Cover image for American films of the '70s : conflicting visions
American films of the '70s : conflicting visions
Lev, Peter, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin, TX : University of Texas Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxii, 238 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1993.5.U6 L44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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While the anti-establishment rebels of 1969's Easy Rider were morphing inot the nostalgic yuppies of 1983's The Big Chill, 70's movies brought us everything from killer sharks and teen comedies to haunting views of a divided America at war. As Lev argues, the films of the 1970s constitute a kind of conversation about what American society is and should be - open, diverse, and egalitarian or stubbornly resistant to change. Lev examines forty films thematically, arranged under broad titles such as: hippies, cops, disasters and conspiracies, end of the sixties, art, sex and Hollywood, teens, war, African-Americans, feminisms and future visions. This title is aimed at the ordinary film-goer as well as film scholars.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The 1970s are back with a passion, and Lev ruminates on 1970s U.S. cinema. Lev confesses being "loosely influenced by the Russian literary critic/historian Mikhail Bakhtin" and his "concept of dialogism," which holds that "the novel as a literary genre is a complex amalgam of overlapping and competing languages." Mighty highfalutin concept with which to construe the likes of Joe, Jaws, and Shampoo, but Lev sticks it out and presents "a dialogue of competing styles and meanings between films, between film and literary source." Lofty critical jargon aside, this is a compelling excursion through the amusement park of 1970s movies. Teen films, crazy soldier films (Patton, Apocalypse Now), and space opera are all considered, and "Feminisms" (Hester Street, Girlfriends, China Syndrome) and "Whose Future?" flicks (Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner), too. The highlight chapter is "From Blaxploitation to African American Film," in which Lev pithily plumbs the depths of the likes of Shaft and Superfly. More fun than it sounds. --Mike Tribby

Library Journal Review

Lev (mass communication, Towson Univ.) examines how American cinema in the Seventies portrayed society's progress toward diversity and egalitarianism. Focusing on themes and genres rather than the auteur approach, Lev groups the 39 films discussed in chapters that include "Hippie Generation" (Five Easy Pieces, Alice's Restaurant), and "Whose Future?" (Star Wars, Alien). His academic, almost literary explication and interpretation works especially well with more cerebral films, such as Apocalypse Now, but is less successful with action films and "Blaxploitation to African American" films. There are many good insights, including the observation that much of the philosophy and beliefs of the Sixties counterculture was not really portrayed in films until the very end of the decade (in films like Easy Rider) and then really flourished in the films of the Seventies. Lev also explores the impact of the increasing importance of marketing and the changing venues for films (cable, videos, pay-per-view). Marc Sigoloff's The Films of the Seventies (LJ 7/84), a detailed filmography of the period, is a good complementary reference source for Lev's essays. Recommended for academic and film libraries.DRichard W. Grefrath, Univ. of Nevada Lib., Reno (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

With the exception of Last Tango in Paris, none of the 40 films Lev (Towson Univ.) "teaches" here receives extended treatment--which is obvious once one subtracts a 12-page timeline of US social and political history (1968-83), a six-page filmography, 16 pages of scholarly notes, an eight-page bibliography, and the index. The author clusters the 40 films in categories--hippies, vigilantes, disaster, teen films, blaxploitation, feminism, science fiction. In a couple of chapters, Lev works from the films out into history, but most of his discussions work the other way around. In other words, his interest is in a film, and sometimes in a film's context. His attention to a particular film can be intense, but it is never sustained. And never aesthetic (which is sensible, bad films revealing as much as good films). Although his introduction is professional and valuable, seven or eight of the specific critiques, especially those on feminist films, seem like essays written by bright undergraduates. Superlative film critics of anthropological bias are capable of nourishing a reader with provocative insights--for example, Robert Sklar (Movie-Made America, CH, May'76), James Monaco (American Film Now, CH, Oct'79), and Pauline Kael (in her reviews). For the most part, Lev's guide is calm, surefooted, lucid, but only moderately nourishing. For undergraduate and general collections. P. H. Stacy; emeritus, University of Hartford

Table of Contents

Introduction: ""Nobody knows anything""
Part 1
Chapter 1 Hippie Generation Easy Rider Alice' Restaurant Five Easy Pieces
Chapter 2 Vigilantes And Cops Joe The French Connection DirtyHarry Death Wish
Chapter 3 Disaster and Conspiracy Airport The Poseidon Adventure Jaws The ParallaxView Chinatown
Chapter 4 The End Of The Sixties Nashville Shampoo Between the Lines The Return of the Secaucus Seven The Big Chill
Part 2
Chapter 5 Last Tango in Paris: Or A