Tag Archives: 1974 movies

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt
Alfred Lutter as Tommy Hyatt
Kris Kristofferson as David
Diane Ladd as Florence Jean Castleberry
Jodie Foster as Audrey
Harvey Keitel as Ben
Director: Martin Scorsese

When Alice Hyatt (Ellen Burstyn) is suddenly widowed after years of domesticity, she decides to travel to Monterey, California with her 11-year-old son Tommy (Alfred Lutter) to resume a singing career. In Phoenix, Arizona she gets a job singing at a piano bar and begins a relationship with Ben (Harvey Keitel), who turns out to be married and a spouse abuser. In Tucson, she puts her dream of singing on hold and becomes a waitress. She meets a farmer, David (Kris Kristofferson), and begins to think about a new life of domesticity.

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Fresh off the success with Mean Streets, Martin Scorsese would take on a different kind of movie that he’s not typically known for with Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. It’s a genuine family drama that’s well written and directed, with the excellent lead performance from Ellen Burstyn that ties it all together and makes it all work.

The script by Robert Getchell was really great. The plot follows Alice and her son as they go from place to place. The plot meanders for sure, and occasionally it may have the odd section not being that interesting but otherwise I was generally invested throughout. There is plenty of emotion packed into this movie, but it’s delivered in a way that feels gritty and genuinely real. The more humorous moments bar a number of gags surrounding one character also fit in well with the movie. It is a movie where you just watch the main characters live their lives, and most of it held my attention.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is really Ellen Burstyn’s movie as the titular character. She is great and although I haven’t seen a ton from her, I think it would have to be one of her best performances. The film gives Alice a ton of depth throughout the plot, and she’s very easy to like and understand over the course of the whole movie, especially given everything she has to handle and deal with. This remains the only female led Scorsese film to date, and given how well this turned out, I’d like to see him do another. Alfred Lutter is Alice’s son Tommy, and I’ll just go ahead and say that he’s one of the most annoying child characters I’ve seen, but I guess he was intentionally annoying. They are convincing as mother and son and share great chemistry together. The rest of the cast play much smaller roles but their strong and memorable and work well in the movie. Diane Ladd plays a waitress who provided a lot of effective comic relief whenever she was on screen. Harvey Keitel also has a small role as a man who Alice becomes interested in at an early point, he’s good as always and especially great and very intense in his last scene. Kris Kristofferson also added a lot to the movie when he came on screen in the latter half of the movie. You even get Jodie Foster in a minor role here before she starred in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. There are only couple of weak links when it comes to the characters. One is the husband character at the start of the movie, you don’t really like anything about him and then he just dies. I know that Scorsese originally had a longer cut where it fleshed him out more beforehand, but given that the movie is about the mother and son dynamic really, I guess maybe it’s just better how it is. There’s also another waitress character used for comedy in Valerie Curtin’s character, but she’s just used as the butt of so many jokes and it just really didn’t work. She didn’t even really feel like a character and they could’ve done without creating so many unfunny jokes scenarios surrounding her, it distracted more than anything and belonged in a way worse movie than this.

With this movie being a family drama, Martin Scorsese’s direction doesn’t really provide many opportunities to be showy, but it’s still great and fittingly restrained. There were even some shots, camera movements and editing choices at times that you really noticed and helped make the scenes even better. He really captured the story very well.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a solid family drama, with the performances being the highlights, especially from Ellen Burstyn. Now if you were starting off with the aim of watching a bunch of Martin Scorsese movies, I wouldn’t necessarily say to start with this one. However in any circumstance, I do think it’s worth watching, even just on its own. It’s one of his overlooked movies that definitely should be getting a lot more attention.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Review

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror scenes & violence
Cast
Marilyn Burns as Sally
Allen Danziger as Jerry
Paul A. Partain as Franklin
William Vail as Kirk
Teri McMinn as Pam
Edwin Neal as Hitchhiker
Jim Siedow as Old Man
Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface
John Dugan as Grandfather
Director: Tobe Hooper

A group of five hippies, Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Jerry (Allen Danziger), Kirk (William Vail), and Pam (Teri McMinn), on a road trip through the backwaters of 1970’s rural Texas fall prey to a murderous cannibalistic family making up of a leather-masked chainsaw-wielding maniac (Gunnar Hansen), his knife-wielding grave robber brother (Edwin Neal), and their cannibal chief father (Jim Siedow) and decaying grandfather (John Dugan).

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The horror genre has always been a hit or miss sort of movie. There are some movies which do scare me (Sinister and The Babadook) there are movies that don’t scare me (The Fog) and there are movies which are at times scary, the latter being the most common type. Because of the underwhelming feeling I felt after watching the original Friday the 13th, I was a little worried that Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be another movie that aged poorly. However I found myself quite enjoying The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is still today quite an impressive film, especially for its time.

Out of the four slasher franchises (the other three being Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street), Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s first instalment was the closest to scaring me. The plot is set up well and paced (for the most part) at about 80 minutes, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The opening scene deserves credit in immediately grabbing your attention and setting the tone for the rest of the film. The first two acts go in and out of being well paced and being a little too slow, however once the main characters reach the house, that’s when the film really picks up. The film is surpirisingly well at creating and maintaining tension. The last act however is really great as further creepy and scary things happen and the tensions rise. There is particularly one scene at a table (without spoiling anything) which actually got under my skin.

The acting was pretty good by everyone. We don’t really know much about the main characters but they do pretty well with what they’ve got, particularly Marilyn Burns, especially in the later scenes of the movies. Along with the main characters being played well, the people who played the psychopathic characters are excellent, not just Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) although he is a standout amongst them. They were at least for me most of the scariest parts of the movie. One performance that really stood out to me was from Edwin Neal who makes his first appearance quite early on in the film. He makes such an impression.

This film has a very low budget of $300,000 but this film is still very effective. The film has a very realistic and raw look to it that really helps the film. Compared to horror movies of today, this movie isn’t quite as bloody, but when there is blood, the film uses practical effects and it does work much better, it doesn’t look cartoonishly over the top. For me, the more disturbing elements are brought out in the bizarre characters that our protagonists come across. Nonetheless, the violence is shocking and it’s effective in amping up the scares.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic horror film and if you are a big horror movie fan, this movie is essential to watch. It’s the horrific imagery, the unsettling feeling and scary performances that make it so effective. I can’t really comment on any of the other move in the series (with the exception of 2013’s Texas Chainsaw) but I can say that the 70s movie is really good.