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10 Films to Watch if You Like: Licorice Pizza

All mentioned films in article

It's not often that a film contains two standout performances by debutants. But it's not just the acting of Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman that makes Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza such a treat.

Hollywood has been making coming-of-age movies for almost a century. The screen's first troubled teenager was played by Mickey Rooney and Cinema Paradiso users can enjoy his antics in George B. Seitz's Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and Willis Goldbeck's Love Laughs At Andy Hardy (1946).

These are just two of the 16 features that made up the Andy Hardy series and it's a huge shame the others aren't available on DVD. They were produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which just happens to be the studio behind Licorice Pizza. Indeed, Paul Thomas Anderson's ninth outing as a director became the first Best Picture nominee to have been fully produced, marketed and distributed by MGM since Barry Levinson's Rain Man (1988) took the prize, along with the awards for Best Director, Actor and Original Screenplay.

The film's other Rooney connection is less laudable, however. In 1961, the actor was heavily criticised for his grotesquely caricatured turn as Mr Yunioshi in Blake Edwards's Breakfast At Tiffany's. As we shall see, Licorice Pizza ran into a similar controversy, six decades later, as an ill-judged Japanese joke fell resoundingly flat.

A still from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) With Audrey Hepburn
A still from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) With Audrey Hepburn

There's No Place Like Home

Five of Paul Thomas Anderson's nine features have been set in California's San Fernando Valley. As the son of famed ABC announcer, Ernie Anderson, he had been raised there, following his birth in Studio City, Los Angeles on 26 June 1970. In addition to three brothers from his father's first marriage, Anderson also lived with his three younger sisters. However, he didn't always get along with his mother, Edwina, although his father encouraged him to start making films at the age of eight.

Indeed, Eddie (who also introduced horror movies on TV under the name 'Ghoulardi') bought his son a Betamax video camera in 1982 and encouraged him to experiment with 8mm and 16mm celluloid formats. Using the money earned by cleaning pet cages, Anderson made his first short, The Dirk Diggler Story, in 1988. His father also allowed Anderson to drop out of college and use his savings fund to make Cigarettes & Coffee (1993), which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

While working as a production assistant on various films, music videos and TV shows, Anderson was offered the money to make his feature bow, Hard Eight (1996), which marked the first of his five collaborations with Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose son, Cooper, grew up on Anderson's film sets. Following a successful launch at Cannes, the story of a gambler (Philip Baker Hall) who befriends a homeless man (John C. Reilly) afforded Anderson the freedom to make Boogie Nights (1997).

Like its predecessor, the rise and fall of porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) was expanded from one of Anderson's aforementioned shorts. Inspired by the career of John Holmes, the action was set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s and earned the newly founded Ghoulardi Film Company three Oscar nominations, including Best Original Screenplay for Anderson.

A still from Boogie Nights (1997) With John C. Reilly And Mark Wahlberg
A still from Boogie Nights (1997) With John C. Reilly And Mark Wahlberg

A second citation came for Magnolia (1999), another San Fernando excursion that follows the contrasting fortunes of those involved with the game show, What Do Kids Know? The ensemble drama - which he dubbed 'for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make' - also landed Anderson a Best Director nomination, as well as the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

Scaling down his ambitions, Anderson focussed in Punch-Drunk Love (2002) on the relationship between small-time businessman Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) and Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), a friend of his domineering sister, Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub). His efforts brought the Best Director prize at Cannes and he followed this with three nominations at the Academy Award for There Will Be Blood (2007), a loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair's Oil! that happened to be pipped in all three categories by Joen and Ethan Coen's No Country For Old Men.

For his portrayal of silver miner Daniel Plainview, Daniel Day-Lewis did win the Oscar for Best Actor, however, and Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams were all nominated for their contributions to The Master (2012). The story of how WWII veteran Freddie Quell (Phoenix) falls under the spell of Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), the leader of the religious movement known as 'The Cause', was inspired by sources as different as the lives of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, novelist John Steinbeck and actor Jason Robards, as well as scenes discarded from an early draft of There Will Be Blood and Thomas Pynchon's novel, V.

Pynchon had previously refused to allow any of his books to be filmed, but he relented when Anderson approached him about adapting Inherent Vice (2014). Reuniting the director with Joaquin Phoenix, this brooding neo-noir follows the investigation into the disappearance of an old flame by stoner shamus, Larry 'Doc' Sportello. Nominated at the Oscars for its screenplay and 1970s costumes, the film was scored by guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Anderson hooked up with him again for the Radiohead album documentary, Junun (2015).

