Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1972

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Silent Running (US)

9: Last Tango In Paris (France/Italy)

8: The Getaway (US)

7: Asylum (UK)

6: Deliverance (US)

5: Game Of Death (HK)

4: The Last House On The Left (US)

3: Fist Of Fury (HK)

2: Way Of The Dragon (HK)

1: The Godfather (US)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three (including the top grossing)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two (including the winner)

Tune in on Tuesday for my favourite films of 1973, and don’t forget to check out my more in depth choices by decade!

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Best Cast – 1972

My Nominations: Deliverance. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex. The Getaway. The Godfather. Junior Bonner. The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. The Poseidon Adventure.

It’s time again for one of my favourite categories of the year. Here I can typically nominate films which would never normally get a nominations, although this year most of the films I have picked are fairly obvious choices. Deliverance is a terrific ensemble piece with the four central cast members descending into hell with the help of some memorable backup players. EYAWTKAS is a Woody Allen ensemble piece featuring himself in multiple roles but also esteemed performers like Lynn Redgrave and Anthony Quayle and new stars such as Burt Reynolds and Gene Wilder.

The Getaway and Junior Bonner saw Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen working together in the same year, the former also featuring Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson and others with the latter also seeing Johnson as well as Joe Don Baker and the great Ida Lupino. TLATOJRB sees a massive case led by Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, Victoria Principal while also featuring New Beatty, Jacqueline Bisset, John Huston, Ava Gardner, Richard Farnsworth and more. Also going for numbers is The Poseidon Adventure – Shelly Winters, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson and others. My clear winner though has to be The Godfather – even as an ensemble piece the minor performers stand out or get iconic scenes. We have some of the most famous performances ever and some of the best actors ever – Pacino, Brando, Duvall, Shire, Keaton, Cann, Cazale, as well as Sterling Hayden, Gianni Russo, Richard Castellano, Alex Rocco, Simonetta Stefanelli and many more.

My Winner: The Godfather.

Where’s Al?

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you think has the Best Cast!

Best Stunt Work – 1972

My Nominations: The Getaway. The Poseidon Adventure. Aguirre The Wrath Of God. Deliverance. Fist Of Fury. Way Of The Dragon. The Mechanic.

The obvious winner here would be The Poseidon Adventure – lots of action and stunts aboard the ill-fated liner. I can also see The Getaway and Deliverance getting an official nomination had this category existed, the latter getting extra credit for having the actual cast members perform much of the work and the former for plenty of gun and car action. Also featuring the actual actors putting their lives at risk in rivers and jungles is Aguirre, while The Mechanic continues the gun and fisticuffs theme. My final two nominations… some may argue can’t be classed as stunts given either the realism of the fights or the fact that trained martial artists were involved. Nonsense of course. Both Way Of The Dragon and Fist of Fury feature wonderfully choreographed fight and action scenes and either is worthy of a nomination in my book. Although Way has the better one versus one scene, Fist Of Fury I think edges things for the variety of set pieces.

My Winner: Fist Of Fury

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you would give the Best Stunt award to!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1972

Official Nominations: The Godfather. Cabaret. The Emigrants. Pete ‘n’ Tillie. Sounder.

As much as you would have expected The Godfather to sweep the board, this was one of the few awards it actually won, Coppola and Puzo completely transforming and bringing to life Puzo’s saga. Cabaret isn’t a film I typically think of having a memorable screenplay, based on a musical which was based on a novel which was probably based on a comic etc etc. The Emigrants is 1971 so shouldn’t be here, Pete ‘n’ Tillie is a fairly dark and sad comedy based on two novels, while Sounder is an emotive, less violent retelling of the source.

Official Winner: The Godfather

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My Nominations: The Godfather. Sounder. Deliverance. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex. Fritz The Cat. The Getaway. Jeremiah Johnson. The Poseidon Adventure. Sleuth.

