Thursday, October 14, 2010

'My 100 Best Movies of the 1970's'

'My 100 Best Movies of the 1970's'

Here is my first in a series of my best movies of the decade articles. I felt that enough time had passed that I feel confident about my choices. It can always change because I am still watching and discovering new movies from each decade. The 70's was a tough one because I have not seen nearly as many movies from that era as I have other decades. The 70's was to some the golden age of film making and that is somewhat true but it doesn't mean the other decades weren't as special. How about the glorious heyday of the 30's, 40's film noir, the great movies of the 80's? I grew up as a kid in the 70's and when cable boomed I caught up with most of the movies on my 70's list. It was such a wonderful time for me from 1980 till 1986, working at a video store, watching cable and discovering new movies that have touched my heart and inspired me. That was the time I knew I wanted to be a film maker. You can see how that turned out, ha! ha! In the 80's, 90's and so on I have seen many more movies, probably an average of 200 or more a year. Sometimes I think watching all those movies that I didn't have a life but I would never take back the experience of watching all these movies, even the bad ones. Movies to me are the gift that keep coming for generations and generations. Without the magic of movies I think the World would be a very boring and lifeless place. I will now start out with the 100 movies I loved the most from 1970-1979. There are some here that are well known classics and some that affected me way more than they did others. I am very proud of this list and will defend all my choices.

100.) Patton (70) Director: Franklin Schaffner
George C. Scott

I find this movie fascinating more for George C. Scott's performance than the actual movie and it is a superb and brilliant performance.

99.) Jesus Christ Superstar (73) Director: Norman Jewison

The first musical from the 70's on my list. I first watched this in Brother Sean's religion class at Carmel High. I was a Catholic boy and I loved the movie's darkness, loved the songs and loved the haunting desert scenery. It actually made me feel cool to be religious, this was a trippy and beautiful way to introduce a kid to Christ.

98.) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (74) Director: Tobe Hooper

Then there was my introduction to the devil! Just kidding since I first saw this movie two years ago. This is such an intense roller coaster ride of horror that is scary and claustrophobic.

97.) The Muppet Movie (79) Director: James Frawley

A great addition to Chainsaw Massacre in a double feature, kidding! I saw this at the old State theatre downtown with mom, sister and grandmother. I was a huge "Muppet Show" fan but I was floored when I saw Kermit ride a bike, frigging' cool!

96.) The Warriors (77) Director: Walter Hill

I saw this on video at home with my friend Jim Bivens who was raving about it. I heard that this movie was a huge, cult midnight movie that caused gang riots in theatres. I fell in love with it instantly and quote it to this day. All those gangs in a scary, desolate and dark New York City! "Can you dig it!" This was the start of my discovery that I was loving the dark, adult, twisted movies and abandoning Disney films.

95.) The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (74) Director: Joseph Sargent
Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw

Another dark, New York film that is one of the best heist films ever made. I love all the twists and turns and Matthau's masterful performance. The ending is a classic and it is the movie that inspired the names in "Reservoir Dogs"

94.) The Rose (79) Director: Mark Rydell
Bette Midler, Frederic Forrest, Alan Bates

See where I am going here? There is a theme that will be repeated a lot on this list. The 70's were full of the darkest movies, the ones that Hollywood is afraid to make now. This has a pitch perfect performance by Midler as a Janis Joplin type singer. I was and am a huge Joplin fan and I love this depiction of a famous singer spiraling into drugs and destruction. One of the best movies about the music industry ever made and a neglected classic.

93.) Alien (79) Director: Ridley Scott
Sigourney Weaver

I first caught a glimpse of this movie peeking through a window of a theatre at Hawthorn. It was R Rated and I couldn't see this but I could have easily snuck in but I was so scared of horror movies at that time. I caught this on cable much later and when the monster popped out of the chest I almost pissed in my pants.

92.) Superman (78) Director: Richard Donner
Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando

The first super hero movie I ever saw but I caught it on television first and not on the big screen, huge loss. I still think the second one is much better but seeing Superman really fly on screen was so awesome to me!

91.) Assault on Precinct 13 (76) Director: John Carpenter

Another addition to my dark movie list with this intense and very entertaining thriller that I first saw on video. Understandably has a cult following and it is a neglected classic. Prisoners take over a jail and create havoc. Please see this instead of the dreadful remake!

90.) Black Christmas (74) Director: Bob Clark

I did not see this until a few years back on DVD because I wouldn't dare watch horror movies when I was a kid. This is a very scary slasher movie that at least has a good story. The remake is one of the biggest assaults on an original movie ever made.

89.) The Pink Panther Strikes Again (77) Director: Blake Edwards

I love the Pink Panther movies a lot! When I was a kid I laughed until I pissed in my pants at this screwball classic. I was finally discovering acting when I was 9 and I knew then that Peter Sellers was a genius!

88.) 3 Days of the Condor (75) Director: Sydney Pollack
Robert Redford

I also found out as a kid that I was loving the conspiracy, political thrillers. What better way of discovering history and our government and that something is actually very sinister happening behind the scenes. This is a quiet, intense and suspenseful conspiracy thriller. The opening scene is a completely nasty shocker that gets you hooked right away.

