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Vintage '72

1972 is our year of the month so let's give it some overall context before we visit specific films. 

Great Big Box Office Hits: The Godfather, which would go on to win Best Picture and spawn two sequels was the year's box office champ. But The Poseidon Adventure, and What's Up Doc? were also gigantic hits continuing the threads of all-star disaster movies and Barbra Streisand movies as sure things with audiences of the 1970s. Other box office draws that year: Deliverance, Cabaret, Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in The Getaway, and Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson.  This was also the year that Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door launched the 'porno chic' boom of the 1970s and both were substantial hits along with the X rated animated feature Fritz the Cat.

Oscar's Best Picture NomineesThe Godfather  (11 noms / 3 wins) and Cabaret (10 noms / 8 wins) dominated the Academy Awards leaving no wins for the rest of the Best Picture field: The Emigrants (5 nominations), Sounder (4 nominations), and Deliverance (3 nominations). Our theory as to what was just outside the Best Picture shortlist plus more '72 goodies follow...

What would have been nominated Oscar had the 5-10 nominee rule that they have now, with shortlist size determined by the size of each film's voting block? The Poseidon Adventure (8 noms, 1 win, and 1 special Oscar) and Sleuth (4 key nominations) were the obvious just-misses among the Best Picture field. Beyond those it's a tougher call, so I think there would have been just 7. I'd love to hear your theories if you have a different one!

I guess the field would have also included Lady Sings the Blues (5 nominations) since Oscar loves a biopic. It's tough to imagine the other Oscar nominees breaking into the Best Picture field though there were multiple nominations for films like Young Winston, Pete n' Tillie, The Heartbreak Kid, The Candidate, Travels With My Aunt, and Butterflies are Free

Films That Endured in Some Way That Were Not Oscar or Box Office Smashes:  John Waters' Pink Flamingos,  Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left, Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask, Federico Fellini's Roma, Brian de Palma's Sisters, Eric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon, and Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. Star vehicles of interest: Tuesday Weld in Play it as it Lays, Paul Newman in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and Barbra Streisand in Up the Sandbox. 

Notable films listed as 1972 at IMDb that didn't actually open in the States until following years (or in one case never):  Cries and Whispers, Agguire the Wrath of God, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, The Canterbury Tales, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, The Seduction of Mimi, and Last Tango in Paris

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 1972
Cabaret is my gold medalist, of course, but beyond that in alpha order I also like: Agguire the Wrath of God, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, Deliverance , The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, The Godfather, and What's Up Doc? And I'm leaving two spots open as I sift through 1972 this month.

Magazine Covers for Context... (you can click to enlarge)

Frequent cover stars were President Nixon, David Cassidy, Cher, David Bowie, Jane Fonda, and anything Olympics, Vietnam, or All in the Family related.

Mix Tape (Huge-Ass Hits of '72):"The First Time Every I Saw Your Face," Roberta Flack, "American Pie," Don McLean, "The Candy Man," Sammy Davis Jr, "Brand New Key," Melanie, "Let's Stay Together," Al Green, "My Ding-a-ling," Chuck Berry, "Ben," Michael Jackson, "Song Sung Blue," Neil Diamond, "Without You," Harry Nillson, "Nights in White Satin," The Moody Blues.

Music: ABBA and Van Halen were formed, while Jefferson Airplane and The Velvet Underground disbanded, Michael Jackson's first solo album "Got To Be There" was released, as was Lou Reed's eponymous debut.   

TV: "Maude," "M*A*S*H," and "Kung Fu" launch while "Bewitched" and "My Three Sons" end their runs.

Stage: Despite winning seven Tony Awards, Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece "Follies" (well, one of his multiple masterpieces) which had opened early in the 71/72 Tony season somehow loses the big prize of Best Musical to "Two Gentleman of Verona," which only wins one other Tony. "Follies" closes shortly thereafter. ARGH. I demand a retroactive recount. Whenever anyone asks what my favorite Sondheim is I struggle between "Follies," "Company," "Sweeney Todd," and "Into the Woods," but "Follies" often wins out. I dread a film version because it's meant for the stage and about the stage and it would take a Bob Fosse level movie director to make it work for cinema. But if they could find one... ohmygod... so many great roles and songs for actresses of a certain age. Some of them only get one song but still. It could be casting heaven.