Two from the official list join a large batch of others, including Woody Allen’s one of a kind adaptation of Doctor Reuben’s book. Elsewhere, Walter Hill gives The Getaway a modern and streamlined, action-packed treatment and James Dickey adapts his own Deliverance yet the writer of its most famous line remains disputed. Fritz The Cat has controversy in almost every department – its screenplay taking elements and actual parts from the comics as well as delivering brand new stories – all the while retaining an anarchic satirical sense. John Milius was beginning to make a name for himself (in more ways than one) and his screenplay for Jeremiah Johnson shows his flair for dialogue coming to fruition. Sleuth is one of the most well-written films ever but it’s not all that different from the source material, while The Poseidon Adventure gets rid of much of the sex and controversy to make a purely enjoyable disaster romp.

My Winner: The Godfather

Let us know your pick for the Best Adapted Screenplay of 1972!

Best Writing (Original) – 1972

Official Nominations: The Candidate. The Discreet Charm Of The Borgeouisie. Lady Sings The Blues. Murmur Of The Heart. Young Winston.

So this year they continued the official title of ‘Best Screenplay based on Factual Material or Material not Previously Produced or Published’ or in other words ‘We don’t have a clue what we’re doing’. Anyhoo, The Candidate won this year, Jeremy Larner’s script one of the more detailed and accurate portrayals of American politics whose irony is lost on many a misguided viewer. Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm Of The Borgeouisie was probably his most loved film due in great part to a biting script which is quotable as well as being dense with the merging of dreams, reality, and the usual Bunuel oddities. Lady Sings The Blues wouldn’t normally be here but of course they made that garbled mouthful of a category name. It’s mostly based on Billie Holiday’s autobiography but goes all the way to the end of her life and of course is fairly gritty.

Murmur Of The Heart is one of the more bizarre entries selected by The Academy – aside from being a 1971 release, it’s a film about underage sex, more sex, and incest. It’s good, but incredibly odd that The Academy nominated it. Finally, Young Winston is another based on an Autobiography – this time focusing on Churchill’s early days… some people are into that sort of thing.

Official Winner: The Candidate

My Nominations: The Candidate. The Discreet Charm Of The Borgeouisie. Images. The King Of Marvin Gardens. Last Tango In Paris. The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean.

Only two of the official nominees make it to my list, leaving plenty of room for personal favourites. Images delivers some strong work by Susannah York and Robert Altman, but it’s the writing (also by Altman and York) which makes this more than a mere Repulsion clone. Bertolucci and Franco Arcalli crafted the daring, boorish Last Tango In Paris and while some of the more controversial pieces were improvised or loosely written and several pieces of dialogue retain high impact. My final two choices continue the theme of unnecessarily long movie titles, with The King Of Marvin Gardens seeing Brackman and Rafelson construct an almost soap-opera like assortment of characters and problems, while in The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean John Milius crafts an unlikable, yet enviable character who was nevertheless transformed into something more palatable for the screen, yet there are enough snippets of deadpan dialogue to remind us what a visionary force Milius was.

My Winner: The Candidate

Best Costume Design – 1972

Official Nominations: Travels With My Aunt. The Godfather. Lady Sings The Blues. The Poseidon Adventure. Young Winston.

It’s a weird one. In a year that Cabaret gets nominated for almost everything, it fails to get nominated for one of the most obvious categories. All the stranger is the fact that Lady Sings The Blues is nominated over it. The Academy seemed determined to make sure Travels With My Aunt won something, so here we are. The Poseidon Adventure gets a nomination for sheer scope and detail and Young Winston gets a period piece nod too. None of the films here stand out for any obvious reason, so when in doubt go with The Godfather.

Official Winner: The Godfather

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My Nominations: The Godfather. Cabaret. Poseidon Adventure.

There isn’t really anything additional this year that I would want to add, aside from Cabaret.

My Winner: The Godfather

Let us know in the comments which film you choose to win Best Costume Design!

Best Original Song – 1972

Official Nominations: The Morning After (The Poseidon Adventure). Ben (Ben). Come Follow, Follow Me (The Little Ark). Marmalade, Molasses, And Honey (The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean). Strange Are The Ways Of Love (The Stepmother)

The Morning After picked up the official win, a fine ballad (better than the more famous McGovern effort which would follow the film’s release) which is both sad and hopeful. Armand’s vocals suit the softer, smoother approach, and though it is fairly plain it’s still effective. Ben, chilling and lonesome when viewed within the confines of the film, but beautiful and brilliant outside, is one of Jackson’s finest early ballads with a flawless vocal performance and sweeping Motown backing. I could only find badly recorded versions of Come Follow, Follow Me, a gentle folk style song with soothing melodies but some dodgy accents. Marmalade, Molasses, And Honey is an overly twee song which doesn’t really suit Milius and Huston’s film and isn’t strong enough to stand on its own. Strange Are The Ways Of Love is another downer song making this quite a downbeat year for nominations. Again it’s hard to get a good copy of this one, but it’s a deep-vocal song which features both a fast version and a slower, acoustic guitar led version.