87.) Enter the Dragon (74) Director: Robert Clouse
Bruce Lee

I saw a trailer for Bruce Lee's "Game of Death" in front of "The Muppet Movie". People started to cheer when the trailer came on and I knew nothing about Bruce Lee. I first saw "Enter the Dragon" on video when I was 16-17. It is the best movie of it's kind and I am now a Bruce Lee nut.

86.) The Spy Who Loved Me (77) Director: John Glenn

I saw every James Bond movie when I was a kid and sadly I saw this Bond classic on television first. I revisited it a few years later on DVD and I consider it one of the top 5 Bond movies. Great action, Roger Moore finally becoming comfortable being Bond, a hot Barbara Bach and the menacing JAWS!

85.) Bound For Glory (76) Director: Hal Ashby
David Carradine

I actually just saw this movie a few months ago on DVD. David Carradine is amazing as Woody Guthrie who is probably the greatest folk singer who lived. Hal Ashby is one of my favorite directors of the 70's and this classic is outstanding and the period detail is flawless.

84.) Klute (71) Director: Alan J. Pakula
Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland

This is the classic story of the hooker with a heart of gold. It is also a great character study and detective film. Jane Fonda is amazing in a brave and challenging performance. This movie was mentioned by the Henry Winkler character in "Night Shift".

83.) Oh God! (76) Director: Carl Reiner

This is a movie that could never be made today because I am sure someone would make it corny and tasteless. This was a risky comedy but also one of the best family movies ever. I saw this with my family on the big screen and George Burns was so good I actually thought he was God! John Denver is also very natural, funny and very good here.

82.) Shampoo (75) Director: Hal Ashby

I grew up appreciating Warren Beatty a lot. As I was discovering that adult themed movies really turned me on I found him an inspiration. I first saw this on video when I was 17 and it hypnotized me. First I hadn't seen this much sex or talk of sex ever and I found the Beatty character a prick but in a fascinating way.

81.) Smokey and the Bandit (77) Director: Hal Needham

So my father wanted the family to go see this at the old Edens theatre on a Saturday. I didn't want to go but after I saw it I loved it to death. Maybe it was all the swearing or the car crashes. There are a few things I discovered watching this movie. First my Dad and everyone in the theatre were laughing their ass off! Second I discovered that Burt Reynolds was cool, Sally Field was hot and Jerry Reed was cool and funny. Third I loved the theme song and couldn't get it out of my head for let's say a couple of decades. I was now wrapped up in the cult of Burt Reynolds. Last but not least Jackie Gleason is my idol and my favorite comedic actor of all time and he was hilarious! I have seen this movie so many times I lost count.

80.) The Three Musketeers (73) Director: Richard Lester

I love the swordplay, I love the cast, loved Raquel Welch (Wow!) and loved the slapstick comedy. This is my favorite swashbuckler of all time and I saw it when I was 5 at the Lakehurst theatre. I saw it many more times on video and DVD and I still find it a treat on all levels.

79.) Straight Time (78) Director: Ulu Grossbard
Dustin Hoffman

This is one of Dustin Hoffman's best performances of his career in this compelling crime story. I first saw this just recently on DVD where I could study Hoffman create an acting master class. This is a little, riveting and unseen movie that is an absolute must see.

78.) Martin (78) Director: George Romero

This ultra low budget, filmed in Pittsburgh horror shocker is easily one of the best vampire movies. It is also Romero's best movie combining, horror, blood and a lot of sex. I just saw this for the first time two years ago on Halloween so it holds up today. I think the movie is scarier because the acting is not polished and the locations look real.

77.) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (74) Director: Terry Jones

This is one of the funniest movies I have seen and it got me totally hooked on Monty Python. I first saw this on cable when I was 13 and when I went to college all my new friends were quoting it all the time. In college my ex roommate and my other friends used to watch this all the time on video after a night of heavy drinking. He would make burritos and we would sit down and laugh our asses off each time.

76.) Chinatown (74) Director: Roman Polanski
Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway

This is the movie that got me hooked on detective films. I also discovered that Jack Nicholson was so cool and an acting God. I loved the period detail, the depravity and darkness and I love the ending.

75.) The Candidate (73) Director: Michael Ritchie
Robert Redford

Nothing to me was more boring then politics. I remember as a kid being forced to watch hours of the Watergate coverage. This is the first movie about a politician that I got into. It is a very well written political satire and what an ending!

74.) Over the Edge (79) Director: Jonathan Kaplan

This is where I started to kneel before the altar of Matt Dillon. This was a movie about kids who were my age. These weren't kids like the ones I was growing up with because my friends didn't do drugs or carry guns. This is a very powerful study of teens in Los Angeles that are trying to grow up too fast. I saw this on cable when I was 12 and it blew me away as did Matt Dillon's performance.

73.) Hair (79) Director: Milos Forman
Treat Williams, John Savage

One of my favorite movie musicals of all time with an ending that shocked me and made me cry. The songs all might be a little dated but they are all wonderful. Milos Forman has transported this stage musical into one of the best filmed movies of the 70's.

