In 1971, one of the great years in Hollywood history, Universal Pictures released a slate of high quality original productions with low-to-medium budgets that, collectively, went unmatched by any other studio’s annual lineup during the early 1970s. Inspired by Columbia Pictures’ success with Easy Rider, Universal provided full creative freedom to many up-and-coming directors like Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, John Cassavetes, Milos Forman, and Monte Hellman. Meanwhile, old Hollywood hands like Don Siegel and Robert Wise were encouraged to make daring stylistic choices. While critically acclaimed, few of the Universal ‘71 releases found wide acceptance from audiences at the time of their original release, though their reputation among cinephiles has grown steadily over the subsequent five decades. All of these selections will be shown in 35mm prints.

  • Sun., Mar. 8 | 2:00 PM

In South America to make a Sam Fuller western, a stuntman (Hopper) finds himself involved with Peruvian villagers who are making their own imaginary movie. Pulled from circulation after just a few weeks of release, Hopper’s hard-to-see follow-up to Easy Rider is a highly unusual piece of work. “No other studio-released film of the period is quite so formally audacious.” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

  • Sun., Mar. 15 | 2:00 PM

In this unlikely tale of romance, brash parking lot attendant Seymour Moskowitz (Cassel) sets his sights on reserved museum curator Minnie Moore (Rowlands). Funny, tender, and sometimes outrageous, this gem from Cassavetes (who appears as Minnie’s married boyfriend) is a love story like no other.

  • Sun., Mar. 22 | 2:00 PM

A wounded Union army soldier is kept hidden by the denizens of an academy for young Southern women. The swaggering Yankee charms his way into the lives of several of the seminary’s residents, until jealousy and resentment begin to take hold. A frequent director of Eastwood, Siegel (Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz) has crafted a compellingly creepy tale that is an amalgam of the Western, tragic romance, and gothic horror.

  • Sun., Mar. 29 | 2:00 PM

In his directorial debut, Eastwood plays an overnight jazz disc jockey who hooks up with one of his ardent fans (Walter), little knowing that she is dangerously possessive and homicidal. One of the few medium-budget movies produced at Universal in 1971 that went on to become a box office success, Play Misty for Me is a tightly crafted, unnerving thriller that was surely an influence on a number of movies to come, particularly Fatal Attraction (1987). Walter gives a memorably unhinged performance “so creepy and sexually aggressive that she hardly worked again for years” (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader).  Decades later, she became well-known as Arrested Development’s matriarch, Lucille Bluth.

  • Sun., Apr. 5 | 2:00 PM

Before his career really took off with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Czech émigré director Forman made his American debut with this ver funny generation-gap comedy. While searching for their runaway hippie teenaged daughter Jeannie (Heacock), suburban New York middle-class parents Lynn and Larry Tyne (Carlin and Henry) begin a life-renewing journey as they try to understand as much of the counter-culture as they can experience. Their odyssey takes them to several locales in 1970 Manhattan, then upstate to a Catskills resort where they take in a thrilling performance by the Ike and Tina Turner revue. Back on their own turf, the film climaxes in two unforgettable comic sequences: a society dinner turned pot party for rich parents of runaways, and a strip poker game with Lynn and Larry’s swinging new friends. Shockingly, this masterpiece of 70s cinema has never been released on home video in the United States, so don’t miss this rare chance to see a beautiful 35mm print on the big screen!

  • Sun., Apr. 19 | 2:00 PM

Drifters and best friends, Harry (Fonda) and Arch (Oates) settle down to work for the wife (Bloom) that Harry abandoned seven years earlier. But soon, Harry’s past comes back to haunt him. This gentle and lyrical western, with gorgeous cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, marked the directorial debut of pop icon Fonda.

  • Sun., Apr. 26 | 2:00 PM

Hellman’s existential masterpiece has been compared to Bresson and Antonioni, but it is a uniquely American film, fascinated, like its protagonists with the road and the culture of cars. Oates is the talkative GTO and music stars Taylor and Wilson are almost silent as The Driver and The Mechanic. The simple story has the three characters competing in a road race across the American Southwest, but the film resonates in its right-on portrayal of alienated, apathetic men withdrawing from the problems of the world into a self-absorbed life of revved up motors, loveless sexual encounters, and meals served in diners.

  • Sun., May. 3 | 2:00 PM

The hills are not alive with the sound of music and, in fact, just about everyone in the small town of Piedmont, New Mexico is dead in director Wise’s masterful adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel about a deadly virus. Wonderfully clinical and unrelentingly straight-faced, this science fiction thriller is both groundbreaking and hugely influential. (BR)