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10 Movies Millennials Must See to Understand the 1970s

2. "Los Angeles is (still) falling apart!"

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Los Angeles seems to have been "falling apart" since pretty much the day it was born, at least if Hollywood's vision of its apparently accursed hometown can be believed.

From What Price Hollywood? and every L.A. noir and through the Seventies and beyond, the city's occupants never tire of exploring the corruption and con artistry lurking beneath its sexy, sparkling surface.

Kenneth Anger's lurid, iconoclastic tell-all classic isn't called Hollywood Babylon for nothing.

Because this theme holds such a morbid fascination, even period pieces set in old L.A. but filmed in the Seventies – Chinatown, The Day of the Locust – are still, arguably, "about" the Nixon-Carter era.

And still, despite Archie Bunker's commonplace prediction/wish that crazy California would, at long last, fall into the sea and take its fads and weirdos with it, Los Angeles, incredibly, persists.

That's not necessarily a symptom of good health, however. Inoperable tumors stay put, too.

It was hard to choose between the original Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and one of my personal favorites, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). These low-budget films could hardly be further apart in terms of tone, but both share a hopelessly apocalyptic view of the City of Angels. (In the case of Beyond…, the local post-Manson mood.)

In the end, I chose John Carpenter's loose remake of (and vast improvement upon) the overrated Rio Bravo. His still-shocking "ice cream truck" sequence in which (38 year old SPOILER) a little girl is shot in the chest is a master class of tension that Hitchcock might have envied.

Honorable mentions:


Car Wash

Welcome to L.A.


Mother, Jugs & Speed


Killer of Sheep

A Woman Under the Influence

Save the Tiger

Halls of Anger

Alex in Wonderland

Thank God It's Friday

Roller Boogie

Boulevard Nights


That's the Way of the World

Phantom of the Paradise


Play It Again, Sam (OK, it's San Francisco…)

Patty Hearst (1988)

Boogie Nights (1997)

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

Sunset Strip (2000)

Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003)

Zodiac (2007)

Starsky and Hutch (2004)

The Runaways (2010)