72.) The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (76) Director: Nicolas Gessner

What ever happened to Nicolas Gessner? He had made one of the best Hitchcock type thrillers of the 70's with this unseen, neglected classic. This is where I started to kneel before the altar of Jodie Foster. I saw this on cable in my old, big and spooky house in Libertyville when I was 13. It didn't have any blood or many shocking kills but it creeped me out and scared the crap out of me. That was a very long, scary walk from the family room downstairs to my bedroom upstairs!

71.) Grease (78) Director: Randall Kleiser

My third musical on my list was a movie that I was dying to see after I read Gene Siskel's four star review of it. I went with my mom, dad, sister and grandmother and it was a great family affair. This is when I started my huge crush on Olivia Newton John and when she showed up in that leather outfit my eyes popped out. I was ten and she might have been my introduction to the wonderful world of girls. I will be brave and admit this right now. Every time I watch this movie I sing along to all the songs and yes I know all the words. This movie gets dumped on a lot by stuffy critics so I must have forgotten that movies weren't supposed to be fun, missed that memo.

70.) Midnight Express (78) Director: Alan Parker

Now we are back to the dark side and another entry in my favorite dark and disturbing genre. This is a very violent, bloody and depraved prison movie that disturbed me but somehow I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. It taught me a very powerful lesson, don't try to carry drugs over from Turkey to the United States. I am glad I remembered that when I visited Turkey recently.

69.) Harold and Maude (71) Director: Hal Ashby

Another great Hal Ashby movie and another movie I first saw in Brother Sean's religion class. The shocking scenes of fake suicides must have been why Catholic school boys were watching this. I just know that I love this movie because it is a dark and disturbing black comedy.

68.) Days of Heaven (78) Director: Terrence Malick
Richard Gere, Linda Manz, Sam Shepherd

This is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen and one of the most poetic. It is not one of the most original and compelling stories but the cinematography is masterful.

67.) The Buddy Holly Story (78) Director: Steve Rash

The flip side of "The Rose", this movie is a lot of fun, joyous, charming and rousing. I would have never imagined seeing Gary Busey play Buddy Holly but he is perfect here. We know where the story is headed but the music, recreation of the 50's and the performances are outstanding.

66.) Being There (79) Director: Hal Ashby

Another Ashby classic with a flawless, quietly powerful and amazing performance by Peter Sellers. A perfect satire on the political and consumer, commercial culture of that time. Ashby knew how to make character studies and was one of the greatest directors of the 70's.

65.) Mad Max (79) Director: George Miller
Mel Gibson

So I am watching this badly dubbed, crazy and weird Australian movie on Cinemax when I was 12. I was so riveted by the movie that I watched it again a few nights later. Little did I know that a major star was being born. It was also the beginning of what I think is the greatest film trilogy of all time. Go ahead and name a trilogy where all three movies were equally masterpieces. The actions scenes were the best I had ever seen up to that point. I am still waiting for that fourth Mad Max movie.

64.) North Dallas Forty (79) Director: Ted Kotcheff

The first sports movie on my list comes from my favorite sport of football. This is a raunchy, extremely funny but also hard hitting and powerful sports movie. Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Charles Durning and G.D. Spradlin are all amazing here. This movie is still vital today as we see more and more concussions in football. Back then you had to suck it in an take pain shots, now we take it more seriously.

63.) In-Laws (79) Director: Arthur Hiller

Another movie that I saw with the whole family and we all laughed through the entire movie. Then I saw it about 3 more times on my own. This classic comedy was the first legendary pairing of Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. That perfect marriage of comic timing was magical. The scene where Falk tells his story of giant flies carrying people off is classic and the look on Arkin's face is priceless.

62.) Five Easy Pieces (70) Director: Bob Rafelson

This magnificent character study was the first time a lot of audiences saw a lead performance by Jack Nicholson. This was his star making performance and he is pitch perfect. This also has one of the most iconic scenes of any movie that decade which was the chicken salad scene.

61.) Network (76) Director: Sidney Lumet
Ned Beatty, Peter Finch, William Holden, Beatrice Straight, Faye Dunaway

This scathing and blistering satire of television, ratings and television news is one of the best of it's kind. It contains a powerful and iconic performance by Peter Finch and is an extremely well written movie that captures it's decade masterfully.

60.) Play Misty For Me (71) Director: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter

The inspiration for "Fatal Attraction" is the first Clint Eastwood movie on my list. This is a very well crafted thriller that has a very good and scary performance by Jessica Walter. An early example of Eastwood's great and promising directing career.

59.) Barry Lyndon (75) Director: Stanley Kubrick

There is one type of genre of movie I can't stand and that is the costume drama. I find most of them stuffy and dull but not in the hands of Stanley Kubrick! This is like the costume version of "Shampoo". Not a big fan of Ryan O'Neal but he is very good here and the movie looks breathtaking! Kubrick is in my top 5 favorite directors of all time and only he could make something I love in a genre I hate.

58.) Straw Dogs (71) Director: Sam Peckinpah
Dustin Hoffman, Susan George

This violent shocker introduced me to the wonderful world of Peckinpah, the master of slow motion violence. A very intense and extremely violent movie that I first saw on video when I was 16. I also found the movie very scary and I wasn't prepared for that. A movie that also was very quiet when most movies today are ruined by too much music. That quietness adds to the impact and effectiveness of the violence.