Moving from Rajasthan to 1950s London, Anderson reteamed with Daniel Day-Lewis, for what the actor claimed would be his final feature, Phantom Thread (2017). He was nominated for his performance as fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, while Anderson was recognised for Best Director. But there were dissenting voices among the enthusing critics, with some comparing it unfavourably to

A still from Svengali (1954)
A still from Svengali (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) and Vertigo (1958). The former (which has also been examined in Cinema Paradiso's What to Watch Next series) was written by Daphne Du Maurier, whose grandfather had written another story in which an older man seeks to transform a gauche young woman into his ideal. George Du Maurier's 1894 novel, Trilby, was filmed in 1954 by Noel Langley as Svengali.

Stumblin' In

While strolling past a Los Angeles middle school back in 2001, Paul Thomas Anderson noticed a teenage student badgering a female photographer. The image stuck and he started to wonder what would happen if the youth and the woman became friends - and, perhaps, more.

He also began recalling some of the stories he had heard from Gary Goetzman, a pal who had helped Tom Hanks set up his Playtone production company. As a child actor, Goetzman had been cast alongside Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda in Melville Shavelson's Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) - which was remade by Raja Gosnell in 2005 - and had been forced to hire a burlesque dancer to accompany him on a promotional trip to New York because his parents were unable to take him.

As Ball was married to stand-up comedian Gary Morton, Goetzman used to think she was nagging him when she yelled out 'Gary!' However, there's no record that Goetzman beaned Ball with a pillow during a routine on The Ed Sullivan Show, as is the case in Anderson's film, in which Lucy Doolittle is played by Christine Ebersole. And speaking of familiar small-screen faces, keep an eye out for an uncredited John C. Reilly as Herman from the hit series, The Munsters (1964-65), which is available to rent from Cinema Paradiso, as is I Love Lucy (2016).

Goetzman was something of a budding entrepreneur and opened both a waterbed shop and a pinball arcade, as Gary Valentine does in the story. Among those to purchase a waterbed was Jon Peters, the former hairdresser who had become a film producer after he started dating Barbra Streisand. Nothing untoward happened when the bed was delivered in real life, with Goetzman declaring Peters to be 'the greatest guy in the world'. But, knowing that Peters had 'a reputation for a lot of bravado and aggro energy', Anderson felt the incident had irresistible comic potential and he sought permission from Peters to have Bradley Cooper portray a 'monster version'. Surprisingly, he consented on the proviso that Anderson used his favourite chat-up line: 'You like peanut butter sandwiches?'

Peters would go on to produce such Streisand pictures as A Star Is Born (1976) and The Main Event (1979), as well as box-office hits like The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Batman (1989), Ali (2006) and Superman Returns (2006). Ironically, he was also involved in the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born, which starred and was directed by none other than Bradley Cooper!

A still from A Star Is Born (2018)
A still from A Star Is Born (2018)

Goetzman would also become a successful producer. In addition to teaming as executive producer with director Jonathan Demme on The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Philadelphia (1993), he has also produced such Tom Hanks projects as That Thing You Do! (1996), Band of Brothers (2001), The Polar Express (2004), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Larry Crowne (2011) and A Hologram For the King (2016), as well as My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) and Mamma Mia! (2008) and their 2016 and 2018 sequels.

It's been said that the Peters episode would not have been out of place in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood (2019), which has also been covered by Cinema Paradiso in What to Watch Next. The encounter between Alana Kane and Jack Holden (Sean Penn) might also have made the Tarantino cut, as the hard-drinking actor is based on William Holden, who had illuminated classics like Rouben Mamoulian's Golden Boy (1939) and the Billy Wilder trio of Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 19 (1953; for which he won an Oscar) and Sabrina (1954) before pairing with Grace Kelly in Mark Robson's The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954), which is renamed The Bridges At Toko-San in Anderson's screenplay.

