Between 1967 and 1976 a number of extraordinary factors
converged to produce an uncommonly adventurous era in the history
of American film. The end of censorship, the decline of the studio
system, economic changes in the industry, and demographic shifts
among audiences, filmmakers, and critics created an unprecedented
opportunity for a new type of Hollywood movie, one that Jonathan
Kirshner identifies as the "seventies film." In Hollywood's Last
Golden Age, Kirshner shows the ways in which key films from this
period including Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces, The Graduate, and
Nashville, as well as underappreciated films such as The Friends of
Eddie Coyle, Klute, and Night Moves were important works of art in
continuous dialogue with the political, social, personal, and
philosophical issues of their times.
These "seventies films" reflected the era's social and political
upheavals: the civil rights movement, the domestic consequences of
the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution, women's liberation, the end
of the long postwar economic boom, the Shakespearean saga of the
Nixon Administration and Watergate. Hollywood films, in this brief,
exceptional moment, embraced a new aesthetic and a new approach to
storytelling, creating self-consciously gritty, character-driven
explorations of moral and narrative ambiguity. Although the rise of
the blockbuster in the second half of the 1970s largely ended
Hollywood s embrace of more challenging films, Kirshner argues that
seventies filmmakers showed that it was possible to combine
commercial entertainment with serious explorations of politics,
society, and characters interior lives."
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