During the height of independent UHF stations, the programmers would make a deal to buy movie packages from various distributors. The quality of the movies that arrived at the station varied from classics to clunkers. Like a chef in a kitchen with a side of beef, the station programmer would butcher up the titles to fit various movie slots on the schedule. The prime cuts would be given the 8 p.m. slot. The cleanest family oriented film would slide to Sunday morning. The kitsch films would be given afternoon runs. The cult fare given a midnight screening. The worst of the bunch would be tossed into the 4 a.m. Night Owl Theater slot when rival stations were running test patterns. The slice and organize technique is the best way to approach The Swingin’ Seventies with 50 movies of various appeals. The films aren’t all primetime, but they have a place around the clock.
The Klansman is an interesting film since it was directed by Terrence Young (Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball). The Southernpolitation flick covers an FBI agent infiltrating the Klan in a small town. There’s nothing small about the cast with Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Linda Evans, Cameron Mitchell, Lola Folana, Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball) and O.J. Simpson. C.C. and Company has the greatest opening in a grocery store not featuring gunfire (That honor goes to Stallone’s Cobra). C.C. is an outlaw biker played by football legend Joe Namath (The Brady Bunch). He starts the film roaming around a grocery store giving himself a free lunch. He and his gang come across a stranded Ann-Margaret (Tommy) in the desert. He has to protect him against the menace of Sid Haig (Jackie Brown) and Bruce Glover (Diamonds Are Forever). If you only see one Joe Namath movie in your life, let it be C.C. and Company. Evel Knievel gives us the early years of the daredevil. The almighty tan of George Hamilton gets wrapped in the iconic white jumpsuit with the stars and stripes design. While the film doesn’t blow us away with coverage of the stunts, there’s an eyepopping car vanishing moment.
There are quite a few titles that appear to have been TV Movies of the week. These epics don’t seem to get as much love as they deserved. A Real American Hero retells the story of Buford Pusser which is also covered in the Walking Tall movies. Brian Dennehy (Tommy Boy) is the legendary lawman. The action was toned down for the TV audience. The Death of Richie scared me when it ran back in 1977. Robby Benson is a messed up teen who gets horrified by his dad, Ben Gazzara (Husbands). It took quite a few years for me to enjoy Gazzara on the screen. Congratulations, It’s a Boy! surprises Bill Bixby (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father). He’s a swinging single who gets a jolt when his unknown son shows up at the front door. The kid has grown up, but will he still cramp Bixby’s wild ways? Or will dad turn junior into his wingman? Concrete Cowboys teamed up Jerry Reed and Tom Selleck as cowboys wanting to be detectives in the big city. They stack the show with the talent of Morgan Fairchild, Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo) and Ray Stevens (“The Streak”). They have to get a missing singer being held hostage. Tom Selleck is so pleased this show went bust so he didn’t miss out on Magnum P.I.
There are plenty of other titles to explore in the set including a few Italian gangster flicks starring Jack Palance and adaptation of classic British literature. The Swingin’ Seventies dips into the decade with titles that aren’t the ones always gabbed about in the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls dialogues. These are the films remembered by those who lived through the ’70s with insomnia and a UHF bowtie attached to the rabbit ears.
List of the movies:
Against a Crooked Sky (1975) Richard Boone
Border Cop (1979) Telly Savalas
The Borrowers (1973) Eddie Albert
C.C. and Company (1970) Joe Namath
Cold Sweat (1970) Charles Bronson
Concrete Cowboys (1979) Jerry Reed
Congratulations, It’s A Boy! (1971) Bill Bixby
The Cop in Blue Jeans (1978) Jack Palance
Crypt of the Living Dead (1973) Andrew Prine
David Copperfield (1970) Michael Redgrave
The Death of Richie (1977) Robbie Benson
Death Scream (1971) Faye Dunaway
The Driver’s Seat (1974) Elizabeth Taylor
Evel Knievel (1971) George Hamilton
Fair Play (1972) Paul Ford
Firehouse (1972) Color Richard Roundtree
The Four Deuces (1976) Color Jack Palance
Get Christie Love! (1975) Color Teresa Graves
Good Against Evil (1977) Color Dack Rambo
The Gun and the Pulpit (1974) Color Marjoe Gortner
The Hanged Man (1974) Color Steve Forrest
How Awful About Allan (1970) Color Anthony Perkins
Hustling (1975) Color Lee Remick
James Dean (1976) Color Michael Brandon
Jane Eyre (1971) 1971 Color George C. Scott
Jory (1973) Color Robby Benson
Katherine (1975) Sissy Spacek
The Klansman (1974) Lee Marvin
The Last of the Belles (1974) Richard Chamberlain
Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring (1975) Sally Field
Mr. Scarface (1976) Jack Palance
Mr. Sycamore (1975) Jason Robard
The New Adventures of Heidie (1978) Burl Ives
The Proud and the Damned (1972) Chuck Connors
A Real American Hero (1978) Brian Dennehy
The River Niger (1976) James Earl Jones
Rogue Male (1976) Peter O’ Toole
Stunts (1977) Robert Forster
The Swiss Conspiracy (1976) David Janssen
The Squeeze (1978) Lee Van Cleef
They Call it Murder (1971) Jim Hutton
To All My Friends on Shore (1972) Bill Cosby
Treasure of the Jamaica Reef (1976) Stephen Boyd
Wacky Taxi (1972) John Austin
Wanted: Babysitter (1975) Robert Vaughn
War of the Robots (1978) Antonio Sabato
Warhead (1977) David Janssen
The Werewolf of Washington (1973) Dean Stockwell
The video is all over the place when it comes to formats. Most of them appear to have been transferred off 16mm prints that were sent out to UHF stations back in the Seventies. There are a few that have been given the 1.78:1 anamorphic treatment. The TV movies work fine in their 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. This collection is fine for people who don’t freak out if there’s a minor defect in the image. The audio is mono for all the films.
There are no Bonus Features.
The Swingin’ Seventies provides 50 movies from the Have a Nice Decade era. The boxset will transport you back to a time when the various films popped up at various hours on your favorite indie UHF station. This is a cinema kitsch lovers delight.
Mill Creek Entertainment presents The Swingin’ Seventies (50 Movies). Starring: Joe Namath, George Hamilton and George Hamilton. Boxset Contents: 50 movies on 10 DVDs. Released: September 4, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Bill Bixby, Telly Savalas, The Hulk