Spawn of Celebrity (Born in 72)
Tracee Ellis Ross (future Golden Globe winner for Black-ish) born to superstar Diana Ross. Chiara Mastroianni born to two of the greatest film stars of all time: Catherine Deneuve (France) and Marcello Mastroianni (Italy). She followed her parents into acting. 

Vintage '72 (Stars and Film Artists Born in 72)

Oscar Winners: Ben Affleck (Best Original Screenplay, Good Will Hunting and Best Picture, Argo), Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Best Original Song, Coco), Common (Best Original Song, Selma), Jean Dujardin (Best Actor, The Artist), Eminem (Best Original Song, 8 Mile), Asghar Farhadi (Best Foreign Language Film, for both A Separation and The Salesman), Tom Hooper (Best Director, The King's Speech) Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress, Shakespeare in Love), Gary Rizzo (Best Sound Mixing for both Dunkirk and Inception), Linus Sandrgen (Best Cinematography, La La Land), Greg Shapiro (Best Picture, The Hurt Locker), Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress, The Help), Adam Stockhausen (Best Production Design, The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Oscar Nominated Actors Born in '72 Who Have Yet To Win: Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) and Jude Law (Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr Ripley) only, both pictured at the 99 Oscars (yeah, the one held in 2000, dont let the internet label it wrong!).

Alessandro Nivola (one of our favorite actors) in Neon Demon (2016)

Still More Actors: Adam Beach, Elizabeth Berkley, Selma Blair, Marc Blucas, Saffron Burrows, John Cho, Laverne Cox (Emmy nominee), Cameron Diaz, Jang Dong-Gun, Trine Dyrholm, Josh Duhamel, Idris Elba (SAG winner), Benno Fürmann, Jennifer Garner (Emmy nominee), Judith Godrèche, Leila Hatami, Dwayne Johnson, Kristoffer Joner (currently being hoodwinked by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout), Jason & Jeremy London, Justina Machado (you're all caught up with One Day at a Time right? Can't wait for season 3), Gabriel Mann, Leslie Mann, Jonny Lee Miller, Wentworth Miller, Thandie Newton (Emmy nominee), Alessandro Nivola, Archie Panjabi, Molly Parker, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Romijn, Anika Noni Rose (Tony winner, currently killing it onstage in Carmen Jones), Missi Pyle (who guested right here. we love you, Missi!), Maya Rudolph (Emmy nominee), Antonio Sabato Jr, Clemens Schick, Will Swenson (Tony nominee and Mr. Audra McDonald), Stuart Townsend, Gabrielle Union, Karl Urban, Sofia Vergara (Emmy nominee), Goran Visnjic, and Antonia Zegers.

Other Celebrities: Billie Joe Armstrong (musician), Michael Lucas (porn star), Joey McIntyre (singer), Vanessa Paradis (singer), Busta Rhymes (rapper), Vitamin C (singer), and Zinedine Zidane (athlete).

RIP: The Notorious B.I.G. (rapper)

Vintage '72 (Behind the Scenes)

Greg BerlantiWriters and/or Directors: Mikko Alanne (The 33), Alejandro Amenábar (The Others),  Casper Andreas (Violet Tendencies), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), Greg Berlanti (Love Simon), Ava DuVernay (Selma), Jacob Estes (The Details), Albert & Allen Hughes (The Book of Eli), Ehren Kruger (Dumbo), Ruba Nadda (Cairo Time), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (The Darkest Minds), Joachim Rønning (Maleficent 2), Eli Roth (Death Wish), Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge), Joe Wright (Atonement), Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Ben Younger (Bleed For This)

Craftsmen: Evgeny Afineevsky (Oscar nominated Producer), David Castillo (Stunts), Cece Destefano (Production Designer), Abel Korzeniowski (Composer), Christopher Lennertz (Composer), Paul Machliss (Oscar nominated Editor)

Showtunes to Go: "Broadway Baby" and "Losing My Mind" from Follies, sung here by stage giant Elaine Stritch and screen giant Glenn Close. 


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Reader Comments (29)

Wow, I'm surprised The Godfather did so well. Since, you know, popular films don't win Oscars and the Academy needed to create a special category for them and all...

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Robert -- lol. right?

August 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Great write-up for '72. I always love the magazine covers especially!

