MovieChat Forums > Lipstick (1976) Discussion > Are today's movies too conservative?

Are today's movies too conservative?

There seems to be a certain type of film that is made for the cinema:

high action , special effects like Cliffhanger; Lord of the Rings, K2, Terminator; or

teen feel good films for adolescents like Clueless; Bring It On; or

The family film for Mum, Dad & the under 12 children; or

Films just because they have bankable big name stars; or

Franchise films either remakes of past TV series, or various of past-like the Bond films.

Made for TV films of 1990's and today-with strong female leads

But films from the 70's like Dirty Harry series; Lipstick, Badham County; that are psychological thrillers and involve family,small town, and close friend, relationships , only appear on midday TV as Made for TV movies.

These often feature a strong Mom in 40-50's, dealing with her adolescent kids and dangers within a small-town community. Angela Light and Kate Jackson are two actors I think of who have played these roles.

These films have to rely of greater character development and better plots, and so are better films as the viewer can identify with one or more of the characters as it in a real-life family situation of conflict etc, not 90 minutes of escapism.

Lipstick is a good film and stood the test of time because it is so dramatic. There was a decided lack of violence and no police swarming in numbers. Does every police car have to have to be driven like an Indy car?

Hemingway sisters v Olsen twins v Paris & Nicole-respective roles

The Hemingway sisters are brilliant as well as beautiful, contrast the meaty roles that they play with the saccharin , sugary films that similarly aged, but equally beautiful 'sisters' like the Olsen twins & Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchies.

Those films/TV programs have no substance, but Lipstick & other films that were made in mid 70's early 80's like Personal Best , Star 80, Hardcore, are more dramatic & therefore more interesting.

So Made for TV films are usually the best films to see if you want really interesting and dramatic psychological and family drama.

What do you think? Made for TV or mainstream Hollywood movies at the cinema?


I agree, and I think that they don't give Lipstick the credit it deserves. For example, people have said that it was a bad movie because of what it was about and they have to understand that it was the actors just doing their job which was acting. Personally, I think the Hemingway sisters and Chris Sarandon did an excellent performance of the characters they've portrayed because everything looked so realistic. You see, whenever an actor can make their role in a scene look real, that shows that they are good actors, so what I am saying to all of these people who thought that this was such a bad movie, it's not just about what was shown in the movie, it is about the talent of the actors that count and they should give them a break about starring in the movie. Speaking of these movies of today, ohhhh boy! These people are going as far as making movies out of old TV shows as if they are running out of ideas or something. It's ridiculous! The best movie that I've recently seen was Ray with Jamie Foxx and that's about it.


While I agree that many of today's films do not take the risks that were common to films in the 70s, it should be remembered that Lipstick was NOT made for television, but was a regular film release.

I saw it in Marina del Rey soon after release, in the summer of 1976, and was quite moved by the film and by what the sisters went through. Having seen it on cable recently, it has stood the test of time quite well, unlike many other films of the period. Both Margaux and Mariel Hemingway did excellent jobs with the roles they were given, and Chris Sarandon was good enough as the heavy that it took me some time to even want to see him in another film.


There are movies that deal with subjects like "Lipstick" did, they may not be frequent but some are released.
Movies such as;

The Accused
Boys Don't Cry
Leaving Las Vegas

I appreciated Lipstick, when I saw it in the 70's, I found the movie a little unsettling, just as I react to most movies dealing with that type of subject matter.


I think the original poster makes some good points about the state of movies today. A major problem, in my opinion, is that movies are generally not made for adults anymore, but teenagers and preteens who consume the products marketed by many of the films. Can anyone imagine someone like Woody Allen, Robert Altman or Martin Scorsese having much of a career outside the art houses today? It's now all about opening weekend, and getting as many youngsters as possible to the theater on a Friday night.

To the above list, I would add "Requiem for a Dream" as an example of an excellent recent film that shakes societal conventions.


>Are today's movies too conservative?<

Uh, no. Are you an idiot?


Noway! todays movies are not too conservative.


Way to dodge the question.



Yes they are. Gratuitous sex, but rarely do movies (US-made, at least) trawl into really serious social issues like Lipstick did in its time. It should be noted that movies touching these subjects tend to be non-US made these days, like Irreversible.

There was even an article a few years back about how there are no NC-17 movies made these days.

Sure, you might say "geeze, look! Spring Break! Lots of sex & violence! That isn't conservative!" but those movies are basically sexploitation movies. Sex just for sex's sake. Would a movie depicting something like the Steubenville rapists be made today? That's basically the same situation shown in Lipstick: whole community thinks "she wanted it" or "she deserved it" and it wasn't until the stupid rapists started sharing video evidence of the rape that the case turned against them. And even THEN, a lot of people (especially in that town) still thought they were innocent.