Tom Waits's character, Rex Blau, is modelled on Robson, whose 45-year career had started in the RKO cutting room alongside Robert Wise on Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He had cut his directorial teeth on the Val Lewton horrors, The Seventh Victim (1943), Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946) before following such esteemed noirs as Champion (1949) and The Harder They Fall (1956) with the classic soap, Peyton Place (1957), for which he received an Oscar nomination. A second came for The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) before he moved on to such diverse projects as Von Ryan's Express (1965), Valley of the Dolls (1967) and Earthquake (1974). As is the case with Holden, there are plenty of other Robson titles to discover on Cinema Paradiso. Just type their names into the searchline and start ordering.

A still from Von Ryan's Express (1965)
A still from Von Ryan's Express (1965)

Among the other historical characters to crop up in Licorice Pizza are Mary Grady (Harriet Sansom Harris), a talent agent whose clients included Nick Nolte, Penny Marshall and Paul Walker; politician Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie), who spent 30 years on Los Angeles Council after losing the 1973 mayoral election (shown in the film) and who only came out as gay in 1999; and Jerry Frick (John Michael Higgins), the owner of a Japanese restaurant whose appearance, as we shall see below, embroiled the picture in an utterly avoidable racist controversy.

Although we don't get to see any of the stores, the film's title came from the record shop chain founded in Long Beach, California by James Greenwood in 1969. He recalls that the name 'Licorice Pizza' came from a 1960 live album by the folk duo, Bud & Travis, although Bob Hope reportedly gagged about his LP selling well in Naples 'because the inhabitants there think it's a licorice pizza'. Anderson has gone on record (ahem) as saying, 'If there's two words that make me kind of have a Pavlovian response and memory of being a child and running around, it's "licorice" and "pizza".' As he continued, 'It instantly takes me back to that time,' with the words seeming 'like a catch-all for the feeling of the film...that go well together and maybe capture a mood.'

In fact, Anderson was only a tot back in 1973, but he has included such significant events as the Fuel Crisis that started in October and hit countries that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. We catch sight of President Richard Nixon on a television screen, but there's no overt mention of the Vietnam War that would rumble on for another two years. Similarly, we hear nothing about the early revelations about Nixon's connection with the Watergate break-in that would eventually drive him from office in August 1974.

Consequently, Licorice Pizza is, as Rolling Stone magazine put it, everything 'from affectionate ode to American can-do hucksterism to the sort of ramblin', amblin' hang-out movie that you wish you could lounge about in for days'. Life in Encino certainly does seem idyllic, as though the Swinging Sixties had so gotten into their groove that they had lingered for an extra couple of years to luxuriate in them. But the paranoia and disillusion hinted at byAlan J. Pakula's Klute (1971) was about to be unleashed in Pakula's The Parallax View (1974), All the President's Men (1976) and Sydney Pollack's Three Days of the Condor (1975). And neither the United States nor American cinema would ever be the same again.

A still from The Parallax View (1974)
A still from The Parallax View (1974)

Softly Whispering I Love You

Some time in 1973, at a high school in the San Fernando Valley, 15 year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) strikes up a conversation with Alana Kane (Alana Haim), a 28 year-old who is assisting the photographer taking yearbook snaps. Aware of the age gap, Alana tries to let Gary down gently. But, as he's a child actor of some renown, he has confidence to spare and not only persuades Alana to go for dinner, but also coaxes her into being his chaperone for a trip to New York to promote Under One Roof, his new film with comedy legend, Lucy Doolittle (Christine Ebersole).

Unfortunately for Gary, Alana falls for his older co-star, Lance Brannigan (Skyler Gisondo). However, when she introduces him to her family, Lance makes a bad impression by claiming to have renounced Judaism to become an atheist. This lands Alana back in Gary's orbit, just as he opens a waterbed business.

Despite being shaken having been mistakenly arrested as a murder subject, Gary gets Alana an appointment with his agent, Mary Grady (Harriet Sansom Harris), who compares her to a pitbull. This leads to an audition with ageing actor Jack Holden (Sean Penn), who sweeps Alana off to the Tail o' the Cock restaurant, where he talks her into riding on the back of a motorcycle for a recreation of a stunt he did with Grace Kelly in a film directed by Rex Blau (Tom Waits).

Alana agrees to drive the truck when Gary delivers a waterbed to the home of Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper). Irritated by his cockiness, they leave the hose running in the bedroom. But their getaway is complicated by Peters flagging them down for a lift because his car has run out of petrol during the ongoing fuel crisis.

