A Decade Under the Influence

on April 25, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
At the tail end of the '60s, the movie industry took a turn. Legendary studio bosses such as Warner and Mayer were gone, as were the days of studio contracts with Hollywood stars. In their place arose a generation of filmmakers who tapped into public sentiment and attracted a young audience politicized by Vietnam and Watergate and influenced by the drug-fueled, anti-establishment counterculture, anti-war demonstrations and civil and feminist rights movements. These potential moviegoers were no longer interested in the escapism or fantasy by which the movies had previously been characterized; rather, they wanted to see something that they recognized from their own lives. Influenced by 1960s European films, whose fluid camera and other alienating devices constantly reminded audience members that they were watching a film, and themes of moral ambiguity, American film in the 1970s nonetheless proved to be lucrative, and eventually these filmmakers convinced Hollywood that theirs was the business that the industry should be in.

Featuring interviews with such cinematic luminaries as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Christie and Dennis Hopper -- interviewed by today's Ted Demme, Alexander Payne, Neil Labute and Michael DeLuca -- and clips from "Easy Rider," "The French Connection," "M.A.S.H.," "The Godfather," "The Exorcist," "Chinatown" and "Taxi Driver" plus many, many more, "A Decade Under the Influence" examines the dynamics that shaped this influential period in American movie history and laments its fall to the almighty dollar with the opening of the first blockbusters, "Jaws" and "Star Wars." It is a thorough and entertaining document (Bruce Dern does a mean Jack Nicholson impression) that not only will be released theatrically but will be further expanded into a three-part television series on IFC TV, accompanied by a celebration of films from the era. Directed by Ted Demme and Richard LaGravenese. Produced by Richard LaGravenese, Ted Demme, Gini Reticker and Jerry Kupfer. An IFC release. Documentary. Not yet rated. Running time: 108 min.

Tags: Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese, Gini Reticker, Jerry Kupfer, studio, documentary, Hollywood, drugs, history, filmmaking

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