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A Decade Under the Influence (2003)

A documentary examining the decade of the 1970s as a turning point in American cinema. Some of today's best filmmakers interview the influential directors of that time.
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Robert Altman ... Self
John G. Avildsen ... Self
Warren Beatty ... Self (archive footage)
Linda Blair ... Self (archive footage)
Peter Bogdanovich ... Self
Peter Boyle ... Self (archive footage)
Marshall Brickman ... Self
Ellen Burstyn ... Self
John Calley ... Self
Jimmy Carter ... Self (archive footage)
John Cassavetes ... Self (archive footage)
Julie Christie ... Self
Francis Ford Coppola ... Self
Roger Corman ... Self
Bruce Dern ... Self
Learn more

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The 1970s was an extraordinary time of rebellion, of questioning every accepted idea: political activism, hedonism, protests, the sexual revolution, the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the music revolution, rage and liberation. Every standard by which we set our social and cultural clocks was either turned inside out or thrown away completely and reinvented. For American cinema, the 1970s was an era during which a new generation of filmmakers created work for a new kind of audience--moviegoers who were hungry for stories that reflected their own experiences and who were turning their backs on aged old studio formulas. As a result, emerging filmmakers influenced by foreign directors such as Godard, Kurosawa and Fellini coupled with the social climate and a struggling studio system, converged to create a new kind of moviemaking. Through their choice of material, filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and images of sexuality, violence and drug use | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Director Ted Demme's last film See more »

Alternate Versions

Was edited into 3 parts for airing on IFC as three episodes. This is also how it appears on DVD. See more »


References Hello, Dolly! (1969) See more »

User Reviews

Watching History take place, as it happens
15 February 2006 | by raiderhayseedSee all my reviews

I swore I would never allow myself to devolve into to the bogus authority figures of the sixties who told me things were better in the "good old days" – the current Australian Prime Minister is a sordid example of just such a mind set.

But I switched over to "A Decade Under the Influence" because I found watching the much-heralded "Sneakers" documentary on the other channel such a dispiriting experience. I found the values expressed by the "Sneakers" interviewees too ugly to accept as reasonable. So materialistic! So devoid of any sense of outrage at a society that can countenance killing someone to steal his very ugly shoes! So lacking in any worthwhile purpose that they can report without distaste the exploitation an audience by haranguing them to hold those shoes above their heads to lock in a sponsorship deal for themselves with a company of cobblers was just too much to continue watching.

"A Decade Under the Influence" depicted a completely different response to the fruit of stupidity, corruption and concupiscence in high (and low) places.

I have noted the change in film-making that accompanied the exposure of America's disastrous foreign policy debacles in Vietnam and so many less reported places in my www.peterhenderson.com.au website. "A Decade Under the Influence" documents the precise moment at which that change took place.

Before the seventies, the armed forces were depicted in American films as an invincible fighting force comprised of decent human beings who transmogrified into conquering heroes on the battlefield. After the seventies they are generally portrayed as a dispirited rabble misled by a bunch of bureaucrat clowns in the Pentagon Before the seventies, the FBI agent and the honest cop tended to be depicted as your friend and protector. After the seventies, the FBI agents were all incompetent and the best a cop could aspire to was to ignore their foolishness and his superior's corruption and uphold justice in his own idiosyncratic manner.

Before the seventies, the archetypical American "little guy", the "average Joe", the Jimmy Stewart type would face down the problems encountered and thereby gain some insight into underlying wisdom of his elected leaders and justice of the "American Way". After the seventies, Kevin Costner usurps that role, but now he is the voice of one crying out in the wilderness for evil to be exposed, or accepting his lot and making out the best he can.

And now those "old time religion" mindsets have been stripped of any honesty and righteousness and portrayed (with a certain amount of justification) as sanctimonious bigotry and self-serving hypocrisy.

"A Decade Under the Influence" tells it like it was. "A Decade Under the Influence" tells it like it is now. It depicts the redemption of the American film industry from the hands of the artistically, morally and intellectually bankrupt studio moguls. It shows the storming of the Hollywood Bastille by the independent film makers who promised to get a disillusioned and tired audience back into the cinemas. The fact that their failures were numerous, and at times disastrous, merely underlines the greatness of their achievement. An achievement reflected in the adventurous and questioning attitudes of the big box office stars such as Clooney, Daman, Affleck etc and the directors and producers who provide the vehicles for their talent.

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Release Date:

19 January 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Década que Mudou o Cinema See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,320, 27 April 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| | (DVD) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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