one of Malcolm McDowell's calmer moments in A Clockwork Orange (1971)

My Top 20:

  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. The French Connection
  3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  4. The Last Picture Show
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  6. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  7. Harold and Maude
  8. The Hospital
  9. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
  10. Walkabout
  11. Klute
  12. Macbeth
  13. Straw Dogs
  14. Carnal Knowledge
  15. The Policeman
  16. Dodes Ka-Den
  17. Play Misty for Me
  18. They Might Be Giants
  19. Bananas
  20. Le Boucher

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The French Connection
  • Best Director:  William Friedkin  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actor:  Gene Hackman  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actress:  Jane Fonda  (Klute)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Ben Johnson  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Cloris Leachman  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The French Connection
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Hospital
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Director:  William Freidkin  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actor:  Gene Hackman  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actress:  Jane Fonda  (Klute)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Ben Johnson  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Cloris Leachman  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Last Picture Show
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Best Foreign Film:  Claire’s Knee

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. A Clockwork Orange –  #93
  2. McCabe and Mrs. Miller –  #169
  3. Death in Venice –  #184
  4. Performance –  #188
  5. The Last Picture Show –  #264
  6. Two-Lane Blacktop –  #435
  7. Claire’s Knee –  #450
  8. The Devils –  #487
  9. Dirty Harry –  #539
  10. Get Carter –  #570

Top 5 Films  (1971 Consensus Best Picture Awards):

  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. The French Connection
  3. The Last Picture Show
  4. Fiddler on the Roof
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday

Top 10 Films  (1971 Awards Points):

  1. The French Connection –  1278 points
  2. The Last Picture Show –  1264 points
  3. Sunday Bloody Sunday –  1008 points
  4. A Clockwork Orange –  756 points
  5. Fiddler on the Roof –  651 points
  6. The Go-Between –  486 points
  7. The Hospital –  418 points
  8. Summer of ’42 –  408 points
  9. Klute –  402 points
  10. Death in Venice –  305 points

Nicholas and Alexandra becomes the first Oscar nominee for Best Picture to fail to make the Top 10 in Awards Points since 1960.  The Last Picture Show becomes the closest #2 in Awards Points since 1929 when two films tied for first and sets a record for #2 in Awards Points which will be broken the next year.

Billy Jack (1971) is the only top-grossing film for a year that I haven't seen since 1936

Top 5 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Billy Jack –  $98.00 mil
  2. Fiddler on the Roof –  $80.50 mil
  3. Diamonds are Forever –  $43.80 mil
  4. The French Connection –  $41.15 mil
  5. Summer of ’42 –  $32.06 mil

For the last time, no film manages to make $100 million.

AFI Top 100:

  • A Clockwork Orange –  #46  (1998)  /  #70  (2007)
  • The French Connection –  #70  (1998)  /  #93  (2007)
  • The Last Picture Show –  #95  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • Walkabout
  • McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  • Le Boucher
  • The Last Picture Show
  • WR – The Mysteries of the Organism

Glenda Jackson wins her second straight Nighthawk Award for Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Director:  Stanley Kubrick  (A Clockwork Orange)
  • Best Actor:  Gene Hackman  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Sunday Bloody Sunday)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Ben Johnson  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ellen Burstyn  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Sunday Bloody Sunday


  • Best Picture:  Harold and Maude
  • Best Director:  Arthur Hiller  (The Hospital)
  • Best Actor:  George C. Scott  (The Hospital)
  • Best Actress:  Ruth Gordon  (Harold and Maude)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Leonard Frey  (Fiddler on the Roof)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ann-Margaret  (Carnal Knowledge)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Harold and Maude

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Director:  Stanley Kubrick  (A Clockwork Orange)
  • Best Actor:  Gene Hackman  (The French Connection)
  • Best Actress:  Glenda Jackson  (Sunday Bloody Sunday)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Ben Johnson  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Ellen Burstyn  (The Last Picture Show)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Best Editing:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Cinematography:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Original Score:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Sound:  The French Connection
  • Best Art Direction:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Visual Effects:  Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • Best Sound Editing:  The French Connection
  • Best Costume Design:  McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  • Best Makeup:  Macbeth
  • Best Original Song:  “Won’t Bleed Me”  (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song)
  • Best Foreign Film:  Korol Lir

Jane Fonda's Oscar winning performance in Klute (1971)

