Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1971

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1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

The Year 1971
Year
Event and Significance
1971

Michael Crichton's 1969 best-selling novel was made into an intelligent film with the same title, director Robert Wise's paranoid thriller The Andromeda Strain (1971). Along with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), it became one of the biggest science-fiction hits in the pre-Star Wars (1977) blockbuster era. The doomsday film had one of the earliest noticeable uses of advanced computerized (or optical) photographic visual effects for its time - the mapped, rotating view of Project Wildfire, the huge underground laboratory.

1971
Yugoslavian director Dušan Makavejev's controversial, X-rated, montage-filled, avante-garde, documentary-fiction film titled W.R.- Mysteries of the Organism (1971) was reportedly the first film to depict full frontal nudity amidst its plentiful nude sex scenes and frank dialogue about free love, masturbation and orgasm. The film engendered intense criticism and censorship demands, and was banned in the director's own native Yugoslavia.
1971
The blaxploitation film genre, with anti-Hollywood films aimed at a primarily African-American audience, was launched with Melvin Van Peebles' groundbreaking Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song! (1971) -- the first commercially-successful black-themed film. It forced Hollywood to acknowledge the monetary potential of the untapped, urban African-American market (similar to the effect Easy Rider (1969) had on its countercultural audiences) as a result of this influential film.
1971
The landmark crime/action blaxploitation film Shaft (1971), starring Richard Roundtree as a defiantly-proud black hero, was directed by Gordon Parks and would become a major cross-over hit. From then on through the end of the decade (but mostly in the first half of the decade), over 200 films would be released by major and independent studios which featured major black characters (and some black athletes such as Jim Brown and Rosie Grier), to profit from the black movie-going audiences. Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson would play similar hard-edged roles for whites.
1971
Director William Friedkin's brilliant, fast-paced, brutally-realistic police/crime film, The French Connection (1971) - was his commercial break-through film. The true-to-life film about the largest narcotics seizure of all time in 1962 was told with an innovative semi-documentary-style technique. The heavily-nominated film (with eight nominations) was a multiple-Academy Award winning effort, taking accolades in five categories: Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Actor (Hackman with his first Oscar), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Tidyman), Best Editing (Jerry Greenberg), and Best Picture.
1971
Decorated and heroic US Army WWII soldier and post-war movie star Audie Murphy died at the age of 45 in a private plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia. He appeared in over 40 films during his starring career (such as Universal's hit war film To Hell and Back (1955) - the same name as his 1949 autobiography), including almost three dozen westerns.
1971
Director Don Siegel's controversial yet seminal vigilante film of the decade, Dirty Harry (1971), joined other gritty revenge films including The French Connection (1971), the UK's Get Carter (1971), Death Wish (1974) featuring Charles Bronson, Walking Tall (1973), The Seven-Ups (1973), and the Australian film Mad Max (1979) with Mel Gibson. This was the first of many hard-hitting, action-packed sequels (from 1973 to 1988) starring maverick, renegade vigilante cop Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan ("Inspector 71") who was famous for sarcastic one-liners, portrayed by steely-eyed Clint Eastwood in a career-boosting role. [Eastwood's first of many uncredited movie roles was in Revenge of the Creature (1955). His starring role as Rowdy Yates in TV's Rawhide in the late 50s and early 60s type-cast him as a cowboy, leading to his iconic "Man With No Name" character in Sergio Leone's trio of spaghetti westerns (1964-1966). Hints of Eastwood's future as a director surfaced with his dual role in Play Misty For Me (1971).] Countless other cop-action films were made to copy this original law-and-order film that was one of the first to appear on movie screens.
1971
Two films released about the same time resurrected the controversy over violence in films: (1) Stanley Kubrick's satirical A Clockwork Orange (1971, UK) - rated X and responsible for copy-cat crimes in the UK, prompting the director to withdraw the dystopic film about social conditioning and free will from distribution for many years; and (2) Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971) - criticized for glorifying violence rather than commenting upon it, re-edited for an R-rating, and banned in England for 30 years.
1971
A Clockwork Orange (1971, UK) was the first film to use Dolby technology noise reduction for its sound recording.
1971
24 year-old director Steven Spielberg's first feature (a made-for-TV movie) was the low-budget, suspenseful Duel (1971). It was shot on location in about two weeks. It told about David Mann (Dennis Weaver), a businessman pursued by an unseen, tailgating truck driver in the deserted California desert.
1971
USC film school graduate George Lucas founded Lucasfilm Limited in 1971, and remained its sole owner for many years. Lucas released and debuted his first full-length feature film, THX 1138 (1971), based upon his award-winning short USC student film in 1967 titled Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB.
1971
During the making of director Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972), Mafia crime boss Joe Colombo and his organization The Italian-American Civil Rights League started a protest campaign to stop the allegedly anti-Italian film from being made, and demanded that the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" not be used in the film. Producer Albert Ruddy announced in 1971 that they would have the right to review the script and make changes, and also agreed to hire League members (mobsters) as extras and advisers.
1971
The independent film Billy Jack (1971) was the first film of its kind to be marketed as a 'BlockBuster wide-release' at many theatrical venues on the same day. This was a change from the previous strategy called a platformed release (testing a film in a few major metropolitan markets to first see if results were positive, before expanding its market). This same marketing strategy was used for Spielberg's first summer blockbuster Jaws (1975) - and paved the way for the method in which all major releases are done today.
1971
Mario Bava's influential and controversial, bloody Italian horror-thriller Bay of Blood (1971) (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, Reazione a Catena) was the grandfather of all slasher films, for its characters (five murderers) and thirteen gruesome murders, including a machete to the face, a spear for impalement of two lovers, a hanging, a stabbing, etc. Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981) reportedly copied some of its death scenes verbatim from the film.
1971
Charles Manson and three female followers, on January 25, 1971, were convicted of 27 counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 1969 slaying of Sharon Tate and six others.
1971
The national average ticket price for theatre admission was $1.65, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).


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