Since the second half of the 1970s, American cinema has shown its desire to abandon or otherwise neglect some of its classic genres, especially the western, giving wider spaces, with variations and accentuations within them, to genres such as gangster, comedy, fantastic, the trend of private investigators, with increasingly precise episodes in horror and, in the early nineties, in more permissive climates, even in the erotic: while, around, the personalities of particularly qualified directors were emerging in an ever clearer way. from others of European origin, which once again, as in the past, found a way to assert themselves within the structures of Hollywood, even with significant successes.
If for the western one can almost only mention in 1990 the award-winning Dances with wolves by K. Costner, in the now current figures of respect for the Indians, the gangster vein – within a genre that has continued to be among the most visited also by the series B cinema – it has been able to propose films almost at the height of the past, such as Scarface (Scarface, 1984) and The untouchables (The untouchables, 1987) by B. De Palma, a discontinuous director but, in its best moments, especially when in contact with the most classic myths of American cinema, capable of expressing itself with the necessary strength and rigor to the point of giving itself a style.
The comedy, after the death, in the early seventies, of one of its most acclaimed fathers between the fifties and sixties, F. Tashlin, the inventor of J. Lewis, did not take long to split into two almost opposite currents: that in line with the sophisticated tradition, developed as a leader by B. Edwards (Victor Victoria, Victor Victoria, 1982; Blind date, Date in the dark, 1987; Skin Deep, Skin Deep your pleasure is mine, 1988; Switch, In the shoes of a blonde, 1991; and the continuation of the very successful series of the Pink Panther: Trail of the Pink Panther, In the footsteps of the Pink Panther, 1982; Curse of the Pink Panther, Pink Panther: the Clouseau mystery, 1983; Son of the Pink Panther, The son of the Pink Panther, 1993), and that instead, exasperating the demented Thirties, the screwball comedy by F. Capra and L. McCarey, transforms it into one of the most frantic and farcical genres in Hollywood, with the same taste for surreal and nonsense practiced in England by Monty Pythons (Airplane!, The craziest plane in the world, 1980, by J. Abrahams, D. and J. Zucker; Hot shots!, Hot shots! – The mother of all films, 1991, by J. Abrahams), often addressed to the parody of other genres or other highly successful films (for Airplane! The “ disasters ” genre and in particular Airport, 1975; for Hot shots!, war films such as Top Gun by T. Scott, 1986, and the cycle of Rambo’s adventures starring S. Stallone: First blood, Rambo, Rambo, 1984; Rambo II, Rambo 2 – Revenge, 1986; Rambo III, Rambo 3, 1988).
The fantastic trend, supported by often exceptional technical means thanks to which Hollywood science fiction was able to touch hitherto unmatched moments of spectacle, with very wide acclaim among audiences all over the world, had as its main exponents S. Spielberg and G Lucas. Above all, the former came to present himself as the undisputed champion of a genre that, between the eighties and nineties, ended up owing him his best and most showy opportunities. If Lucas stands out above all for Star wars (Star Wars, 1977; followed by The empire strikes back, The empire strikes back, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, The Return of the Jedi, 1982) and as producer of Spielberg’s greatest hits, it is the latter who soon opens up a space of undisputed prestige within a genre that has contributed not only to renew but to expand: first with the fears of Jaws (Jaws, 1975), then with the dazzled and suspended mysteries of close encounters of the third kind (Close Encounters of the third kind, 1977), then, after the adventure series that began with Raiders of the lost ark (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981), with the highly celebrated ET The extra-terrestrial (ET L’extraterrestre, 1982) which then, in terms of science fiction pushed to the tuning fork, will be followed in 1993 by the sensational and sumptuous Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park), preceded – however in the figures of action cinema – by the continuation of the less external and more meditated series of Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the temple of doom, Indiana Jones and the cursed Temple, 1984; Indiana Jones and the last crusade, Indiana Jones and the last crusade, 1989); finally arriving at the solid and engaging representation of the Holocaust with Schindler’s list (Schindler’s list, 1993), awarded by a series of Oscars and by the almost unanimous consent of the public and critics. At the margins of the fantastic, noir and horror: in the context of the first, Blade Runner (Blade Runner, 1982) by R. Scott, removed not by chance from the famous novel by PK Dick, The android hunter ; as part of the second, in addition to many films by B. De Palma (Carrie, ” Carrie ” the gaze of Satana, 1976; The fury, Fury, 1978; Raising Cain, Double personality, 1992), but often more gruesome that not guided by the necessary measures, the proposals at times even subtle by the Canadian D. Cronenberg, from The fly (La mosca, 1986) to Dead ringers (Inseparables, 1988), his most careful undertaking, to The naked lunch (The meal nude, 1992), inspired, the latter, by the homonymous Beat manifesto by W. Burroughs, in figures, however, almost exclusively external.
