THERE WERE BAD MOVIES made in the 1970s, but it's getting harder to remember them. Even the decade's most blue-collar films had their standouts, a fact on display with the Hollywood Theatre's Polyester Pulp: The '70s Crime Series. These four titles—each screening only once, on 35mm—are some of that decade's most underrated films.
Things kick off with 1973's excellent Charley Varrick (screens Tuesday, April 9), starring Walter Matthau as a bank robber who's forced to adapt when a job goes way, way south. Directed by Dirty Harry's Don Siegel, Varrick boasts a Matthau who's effortlessly low-key and shlubby—with a keen canniness behind his sorrowful eyes.
The following week there's 1978's little-known The Silent Partner (Wednesday, April 17), which is probably little known because it's a crime flick that takes place in Canada, a country where not a single crime has ever occurred. Suspend your disbelief, though, because The Silent Partner is great: Elliott Gould plays an awkward bank teller who, either brilliantly or stupidly, cuts himself in on the job when he gets held up. Funny, clever, and unexpectedly brutal, it boasts a charming Gould, a hammy Christopher Plummer, a script from L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys director Curtis Hanson, and a young John Candy! Because Canada!
On Wednesday, April 24, there's 1973's The Outfit, which follows a grim Robert Duvall as an ex-con looking to get even. Duvall's predictably solid, and the film features a few sharp sequences, but compared to the series' other films, it gets a little too draggy. Especially compared to the series' final film, 1974's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Wednesday, May 1), in which a gang of crooks—led by Robert Shaw, stealing scenes as effortlessly as he would a year later in Jaws—hijacks a New York subway train. Except—hey, it's Walter Matthau again! As a grumpy transit cop! The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is easily the most thrilling film ever made about public transportation bureaucracy.