Nicholson, Beatty, Lucas… Superstar Lineup for AFI 40th

By at September 15, 2007 | 6:15 pm | Print

American Film Institute LogoHoly moly. There’s gonna be some serious security at the ArcLight Hollywood theater October 3. That night, the American Film Institute celebrates its 40th anniversary with 11 films and an unbelievable lineup of presenters. Really unbelievable. Really.

Ready? Here are the actors and filmmakers, and the films they’ll introduce:

Kirk Douglas, Spartacus (1960)
Tippi Hedren, The Birds (1963)
Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music (1965)
Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976)
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky (1976)
George Lucas, Star Wars (1977)
Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Angela Lansbury, Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992)
Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

QUESTION: Which film has meant the most to American cinema? TELL US

All movies start at 7pm. If you’re in LA, tickets go on sale Wednesday the 19th. Pick one, pay $25 and show up. Hey, your ticket even includes popcorn and a soda.

We can argue about each movie’s relevance in the past 40 years but most, if not all, are legitimate. I’d rather look at the presenters — an interesting collection. Here’s my order of importance / influence for 1967-2007.

1. Clint Eastwood :: He’s directed westerns. Crime dramas. Biopics. All with an unmistakable dignity. He’s a filmmaker of near limitless talent and diversity, whose acted in the occasional dud so he could make the movies closest to his heart.

2. Jack Nicholson :: From Easy Rider to Something’s Gotta Give, he’s  skillfully inhabited some of the most beloved roles in American film. Even when he’s just playing a version of “Jack”. Or so we think.

3. George Lucas :: Genius mind turned inept filmmaker? Can he return to his inventive, artistic roots? We’ll see. For now, let’s just say he helped redefine moviegoing, marketing, rights ownership and distribution. No small feat.

4.  Kirk Douglas :: Like Jack, he’s an acting icon, but with more stretch. Incredible screen charisma. Funny that he fought like hell to play Nicholson’s role in Cuckoo’s Nest. Maybe he’ll crash that screening.

5. Warren Beatty :: One of the pioneers of independent, thoughtful American cinema, from Bonnie and Clyde to Shampoo to Reds.

6. Morgan Freeman :: He’s become sort of an elder statesman — what Harrison Ford could be if he didn’t take on so many crappy films. Great choices, wonderful presence. He’s come a long way since The Electric Company.

7. Sylvester Stallone :: His ending for Rocky is an American classic. Hell, his life story is an American classic. But I keep thinking he caught lightning in a bottle and rode it far longer than most ever could.

8. Julie Andrews :: She is the lovely heart of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, two classics. And The Princess Diaries stuff is an appropriate way for her to stay on the big screen.

9. Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal :: Hard-working guys with really uneven work. But Reiner is responsible for some super early-’90s crowd-pleasers: Misery, A Few Good Men and The American President.

10. Angela Lansbury :: She’ll be best known for Murder, She Wrote, no? Let’s just think of her evil performance in the original The Manchurian Candidate.

11. Tippi Hedren :: Hitchcock was obsessed with her. That’s kinda cool. 

Digg This Story

Comedies Independent Film Science Fiction , , ,


  1. Ray, 10 years ago Reply

    Great story, Norm! Gotta Digg this one.

    To answer your question, I think it’s fairly obvious that Star Wars has meant the most to American cinema out of the films listed. It had the farthest reaching effects, good or bad, of any of the films.

    And to also answer your question about Lucas – No, he doesn’t have it in him. He apparently intends to lazily milk the Star Wars franchise until he’s dead, thereby ensuring his three fat adopted kids will have plenty of money for food.

  2. Norm Schrager, 10 years ago Reply

    - Ray –

    Thanks Ray, I always appreciate the digg!

    I think you’re right on when you say “good or bad” regarding Star Wars’ far-reaching effects. Mostly good, for sure. And as I was thinking about Star Wars, I was missing Steven Spielberg at this event, wondering if Star Wars would’ve had that immediate springboard if not for Jaws.

    -Norm S.

Leave a Reply