57.) Deliverance (72) Director: John Boorman
Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty

I had heard of the infamous scene involving Ned Beatty and I wasn't actually clamoring to see this. What I found instead was a powerful, suspenseful, white knuckle thriller with great outside photography. Yes the Beatty scene is disturbing but it isn't done for shock effect, it feeds the story.

56.) The Exorcist (73) Director: William Friedkin

This is a movie that I had put off for many years until I finally saw it in theatres about ten years ago. It is now seen as silly and not as scary but I totally disagree. This is a very disturbing and frightening movie that holds up better than say "The Omen". Linda Blair's performance is one of the bravest ever on screen adult or child. A stomach churning roller coaster that never lets you off the hook plus the movie looks beautiful.

55.) MASH (70) Director: Robert Altman

The first movie on my 70's list from the great Robert Altman gave us one of the greatest televison shows ever. This war comedy is special in it's own way for it is raunchy, adult and a very powerful satire.

54.) Gimme Shelter (70) Directors: Albert and David Maysles

The first concert film on my 70's list depicts the infamous Hell's Angels murder during a Rolling Stones concert. Not only is the music awesome but the movie is very compelling and fascinating. It is a thrilling and exciting look back at a very influential time in the rock world.

53.) Badlands (73) Director: Terrence Malick
Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek

This based on a true story crime thriller is fascinating and very well acted. This is one of our first looks at Sissay Spacek and she is amazing. Martin Sheen gives an electrifying and scary performance. The look of the film is beautiful and the suspense and drama is at a heightened pace.

52.) Paper Moon (73) Director: Peter Bogdonavich

This beautifully shot black and white movie is a classic screwball comedy with a delightful performace by a young Tatum O'Neal. This con man movie is one of the best of it's kind. Ryan O'Neal and Tatum create such great chemistry on screen and the movie is a lot of fun. This nails down it's time and place flawlessly in every detail from set design to costumes.

51.) Carrie (76) Director: Brian DePalma

This is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made and also a movie that scared me more than any other movie growing up. I first saw it on television when I was ten and I couldn't get through the entire movie. I couldn't get to sleep that night and had to climb in my parents bed. It wasn't until I was 16 or 17 before I watched the whole movie. It is now one of my favorites with an amazing Sissy Spacek performance and a lot of scares. The ending is super scary and the final shot scared the crap out of me.

50.) Saturday Night Fever (77) Director: John Badham

One of Gene Siskel's favorite movies continued the major phenomenon of John Travolta and introduced a new phenemenon. That would be the disco craze and growing up I was amazed by it all even though I hated disco music. I actually didn't see this until it came on cable. It is a much deeper and powerful coming of age movie then most people remember. It has the perfect soundtrack, some electrifying dance numbers and an outstanding performance by John Travolta.

49.) Apocalypse Now (79) Director: Francis Coppola

Over rated by some critics and moviegoers this first Coppola movie on my list is definitley a near masterpiece. I am not a big fan of the last half hour but there are some scenes before then that are amazing. Compared to most other war movies this is something special. There are some riveting scenes and beautiful directing and cinematography. I don't think this is the best war movie ever made as some have said but it is still powerful and operatic in scope.

48.) McCabe and Mrs. Miller (71) Director: Robert Altman
Warren Beatty, Julie Christie

This is one of my favorite Westerns because it is very original and unique. It also has some of the most beautiful outdoor cinematography ever put on screen. The sound of Altman's trademark overlapping dialogue with the quiet of the outdoors is masterful. This isn't just your average shoot 'em up but a thoughtful and fascinating drama.

47.) The Beguiled (71) Director: Don Siegel
Clint Eastwood

One of my favorite Eastwood films and one of the best Westerns of the 70's. This is surprisingly a very compelling feminist movie and Eastwood would start to prove how he valued strong female characters. This is a wonderfully bizarre western with Eastwood trapped in a all female boarding school. This is an unusual and fascinating change of pace for Clint.

46.) Going in Style (79) Director: Martin Brest
George Burns, Art Carney, Lee Strassberg

This is one of the most delightful sleepers of it's time with three iconic performances by three legends. This is funny, charming, poignant, sad and a small masterpiece. Three old men decide to rob a bank and the results are original and riveting. I saw this with my dad right after my parents divorced and it put a huge smile on my face.

45.) Dirty Harry (71) Director: Don Siegel

Dirty Harry has become one of our most iconic and beloved cops ever on screen. This is a very influential movie that is deeper than we remember. Clint Eastwood is my favorite actor of the 70's and this is the movie that made me fall in love with him. I saw this on video when I was 16 and I found it totally engrossing, better than any cop movie I had ever seen.

44.) The Long Goodbye (73) Director: Robert Altman
Elliot Gould

Altman's take on detective Phillip Marlowe in the 70's is very unique and strangely captivating. I think this is Gould's best performance and I love the story, the writing and look of the movie. I don't know how to pin it down why but by the end I was on the edge of my seat.

43.) Coming Home (78) Director: Hal Ashby
Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, Jane Fonda

Another powerful and engrossing movie by iconic director Hal Ashby who we lost too soon. This at the time was a different look at the effects of the Vietnam War and it is a heartbreaker. It has three powerful performances and is the kind of melodrama that is done just right without any false moments.

