Top Ten 1972

1. The Godfather
2. Cabaret
3. Sounder
4. Solaris
5. Love In The Afternoon
6. The New Land
7. The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie
8. Frenzy
9. The Ruling Class
10. State of Siege


My favourite performance of the year is watching the yet-again-lauded Peter O’Toole in my favourite of all his performances, as the English aristocrat who believes himself to be Jesus and is thought a madman in The Ruling Class. The joke is that when he gives up the Christlike personality and suddenly envisions himself Jack The Ripper, he goes completely undetected by the aristocrats around him. Peter Medak adapts the superb stage play to the screen with great results, with O’Toole giving the most delicious performance of his career.

Honour Roll:  Marlon Brando, The Godfather/Last Tango In Paris; Michael Caine, Sleuth; Charles Grodin, The Heartbreak Kid; Paul Winfield, Sounder


Some critics posited that Liza Minnelli‘s performance in Bob Fosse’s masterpiece Cabaret showed her to be even better than her mother Judy Garland. That’s a ridiculous assertion, especially in light of the years that followed: Garland never had a role as complex as the undertalented, overly emotional Sally Bowles available to her, and Minnelli never had another role nearly as worthy afterwards, so there’s no point in making that (admittedly inevitable) comparison. All the same, her winning the Academy Award for this role is one of the most deserved prizes ever handed out in the category.

Honour Roll: Goldie Hawn, Butterflies Are Free; Diana Ross, Lady Sings The Blues; Cicely Tyson, Sounder; Liv Ullmann, The New Land


The performance that really burns up the screen in The Godfather is not Brando’s jowl acting, but the intensity coming from a then newly-discovered Al Pacino. Determined not to follow in the family business, Pacino’s Michael Corleone is sucked in, with suspiciously little effort, into a life of organized crime and is set on a path that over the course of the next two films will see him slowly lose his soul.

Honour Roll:   Eddie Albert, The Heartbreak Kid; James Caan, The Godfather; Melvyn Douglas, The Candidate; Joel Grey, Cabaret


Butterflies Are Free is one of the most enjoyable adaptations of a Broadway play ever made, particularly among those that do very little to change up the original source’s origins. The film almost entirely takes place on one set, but with the terrific dialogue and the sparkling performances by Edward Arnold and Goldie Hawn, it is never for a moment dull. Really helping the situation as well is the marvelous Eileen Heckart as Arnold’s domineering mother. Her combination of concern, judgement and vulnerable fear for her blind son makes for some world-class acting from an amazing veteran.

Honour Roll:  Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid; Madeline Kahn, What’s Up Doc?; Hanna Schygulla, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant; Kari Sylwan, Cries And Whispers


Bob Fosse, Cabaret

Honour Roll: Ingmar Bergman, Cries And Whispers; Martin Ritt, Sounder; Eric Rohmer, Chloe In The Afternoon; Jan Troell, The New Land