My Winner: Ben

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My Nominations: Ben. Rejoice In The Sun (Silent Running). Speak Softly, Love (The Godfather). You’re The Only Girl (Fritz The Cat). Lila’s Theme (Snoopy, Come Home). Free Four (La Vallee).

Only Ben makes it to my list, and you already know it’ll be the winner. Still, it goes up against some decent tunes, none of which have had the same lasting impact. Rejoice In The Sun sees Joan Baez serenade Bruce Dern as he grows flowers in space. It’s the sort of song you can imagine some bin lid like Adele ruining – it’s lovely, idyllic, sub-hippy stuff but not for anyone who isn’t a fan of Joan’s vocals. Speak Softly, Love is The Godfather’s exquisitely dramatic lead song, basically taking one of the main themes and adding lyrics and vocals. By now you should all know how I feel about jazz, or even brass. And yet, there’s something inherently funny and woozy about You’re The Only Girl For Me from Fritz The Cat. It’s a very simple song, sleepy, slow, and backed by dazed brass and tippy tappy piano. Another song for animation is Lila’s Theme from Snoopy Come Home – again it has a rainy day bittersweet tone and will bring back memories of a poor sick girl for anyone who has seen the movie. Finally is Pink Floyd’s Free Four from back when they were regularly working on movies. It’s a simple, straight song from the band with typically great lyrics and a hand-clapping rhythm with booming distortion and good old Gilmour face-melter.

My Winner: Ben

Let us know in the comments which song you feel deserves the win!

Best Original Score – 1972

Official Nominations: Limelight. Images. Napoleon And Samantha. The Poseidon Adventure. Sleuth. Cabaret. Lady Sings the Blues. Man of La Mancha.

Limelight won the Dramatic category this year – a bit of a nonsense given that the film was made and released twenty years earlier, so this is clearly a pat on the back win for Charlie Chaplin. It’s quite a lovely score, dreary and downbeat in places, exuberant and uplifting in others – deserving of a win and nomination in its own right, but not just because LA had to wait 20 years before seeing the film – you’re not the boss of the world LA. Images is an almost forgotten Robert Altman psychological horror movie with a score by John Williams – one which has a lot in common with Carpenter’s score for Halloween – lots of haunting piano melodies, creeping strings, and jump-scare percussion, a fantastic soundtrack which so few remember. Similarly, Napoleon And Samantha is a weird film which no-one remembers – Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Whitaker have scary adventures with a pet lion, involving cougars and crazy people. It’s as weird and entertaining as it sounds, but the soundtrack is fairly by the numbers. John Williams strikes again with The Poseidon Adventure – a much larger scope soundtrack than his other nominee but not as powerful, even if it does have plenty of interesting tracks and moments, even a bit of funk. John Addison’s score for Sleuth is a lot of fun, playful and mysterious.

And so on to the adaptation round. Cabaret was the winner this time round – at least it strived to create new music for the movie which was not there on the screen. Unfortunately the era, style, and songs are not my thing and I can’t listen for long. Musicals man, even when they’re good, they’re crap. Lady Sings The Blues is a little better – better songs anyway, but still not something I would ever pick, while Man Of La Mancha is very old school – fine, but nothing out of the ordinary.

My Winner: Images

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My Nominations: Images. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. Deliverance. The Final Comedown. The Getaway. The Godfather. The Last House On The Left. Last Tango In Paris. Silent Running. Super Fly. Way Of The Dragon.

