Schlesinger. Don’t let the one film in the top 100 of its decade fool you below- Schlesinger’s top 5 films (up to Day of the Locust all have high artistic value). Still, Schlesinger falls much further down the list without Midnight Cowboy—a top 200 all-time film and masterpiece. Schlesinger could produce some striking imagery but he is first and foremost an editor—I’ll get into more detail below.
Best film: Midnight Cowboy is many things—a great narrative with top-notch acting from Hoffman and Voight. It is also a true triumph of editing in cinema. Schlesinger brilliantly interjects Joe Buck’s flashbacks (the still somewhat indeterminable (which makes it better) history of the incident in the south) for maximum potency. The drug trip montage is magnificent as well.
total archiveable films: 7
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Midnight Cowboy)
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Midnight Cowboy)
most overrated: Nothing. Schlesinger only has one film in the TSPDT consensus top 1000 and it is Midnight Cowboy currently sitting at #316. I have it at #190 so nothing for this category here.
most underrated: Ultimately I’ll go with Far From the Madding Crowd but if you look at the top 1001-2000 on the TSPDT page there isn’t a mention of Marathon Man, Darling, The Day of the Locust or Madding Crowd. I’d have all of them at least in my top 2000.
gem I want to spotlight : The Day of the Locust. It still has sort of mixed reviews to this day but it is gloriously shot by the great Conrad Hall and Schlesinger’s montage mash-up of the climatic riot is dazzling.
stylistic innovations/traits: From the LSD-infused party in Midnight Cowboy to the riot in Day of the Locust to the French New Wave inspired extremely low ASL (average shot length) in Darling– Schlesinger is an outstanding editor. He’d use the telephoto lens to great effect to capture Voight’s Joe Buck walking in place in New York City, the photography in Madding Crowd is extraordinary as is the devastating shot of Hoffman’s Ratso Rizzo off the mirror at the end of Midnight Cowboy. You can’t talk Marathon Man without the impact of the Steadicam on tracking shots (shown here in the running and chase sequences)—it and Hal Ashby’s Bound For Glory are the first two to use the Steadicam. Bound For Glory was shot first, Marathon Man released first.
- Midnight Cowboy
- Far From the Madding Crowd
- Marathon Man
- The Day of the Locust
- Sunday Bloody Sunday
- The Falcon and the Snowman
By year and grades
|1967- Far From the Madding Crowd||HR|
|1969- Midnight Cowboy||MP|
|1971- Sunday, Bloody Sunday||R|
|1975- The Day of the Locust||R|
|1976- Marathon Man||R|
|1985- The Falcon and the Snowman||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives