Happy anniversary, “Fiddler on the Roof.” You too, “Dirty Harry.” These two classics are among the movies turning 50 in 2021.
While there may be no official celebration, Growing Bolder thought it was time to pass the popcorn and reminisce about the movies that helped shape our lives from 1971.
The movies are diverse. The common theme is that they all resonated with audiences, although in different ways. With so many digital platforms available these days, you can go back in time 50 years with a click of your remote.
Growing Bolder’s fab five list of movies turning 50 in 2021:
- “Fiddler on the Roof.” Released on Nov. 3, 1971, by United Artists, the film rose to the top of the charts quickly. It grossed $80.5 million worldwide – quite the feat on a $9 million budget – and became the highest-grossing film of 1971. For those in need of a refresher, the movie is set in pre-revolutionary Russia. The plot focuses on a Jewish peasant, (a milkman), who is marrying off three of his daughters while dealing with anti-Semitic sentiment threatening his village. The film is the cinematic offshoot of a Broadway production that featured memorable tunes, such as “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.”
- “A Clockwork Orange.” This dystopian, dark film played to love-it-or-hate-it reviews, drawing everyone’s attention. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote: “Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is an ideological mess, a paranoid, right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex.” Anyone considering this for family movie night may want to reconsider due to the violence.
- “Summer of ‘42.” A show of hands if you had a kid crush on Jennifer O’Neill. “Summer of ‘42” is a sentimental, coming-of-age story about a boy in his early teens on summer vacation who becomes involved with a young woman whose husband is away fighting in World War II. The boy, Hermie, narrates the film from his perspective almost 30 years later. A reviewer on IMDB.com commented, “This is truly a wonderful film and a classic. It has everything: romance, comedy, sadness, and the reminiscence of puberty and coming of age. The dialog between Hermie and his two teenage buddies, while exploring their emerging sexuality, is wonderful and hilarious, i.e., ‘Do you think I’m in love with Vera Michaels? I hope I’m not in love with her. I hate her.’ Who couldn’t relate to those things in our youth.”
- “Dirty Harry.” All together now: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?” If you had a dollar for every time you said that, you probably still wouldn’t be as rich as Clint Eastwood, who rose to prominence in his role as “Dirty Harry” Callaghan. That role marked the first of five movies in the Dirty Harry Franchise. Many critics still consider this one the best. It featured Eastwood as an inspector looking for a psychopathic sniper.
- “Willard.” Granted, this film is a bit of a wild card in the mix, but it’s oh so good if you like thrillers. What’s it about? Just a boy and his rats and major creeper status. Moral of the story: Don’t mess with rats. Critic Charles Alexander wrote: “[Daniel] Mann’s original is one of those great ’70s genre movies that is a good movie FIRST and whose horror creeps slowly and organically out of the narrative and character arcs.”
And what were your favorite films from 1971? Some of the other big hits from that year include: “The French Connection,” “Shaft,” “The Last Picture Show,” and “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”