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In most people’s minds, the 1970s break neatly in two. The first half was the so-called Silver Age of Holly-wood, when a new genera-tion of directors arose and put their stamp on the mov-ies: Scorsese, Coppola, DePalma, Friedkin and oth-ers made ambitious, rule-breaking films that seemed to spell the end of the vaunted studio system (save Peter Bogdanovich, who made traditional pictures in a modern way). But a funny thing happened on the way to auteur nirvana: two other New Kids inadvertently killed the silver goose, and by the time the dust settled, Spielberg and Lucas were the new white-haired boys, and the studios were back in the blockbuster business for good. Yet what most people forget is that big money was already being hauled in throughout the decade by an exceedingly old-fashioned genre: the disaster film. George Seaton’s good-natured “Airport” made a kill-ing in 1970, but it was considered a one-off throw-back. Then two years later, Irwin Allen launched “The Poseidon Adventur...