A Decade Under The Influence

An engaging overview of the brief and shining moment when Hollywood's gates were flung open and a motley crew of exploitation filmmakers, art movie lovers, film students and documentarians rushed in. Controlled since the start of the sound era by a handful of well-capitalized, vertically integrated studios, Hollywood was at an impasse by the end of the '60s....read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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An engaging overview of the brief and shining moment when Hollywood's gates were flung open and a motley crew of exploitation filmmakers, art movie lovers, film students and documentarians rushed in. Controlled since the start of the sound era by a handful of well-capitalized, vertically integrated studios, Hollywood was at an impasse by the end of the '60s. Television had steadily eroded movie attendance; a series of long-standing, anti-monopolistic lawsuits forced the studios to divest themselves of their theater chains; and veteran filmmakers found themselves increasingly out of touch with the tastes of younger filmgoers. Established stars, venerable genres and lavish production values left audiences cold, while bloated epics that belly-flopped at the box office threatened to drag entire studios down with them. From crisis came opportunity: Upstarts like Paul Schrader, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Martin Scorsese, Bob Rafelson and Robert Towne got the go-ahead to make irreverent films that rejected the seamless gloss of classical Hollywood style, experimented with offbeat narrative techniques and tackled marginal and sometimes shocking subject matter. In addition to getting sexier, more violent and increasingly foul-mouthed, these rebellious films flouted antiquated laws and conventional morality, and mocked government, organized religion, big business and other sacred cows. Offbeat actors who would never have played leading roles under the rigidly delineated star system — Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Karen Black, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Ellen Burstyn, Bruce Dern — were catapulted to fame playing loners, losers and alienated social drop-outs. This lively, well-researched film, started by the late Ted Demme and completed by Richard La Gravenese, features extensive interviews with a wide cross-section of '70s survivors, ranging from Coppola, Scorsese, Friedkin, Schrader and all-around bad boy Dennis Hopper to less familiar faces like producer Polly Platt and director Jerry Schatzberg (SCARECROW). Even trash-movie mogul Roger Corman, who gave early breaks to many of the decade's leading lights, weighs in. Their reminiscences and reflections are supplemented by well-chosen clips from films as diverse as JOE (1970), THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974), THE EXORCIST (1973), THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK (1971), TAXI DRIVER (1976), THE LAST DETAIL (1973), TARGETS (1968), HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) and EASY RIDER (1969), the scruffy blockbuster that launched a thousand trips. An excellent introduction to the subject, and a movie buff's delight.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An engaging overview of the brief and shining moment when Hollywood's gates were flung open and a motley crew of exploitation filmmakers, art movie lovers, film students and documentarians rushed in. Controlled since the start of the sound era by a handful… (more)

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