Yes, it is very fitting, given the debate over "popular" films, that the Academy gave Best Picture to the film that became the all-time box office champ.

One thing: you say The Godfather got 11 nominations. It did at first, but then it had its Original Dramatic Score nomination rescinded when it came to light that Nino Rota had reused some music he had composed for an Italian movie, Fortunella; the Academy asked the Music branch to nominate again, with The Godfather in the mix, and they nominated Sleuth instead. I'm pretty sure that The Godfather would have won had it kept its nomination. Instead the Oscar went to the score for Chaplin's Limelight, a 1952 film that only got its LA release in 1972, thereby becoming eligible for Oscars twenty years late (something that can't happen under today's rules).

I think your hypothetical Best Picture nominees if there had been up to ten allowed are good suggestions. I wonder if The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie might have made it too. It had an Original Screenplay nomination and went on to win Foreign Language Film; as the Academy was so enamoured with non-English-language films in the '60s and '70s, I think we would have seen a number of them (beyond Z, The Emigrants and Cries and Whispers) up for Best Picture in those two decades had there been a possible ten slots each year.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I love "What's up Doc?" and it's a family favorite - I love it and think everything about it is special, Barbra crawling on the piano singing to Ryan, her saying "love means never having to say you're sorry" and him saying "that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard" Is all just classic screwball. It makes me miss Stanwyck, Streisand is that good.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Yeah, my birthday year! Glad to know it was also the year of Diana, Liv, Jane and Liza!

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

I LOVE that Jean Dujardin photo. Where's him? I miss him. That photo reminded me how much I love his performance in The Artist.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

If there was a dedicated 10 field in the 70’s there would be an unofficial slot for a foreign film each year, just like there was a slot for an animated film the couple of years it was in force recently.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Grace & Edward -- you're absolutely right. I'm convinced now that DISCREET CHARM would have made the best pic list.

August 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Wow -- Glenn Close acted that Sondheim tune to perfection: minimal movements but plenty of lived-in experience. In the recorded canon, I still think Ute Lemper's version is the best. For me, beautiful vocals is one thing but when a song is properly and exquisitely told like spoken poetry, it rises to the top of my list.

Thanks for mentioning the films that I need to see again (Sounder, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant) and finally see for the first time (Cries and Whispers).

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Two more great films: Slaughterhouse Five and Images.

Also the year of two of my favorite albums ever: Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie.

Favorite singles: School's Out by Alice Cooper, Elected by Alice Cooper, Under My Wheels by Alice Cooper, Be My Lover by Alice Cooper, and Starman by David Bowie.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Throwing in some 1972 love for Fat City and Susan Tyrrell!

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Silkwood

Thank you so much for those videos at the end, Glenn Close's performance was stunning and so wonderful to see Anne Hathaway moved to tears! beautiful

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGary

What's Up Doc? Is also one of my family's favorite films. Madeline Kahn is so freakishly iconic as Eunice. I can never hear the word banister without thinking "as in sliding down the."

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

I randomly saw LADY SINGS THE BLUES on a Saturday afternoon as the four o'clock movie on pre-cable days.

Tracee Ellis Ross has won the Golden Globe for black-ish, not the Emmy (yet).

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Berry Gordy's aggressive Oscar campaign for LADY SINGS THE BLUES was legendary. It indeed almost surely would've been a Best Picture nominee in an extended field.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around a time in this country when it was fashionable for mainstream audiences to publicly attend outright porn (or skin) flicks. Some argue that "Deep Throat" is one of the most profitable films released in the history of cinema. It's just...crazy...and one of those phenomenons that just doesn't translate to 2018.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKBJr

Being nitpicky: Tracee Ellis Ross has not yet won an Emmy. But Archie Punjabi has.

I had no idea Tom Hooper was this young.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Liv Ullmann!!!

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

I'd just like to put in a word for Man of La Mancha. It's a godawful musical in so many ways. It's based on a one-song musical which it flogs to death, the fil looks cruddy, the direction is non-existant, and the less said about the script the better. What it does have is Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren, and the chemistry between them trumps all of the film's shortcomings. Even visually, their constrast - he's all angles and lines, she's all fleshy and curvy - is genius, and shows that at least someone knew what they were doing. A magical experience.

