Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Versus AARP’s 10 Essential Boomer Movies

Boomer Icons-Leave it to Beaver-James Brown-Jimi Hendrix-John LeAs part of their Boomers @50+ feature, the good ‘ol (and I mean that in the most respectful manner) folks over at AARP gathered up a handful of prominent Baby-Boomers to highlight three of the popular arts linked to those born between 1946 and 1964. The same 76 million who “…reaped all the benefits of the postwar period’s extraordinary economic growth.” And as labeled by other gens, “The spoiled brats.

I be one.

Admittedly, I probably match up with the latter more than I care to reveal. As P.J. O’Rourke wrote in his contributing essay:

“Yes, we’re spoiled rotten. We’re self-absorbed. And it seems like we’ll never shut up. But the boomers made a better world for everyone else. You’re welcome.”

“The boomers have been good at taking things: Mom’s car without permission, drugs, umbrage at the establishment, draft deferments, advantage of the sexual revolution, and credit for the civil rights and women’s liberation movements that rightly belongs to prior generations. The one thing that can be left in plain sight without us putting our sticky mitts on it is responsibility. Ask our therapists. Or the parents we haven’t visited at the extended-care facility.”

If I do anything on this blog, it is to examine the arts of books, music, and movies. Along with my history (or angst), with them. I confess it’s a tad self-absorbed, and so typical of my generation. With that said, I’ll add my set to the well-known contributors AARP selected for each of their Essential Boomer picks. Let’s end the week with Oliver Stone‘s take on the following with his superb list:


the graduate

The Graduate (1967) by Mike Nichols — Oliver: “One of the first movies to address young people as an entity unto themselves — a new form of species, dislocated, alienated. The thought of working in the plastics business was smothering.” Me: Oh, Hell YES!

easy rider

Easy Rider (1969) by Dennis Hopper — Oliver: “Freedom, motorcycles, long hair and a general contempt for the Southern rednecks who were fighting in Vietnam.” Me: Yep. I must include for this period and generation.

a clockwork orangedr. strangelove

A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick — Oliver: “Anarchic and innovative. It respected youth, as divorced from the state. And because we were in an antiauthoritarian age, we embraced it. Many of us, anyway. I think lot of people didn’t know what the hell was going on.” Me: I’ll see your Kubrick and raise you Armageddon with his Dr. Strangelove.

the godfatherthe godfather part 2

The Godfather (1972) / The Godfather Part II (1974) by Frances Ford Coppola — Oliver: “Perhaps the most significant films of the boomer age. The Godfather broke open everything. In ’72, I had just gotten out of film school. I was a cabdriver. That movie was setting the standard. It made you want to do better.” Me: Double Hell YES!!!


Jaws (1975) by Steven Spielberg — Oliver: “That summer was incredible. We were young and in the prime of our 1970s mischief. And here was the ultimate enemy. Spielberg in his true glory.” Me: I wouldn’t dare contradict this selection, or its impact on cinema and the box office.

All the President's Men The Parallax View

All The President’s Men (1976) by Alan Pakula — Oliver: “A naked appeal to liberals who wanted to be free of Richard Nixon. It created a myth, in a way, that the press was so free. That probably did long-term damage, because then the press went to sleep. But it was wonderfully made. Here was a film about office work. A lot of desks.” Me: Finally, I can disagree with Mr. Stone. And do it with the another Pakula film, The Parallax View (1974).

annie hall a hard day's night

Annie Hall (1977) by Woody Allen — Oliver: “For me, it was the first woman’s film, although many had been made at that time because feminism was popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s. But Annie Hall made this quirky heroine more available to everybody; we saw a woman with a different lifestyle, going about her life. A fascinating movie.” Me: When you compare it with Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964) in significance and change, it’s not even close for this boomer.

apocalypse nowthe dirty dozen

Apocalypse Now (1979) by Frances Ford Coppola — Oliver: “It made Vietnam into grand opera. Although, as I pointed out when I did my movie about Vietnam, it wasn’t very compassionate toward the Vietnamese.” Me: If you say that, why’d you pick it, then? Anyway, I’ll go with the film that was Robert Aldrich’s rousing allegory of the same war in the guise of a WWII actioner, The Dirty Dozen (1967) .

kramer vs kramerthe verdict

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) by Robert Benton — Oliver: “Two great actors, Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman. But it was a small film, a wonderfully rendered story of a divorce and how it affected the child. My parents were divorced; I’d had a divorce already. This was a midlife issue for boomers.” Me: Ah…no. Damn it to Hell NO! The better choice, post-1964, remains The Verdict (1982) by Sidney Lumet.

reds star wars

Reds (1981) by Warren Beatty — Oliver: “A personal favorite. Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton as lovers. Never a big commercial hit, but a liberating film.” Me: A personal favorite of mine, but George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) so happened to be a big commercial hit. Oh, and it changed the Baby Boomer and younger generations right along with it.

16 Responses to “Versus AARP’s 10 Essential Boomer Movies”

  1. cindybruchman

    Yep, all staple films for me, too. The only film I am unfamiliar with is ‘The Parallax View’. On my list, I would have added Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, Alien and Close Encounters of the Third Kind….;)


  2. jackdeth72

    Hi, Michael:

    I’m with Cindy and her opinion of these AARP ‘staples’.

    ‘The Graduate’ made huge waves when I caught it way back when. Outside of Buck Henry’s writing and glimpses of future talent like Richard Dreyfuss. The film has lost a lot of its luster.

    ‘Easy Rider’ is a given. The epitome of an at that time independent film. Also the jumping off point for lots of future talent. A later, buttressing offering would be ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’.

    Can’t disagree with their choices down to ‘All The President’s Men’. Which is great on location entertainment, but has little to do with actual events. ‘The Parallax View’ is a much better conspiracy film! And has been getting some play on “The Sundance Channel” recently.

    Scratch ‘Annie Hall’ and insert ‘Manhattan’ or ‘The Sterile Cuckoo’. Scratch ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ and insert ‘The Paper Chase’. Leave ‘The Verdict’ alone. Still some of Newman’s best angry older man, soliloquy work!

    ‘Reds’ was one of the first, longest and overall weakly messaged of the “vanity” films. ‘Star Wars’ is a good substitute. Though, I’d opt for ‘Patton’.


  3. ernestwhile

    I find it a little depressing that all of these films are somehow related to the AARP, because they were at least on network TV when I was a kid. But it must be senility that excludes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


    • le0pard13

      Welcome, ernestwhile! Glad to have you join in. I personally love Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid — see here as to why. I thought about adding it to my list, but there were just so many great ones from the era represented. So many were left off but are still essential. Many thanks. 🙂


  4. ruth

    Can’t disagree w/ JAWS and its impact in film and culture. Same with Star Wars, so I’m w/ you on that one, too. Boy I still need to see The Verdict and a couple others. Great post!


  5. mummbles

    Some american classics here. The Graduate is well placed. I could relate to how Benjamin felt in that movie when I first saw it in the 90’s. Now that is a classic. Great blog!


  6. Morgan R. Lewis

    Nothing I feel I can argue with, although sometimes I just haven’t seen the film in question. 🙂 Easy Rider stands out as a pick that’s definitely generational — I don’t think it speaks well to younger generations. At least that’s been my experience with it.



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