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Movies That Made A difference #2

Updated on August 25, 2017

Movie theaters have gone through big changes. They go from the stadium sized art décor buildings that can seat thousands to the multi-screened warehouse-type constructs that seat less than a hundred per screen. Only few standalone movie theaters are still around usually located in the rundown neighborhood. It is a matter of time before they will all be closed up or torn down. I remember the time that double feature were the norm with ticket costing only $3. In 1969, I watched a double bill of Gone With The Wind and Doctor Zhivago. I went in at 6 pm and came out 7 hours later. It took me a while to come back to the real world like waking up after a night’s dream.

Major movie studios built and owned most of the theaters to showcase their products until an antitrust ruling in 1948. Today, most theaters are owned by big franchises. There are few independently owned movie houses. Due to difficulty in negotiating first run features from the major studios, they tend to cater to a niche crowd by showing art-house and indie films.

Zatoichi (1962)

A film about one-of-a-kind blind swordsman with lightning fast and deadly skill while roaming the land dispatching justice where needed. It showcased the original fight scene where a lone man was surrounded by a group of bad guys with the former standing at the end. The gun men showdown scenes in the spaghetti westerns could be traced to this movie. It also has the record of having 26 sequels made from 1962 to 1989 with the same amazing and passionate actor, Shintaro Katsu. They all shared the same touching themes of good vs evil, deliverance of the poor and weak from the tyranny, humility, and life’s many beauties behind human nature’s ugliness.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A suspenseful, deliberate, and thoughtful SciFi movie told with haunting classical music and stunningly unforgettable images. It felt like a silent movie with few dialogs but spoke to you loud and clear telepathically. The film was made by the master, Stanley Kubrick, who earlier entertained us with the Roman epic, Spartacus. It was a controversial film when it first came out in 1968 due to its originality and subject matter. Today, most movie critics agree that it is the best SciFi film ever made. However, 2001 came and passed with no sighting of the alleged creator, the Monolith or its offspring.

Enter The Dragon (1973)

A movie that showcases Bruce Lee’s amazing Kung Fu talent. He developed the famous Intercepting Fist style but it was his high and swift kicks (without turning the body) that were most feared. Bruce was able to translate his years of practical and real life bare-hand combat experience to the movie screen for the masses to enjoy. He choreographed all the fighting scenes with minimal body doubles, camera angle tricks, and special effects. This movie set a high martial art standard that audiences are no longer satisfied to watch the action stars to just go through the motions. His short and shining movie life inspired the brilliant careers of Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Dam, and Chuck Norris. It also opened the flood gate to hundreds of kung Fu filcks with ever-increasing realistic action sequences.

The Graduate (1967)

A movie made in a time of American sexual awaking. It examines the sexual/social behaviors of a middle-class American family. It treats the controversial subject with sensitivity and bold details. Together with the beautiful melody and the song scores by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, director, Mike Nichols, had created a memorable period piece that people still talk about today. The movie also lanuched 40 years of Hollywood stardom for the graduate, Dustin Hoffman. Due to the taboo subject matter of a man’s sexual/love relationship with both the mother and daughter, the movie was banned in many countries at the time it was first premiered.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The granddaddy of all Zombie films. It was made by George Romero in 1968 for $114,000 and racked in over $3 million. The movie is in black and white but is just as suspenseful and terrifying. Behind the bloody, flesh-eating, undead madness, the movie is also successful in showing the human survival instinct, family value, camaraderie and intense tension under dire situations. None of those qualities can be felt in the hundreds of copycats that followed.


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