You Must Remember These: 1970-1991
It wasn’t as if CBS didn’t know what it had on its hands. Just before the first episode of All in the Family on Jan. 12, the network nervously announced that the show ”seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are.” Then America got a load of Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), a bigoted, beer-bellied lout ranting about ”spades,” ”spics,” and ”hebes,” baiting his daughter (Sally Struthers) and meatheaded son-in-law (Rob Reiner), all the while catered to by his wifty but wise wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton). A culture hero was born, and closed-minded Archie opened a lot of eyes.
A COP’S SUDDEN IMPACT
Long before the Terminator, audiences thrilled to a different killing machine: the Clinterrogator. Same shades, same squint, but much more of a way with words. Witness this monologue from Dirty Harry: ”I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? I’ve kind of lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful gun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?” The gun was empty, but Eastwood’s bravado provided ammo for two decades of tough screen cops.
THE STONES’ BLAST-OFF BLUES
Exile on Main Street is the ultimate Rolling Stones album (a double, in the pre-CD era). Meanspirited and druggy, even with a song called ”Happy,” the band exuded a sexy, bluesy, arrogant attitude throughout. Having outlasted the Beatles and their own doomed 1969 Altamont concert, the Stones never rocked harder than on ”Rip This Joint,” never seemed more resigned to hopelessness than on ”I Just Want to See His Face.” At the time, Exile was widely perceived as a downer; now it plays like a masterpiece.
PORN GOES VERY PUBLIC
It was filmed for $25,000 over six days in Florida. Its stars were Linda Boreman and Herbert Streicher, better known by their noms de porn — Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems — and for their anatomical accomplishments. When Deep Throat opened, judges played the critic’s role: ”A feast of carrion and squalor,” said one. But viewers lined up, and not just guys in raincoats. As trials raged on, Deep Throat made $25 million, brought porn into the mainstream long before video stores made it easy, and became raw-dical chic: Warren Beatty, Mike Nichols, and Alan Dershowitz supported Reems when he was charged with obscenity-conspiracy. Naturally, he got off.
BEWITCHED, BEDEVILED, AND BOFFO
Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice? Yeah, sure — tell us another. In The Exorcist — the movie that outgrossed its competitors, grossed out its audiences, opened a market for hundreds of grade-Z horror flicks, and still snagged a Best Picture nomination — Linda Blair was made of different ingredients: As little devil Regan MacNeil, she was composed, in equal parts, of pea soup, pee, and pee-eeeuuuuww! As problem children go, Regan was quite a specimen, your basic barfing, bed-levitating, mooing, cursing, downright nasty kid with the devil inside her. But say this-she could turn a head 360 degrees.