42.) The Deer Hunter (78) Director: Michael Cimino
Robert Deniro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale

I prefer this Vietnam movie more than I do "Apocalypse Now" because I care about the characters more. I also find it more powerful and riveting in every way. This would become Cimino's only great movie after his stunning debut in 74 and that is a shame. The Russian Roulette scene is one of the most gripping scenes ever in a war movie.

41.) Nashville (75) Director: Robert Altman

I was not a big country music fan and politics really bored me but only a master like Altman could sweep me up in a movie that combines both. There are a buttload of characters and I remember every one of them because of the strong writing. The overlapping dialogue, the sharp humor and great music make this an American classic.

40.) Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (74) Director: Michael Cimino
Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges

This is a very under rated crime movie that is easily one of Eastwood's best 70's movie. It also gave us another outstanding Jeff Bridges performance, a lot of laughs, one of my favorite theme songs ever and a powerful and sad ending. Michael Cimino's directorial debut made an impact. This is easily Clint Eastwood's most under rated movie he ever starred in or directed.

39.) Fiddler on the Roof (71) Director: Norman Jewison

This is one of my favorite musicals period on stage and it makes a joyous, sad, powerful and magical screen adaptation. Topol is easily the best Tevye either on screen or on stage. This is one of the best and most sweeping musicals I have ever seen on the big screen.

38.) The Longest Yard (74) Director: Robert Aldrich
Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert

This is not only one of the best prison movies I have seen but it is also one of my favorite sports movies. This has a captivating and totally charming performance by Reynolds and he is playing someone we are supposed to hate! Of course his team are the good guys and there is some uproarious, bone crunching, vulgar and classic moments. The final game is awesome, thrilling, funny and very crowd pleasing. I wish I could have seen this in a packed theatre! The Adam Sandler remake is a huge mistake and a travesty.

37.) Lenny (74) Director: Bob Fosse
Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine

Bob Fosse is one of my idols as a dance chorepgrapher and as a film director. This black and white masterpiece and character study of comic Lenny Bruce is stunning and riveting. Dustin Hoffman is flawless and nails Bruce down to a tee. I think Fosse is one of the most influential film directors in my opinion and I think film lovers should admit it.

36.) The Conversation (74) Director: Francis Coppola
Gene Hackman, John Cazale

Coppola had one of the best years any film director had in 1974. "The Conversation" was the second masterpiece he created that year. Gene Hackman for the first time proved that he was going to be one of our finest and most dependable actors. Again like the best movies of the 70's, music was used sparingly and peace and quiet were used to powerful effect. This is one of the five best conspiracy movies ever made.

35.) The Last Waltz (78) Director: Martin Scorsese
The Band

The first Scorsese movie on my list is also my favorite concert movie of all time. Every Thanksgiving I crank up the sound and watch this classic on my HDTV and I am in pure bliss. Not only do I love the music and The Band is one of my favorite music groups but I love the other performers as well. You have great performaces by Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and many others. I found Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm fascinating and this is truly a labor of love for Scorsese and it shows.

34.) The Sting (73) Director: George Roy Hill

I saw this first when I was five and I was totally lost. I then watched it again on television with my family and I was beginning to understand how special Paul Newman was as an actor. Redford and Newman made a perfect pair, the movie was flawless in it's period detail and the music is of course iconic. This is an extremely fun, well written and delightfully complicated movie.

33.) Blazing Saddles (74) Director: Mel Brooks

I first saw this on cable when I was in high school and when I first saw it I didn't get much of the vulgar humor. Then I watched it after a few years and I was getting it and I loved what I was getting. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face for I was seeing thinhgs I wasn't supposed to be seeing at my age. This is the second Mel Brooks comedy classic that came out in 74. Mel was having as great as a year as Coppola was on the drama side. The campfire scene is one of the funniest scenes ever in a movie and no movie since could get away with that scene without looking stupid.

32.) National Lampoon's Animal House (78) Director: John Landis

Now my wonderful parents took me to see this movie when I was ten years old and I loved them for it. I was a litle embarassed sitting next to them during the dirty parts but we all laughed a lot till the end. This was my introduction to the comic genius who next to Gleason is my favorite of all time, John Belushi. I never really watched "Saturday Night Live" that much so I didn't really know how great Belushi was. Of course since I first saw this classic I have seen the movie numerous times and anyone who was in college watched it with their classmates. It was the first slob vs. the snobs movie and no movie has duplicated that formula as successful as "Animal House", no one.

31.) Duel (74) Director: Steven Spielberg
Dennis Weaver

This movie actually debuted on television and was so theatrical and great that it was given a release in theatres later. This is a super intense, fun and exciting chase thriller and it is the first Spielberg movie on my list. It was so good that it put Spielberg on the map so he could make his next classic. The direction is flawless and the action scenes are masterful. It was also brilliant that we never saw who was in that truck, pure genius!

30.) Kramer vs. Kramer (79) Director: Robert Benton
Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry

This movie struck a deep chord in me probably because my parents were going through a divorce at the same time. This is a gut wrenching and powerful drama about divorce. Of course I could identify with the child's point of view but the movie totally makes you understand the adults side of it also. Dustin Hofman is amazing and his chemistry with Justin Henry is magic. There are so many powerful moments in this hard hitting drama.