Feeling the need to show more maturity, Alana joins the campaign team of mayoral candidate Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie). She is dismayed when Gary opens a pinball parlour after hearing a rumour that the California Supreme Court is about to repeal a ban that had stood since 1939. But their fallout doesn't last long.

Let Me Roll It

On deciding to make a variation on the screwball comedy format, Anderson had no doubt about his female lead. 'I've seen Alana's ferociousness,' he said told one outlet. 'She may look like a Jewish girl from the Valley, but she's sort of a '30s throwback, fast-talking, very funny, very sharp. You do not want to challenge her in a fight with words, because she will win.'

He had got to know Alana while directing videos for Haim, the band in which she plays with sisters Este and Danielle. Moreover, he had discovered that their mother, Donna, had been his beloved art teacher when he was eight. When it came to casting the Kane family, therefore, Anderson had no hesitation in asking the Haims, along with their father, Mordechai, who genuinely made Skyler Gisondo nervous while filming the Friday dinner scene.

By a curious coincidence, Alana had once babysat Cooper Hoffman. But Anderson had known him for his entire life, as he had made five films with his father, Philip Seymour Hoffman, before his tragically early death at the age of 46 in 2014. What's more, Cooper had regularly played the baddie in the homemade movies that Anderson had shot with his four children with actress Maya Rudolph, who cameos as a casting assistant at Gary's commercial audition.

A number of family friends were also given roles, including Steven Spielberg's daughters, Destry Allyn and Sasha. The biggest coup, however, was Leonardo DiCaprio's father, George, as he had actually owned a waterbed company in the 1970s called Foggy Bottom, as a sideline to publishing underground comix like Forbidden Knowledge. Indeed, the film's working title had been Soggy Bottom!

In preparing for the shoot, Anderson studied George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973) and Amy Heckerling's Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982). As he had acquired some lenses that had once belonged to cinematographer Gordon Willis, he also looked at Woody Allen's monochrome masterpiece, Manhattan (1979), to see how the walk-and-talk sequences had been filmed.

A still from American Graffiti (1973) With Charles Martin Smith, Ron Howard And Cindy Williams
A still from American Graffiti (1973) With Charles Martin Smith, Ron Howard And Cindy Williams

A coming-of-age story set in 1962, Lucas's picture also persuaded Anderson to go for a jukebox soundtrack, with tunes by the likes of Paul McCartney and Wings, Donovan, Sonny & Cher, Chuck Berry, David Bowie and Nina Simone. The tracks all dated from 1973, with the exception of Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro's 'Stumblin' On', which was released five years later.

Principal photography began in Encino during the Covid lockdown in August 2020. Having worked as gaffer and lighting cameraman on Anderson's three previous features, Michael Bauman was promoted to co-cinematographer with the director. They used 35mm stock and period lenses to give the footage a 70s feel. Rather than using video playback, Anderson also held daily viewings of the rushes, as had been the norm on film sets at the time.

Much of the shooting was done on location, with production designer Florencia Martin having to give 10 shopfronts 'de-modernising' makeovers to create a 1973 vibe. A Tudor Revival manor that had once belonged to Lyle Waggoner - who had played Steve Trevor opposite Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975-79) - was used for Jon Peters's residence, while the Tail o' the Cock (which had once been frequented by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) was recreated at the Van Nuys Golf Course, as the original had been demolished in 1987.

Still standing, however, was the El Portal, a vaudeville theatre-turned-moviehouse that now operates as a performing arts centre, after having been damaged in a 1994 earthquake. The marquee was buffed up to advertise a double bill of Guy Hamilton's 007 adventure, Live and Let Die (1973), and Michael Winner's Charles Bronson vehicle, The Mechanic (which features in Cinema Paradiso's Top 10 Films of 1972 article). The Hollywood Palladium concert hall on Sunset Boulevard was also pressed into service as the venue for the Teen-Age Fair. Anderson employed a little poetic licence here, as the event had closed its doors after a decade in 1972. However, it gave him an excuse for wheeling out the Batmobile used by Adam West and Burt Ward in the wonderful Batman TV series (1966-68).

Haim also had to do a little stunt driving and spent two months learning how to reverse a heavy truck for the scene in which Alana has to steer the delivery lorry down the hill from Jon Peters's house after it had run out of fuel. As this was one of the first scenes to be filmed, Haim was trying to focus on the road and cope with Bradley Cooper's ad-libbing. Consequently, she blurted out her own age (28), when Alana was actually supposed to be 25, so that she wasn't perceived to be too much older than Gary.

