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Time Magazine Xmas Movie Issue, 1971 : Straw Dogs, Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry


Once upon a time in America, Time Magazine and Newsweek Magazine were big deals. Time had perhaps the bigger, more historic reputation, but the two magazines rather competed with each other to be "the weekly that Americans read." They were on the newsstands every week but also delivered to homes.

In the home I lived in, we got both Time and Newsweek , every week. And as a young teenage movie fan, I zipped right on over to the "Movies" section (or "Cinema" as Time called it), post haste.

Indeed, sometimes Time or Newsweek would run a cover story on a big new movie. Time did Jaws. Newsweek did Superman. The Time cover story on Star Wars got reduced on the cover to a small insert because of some Middle East development.

December issues of Time and Newsweek were "where the movie action was," every year. Because back then, summer was NOT where most of the blockbusters were. The blockbusters(whether or not Oscar bait) were all piled up in December and the emphasis on was "the Christmas movie season."

We still have a Christmas movie season today(or we will some year after COVID-19), but I can tell you -- first hand -- that it was a DIFFERENT Christmas back in 1971.

I recall a Time issue that trumpeted the "Big News of 1971": Sam Peckinpah had a new movie out and Stanley Kubrick had a new movie out. Kubrick definitely(going back at least to Dr. Strangelove) and Peckinpah recently(going back to The Wild Bunch) were "auteur directors of the top rank," and this was a big deal -- Sam and Stan releasing something this Xmas. (In Kubrick's case, A Clockwork Orange was his first film since 2001.)

And so, Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange got photo spreads and good reviews and were positioned "to be talked about."

But here's the funny thing(of course): In 1971, the "big Xmas movies" were...about rape, nudity, and bloody violence?

Yep. It was 1971.

Dirty Harry also came out at Xmas. I don't recall Harry getting a photo spread in Time and Newsweek, but he got a good review in Time(critic Jay Cocks liked Hitchcock and director Don Siegel) and in one issue about "screen violence," Time(or Newsweek) put a photo in the layout of the smashed up, bloody face of Andrew Robinson as Scorpio(its after he has paid a black thug to beat him up on purpose, to frame Harry.)

"Holiday fun for the entire family." And for me, a heartwarming memory of the "Christmas movies" issues of 1971,,,

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Reminds me of the tagline on the poster for Bram Stoker's Dracula (released December, 1992): '"Tis the Season to Beware"

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