The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane! :

American Films of the 1970s

an illustrated history by Ron Hogan

"I think that all of us who began at that period, to varying degrees, had a sense of Hollywood history, much more than people today. Francis Coppola and Billy Friedkin and [Martin] Scorsese and I all had different people we liked in terms of past filmmakers, but we did have a sense of film history as well as film grammar that we drew on. That was part of the dynamic—everybody brought his more modern sensibility to bear, but it was definitely based on... a filmmaking technique that was tried and true." —From the opening conversation with Peter Bogdanovich

One of the Year's Most Fun Coffee-Table Books


Burt Lancaster & George Kennedy in Airport; Sun Ra & Ray Johnson in Space Is the Place

Publishers Weekly: "While the text is engrossing and written with verve, the photos are the real delight. Some are candid shots from the set, others promotional stills, and a few—enough, perhaps—are favorite scenes from favorite films (like M*A*S*H's version of the Last Supper [popup image]). As coffee-table books go, this is one of the year's most fun."

See more sample pages from Stewardess! (popup images):
Films of John Cassavetes and movies with fast cars.

Hollywood's Second Golden Age

spielberg.jpgFilm historians like Peter Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls) have taught us a new way of looking at '70s Hollywood: Films like Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show are now held up as icons of American cinema's second golden age, while the role of Steven Spielberg (right) and George Lucas in changing the way we watch new movies is more fully recognized. But there are so many more films and filmmakers waiting to be rediscovered...

The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane! is a lavishly illustrated and informative look at more than 400 films of the decade, not only acknowledged masterpieces like The Godfather and Taxi Driver, but cult faves like Kansas City Bomber...and even spectacular flops like Myra Breckinridge. Ron Hogan's commentary places the films in the context of a time when the counterculture became America's culture. With 310 color and black-and-white images, Stewardess! is the most comprehensive overview available of this fascinating era in American film.

In the News

Speaking to John Warner, the author of the writing guide Fondling Your Muse, Ron Hogan reveals the lengths he went to for art's sake: "I spent a half-week with a photo editor poring through the archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looking for just the right picture of Harvey Korman in Americathon to anchor the entire project."

On a (just barely) more serious note, for an interview with The Reeler, Ron describes the writing process for Stewardess!: "For six months, my TiVo was filled with nothing but '70s films. But actually I shouldn't say 'my TiVo,' because it's actually my wife's TiVo, so that led to some testy moments over the course of the research period. It's like, 'Can we get rid of some of these trashy movies?' ... It would get to points where there were like a dozen cheap horror films mixed in with, like, The French Connection."

spookwhosat.jpgSpeaking with Cinematical, he offers some more details on the research and production stages, as well as listing some of his favorite '70s films—including one that didn't make it into the book! The Spook Who Sat by the Door (left) is "like Shaft meets The Amateur meets The Battle of Algiers," he says. "Remember all the hoopla about how The Warriors was going to cause massive gang violence? By all rights, this film should have started urban uprisings from coast to coast." And an IM chat with Cinecultist explains why he never pursued a career in criticism after leaving USC's film studies program: "We used to joke about that in grad school, actually, about how hard it would be if we seriously thought about trying to get film critic gigs, because those really do seem like positions that most critics leave only when they're taken out on a stretcher."

"Can...You...Dig It?"

videogames.jpgIn recent years, Hollywood studios have released remakes of '70s hits like The Amityville Horror, Assault on Precint 13, The Bad News Bears, The Fog, The Longest Yard, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory., and Fun With Dick and Jane, among many others. In fact, just before Wolfgang Petersen's remake of The Poseidon Adventure came out in the spring of 2006, Ron spoke to the NY Daily News about the endurance of the '70s disaster genre: "In the '70s, there was a sense that you couldn't rely on anything, and even nature will kill you if it gets the chance." Of course, some critics don't see the point of revisiting all this territory, but that hasn't stopped the filmmakers yet.

In fact, not only is Tony Scott reshooting Walter Hill's cult classic The Warriors, the creators of Grand Theft Auto have already turned it into a videogame—which will soon be followed by Electronic Arts's interactive version of The Godfather (images at right from the NY Times articles on both games).