Lisanti, Tom. Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies. BearManor Media. Mar. 2017. 314p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781593939984. $35. FILM
In their heyday, drive-in movie theaters were considered entertainment venues for mostly less-discriminating filmgoers, and the movies they showed supposedly reflected that. Film historian Lisanti (Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema) highlights some of the films and actors who appeared in what he considers to have been typical drive-in fare. Among such were the so-called beach movies, spaghetti Westerns, and the youth-oriented “B” films prevalent in the 1950s and a decade or so afterward. He has interviewed several actors who appeared in those types of movies, most of whom left little or no mark on Hollywood. They include Mimsy Farmer, Arlene Charles, Diane Bond, Steven Rogers, and Jan Watson, who reminisce about their experiences with directors, costars, and working conditions. The author also provides background information about many of the films. Obviously, what constituted a drive-in movie is very much a subjective choice on the author’s part, and some readers may disagree on what is included. VERDICT With this book, there is some fun in reading about long-forgotten performers and films. The rubric of drive-in movies is seemingly a convenient way of gathering all this together. Recommended for film lovers everywhere.
Taylor, Charles. Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ‘70s. Bloomsbury Pr. Jun. 2017. 208p. filmog. ISBN 9781632868183. $27. FILM
Many film buffs and cinema historians believe that the 1970s represented a great decade of filmmaking, perhaps the last one before the onslaught of popular “blockbusters” and their numerous prequels and sequels. The 1970s engendered modern-day classics such as the “Godfather” films, Cabaret, The French Connection, and Annie Hall, but also gave rise to the ilk of Jaws and Star Wars, often blamed for the decline of the “golden age.” Film and culture critic Taylor opines that many worthy 1970s movies (or at least those worthy of reconsideration) have been unfairly overlooked; he terms them the shadow cinema. In a series of essays, he writes about a little more than a dozen of these films in various genres, among them so-called blaxploitation films such as Coffy and Foxy Brown, offbeat Westerns, including Ulzana’s Raid and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and the thrillers Winter Kills and The Eyes of Laura Mars. For each, he talks about the plot, cultural underpinnings, and sometimes troubled production histories. VERDICT Although many could quibble about the films included, some of which were critically panned and poorly performed, Taylor makes a very reasonable case for reexamining each one, assisted by a most readable writing style.