29.) Breaking Away (79) Director: Peter Yates
Daniel Stern, Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Dooley

This inspirational and highly entertaining sports drama was the crowd pleaser of it's year and a huge sleeper. Again I wished I could have seen this in a packed theatre with everyone cheering. This movie is pure joy and the bicycle race at the end is suspenseful and thrilling!

28.) Slapshot (77) Director: George Roy Hill

Talking about seeing a vulgar movie when I was a small child, I saw things in "Slapshot" that made my head spin. I saw this on video when I was 12 and I had the time of my life. The Hanson brothers, the great Paul Newman, violent and hilarious hockey scenes and profane language that would have made my dad blush. This was not only one of the funniest movies I had seen it was also one of the best sports movies period. It had wonderful, messed up characters and so many classic lines. It also has an ending you don't see coming that even makes the movie more special. Perfect!

27.) 3 Women (77) Director: Robert Altman
Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall

This is a fever dream of a movie that has an ending that is as mesmerizing as "2001". I have seen this movie so many times and I still can't figure out what the end means. This is like a dream that you wake up from and you can't get a grasp of what you experienced but you know you saw something amazing. Altman films the movie like an extended dream sequence and the movie is hypnotic, dark and perplexing and will create a very great discussion on what it all means.

26.) Serpico (73) Director: Sidney Lumet
Al Pacino

One of the great Sidney Lumet movies of the 70's and one of Al Pacino's best performances. This is one of the best cop movies of the 70's dealing with police corruption and crooked cops. It is a very intricate and always compelling crime epic that is subtly intoxicating.

25.) A Clockwork Orange (71) Director: Stanley Kubrick
Malcolm McDowell

I first got a taste of the old ultra violence watching this disturbing movie over at my Dad's friends house. They had cable and we didn't and I watched only half of it and it scared me but I found it strangely interesting also. I saw it again on cable at home years later and I found it to be powerful, unsettling and amazing. This was actually my first Kubrick movie and I then became a big fan checking out all his other movies. This wasn't a fun movie but when I saw it I realized that sometimes the power of film is in how it can disturb and shake you up, not just make you feel pleasure.

24.) The Bad News Bears (76) Director: Michael Ritchie

I love this movie so much probably because I was in little league baseball at the time. The movie hit a nerve with me as well as make me laugh at all the cool, obscene language which was gold to a kid who was 8. I defend this as one of the best baseball movies ever simply because it is about fundamentals. Losing a game or losing and getting your butts kicked as a kid can be very painful and this movie captures that brilliantly. This is actually a more powerful movie than people think with a thrilling game at the end that has just the right ending. Walter Matthau should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

23.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (75) Director: Milos Forman
Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher

The first movie in a long time to sweep the five major categories at the Academy Awards is a very powerful drama. As a young child watching this on video I realized that there are a lot of messed up people in the World. I never hated a character in a movie as much as I hated Nurse Ratched. Louise Fletcher is amazing as is Jack Nicholson who in the 70's was building quite a powerful acting career. This has a shocking and powerful ending and the whole movie is disturbing. It is a haunting movie with great charcaters and a sobering look at how mental patients are treated.

22.) JAWS (75) Director: Steven Spielberg
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

The movie that started the Summer Blockbuster Era has been blamed for dumbing down the movie industry. Though actually it is one of the smartest and most entertaining movies of the 70's. It has scares, three deep characters that we care about and three of the best actors that could have been cast. This is a stomach churning rollercoaster ride that never lets up but also takes the time to develop it's characters. It also has the most famous movie score ever composed for a movie since "Psycho".

21.) Rocky (76) Director: John G. Alvidsen

Sylvester Stallone's inspiring and charming underdog boxing movie created one of the most iconic characters in the history of cinema. It has characters we care about, a real authentic and gritty urban setting and a thrilling boxing match. It also has one of the sweetest and best love stories I have ever seen. This labor of love has a lot of heart and a beautiful screenplay by Stallone.

20.) The French Connection (71) Director: William Friedkin

"The French Connection" has one of the best car chase scenes ever, an iconic screen character and a wonderful Gene Hackman performance. This is one of the best police dramas I have seen because of it's grittiness and authenticity.

19.) American Graffiti (73) Director: George Lucas

It has a wonderful soundtrack that is one of the best and it captures the 50's brilliantly. This is like a rock n' roll version of "Nashville" with it's plethora of great characters and great performances by future stars. The movie doesn't make any grand statements. It is just wall to wall music that is all wonderful, beautiful, vintage cars and people we care about. This is also a very funny and entertaining movie that was the first to introduce the end credit codas.

18.) Young Frankenstein (74) Director: Mel Brooks

This was the second comedy masterpiece by Mel Brooks in 1974 next to his "Blazing Saddles". This is the PG version of Brook's humor and as a kid I ate this one up. I went to see this at the Mundelein theatre at least five times. I laughed my ass off then and still do now as an adult. Now I love and appreciate the black and white cinematography and the homage to old monster movies of the past. I find this movie perfect from the writing to the sets to the look and feel of the movie.