Although originally scheduled for 58 days, the shoot ran over by around a week. While Anderson started editing with Andy Jurgensen, Bauman went off to design the lighting for Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021), which helped cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel land Oscar and BAFTA nominations.

A still from James Bond: Live and Let Die (1973) With Gloria Hendry
A still from James Bond: Live and Let Die (1973) With Gloria Hendry

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

The reviews were almost universally positive before Licorice Pizza went on general release in November 2021. Given the decline in box-office takings since the pandemic had struck, its current global gross of $32.4 million is respectable enough. However, as its budget was rumoured to be around $40 million, it remains in the red.

In addition to the positive notices, the film also performed creditably during award season, converting 39 of its 126 nominations. Anderson scooped three Oscar citations for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay, as well as being named Best Director by the National Board of Review and taking BAFTA's screenplay award. First-timers Haim and Hoffman deservedly received Golden Globe nominations, while Bradley Cooper landed a Best Supporting Actor nod from the Screen Actors Guild.

But there were rumblings of discontent. Some felt uncomfortable about the 13-year age difference between Alana and Gary. However, Anderson was quick to insist that everything was above board. 'It's only romantic in their flirtations,' he told one interviewer, 'it's not romantic in any consummation of things. That would be inappropriate. You can tell there's an incredible attraction between them, but there's a line that can't be crossed.'

'It would surprise me if there was some kind of kerfuffle about it,' he continued, 'because there's not that much there. That's not the story that we made, in any kind of way.' He went on to protest, 'There isn't a provocative bone in this film's body.' But not everyone agreed.

Anderson reckons that the story serves as a warning to Alana and Gary about 'what it's like to become an adult and face real problems and dangers'. Yet, they often exhibit more maturity and integrity than their elders. As Anderson notes, 'A lot of the adults are terrible people - there's a womaniser, a crazy coked out actor, a racist.' He dubbed these encounters 'fun and games'. But few saw the funny side of a joke at the expense of two Japanese characters.

As we've already seen, Jerry Frick opened a restaurant in 1958 and re-named it The Mikado in 1964 to reflect its menu. He was also married to women named Yoko and Hiroko. In the film, Frick (John Michael Higgins) hires Gary and his publicist mother, Anita (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), to boost the eaterie's profile. During the first meeting, he suddenly turns to his wife, Mioko (Yumi Mizui), and speaks English to her in a loud and wildly exaggerated parodic Japanese accent.

He does the same when the pair meet second wife, Kimiko (Megumi Anjo), whom they can't distinguish from Mioko. When the Valentines ask what he's doing, Frick reveals that he doesn't speak Japanese, while Kimiko doesn't understand English.

Frick is supposed to be the butt of the joke, as the first man to bring Japanese cuisine to the Valley and who has twice married Japanese women is too insular and arrogant to bother learning the language. However, the rebound is that Mioko and Kimiko have been hitched to a buffoonish bigot without being able to communicate with him.

In a piece on the controversy, the Hollywood Reporter wrote: 'Jerry's accent is identical to the syntax and tone used to mock and demean Japanese, Chinese and other Asian people across the US for the past two centuries. The accent is undeniably grotesque, and its mere presence in a film that takes a rose-coloured view of the old days is triggering for some viewers.'

Anderson has defended the scenes for being 'honest to that time'. He also explained that he had seen people speak in such a manner to Maya Rudolph's stepmother, the retired Japanese jazz singer, Kimiko Kasai. Nevertheless, the sequences leave a bad taste because, as the Reporter concludes, they demonstrate 'a disinterest in exploring the interiority of those characters themselves as well as a blindness to the real-world context of the audience receiving their stories.'

The film works wonderfully well without these scenes, but Cinema Paradiso users will have to exercise their own judgement when viewing Licorice Pizza with their families in order to 'E-lim-i-nate the negative', as the second line goes in the Bing Crosby duet with The Andrews Sisters that is included on the soundtrack. Or, you could always rent Mark Sandrich's Here Come the Waves (1944), in which Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's Oscar-nominated ditty had first appeared.