Also, O'Toole should have won the Oscar in a walk for The Ruling Class, a pretty wonderful film, too, come to think of it.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

saw FOLLIES and organized my high school drama club outing to see this remarkable show with the brilliant staging of Michael Bennett. They all hated it! I was in Heaven!
Madeline Kahn in Whats Up Doc is one of the best comedic performances ever...

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDO

From that photo Paltrow's dress really didn't fit a bit like her win.Isn't Danner the most smug mum of a famous person.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Ah Nostalgia, "The Godfather" was such a popular sensation that even my father went to see it. (And he went to films once a year).
I concur with all who pick Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie as a likely top 10 pick if there had been a wider field for the Oscars. It was very popular, also Lady Sings the Blues and Sleuth would easily have made the list. Even with only 5 choices, there was almost always a slot for a foreign film.
Imagine Liza Minnelli and Diana Ross were both nominated for Oscars. Popular picks that hold up.
Madeline Kahn is such a treasure in "What's Up Doc?"
It was a very good year.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Such a great year. Three more great movies from that year--Play It Again Sam, The King of Marvin Gardens, The Other.

In music, Helen Reddy hit No 1 with the legendary I Am Woman, which was used in the Stella Stevens starrer Stand Up and Be Counted.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Using a "Firm, Masculine Handshake", I say that Cher is wearing the proto - Princess Leia

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Taking a look at those 1972 magazine covers...

Cher and Cicely Tyson in the spotlight? Wonder Woman in the news? An upcoming movie about Mary, Queen of Scots? "How TV Is Influencing Political Primaries"?

Truly a strange time.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

What a spectacular year!

I've just seen Fellini's Roma today. It's preposterous that it didn't get a Best Costume Design nomination.

I would love to see Follies directed by Todd Haynes, Sorrentino or maybe Guadagnino. Someone who understands the beauty of decadence.

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Wonderful post! Lots of fascinating trivia and I love the magazine covers.

Glad you mentioned Susannah York in Images and especially Tuesday Weld in Play It As It Lays. Both films are diffuse, hard to like movies but the two performances are just fantastic and I would have much rather seen the two of them in Best Actress than Cicely Tyson (who is really supporting in Sounder) and Maggie Smith (love her but I think her work in Travels with My Aunt is among her worst). I know this won't be a popular opinion but my choice for Best Actress this year is Tuesday Weld. I know Liza's Sally Bowles is beloved and it is very fine indeed but I though Weld was better.

Like everyone else I adore What's Up, Doc? Babs was never funnier or more relaxed on screen, Ryan O'Neal was at the peak of his attractiveness and Madeline Kahn first revealed her brilliance to the movie going world.

Then there's The Poseidon Adventure which filled my probably too young to see it eyes with fascinated joy at the danger and adventures the cast went through.

There were also several memorable films on TV this year. The groundbreaking That Certain Summer wherein Scott Jacoby's young teen went to visit his father Hal Holbrook in San Francisco after he had left his mother Hope Lange for Martin Sheen. While it's dated now it is still a powerful document and look at that cast!

Liza Minnelli's kick-ass special "Liza with a Z" and one of Steven Spielberg's final TV movies "Something Evil" with Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis were broadcast.

Also two iconic screen legends closed out their careers. Rosalind Russell in The Crooked Hearts and Susan Hayward in Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole. Neither had planned it that way: Hayward's film was very popular and scheduled to go to series when she was diagnosed with brain cancer and Roz's health also failed her and she was forced into retirement.

Others worth seeing if possible:

The House without a Christmas Tree
The Night Stalker
The Millionairess
The Couple Takes a Wife
The Judge and Jake Wyler
To All My Friends on Shore
Evil Roy Slade
Home for the Holidays-a murder mystery where Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Jessica Walter and Jill Haworth play Walter Brennan's daughters! and Julie Harris is their stepmother!!

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

What's Up Doc is so great and doesn't get enough love as a perfect comedy. Barbra was never sexier, and neither was Ryan honestly.

Of those magazine covers, my favourite is the Cinematographer's mag with Oscar on the front. The Academy should use that photo. It's wonderful.

August 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Hope folks are enjoying watching the 5 nominees' films. I just finished rewatching The Heartbreak Kid and man, what a great dark comedy. The roster for '72 was a genuinely exciting one and I'm eager to see how it will play out with the Smackdown panel.

August 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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