17.) The Last Detail (73) Director: Robert Towne
Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid

I came to appreciate this movie late for when I first saw it at 12 years old I was bored. Then I saw it on video when I was 16 or 17 and I found one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. Everything Jack Nicholson starred in the 70's was pure magic. This is a comedy with a wonderfully written screenplay with classic characters and hilarious, obscene dialogue. The genius of this screenplay is that the Nicholson character along with others can't complete full sentences without using vulgar language. This is the way they express themselves and this has to have the roughest language out of any movie in the 70's including "Slapshot". Randy Quaid is also wonderful as the naive character in the bunch and the way he responds to the language is priceless.

16.) Halloween (78) Director: John Carpenter
Jamie Lee Curtis

This is my favorite horror movie of all time and I can watch it over and over again. I first saw this with my friend Jim Bivens on video when I was in high school. I was too scared to watch it and when I did finally watch it I was very scared. John Carpenter shocked the World with what was supposed to be a cheap, exploitation film but turned out to be wonderfully scary masterpiece. Next to Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter there has never been a better killer and monster than Micheal Meyers. Instead of women being stalked and butchered we found a screen heroine that fought back. This is every bit as well directed and effective as anything Hitchcock ever made. It still holds up today and there will never be a slasher film as great as this one.

15.) Star Wars (77) Director: George Lucas

This landmark movie is one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. This cheaply made fantasy film became one of the biggest phenomenons in film history. Now it has reached generations and generations of kids and it still makes an impact today. Everyone wanted to see this movie when it came out and I saw it months after it came out. I went to see it with my Dad at the Hawthorn theatre and I was glued to the screen and I never wanted the movie to end. This is what the magic of movies is about and it has touched people as much as a classic like "The Wizard of Oz" has.

14.) Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (74) Director: Martin Scorsese
Ellyn Burstyn, Diane Ladd, Vic Tayback, Kris Kristofferson, Jodie Foster

The movie that was spun off into the hit television show "Alice". Actually it is another Scorsese masterpiece and the best movie about a single mother ever made. Elleyn Burstyn gives one of the best female performances I have seen and the movie shows us a special bond between Mother and Son. Only Scorsese could take a domestic drama and turn it into a powerful and thrilling movie.

13.) Annie Hall (77) Director: Woody Allen
Woody Allen, Diane Keaton

Obviously Woody Allen's best movie is also one of the funniest and best romantic comedies ever made. This started a fashion trend and introduced us to a new and more mature Woody Allen. It was also one of the best date movies with a screenplay that is brilliant, hilarious and profound. Even people who dislike Woody Allen I think would like this movie.

12.) Mean Streets (73) Director: Martin Scorsese
Harvey Keitel, Robert Deniro

This Scorsese masterpiece has an authentic look, a wonderful soundtrack and some amazing performances. This was the first time we really noticed Deniro and the movie is intense, funny and shockingly violent. This gave us a little taste of what would become "Good Fellas". It was also probably the first time we knew that we were in the hands of a pure film genius.

11.) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (77) Director: Steven Spielberg
Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr

This came out the same summer as "Star Wars" and is actually the better science fiction film. That is because it had a more human touch and "Star Wars" isn't the best Star Wars movie. The special effects are beautiful and haunting, the film making is perfection and the performances are touching. On a technical scale this is probably the best movie that Spielberg directed. It is my favorite science fiction movie of the decade and one of the most touching and wonderful movies I have ever encountered. When I saw this with my mother and sister my eyes popped out of my head and I was lost for good. I ran the whole gamut of emotions for the movie scared me also.

10.) The Godfather II (74) Director: Francis Coppola

The second masterpiece that Coppola directed in 1974, "The Godfather II" is almost equal to the original. There are more wonderful characters added and Michael Corleone is in charge. There is also more to do for Fredo played by the wonderful actor John Cazale. This is a continuation of an epic crime saga that is every bit as thrilling, powerful and intense as the original.

9.) Blue Collar (78) Director: Paul Schrader
Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto

This American classic is probably the best movie I ever saw about the American blue collar worker. Richard Pryor gives the best performance of his career and the movie builds in suspense and back stabbing intrigue towards an explosive and shocking ending. Great characters, great drama and outstanding characters, this is the most under rated movie of the 70's and a masterpiece.

8.) The Last Picture Show (71) Director: Peter Bogdonavich
Jeff Bridges, Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, Ben Johnson, Cybill Shepherd

Possibly one of the best screen adaptations of a novel and one of the most beauitful movies I have seen. This poetic and touching drama harkens back to the last days of innocence in the 50's. An old fashioned coming of age drama with Jeff Bridges first great performance and equisite cinematography. There is not one bad shot or false moment in this breathtaking movie.

7.) Taxi Driver (76) Director: Martin Scorsese
Robert Deniro, Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle, Harvey Keitel

Scorsese's best movie of the 70's is a highly charged, explosive and extremely violent, urban classic. It has the best performance by Deniro in the 70's and a brave performance by Jodie Foster. It is fascinating to see the streets of New York with the XXX theatres and crime and filth and see how much it has changed since then. This is an unrelenting and hard hitting masterpiece that was the most shocking movie of the 70's.