Yet, I doubt anyone will do a movie on that topic. Too shaky to make. Better bring out boobs & sex!


Now, today's movies just plain suck. It's rare these days to find a movie that's not a remake of: a foreign language film, original movie; adaptation of a novel, comic book, tv show, or video game. Oh yeah something that's not a sequel also.

I don't want to sound like an old fart but They don't make them like they used to.

70's and 80's films were original and daring. 90's films also up until that late 90's. 1999 was an interesting year for original films: The Matrix, Fight Club, Blair Witch Project (not great but original)

Somehow after 2000-2001 the movies got really bad. A friend of mine told that because of 9/11 more studios were not willing to make more daring movies because money was tight. Well it has been 6 years so why can't they make more original stuff?

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.




Not only movies, but music and even the actors and singers, themselves. It seems like by the mid-90's originality left the room and all that remained was a bunch of retro, remade, prefab, and unoriginal entertainment.

What a waste. Oh, the humanity!


I'd be hard pressed to say that some of the films coming out today are remotely conservative particularly with the trend in super-gore like Hostel, Saw, I Know Who Killed Me etc.

There are a couple of things to think about, though -- yes, there are waaaaay too many PG-13 films being made, but there are far more films being made in general than there used to be. Higher volume means there'll be more mediocre and crappy films. Nearly anything can get made today so nearly everything does.

For those waxing rhapsodic over the films of the 70's and 80's I'd have you go back and look at all the films you don't think of. It's easy to forget the schlock that came out simply because who wants to remember it for 30 or 40 years? But the 70's were full of crappy films: blaxploitation, sexploitation, ridiculous horror, low-budget westerns and hundreds of martial arts flics. Hell, if the 70's had been full of nothing but good films Quentin Tarrantino would never have had a carreer.

Wringing our hands over the state of cinema today makes us look like a bunch of geezers --- remember your parents wringing theirs over the fact that you wanted to listen to The Doors rather than Benny Goodman? Anybody here old enough to have had parents who protested Elvis?

There are still excellent films being made and they aren't hard to find -- A History of Violence, Syriana, Mystic River, Crash, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Monster's Ball, North Country, The Insider, Moulin Rouge (nobody can say Baz Luhrman isn't originial), The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There's more crap to avoid but there are more movies in general so that means we're also getting more of the good ones as well. Nostalgia is fine until you start trying to pretend that nobody ever farted when you were a child. ;->


I will take the "crap" of the 70's -- sexploitation, blaxploitation etc -- over the "crap" of today anyday! But then again, I'm in my 40's and I grew up with these films.


I also have a soft spot for the crap of the 70's. I had to block my "friend notifier" at Netflix because I was too embarassed for anyone to know what kinds of movies I'd been renting. I could feel my IQ degenerating in their opinions of me every time I watched Barbarian Queen. ;->


This is a "Barbarian Queen" safe space, and far from me to judge, but did you really need to watch that more than once?

I too prefer the crap of the '70s and '80s to the crap of today. Those were my formative years, and they made me what I am today, for better and worse. I also think there are genuine traces of brilliance mixed in with the dreck -- some great music and actors like Pam Grier and Kevin Bacon who went on to bigger and better things.

I'm actually relieved to know I probably won't be around when today's younger generation looks back fondly on cultural icons like Jessica Simpson and Lady Gaga.

Regardless, I don't think "Lipstick" counts as crap -- just very entertaining pulp.


I'm going to plead the 5th on Barbarian Queen --- those who know, know, and those who don't can just move along, nothing to see here! ;->

Yes, there were traces of brilliance even in some of the worst of the lot. That single shot of the punks walking down the sidewalk in Penelope Spheeris' "Suburbia" has been copied over and over and over by big-name, big-money, big-success films. Spheeris' film was schlocky in a lot of ways, but it was also iconic and she deserves a medal for that one bit of camera-work alone. I do prefer the updated "I Am Legend" to "Omega Man", but neither of them really captures the novella as it was written. I'm still waiting for that movie.

I will watch the re-make of "Dawn of the Dead" any day over the original, but that's because what I appreciate about Romero is not what he appreciates about himself. There's still nothing to touch his first and best "Night of the Living Dead" --- and I'm talking about the un-messed with version. Not the horror-show that he created by going back and filming modern scenes in black and white and trying to edit them into the original story.

Transformers? Gak. Transformers II? Double-gak. Lots of big-budget crap today and there's still plenty of budget crap and independent crap as well.

No shortage of crap in this world.

