I've been watching a lot of Seventies fare lately, and have discovered some real gems and the occasional dud ("The Seven-Ups," a limp attempt to carry on the "French Connection" franchise with a tragically wasted Roy Scheider, comes to mind).
I'll start off the "gems" discussion with "Straight Time," a 1978 film starring Dustin Hoffman as an ex-con named Max Dembo who has some muddled good intentions of going straight after being released from prison. But he's a lifelong criminal, and he knows no other way, and the movie perfectly captures the slow slide into his inevitable regression (aided in large part by a slightly sadistic parole officer played by the great M. Emmet Walsh). It's just a great moody but never stilted character study of a career criminal, with plenty of action and a first-rate supporting cast (a VERY young Theresa Russell as Dembo's girlfriend and Harry Dean Stanton as his holdup partner). And I love the film score by David Shire, who did really memorable work on the original "The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three.") All that, and great use of Los Angeles and surrounding environs as supporting characters themselves.
Why "Straight Time" failed at the box office, and faded from memory, is a real mystery to me. Hoffman was huger than huge at the time, coming off the hits "All The President's Men" and "Marathon Man," and heading into another smash in "Kramer Vs. Kramer.") All I can think is that a) the studio didn't have faith in it and thus didn't promote or distribute it with much enthusiasm; or b) audiences at the time had different expectations of Hoffman. What those would be, I can't imagine, given their willingness to accept his character in "Papillon." Go figure.
Any thoughts about "Straight Time"? And what would you add to the list?