In parallel with these genres, to which could be added the always revisited trend in the footsteps of R. Chandler of private investigators (The long goodbye, The long goodbye, 1973, by R. Altman; Chinatown, Chinatown, 1974, by R. Polanski; Hammett, Hammett: investigation in Chinatown, 1982, by W. Wenders), the careers of directors who, either internally or independently, have gradually established themselves as the most interesting of these last twenty years of American cinema. In addition to a great like B. Wilder and an author of strong and increasingly sensitive European inspiration like W. Allen, certainly the most creative personality in Hollywood today, they have been in the foreground for years, and with ever more solid maturation, directors such as R. Altman, M. Scorsese, S. Kubrick, FF Coppola, D. Mamett, A. Rudolph, M. Cimino, without forgetting the many European immigrants, from L. Malle to M. Forman, from W. Wenders to J. Boorman, from J. Jarmush to the Australian P. Weir; with works, some of these, firmly involved in the most accredited American models.
Despite financial vicissitudes almost always due to his fidelity to his own themes, even against the tide, especially in those seventies when the society of the “ ebb ” dampened all the impetus of Hollywood, R. Altman made his way above all with impeccable choral works constructed and represented (MASH, Mash, 1970; Nashville, Nashville, 1975; A wedding, Un matrimonio, 1978; The player, I protagonisti, 1992; Short cuts, America Oggi, 1993, and, less fortunate, Prêt-à porter, 1995), supported by a bitter and on several occasions controversial contemplation of present-day American society. M. Scorsese, after initial tests with subdued realistic tones (Mean streets, Mean Streets, 1973), he ended up imposing himself with raw impact works (Taxi driver, Taxi driver, 1976; Raging bull, Raging Bull, 1980), soon revealing solid mastery both in very hard news (Good-Fellas, Quei bravi boys, 1990), and in the almost Visconti-like reinterpretation of epochs in costume (The age of innocence, The age of innocence, 1992). S. Kubrick, the most solitary and perhaps the most demanding of all, after the refined Barry Lyndon (Barry Lyndon, 1975) and the very sophisticated The shining (Shining, 1979), gave, with Full metal jacket(Full metal jacket, 1987), a violent and personal reinterpretation of the war in Vietnam. FF Coppola, over three discussed but spectacular interpretations of the Italian-American mafia (The Godfather, The Godfather, 1972; The Godfather Part II, The Godfather. Part II, 1974; The Godfather Part III, The Godfather. Part III, 1990), he will be especially remembered for a Vietnam revised through J. Conrad (Apocalypse now, Apocalypse now, 1979), entrusted to a language of sure dramatic and visual impact. D. Mamett, always between theater and cinema, revealed very lively fervors especially in House of games (La casa dei games, 1987); and in Things change (Things change, 1988); while A. Rudolph and M. Cimino, one with the fascinating Welcome to Los Angeles (Welcome to Los Angeles, 1977) and Remember my name (1978), the other with the disputed but harsh The deer hunter (The hunter, 1978) and the romantic Year of the Dragon (The year of the Dragon, 1980), have not struggled to open up serious spaces, albeit, recently, with second thoughts and contradictions to which, unexpectedly, the dissent of critics and the distrust of producers.