I’m exploring the mid-60’s now, and I must say I’m beginning to understand now why the love for the 70’s. Because, it’s true that by then Hollwyood was just regurgitating a classic mold in a diluted way. The true classic masters were dead, in decline or just delivering their last crepuscular masterpieces, and all that was left was the minor imitators, like Robert Wise, Fred Zinneman, and things like that. Looking at the Best picture nominees of 1962 onwards is sad. Not that the AMPAS lineup is the best mirror of each year’s quality, but it’s not a bad one in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s because it usually did include some fine true classics. But by the mid 60’s it’s just stale cinema, made bigger and bigger and deader and deader. And then, from 1967 onwards, it’s as if the new, fresh blood finally took mainstream Hollywood and started making mainstream films that were more alive. Compared to the days of Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks and company it just doesn’t hold a candle, but compared to the average Hollywood of the 60’s, the Hollywood of the 70’s was exciting again at last.
I still prefer the 60’s as a decade (and may be my favourite decade overall), because, previous Godard diss notwithstanding, I love both the new waves in Europe and the last masterpieces of the old masters that by that moment weren’t mainstream Hollywood anymore (did anybody care in its moment about masterpieces like Seven Women, Cheyenne Autumn, El Dorado…), but as far as mainstream Hollywood goes, yes, the 70’s meant new ideas and alive movies after the stale 60’s.
But that undeniable fact has led to an obnoxious overrating. Forman, Pakula, Spielberg, Lucas, Lumet, Ashby or even Polanski simply cannot be compared to Ford, Wells, Hitchcock, Lang, Hawks, Lubitsch, Wilder and company. The only two that ended up reaching the levels of the masters were Scorsese and Coppola, and Coppola only during that decade, and some of his films are overrated anyways, proving later that he was no Wells, Ford, etc. Declaring it the best decade is only a product of Godfather fanboyism (IMDb-ers who think Godfathers, Jaws, Star Wars and Chinatowns are all the classics a film buff must see) or of some critics feeling a misguided enfant-terriblism or the need to react against the establishment and canon existing when they started being critics.