6.) The China Syndrome (79) Director: James Bridges
Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas

This movie is a perfect and highly suspenseful thriller that is intense and provocative from the first frame to the last. This is the best conspiracy drama of the 70's hands down. At the time the subject matter was highly topical and scared a lot of audiences. I have seen it many times and it keeps me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it. Jack lemmon is amazing and this might be Fonda's best performance of her career.

5.) The Wanderers (79) Director: Phillip Kauffman
Ken Wahl, Linda Manz, Dolph Sweet

This neglected midnight cult classic is one of my all time favorites because I have seen it more times than any other movie. I have seen it over 100 times and it never gets old. I have sat through it with my mother, my father, friends and have loved it every time. It has a great soundtrack, great characters, a brilliant, profane screenplay. It portrays better than any movie or television show how much our innocent 50's changed into a turbulent and tumultous 60's. From Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the haunting Bob Dylan ballad "The Times They Are A-Changin" this movie is pitch perfect. It has gangs, comedy, drama, danger and some of my favorite characters ever in a movie. At the end I remember all the different ethnic gangs and how they were fighting each other. Racism was very prevalent at that time and by the end of the movie all the gangs made up with each other. All I thought of when I was a kid is how wonderful it would be if all the races now could settle their differences like it was done in this masterpiece.

4.) All That Jazz (79) Director: Bob Fosse
Roy Scheider, Ann Reinking, Jessica Lange, Ben Vereen

Next to "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain" this is my favorite musical of all time. Bob Fosse's semi auto biographical movie was compared to Fellini's "8 1/2" but I think it stands on it's own. Roy Scheider is fantastic as the Fosse alter ego. I love the darkness and the sexy production numbers. I love the depravity of one man's drive for success and perfection and then his ultimate destruction. There is no more thrilling and beautiful rush of an opening sequence of any movie in the 70's or any musical of all time as there is in "All That Jazz". I have seen this movie on multiple occasions and I get wrapped up in it every time. The closing musical number is also the most powerful and haunting closing of any movie in the 70's

3.) Dog Day Afternoon (76) Director: Sidney Lumet
Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Broderick, Chris Sarandon, Charles Durning

This bank robber, heist movie is my favorite one of all time. This is a powerful, topical, darkly hilarious classic with Pacino's best performance of his career. It also has a haunting and memorable performance by John Cazale. The movie is touching, tension filled, funny and brilliantly written. The movie carries you away and best defines how majestic the American crime film was in the 70's much more so than any other decade.

2.) All the President's Men (76) Director: Alan J. Pakula
Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander

This is my favorite movie of all time about politics but it is so much more. This is like a detective thriller that unfolds like a novel. I never knew how thrilling a movie could be about the uncovering of Watergate. This was the same subject matter that bored me to death when I had to watch the footage on television as a child. What this movie does is take a subject as inert as a political scandal and turn it into one of the best thrillers ever made. The performaces by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are perfect and the movie moves at a blistering pace wrapping you up in it's intrigue.

1.) The Godfather (72) Director: Francis Coppola
Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Talia Shire, Robert Duvall, John Cazale

The best American crime saga of the 70's is one of the best screen adaptations of a novel ever made. Francis Coppola has turned a trashy, melodramatic pulp novel into the best movie of the 1970's and arguably of all time. This is a breathtaking, powerful and operatic masterpiece with a cast to die for. It has one of the best edited monatges ever in cinema history with it's "baptism of fire sequence". It made a major star out of Al Pacino, brought Marlon Brando back from obscurity and has some of the best cinematography ever. You can watch this movie over and over and every time you get completely swept up in it. This is flawless, influential and powerful Hollywood commercial film making at it's best!

I hope some of my favorites are yours. I hope you all check out some of my choices that you have never seen. Everyone has their own favorite movies of the 70's and at least I can get to influence someone born after the 70's to discover new classics. I do feel bad that I do not include foreign films of the 70's and I have to work on that. The 70's to me was the best and most wonderful decade for motion pictures. In about a month I will have my 100 best movies of the 80's, the decade I grew up and became an adult in.


  1. Terrific list! I grew up loving many of these movies, especially The Wanderers. It's a shame an era of greatness like this will never come back :(

  2. A good listing, I was just a kid in the 70's so I wanna re-live that period via movies and you've given me a great starting point.

  3. It's wonderful to see "The Wanderers" appreciated by someone other than me! I've loved this movie forever -- it's in my top 10 of all time, I think. Great list here, but I would have included Monty Python's "Life of Brian" too. I laugh just thinking about that film. And Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock" was hauntingly beautiful (I had to find that panpipe theme music on YouTube and listen to it again just now; it's as mesmerizing as ever). I liked his "The Last Wave" too, just because its tone was so quietly disturbing. Maybe these are among the foreign films you mentioned? But there's one more I can't forget: "Return of the Secaucus Seven." I miss the 70s!

  4. Great list! I've been reading the book (actually listening on audible) called, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls...How the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll generation saved Hollywood". It's a fabulous book that covers almost all of the movies on your list, in great detail.

  5. how about scarecrow-1973

  6. Scarecrow has great acting but I couldn't get into the story.

  7. the super cops, 3 days of the condor, anything from mel brooks, the French connection, gumball rally, gator/white lightening....the list can just go on and on, the 70's had the greatest movies!