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  A Clockwork Orange (I’m a twisted guy.  So sue me.)
  • Best Line:  “Come and get one in the yarbles.  If you have any yarbles.  You eunoch jelly thou.”  Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Opening:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Ending:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Best Scene:  the chase in The French Connection
  • Best Ensemble:  The Last Picture Show
  • Best Use of a Song:  “The Stranger Song” in McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  • Sexiest Performance:  Jane Fonda in Klute
  • Coolest Performance:  Gene Hackman in The French Connection
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Decameron
  • Worst Film:  Godzilla’s Revenge

Film History: The federal government passes an investment tax credit to aid the film industry.  Samuel Goldwyn is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Georgia bans Carnal Knowledge, a ban which will eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court.  The American Film Institute publishes a guide to film courses available in the United States; there are 1679 courses available at over 300 universities.  Francis Ford Coppola begins filming The Godfather, having excised all mentions of the Mafia in the script.  Vincent Canby writes an article for The New York Times exposing the practice of using select quotes from film reviews in advertising.  Max Steiner, winner of 3 Oscars and who had one of his scores nominated for an Oscar each of the first 17 years the category existed, dies on 28 December.  The Go-Between wins the Grand Prix at Cannes while Death in Venice wins a special 25th anniversary prize.  Clint Eastwood, at age 41, makes his directorial debut with Play Misty for Me while also starring in the first Dirty Harry film.  Sean Connery returns for another performance as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever.

Academy Awards: A Clockwork Orange becomes the second and final X rated film to earn a Best Picture nomination.  Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is nominated for Adapted Screenplay a year after winning Best Foreign Film while Foreign Film nominee The Emigrants will get nominated for Best Picture the following year.  For the second straight year Glenda Jackson is nominated for Best Actress in a film also nominated for Best Director and for its Screenplay while failing to earn a Best Picture nomination.  The names of the music categories change again (Original Score becomes Original Dramatic Score and Original Song Score becomes Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score).  For the first time in six years, the French submission for Best Foreign Film is not nominated.  Nicholas and Alexandra becomes one of the most surprising Best Picture nominees in Oscar history – failing to win a single critics award, failing to earn any guild nominations and earning only a single Golden Globe nomination (for Best Supporting Actor).  Sunday Bloody Sunday does what only four other films have ever done and gets nominated for Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay, but not Picture (the other four are My Man Godfrey, The African Queen, Hud and Leaving Las Vegas).

The Academy does pretty well.  They have the gall to nominate A Clockwork Orange and most of their Oscar are either the best or second best choice of the year.  But, on the other hand, they somehow nominate Nicholas and Alexandra, a terrible film with almost no precursors, over Sunday Bloody Sunday which had a DGA nom, a WGA win and nominations for the other four of the big five nominations.  They drop four nominations on the sentimental slop of Kotch, but can only spare a single nomination for McCabe and Mrs. Miller and pass over Harold and Maude entirely.  Japan finally submits a Kurosawa film for the first time (Dodes Ka-Den) and it gets nominated.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Cinematography for Fiddler on the Roof
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Picture for Nicholas and Alexandra
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Art Direction for A Clockwork Orange
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  What’s the Matter with Helen
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Harold and Maude
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Mon oncle Antoine
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Art Direction
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Foreign Film
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Visual Effects  –  note:  while there are only three categories in which I agree, the Oscar winner is my 2nd place choice in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Story and Screenplay – Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced, Best Editing, Best Costume Design and Best Foreign Film

Golden Globes: For the first time since 1964, the winners of Picture, Director, Actor and Actress at the Oscars all win the same awards at the Golden Globes.  The French Connection becomes the first film in five years to win Picture and Director at the Globes and repeat that feat at the Oscars (which doesn’t happen again until 1975).  Of the five films nominated for Picture and Director, only Summer of ’42 fails to repeat at the Oscars (replaced by Nicholas and Alexandra), but only The French Connection of the five is nominated for its script (the others are Mary Queen of Scots, Klute, The Hospital and Kotch).  The Hospital becomes the first film to ever win Best Screenplay at the Globes without a Best Picture nomination (the only other time it has happened is 1982 when Gandhi, which wasn’t eligible for Best Picture, wins Best Screenplay).  Fiddler on the Roof becomes the only multiple award winner other than The French Connection, taking home Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor – Comedy.

