Film Review 1980-1981 by F, Maurice Speed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Audiences at the end of the 1970’s saw a certain number of films with a general sense of propriety. There were also many leftovers from a decade of explicit films. F. Maurice Speed reviewed them all, mostly in a generous mood, although his lengthy introduction begins with his concerns over how the language in the movies of the day became less and less conscious of reserve but more condoning of four-letter words and why did producers let it stay. Even the Oscar winners of the day contained, even in films that were generally more acceptable, the profanity that the author addresses in his introduction. Speed reviews these films individually and objectively, but still with reservation on occasion. I was heartened to have such a book that did address these issues and where the reviews are from a critic with a more sensitized perspective.
I have watched quite a few of the films that contain the various “nasties” as they are called which I have considered with some reservation, but like Speed, tended to be ‘objective’ as well as critical.
In Speed’s reviews, there is, despite the need to be objective, none of the glossing over that some reviews tend to do in the name of story and social concerns, where language and other content does not seem to matter.
Of the 200-odd films on review, in short, informative, and warm prose, there are a couple of dozen that do not or probably would not cross the traditional boundaries of censorship, in alphabetical order:
Allegro Non Troppo, Animalympics, The Black Hole, Buck Rogers, The Jericho Mile, The Late Great Planet Earth, The London Connection, Lord of the Rings, The Magic of Lassie, Meetings with Remarkable Men, Movie Movie, The Muppet Movie, My Brilliant Career, SOS Titanic, Star Trek, and The Wiz.
What strikes me about Speed’s reviews are their warmth, informativeness, and sharp eye on plot and story, with always a good sending off or welcome to each movie under review. Film Review 1980-1981 has several articles to enjoy as well. The foreign language film (what they would call it in English, in this British-based book) or what is now known as the international film is given its own section. In it, German film The Tin Drum, for all its contentious elements, gets a good write up, regarded as a stand-out in the cinema from 1979.
A rather long article is about the demise of the super cinema in Britain, an interesting subject, and another article is about the film schools of the late 1970s, and we get more topical articles with the regular columns.
Always of interest is who was awarded what at the main festivals and award shows.
The articles may not be flash but are least of all interesting. Approaching its fortieth year, the Film Review Annual of 1979 does contain some nude shots of female nudity and male in various situations so Speed does keep an open mind. These pics may not go down well, though. My rating is somewhat focused on the positive in the rest while not recommending the trespasses.
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