An almost entirely different, and superior, list for me with only Images making it over. This was actually a good year for Scores, even on the official list, but as there are so many others which I felt were better or more notable, most of the officials get cut. Aguirre has a hymnal, soothing score, akin to stumbling upon the gates of Heaven, all wall of sound organs and voices, quite haunting and beautiful, reminiscent of Pink Floyd I’ve always found – even the later guitar tracks are very Floyd. Deliverance is of course famous for the dueling banjos scene and music – taken from a much earlier recording, but it also has some sparse blue grass sections, renditions of other older pieces, and some rare synth moments – it mostly sounds like a rollicking good time, betraying what happens on screen. The Final Comedown is another entry in the funk blues rock scores of the decades, this one less well known but just as groovy and accomplished as the bigger hits. The Getaway sees funk maestro Quincy Jones in a slower and more soulful mood while Silent Running has plenty of pastoral and percussive moments aside from the obvious Joan Baez tunes.

The Godfather has one of the most famous scores of all time, yet was controversially not nominated after it appeared that some of the pieces had popped up in earlier Rota scores. We know they make up the rules as they go along, and this was one particular piece of bullshit which I am rectifying – there’s no way this doesn’t get nominated. With more European flavor is Last Tango In Paris by Gato Barbieri, as sumptuous and regal and tragic as you could wish for. On the other side of the scale is The Last House On The Left which, when heard on its own sounds like some late evening hippy dream, with David Hess and Stephen Chapin using folk tones to lull us into disbelief, and jaunty, circus, chase music to counter the vicious and disturbing antics on screen. Superfly is notable for having a soundtrack that made more money than the film itself, Curtis Mayfield crafting a classic of the genre – not many instrumentals though, so does that break the (my) rules? Finally, one of my all time personal favourite soundtracks, but one which is superb all round by the great Joseph Koo.

My Winner: The Godfather

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 had the best score!

Best Art Direction – 1972

Official Nominations: Cabaret. Lady Sings The Blues. The Poseidon Adventure. Travels With My Aunt. Young Winston.

You’d be forgiven for thinking The Godfather wasn’t released this year. Regardless, Cabaret was a cert to win this one. Lady Sings The Blues has no chance against it, neither does Young Winston, and Travels With My Aunt shouldn’t be here. The Poseidon Adventure is in with a shot here – it never would have been officially picked but as I prefer it to Cabaret and due to the scope and invention on display it gets my win.

Official Winner: The Poseidon Adventure

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My Nominations: The Poseidon Adventure. Cabaret. The Godfather. Last Tango In Paris. Silent Running. Sleuth. Solaris.

Only two of the official choices make it to my list, a list which rights a few wrongs. The Godfather is in – obviously, as is Last Tango In Paris. Also worthy of inclusion is Sleuth – any film which can turn a play mostly set in a single location into something extravagant is worth your attention. My final two picks fall under a loose ‘intelligent sci-fi’ sub-type, with Solaris and Silent Running both boasting great sets, design, and attention to detail. There’s only one winner for me though.

My Winner: The Godfather.

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you would give the Best Art Direction Oscar to!

Best Cinematography – 1972

Official Nominations: Cabaret. 1776. Butterflies Are Free. The Poseidon Adventure. Travels With My Aunt.

Cabaret gets the expected nomination and win but there’s only one winner in this category for me. 1776 is not a film many will remember or know, a musical overshadowed by Minnelli, Fosse and co. It’s based around George Washington and all that stuff, but it’s a bit crap. I’ve no idea why Butterflies Are Free is nominated here and I could say the same for Travels With My Aunt.

My Winner: The Poseidon Adventure.

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My Nominations: Cabaret. The Poseidon Adventure. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. Cries And Whispers. Deliverance. The Way Of The Dragon. The Godfather. Images. The Last House On The Left.

Only the big two make it onto my list. Cries And Whispers would get the official win next year, but as it’s a 1972 film it makes my list here. The Godfather bizarrely was not nominated so we fix that mishap, The Way Of The Dragon deserves at least a nomination for Cinematography – maybe the only realistic category it deserved to get a shot in, and Aguirre is a gorgeous film underrepresented by The Academy. Images is a very interesting piece with an interesting look. The Last House On The Left is stark in imagery and tone but is a perfect example of making beauty out of something ugly. My win goes to Vilmos Zsignmond for Deliverance – he would get an official win later but his work here deserved attention.

My Winner: Deliverance

Let us know in the comments which film you pick as winner of the Best Cinematography of 1972!