I agree, however, that Lipstick is NOT crap. It's melodrama, sure, but at the time it was made, we could really only handle that conversation in a melodramatic way. For all our "wildness" in the 70's, we still had a kind of innocence....or maybe naivete or earnestness or..something that meant we couldn't have made or watched a movie like The Accused.

Okay, my brain is toast. They've turned on the TV in the other room and I can actually feel my brain cells trickling out my ear.


I finally got around to watching "Barbarian Queen" last weekend, and ... well, it lived up to my low expectations, but it was mildly amusing for its camp value. I especially loved the guy with the Elton John glasses who gets tossed into the vat of acid after getting the big squeeze.

I love "Suburbia" and those scrappy '80s punk/glam films like "Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains," "Times Square," "The Legend of Billie Jean" and "Light of Day." A lot of them kind of drift between conventional melodrama and rock 'n' roll excess, with too much of the former and not enough of the latter, but they still have an independent spirit that is missing today.

I still haven't seen "I Am Legend" or "Omega Man," but I did see "The Last Man on Earth" with Vincent Price, which is in the public domain and is decent entertainment. "Dawn of the Dead" is a brilliant film that is both terrifying and hilarious -- a difficult combination.

It seems so many ideas just keep getting recycled, without anything new tossed into the mix. The 1978 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was a remake, but I think it improves on the original by with the '70s cult/self-awareness setting. If they could actually do a remake and make it feel current and meaningful rather than just using special effects, it could work. I just haven't seen any lately.


*Bias alert!*

No, today's movies aren't conservative. They just plain suck. Too many watered down PG-13 movies are being made. Too many remakes of excellent films (well okay, there have been some bad ones as well). It's a generational perspective on my part that leads me to say that the average movie today is crap.

I grew up on films of the 70's and early 80's. Hell, even TV series of that era were much better than what's on the tube today. (Again, totally biased opinion of which I make no apology for.)

Another thing that killed movie making and TV series is Political Correctness. I just can't see a series like Sanford and Son, All in the Family, Good Times etc. being made today. Let's take Good Times for example. (btw, happy upcoming birthday John Amos) True, there was some exploitative elements in that show but I thought it was a well written and well acted show about the daily struggles of a poor working class black family in Chicago. It was funny (Jimmie Walker stole every scene he was in) but it also dealt with serious issues and the N word was dropped every now and then.

Call me an old fart if you want to I don't care. CGI is awesome and you can do many things with it that you couldn't do back in my day but I find that the movies rely too heavily on the flashy effects and not on a good story. Give me a guy in a rubber suit over a CG creature that the actor/actress can't see except for a place marker while shooting a scene any day.

Now that my rant is done, this movie was done nicely. Chris Sarandon and the Hemingway sisters were terrific in their respective roles. Especially Mariel considering how young she was at the time.

Ah well, time to crawl back under my rock and reminisce about "the good old days".

Have a nice day.


I agree, and want to add that the after-school specials and TV movies of the 70s and early 80s that dealt mainly with juvenile issues, and were intended viewing by entire families, would now be considered adult-only themes and topics, or even borderline pornographic. They were socially conscious, realistically portrayed, apolitical, and unapologetic, even more so than most theatrical releases of the time, like Lipstick.

In the case of Lipstick, the social issues took a backseat to crass commercialism, capitalizing on a Death Wish vigilante with a Walking Tall ending.

Revenge is a dish that best goes stale.


"Conservative" is a poor word choice (and one guaranteed to send some people into a tantrum, as above). "Juvenile" might be better.

What happened: "Jaws" and "Star Wars" made such ginormous amounts of money appealing to all generations that by 1980 the studios were pouring most of their money into attempting to make similar PG action and/or fantasy movies that could generate sequels, do just as well internationally as at home, and appeal to all age groups. (Which meant targeting 15-year-old boys as a sort of average measuring stick.) R-rated movies with their riskier content and restricted admission were out of the question; that's why very few major releases are R-rated today. (Even Oscar-winning "R's" are usually lower-budgeted and narrowly released, with a rare few breaking out to a wider audience.) I guess you could make an exception for R-rated raunchy comedies of the Judd Apatow sort, but those are sort of aimed at the permanent adolescent, too.

In the 1970s it was generally considered that you made kid movies for kids, and grownup movies for grownups. You didn't try to please everybody every time with one movie. But that's where we are now--comic book movies and jumbo sci-fi fantasies that cost $200 million and thus HAVE to appeal to viewers of all ages lest they lose tons of $$. (Which of course they sometimes do, anyway.) It's depressing for people like me who no longer have exactly the same taste they did at age 15. I don't want to go to the movies to see a comic book or a video game.