Based upon Peter Biskind’s book of the same name, this BBC-produced documentary traces the rise of a generation of Hollywood filmmakers who briefly changed the face of movies with a more personal approach that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on-screen. Narrated by William H. Macy, the documentary features vintage clips of Coppola, Scorsese, Beatty, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman, and Pauline Kael. It also includes original interview material with Penn; Roger Corman; Bogdanovich; Hopper; David Picker; writer/directors John Milius and Paul Schrader; actresses Karen Black, Cybill Shepherd, Margot Kidder, and Jennifer Salt; actors Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, and Richard Dreyfuss; producers Jerome Hellman, Michael Phillips, and Jonathan Taplin; editor Dede Allen; production designer Polly Platt; writers David Newman, Joan Tewksbury, Gloria Katz, and Willard Huyck; cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond; agent Mike Medavoy; and former production executive Peter Bart. Among the films discussed are “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Mean Streets,” “American Graffiti,” “The Rain People,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “M*A*S*H,” “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Shampoo,” and “Taxi Driver.” —IMDb
This doc is better than Biskind's sleazy, factually challenged book by the same name, and it also doesn't suffer from the worthless groupie mentality that infected A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE. It serves as an enjoyable introduction to an interesting era of American cinema, but it lacks the canvas to really sink its teeth below the surface. It's simply useful as a gateway drug.