All the President's Men (1976), 138 minutes, D: Alan J. Pakula
Carrie (1976), 97 minutes, D: Brian De Palma
In the Realm of the Senses (1976, Jp.Fr.) (aka Ai No Corrida), 105 minutes, D: Nagisa Oshima
Director Oshima's shocking and intense film of extreme, all-consuming sexual obsession, madness and immersion (bordering on pornography in its uncut version, with frequent shots of an erect penis and fellatio) was seized and banned by US Customs and postponed in its censored release. This erotic Japanese masterpiece about painful passion told the story of a torrid, increasingly intense and dangerous, true-to-life, almost non-stop sexual affair between gangster businessman/inn owner Kichi-zo (Tatsuya Fuji) (the husband of the brothel madam) and one of his maid-servants, former prostitute Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) in mid-1930s Japan. It had an orgy scene, sexual violence, sex games (including food inserted into her vagina before consumption), and masochism (forcible use of a wooden dildo, bite-wounds, and S&M, among other practices). In the scenes between Kichizo and Sada Abe, there were explicit shots of unsimulated fellatio (while he passively laid back and smoked a cigarette) with a close-up of semen dripping from her mouth, unsimulated penetration, a wide variety of sexual positions and sexual acts, etc.), vaginal insertion of a hard-boiled egg, masturbation during a bloody menstrual period, and the depiction of the infamous, violent scene of their disturbing practice of auto-erotic asphyxiation with a red scarf. Eventually, when Sada grew jealous of her partner's continuing sexual relations with his wife, she threatened to cut off his penis. The film climaxed with his bloody genital dismemberment after murderous strangulation so that she could keep his member inside of her. Afterwards, the empowered female carried around her master-lover's severed genitals in a handkerchief for four days - an enactment of her proprietary feelings about his member - until she was arrested.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, UK), 140 minutes, D: Nicolas Roeg
Marathon Man (1976), 125 minutes, D: John Schlesinger
Network (1976), 120 minutes, D: Sidney Lumet
A prophetic, explosive, provocative satire from screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky about the medium of network television and its abusive, self-prostituting quest for ratings. Chief UBS TV (a fourth-rated fictional broadcasting system) veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is driven insane when told that he will be fired after twenty-five years because of low ratings. On the air, the beserk newsman tells his audience that he will committ suicide during his final live broadcast. A ratings-mad, cold-blooded, ambitious programming VP Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) exploits the furor when ratings zoom. Messianic hero and cult celebrity Beale continues to report the news and evangelistically urges his viewers to go to their windows and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" The craggy, dissenting head of the news division Max Schumacher (William Holden) is fired, as the network is overtaken by a multinational conglomerate and alliances are made with urban guerrilla terrorists for programming ideas. Married Schumacher, in a mid-life crisis, has a May-December affair with Diana and leaves his wife (Beatrice Straight).
1900 (1976, Fr./It./W. Germ) (aka Novecento), 320 minutes, D: Bernardo Bertolucci
The Omen (1976), 111 minutes, D: Richard Donner
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), 135 minutes, D: Clint Eastwood
Rocky (1976), 119 minutes, D: John G. Avildsen
The phenomenally successful, uplifting, "sleeper" film that was filmed in a record twenty-eight days with a paltry budget of about $1 million, and ultimately grossed well over $100 million. (This low-budget film was positioned between two early "blockbusters" - Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and Lucas' Star Wars (1977).) Its screenwriter and major star, Sylvester Stallone, was an unbankable unknown at the time - an underdog actor/writer in the film industry (with 32 previously-rejected scripts) similar to the boxing 'bum' in the film. Stallone supposedly wrote the script for the sports comeback film over a three-day period. The action-packed, 'feel-good' crowd-pleasing story, shot mostly on location, tells of the rise of a small-time, has-been, underdog Philadelphia boxer against insurmountable odds in a big-time bout with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), with the emotional support of a shy, hesitant, loving girlfriend named Adrian (Talia Shire) and wily fight manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith). The low-key film was a combination of On the Waterfront (1954), Marty (1955), and a fairy-tale, Cinderella rags-to-riches story. The original Rocky film, from Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, packed movie houses, and beat out formidable competition for Best Picture: All the President's Men, Bound For Glory, Network, and Taxi Driver. It was followed by four inferior sequels: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990) and another entry titled Rocky Balboa (2006).
Taxi Driver (1976), 112 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
One of Martin Scorsese's greatest films, about a violent, alienated, unfocused, psychotic NYC taxi driver fatalistically disturbed by the squalid, hellish urban underbelly of pimps, whores, winos, and junkies. Ex-Marine Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) works the night shift through Times Square in his cab, encountering nightmarish Gothic horrors, moral decay and lowlifes. Off hours during the day, he kills time by frequenting sleazy porno houses and eating junk food. His one feeble attempt at social and emotional contact - a date with a blonde political campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) fails miserably when he takes her to a porn film. His fantasized one-man campaign/mission to clean up the streets focuses on saving a prepubescent child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster). It ends with a failed political assassination attempt, and a rage-filled, pent-up blood-bath massacre, including the killing of Iris' pimp "Sport" (Harvey Keitel). In the aftermath, the repellent character emerges as a vindicated, folk savior-hero.