- Uncategorized

What Were You Doing in 1979? (part 8)

Martin Scorsese was directing Raging Bull.

Michael Cimino was going over budget and over schedule on Heaven’s Gate.

L. Ron Hubbard was preparing to publish Battlefield Earth (1980).

L. Sprague de Camp was publishing the essay collection The Blade of Conan

…as well as (with Lin Carter) Conan the Liberator.

He was also editing the mixed-form collection The Spell of Conan

…and preparing to publish Conan and the Spider God.

He was also preparing to publish the short story collection The Purple Pterodactyls…

…and the non-fiction collection The Ragged Edge of Science.

Finally, he was also revising and embellishing Robert E. Howard’s The Treasure of Tranicos.

(All of those last five books were published in 1980.)

Lance Bass (‘N Sync) was born (on 4 May).

Led Zeppelin released In Through the Out Door and performed its last concerts (until their 2007 reunion).

The following year would see the death of drummer John Bonham, leading to that band’s dissolution.

Lena Martell had a number one UK single, “One Day at a Time.”

Lene Lovich, who had recently had some success with her cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now”…

…released what would prove to be her biggest hit, the single “Lucky Number.”

Leonard Cohen released Recent Songs.

Linda Ronstadt was still enjoying massive success from her 1978 album Living in The USA

…and recording Mad Love.

The Australian group Little River Band scored several US hits.

Lou Rawls released Let Me Be Good to You.

Dutch pop group Luv’ scored a few hit singles.

Lynne Hamilton scored a hit in the UK with her single “On the Inside.”

M, looking to capitalize on the success of their single “Pop Muzik,” released New York • London • Paris • Munich.

Macy Gray was born.

Madeleine L’Engle was preparing to publish her fourth Austin family novel, A Ring of Endless Light (1980).

The British ska band Madness released their debut album, One Step Beyond.

The immortal Mae West was nearing the end of her life (she would die on 22 November 1980).

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

9 thoughts on “What Were You Doing in 1979? (part 8)

    1. Hi, Karan! Funny you should ask that—I’m sure Jeremy and I will do a “Ranking Martin Scorsese” list eventually. But, for now, the short answer is:

      1995 Casino
      1990 Goodfellas
      1989 New York Stories (segment “Life Lessons”)
      1988 The Last Temptation of Christ
      1987 Bad (Michael Jackson video)
      1985 After Hours
      1982 The King of Comedy
      1976 Taxi Driver
      1973 Mean Streets


  1. Hey,

    have watched only Taxi Driver and Goodfellas of all you mentioned. Surprised Raging Bull is not there. But glad that none of his works from mid 90s till recently was included in list :)


    1. I like Raging Bull very much, but whenever I see it, I leave less than convinced that it’s the masterpiece others claim. Though it’s certainly a remarkable film.

      I think Scorsese went off the rails after Casino, though he’s made films since then that I like: Kundun, Bringing Out the Dead (to some extent), Gangs of New York (to some extent), The Departed (to some extent). And I’ll go see whatever the guy makes.

      I’m just not all that excited about it anymore.


      1. Even I thought Raging Bull isn’t really a masterpiece. But dunno why, when I watched it last time I was just stunned to see the force which both Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci brought to their characters specially the scenes when they argue with each other and that one when Pesci says, “Kill…kill me kill salvy kill everyone…look at you fat fuck”. The way Pesci delivers dialogue he repeats every line thrice which brings naturalism to the performance. I was wondering what was DeNiro thinking, “How many times this guy repeats his line?,When will my turn come to deliver the dialogue?” :)

        1. That’s funny; I like your read! Their performances are the two best things about the film, no question.

          I guess for me, the material was so personal to Scorsese, I feel as though he didn’t find a way to present it in a way I could entirely access. Which is also how I feel about Malick’s Tree of Life—somewhat removed from it, distant. I can admire it from a distance, but it never captivates me. Whereas I always find myself fully engrossed in those other Scorsese films I mentioned.

          I also think there’s a critical lack of tension in Raging Bull—that the film is more a case of it showing its events to me, but not in any compelling way (or in a way I find compelling). This relates to my comment above. It’s a pretty cold film, and I prefer Scorsese when he’s intuitive, unpredictable, seemingly half-crazy. The Last Temptation of Christ is, I think, an all-around perfect Scorsese film.

          1. I think you are right. Almost everyone who has watched the film once is at loss of words. Its a kind of film, which requires you to know who Jake La Motta was and then perhaps you may appreciate it. I recently watched it and this was the third time so it was much more accessible to me. For instance, the starting scene, the monologue of DeNiro seems totally out of context in the first viewing and later when I read a detailed article on the film in Vanity Fair, it seemed to me that Scorsese and DeNiro wrestled about the first scene and non linear depictions of events and finally they took Micheal Powell’s advice. A case where the director really made superb use of the material at hand is Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. I haven’t seen even one film of Ed Wood, still I found the film so hilarious. Don’t know if you watch hindi films, but a film where director really screwed up with a very potent script is Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Gulal’

    1. They’re certainly siblings, but I guess I always found them sufficiently distinct. Casino has the desert, and Sharon Stone. It doesn’t have Ray Liotta. It has its incredible opening sequence—that explosion and those Saul Bass titles are enough to secure my love. Casino is also more unhinged, more fantastical, more feverish, more violent, where Goodfellas is more…classical?

      Perhaps they’re variations on a theme? Some days I prefer Casino, other days I prefer Goodfellas.

      Mind you, I haven’t seen either film in perhaps ten years (though I watched them both a lot throughout the ’90s). I’m less enamored with Scorsese these days than I was when I was younger, though I still think he’s a terrific filmmaker. Or once was


Leave a Reply