Film Awards: The New York Film Critics beat the National Society of Film Critics by a day, giving Best Picture and Director to A Clockwork Orange while the NSFC goes with Claire’s Knee for Picture and Bernardo Bertolucci for Best Director for The Conformist.  Both groups agree on Jane Fonda for Best Actress in Klute and Ellen Burstyn for Best Supporting Actress for The Last Picture Show and Sunday Bloody Sunday for Best Screenplay (though the NYFC also give Best Screenplay to The Last Picture Show).  The NYFC go with Gene Hackman in The French Connection for Best Actor and Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show for Best Supporting Actor, while the NSFC goes with Peter Finch (Sunday Bloody Sunday) and Bruce Dern (Drive, He Said).  The National Board of Review goes last, giving Best Picture to Macbeth and Best Director to Ken Russell for The Devils and The Boy Friend.  The NBR goes with Hackman and Johnson for the male awards, with Irene Papas for The Trojan Women for Actress and a different actress from The Last Picture Show for Supporting Actress: Cloris Leachman.

The French Connection‘s three guild wins doesn’t match Patton’s four but is still better than anyone else until 1977 and by winning the DGA, the WGA and another guild, it does something that doesn’t happen again until 1990.  It loses the American Cinema Editors to Summer of ’42 (which also earns DGA and WGA noms).  The last guild award – the second Sound Editors award goes to Fiddler on the Roof (which gets a WGA and ACE, but not DGA).  The other three DGA nominations go to A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show (both of which are nominated for the WGA) and Sunday Bloody Sunday (which wins a WGA).  The other two WGA wins go to The Hospital and Kotch (which also earns an ACE nomination).

With the big three Oscar films not eligible for the BAFTA until the next year (when they would all get nominated), the BAFTA is a completely different race.  Sunday Bloody Sunday would take home Picture, Director, Actor and Actress. (Odd side note: In the 1970’s five films would win Best Picture, Director and Actress at the BAFTA’s: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Cabaret, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Annie Hall; since then no winner of Best Picture and Director, of which there have been 10, has even been nominated for Best Actress).  The Go-Between sets a new record with 11 nominations, that will be tied in 1974 but not beaten until 1984.  The other two Best Picture nominees are Death in Venice, which wins 4 technical awards and Taking Off which goes 0 for 6.  The two eligible Oscar nominees, Fiddler on the Roof and Nicholas and Alexandra combine for 5 nominations – all technical – and lose them all.

Roman Polanski's dark, violent version of Macbeth (1971)

Under-appreciated Film of 1971:

Macbeth (dir. Roman Polanski)

He wanted to make a dark film.  His wife and unborn child had been brutally murdered and he was in no mood for anything even remotely light.  So he took one of Shakespeare’s darkest (and finest) plays and brought it to life – the only color English language major motion picture release of Macbeth.  It had been 23 years since the under-funded Orson Welles version and while there have been versions since Polanski’s, certainly nothing that has had any kind of release.  There have been rumors from time to time (after Howards End, supposedly Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were going to star in it – that would have been awesome), but it keeps never happening.  So we make do with what we have.

What we have is a very good film from one of the greatest directors of all-time that somehow always manages to get over-looked.  Is it because of the violence?  Is it because it has no stars of any note (while Jon Finch and Francesca Annis are both good in the film, neither of them could be called anything like a star)?  Is it because it was produced and released by Playboy Productions?  Of all the major film versions of Shakespeare plays, how many of them have nudity?  How many of them have excessive violence?  How many of them are rated R?

All of this works to the film’s benefit.  It places a stamp on the film.  This is Polanski’s version of Shakespeare – filtered by his own experiences with the Mansons (the gore and violence) and growing up during the Holocaust (the growing oppression in the film).  It did gain notice when it was released.  Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and the National Board of Review actually named it the Best Picture of the year.  But of all the remaining awards groups, only the BAFTAs remembered it existed (they nominated it for Best Costume Design).  There was nothing for its cinematography, nothing for its art direction, nothing for its direction (and nothing for its makeup, but there were no awards for makeup back then).

Certain stories and characters give us filters to see the film world at a moment in time.  That is the usefulness of the multiple Robin Hood and Dracula and Sherlock Holmes films.  But perhaps none can give us more insight than Shakespeare films.  We can see the independent film world of the fifties through Welles’ Othello, the British war effort in Olivier’s Henry V, the glorious revival and joy in Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing and the epic vision already evident in Julie Taymor’s Tempest.  Polanski gives us a dark vision of the early seventies, one that shouldn’t be ignored, though it is.  It is not one of Polanski’s masterpieces, not at the level of Repulsion, Chinatown, The Pianist or The Ghost Writer or even quite at the level of Knife in the Water or Tess, but it is a very good film, a dark, well-made film, brimming with life in the midst of death.