/poll/coP1tzXqJVo/

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Dimos Dicoudis

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I think what is underestimated in evaluations of New Hollywood is that the artistic-freedom of the supposed auteurs had little to do with their own decisions. The restrictive "Motion Picture Production Code" (Hays Code) was finally abolished/abandoned in 1968, because the studios  had noticed that films violating its rules (including foreign imports) actually attracted larger audiences than the films following its restrictions.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a number of directors  were already releasing groundbreaking films which intentionally violated rules of the Code. Among them were  Otto Preminger, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz, Alfred Hitchcock, Delbert Mann, and Billy Wilder. And their films often outperformed more conventional films at the box office.