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"Movie criticism's Dostoyevsky . . . Taylor reveals a national identity forged from the innocence we claim to have lost but never had in the first place.†? --Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville
When we think of '70s cinema, we think of classics like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and The Wild Bunch . . . but the riches found in the overlooked B movies of the time, rolled out wherever they might find an audience, unexpectedly tell an eye-opening story about post-Watergate, post-Vietnam America. Revisiting the films that don't make the Academy Award montages, Charles Taylor finds a treasury many of us have forgotten, movies that in fact "unlock the secrets of the times."
Celebrated film critic Taylor pays homage to the trucker vigilantes, meat magnate pimps, blaxploitation "angel avengers," and taciturn factory workers of grungy, unartful B films such as Prime Cut, Foxy Brown, and Eyes of Laura Mars. He creates a compelling argument for what matters in moviemaking and brings a pivotal American era vividly to life in all its gritty, melancholy complexity.
Film critic Taylor's first collection brings together a wondrous set of essays on 1970s American B-movies. The decade is known for classics such as The Godfather and Taxi Driver, but Taylor has chosen to highlight the pleasures of lesser-known films. These include Prime Cut, about a Chicago mob enforcer (Lee Marvin) sent after a Kansas City meat magnate (Gene Hackman) who renders his enemies into sausages; Hickey & Boggs, which reunited TV's I Spy team of Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as washed-up private eyes; the and blaxploitation pictures Coffy and Foxy Brown, both starring the luminous Pam Grier. He also discusses the existentialist hot-rod film Two-Lane Blacktop and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, both of which eventually found greater popularity and acclaim on DVD. Taylor is not arguing that these films are "overlooked masterpieces" (with the stated exception of Alfredo Garcia), but rather that they should be celebrated for treating the viewer "like an adult" in contrast to today's "infantilized" blockbusters. His essays are consistently illuminating and the reader comes away with a strong desire to track down the films he praises.