As Yogi Berra once said “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” As it was for our penultimate 1970s box office tournament, so it was for our final one — a Godfather film from Francis Ford Coppola squaring off against a parody by Mel Brooks. The last time, the Corleones just barely eked out the win by just one vote, with The Godfather Part II triumphing over Young Frankenstein.
This time, while it was still close between The Godfather and Blazing Saddles, there was no (French) mistaking what in the wide, wide world of sports was a-goin’ on. Coppola’s introduction to the crime saga plowed right through the tollbooth with decisive victories en route to a 31-24 triumph over Saddles in the title matchup.
Although this was a clash largely foretold from the start, Saddles fended off some formidable competition en route to the final — knocking out The Fury, Tommy, Slap Shot and Taxi Driver. Meanwhile, The Godfather — the tournament’s #1 overall seed — took down An Unmarried Woman, Annie Hall, Woodstock and All the President’s Men.
Second only to the Star Wars franchise, The Godfather now has the most championships of any franchise so far. (And it’s going to stay that way, as The Godfather Part III is out of contention.) But both The Godfather and Blazing Saddles will be back to have another shot in the all-decade Battle Royale tournament later this summer. You think the matchups in these decadal tournaments get tough. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
But before that, we have four more decades of winter / spring blockbusters. And thus the 1980s Winter / Spring Blockbuster Tournament begins today — with a fresh field of 64 films competing for the title. Voting starts today at noon EST on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/midwestfilmjournal) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/MWFilmJournal), and the tournament runs through February. (We’ll do the 1990s in March, the 2000s in April and the 2010s in May before the battles royale begin.)
Want a little sneak peek at the 1980s tournament? The top seeds are Flashdance, Police Academy, Footloose and Romancing the Stone. But there are a lot of middle-seed noisemakers that could crash all four of those parties. Until then, here are some notes on the 1970s Winter / Spring Blockbuster Tournament, with a final bracket embedded at the bottom.
Much as in the last 1970s tournament, we had a film get shut out in the first round — a rarity in these tournaments overall. But Charles Bronson’s Rider on the Rain got soaked with zero votes. Other films getting five or fewer votes in the first round were The Champ (4), Fun with Dick and Jane (4), Fritz the Cat (3), The Fury (3), Aloha, Bobby and Rose (1), Chariots of the Gods (1), and An Unmarried Woman (1).
The closest matches in each of the rounds until the Final Four were as follows:
- First Round: #3 Love at First Bite over #6 Airport ’77, 20 to 17
- Sweet Sixteen: #1 M*A*S*H over The Bad News Bears, 20 to 19
- Elite Eight: #7 Taxi Driver over #1 M*A*S*H, 28 to 22
The largest percentage of victory in each of the rounds until the Final Four was as follows:
- First Round: Shampoo with 100% of the vote against Rider on the Rain
- Sweet Sixteen: The Godfather with 99% of the vote against Annie Hall
- Elite Eight: The Godfather with 96% of the vote against Woodstock
Not a whole lot of first-round upsets here, just three:
- #7 Slap Shot over #2 The China Syndrome
- #7 Taxi Driver over #2 Patton
- #5 Tommy over #4 Funny Lady
Both 1970 and 1975 each had five films in the tournament. From 1970, the titles were Chariots of the Gods, M*A*S*H, Patton, Rider on the Rain and Woodstock, with M*A*S*H and Woodstock making it to the Elite Eight. From 1975, the options were Aloha, Bobby and Rose, Funny Lady, Shampoo, Slap Shot and Tommy, with only Slap Shot making it to the Elite Eight.
As for the fewest? Technically, that would be 1973, which had zero films in play. Among years repped in the tournament, though, Summer of ’42 was the sole selection from 1971.