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  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

    1h 39min

    The shadow of Vietnam hangs over Licorice Pizza, but it's this Korean War saga that gets an à clef namecheck in Paul Thomas Anderson's comedy. Jack Holden confuses Alana with Grace Kelly because she had played William Holden's wife in Mark Robson's adaptation of a James Michener novel about an attorney who resumes his career as a naval pilot.

    Director:
    Mark Robson
    Cast:
    William Holden, Grace Kelly, Fredric March
    Genre:
    Drama
    Formats:
  • The Graduate (1967)

    Play trailer
    1h 41min

    With its exceptional Simon & Garfunkel songtrack, Mike Nichols's audacious social satire helped deal a fatal blow to the Production Code and usher in the New Hollywood era. Mrs Robinson's pursuit of Benjamin Braddock introduced sex to the coming-of-age formula, although the gap between Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman was actually only six years.

  • Harold and Maude (1971)

    Play trailer
    1h 28min

    Once again, the older woman takes the initiative in Hal Ashby's droll May-December comedy. But the macabre adventures of funeral enthusiasts Maude Chardin (79) and Harold Chasen (19) chime in with Licorice Pizza's freewheeling spirit. Ruth Gordon excels as the life-loving Holocaust survivor who strives to teach Bud Cort's moribund teen the importance of making each day count.

    Director:
    Hal Ashby
    Cast:
    Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles
    Genre:
    Comedy, Classics, Romance
    Formats:
  • A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972) aka: Une belle fille comme moi

    Play trailer
    1h 34min

    One critic claimed Licorice Pizza felt like a Will Ferrell comedy directed by Robert Bresson. But François Truffaut would perhaps be more apt, as evidenced by this adaptation of a novel by Henry Farrell. Class provides the dividing line between sociologist André Dussollier and prisoner Bernadette Lafont, whom he met while writing a thesis on women and crime.

  • Tommy (1975)

    Play trailer
    1h 47min

    As they were banned in California from 1939 for being a form of gambling, pinball machines rarely featured in Hollywood movies. There were no such problems in Britain, however. Hence, The Who's Pete Townsend making the hero of his rock opera a 'pinball wizard'. Roger Daltrey pounds the table to the sounds of Elton John in Ken Russell's star-studded musical.

  • Tampopo (1985) aka: Dandelion

    Play trailer
    1h 54min

    Billed as the first 'Ramen Western', Juzo Itami's sublime chronicle of the transformation of a rundown noodle shop is irresistibly moreish. Truckers Tsutomu Yamazaki and Ken Watanabe help widowed owner Nobuko Miyamoto create the perfect noodle soup in a delicacy that would make a delicious double bill with Naomi Kawase's Sweet Bean (2015).

  • The Ice Storm (1997)

    1h 48min

    Elsewhere in 1973, Connecticut teenager Adam Hann-Byrd is about to go on a Thanksgiving journey of discovery in Ang Lee's garlanded adaptation of Rick Moody's study of suburban sexual politics. But, while Hann-Byrd and neighbour Christina Ricci indulge in some harmless experimentation while their parents attend a wife-swapping party, tragedy lurks around the corner.

    Director:
    Ang Lee
    Cast:
    Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver
    Genre:
    Drama
    Formats:
  • Ratcatcher (1999)

    Play trailer
    1h 34min

    Glasgow in 1973 provides the setting for Lynne Ramsay's poignant debut. Rooted in the social realist tradition, this is a very different sort of rite of passage, as 12 year-old William Eadie has to cope with the canal death of his best friend and the prospect of moving to a new housing estate on the outskirts of the city.

    Director:
    Lynne Ramsay
    Cast:
    Tommy Flanagan, Mandy Matthews, William Eadie
    Genre:
    Drama
    Formats:
  • Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

    Play trailer
    1h 31min

    Philip Seymour Hoffman sells mattresses in Paul Thomas Anderson's offbeat romcom. Moreover, he records one of the great commercials when he jumps from the roof of the store. Adam Sandler and Emily Watson play the seemingly mismatched couple who make sense of a jumbled world, with its novelty toilet plungers, menacing siblings and air miles.

  • The Lovely Bones (2009)

    Play trailer
    2h 10min

    Also set in 1973, Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's admired novel drew mixed reviews. But its stock has since risen, thanks to the performances of Saoirse Ronan, as the 14 year-old aspiring photographer, who finds herself trapped in the 'In-Between' from which she can observe life after she is murdered by neighbour Stanley Tucci (who earned an Oscar nomination).