Films 1970s

The 1970s: the Second Golden Age of Cinema. Hollywood had fully embraced mature, intelligent and challenging work – while still producing stuff like Rocky and Star Wars. Directors who had grown up on cinema across the world did some of their finest work. Heck, even the Best Picture winners of this decade were pretty much all great.

1970

Airport – laughable, turgid and terrible soap, full of cardboard characters and ends with a disaster epilogue. A massive hitDirector: George Seaton
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg
Cromwell – wildly inaccurate but spiritually faithful dramatisation of the English Civil War, the only sympathetic Cromwell flick out thereDirector: Ken Hughes
Cast: Richard Harris, Alec Guinness, Dorothy Tutin
M*A*S*H – very dated, sexist, counter-culture comedy which I found hugely grating and unfunnyDirector: Robert Altman
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Sally Kellerman
Patton – Best Picture winning biopic, very overlooked with a breathtakingly brilliant, transformative performance by ScottDirector: Franklin J Schaffner
Cast: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes – the purist’s Holmes film of choice, a wonderfully witty deconstruction of the detectiveDirector: Billy Wilder
Cast: Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page
Waterloo – practically a reconstruction of the battle, shot on a massive scale; the sort of film I’m a sucker forDirector: Sergei Bondarchuk
Cast: Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles

1971

The Anderson Tapes – a criminal, recently released from prison, plans a heist – but is unprepared for modern surveillanceDirector: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam
A Clockwork Orange – Kubrick’s violent dystopian counter-culture film, banned for decades in the UK. Scared its directorDirector: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg – a father copes with his son’s disability through jokes in this autobiographical play adaptationDirector: Peter Medak
Cast: Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, Peter Bowles
Death in Venice – landmark LGBTQ film of a dying composer falling for a beautiful boy in Venice. Creepier now than it was.Director: Luchino Visconti
Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Mark Burns, Marisa Berenson
The French Connection – Best Picture winner about an obsessed cop chasing down French drugs and damn the consequencesDirector: William Friedkin
Cast: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey
The Go-Between – an old man remembers the lovers he accidentally betrayed as a boy in this moving memory pieceDirector: Joseph Losey
Cast: Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Dominic Guard
Gumshoe – a would-be PI in Liverpool investigates murder while apeing Chandler in this off-the-wall spoofDirector: Stephen Frears
Cast: Albert Finney, Billie Whitelaw, Frank Finlay
Klute – a call-girl may hold the answer to a murder mystery in one of the first unsettling conspiracy thrillers of the 70sDirector: Alan J Pakula
Cast: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi
The Last Picture Show – in small-town America times change but life never does in this coming-of-age classicDirector: Peter Bogdanovich
Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd
Macbeth – Polanski’s dark and violent version of the tale, crammed with nihilismDirector: Roman Polanski
Cast: Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw
McCabe and Mrs Miller – revisionist Western about a crook and madam who find themselves out of their depthDirector: Robert Altman
Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjoinois
Mary, Queen of Scots – grand but second-tier Tudor history epic, with a little too much sympathy for Mary Queen of ScotsDirector: Charles Jarrott
Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Timothy Dalton
Nicholas and Alexandria – grand biopic of the last Tsar and his wife, a film I grew up watching and have no end of affection forDirector: Franklin J Schaffner
Cast: Michael Jayston, Janet Suzman, Laurence Olivier
Sunday, Bloody Sunday – a man and a woman share the same lover, a hedonistic young man. Director: John Schlesinger
Cast: Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson, Murray Melvin
Ten Rillington Place – excellent true-life crime drama, focusing on John Christie and the wrongful execution of Timothy EvansDirector: Richard Fleischer
Cast: Richard Attenborough, John Hurt, Judy Geeson
Walkabout – dreamlike coming-of-age story set in the Australian outbackDirector: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpilil

1972

The Candidate – a young man runs for Senate largely because he looks like Robert Redford and can win. Will he keep his idealism?Director: Michael Ritchie
Cast: Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Parisian snobs keep having their dinners interrupted. Playful, absurdist farceDirector: Luis Buñuel
Cast: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran
Fat City – a punch drunk old boxer deals with addiction, failure and knowing he’ll never make the big time.Director: John Huston
Cast: Stacey Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrell
The Poseidon Adventure – a cruise liner flips over at sea and the survivors launch a thousand enjoyable disaster film clichésDirector: Ronald Neame
Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters
Young Winston – handsome biopic covering the early years of Winston Churchill, from cradle to maiden speech at the commonsDirector: Richard Attenborough
Cast: Simon Ward, Robert Shaw, Anne Bancroft

1973

Badlands – two young people fall in love, kill people and hit the road in this lyrical, poetic debut from Terrence MalickDirector: Terrence Malick
Cast: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacey, Warren Oates
Charley Varrick – after a job gone wrong, a low-time crook has to use his cunning to escape from the clutches of the mafiaDirector: Don Siegel
Cast: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Andy Robinson
Day for Night – romantic entanglements take place on a film set, in this charming, witty film about making moviesDirector: François Truffaut
Cast: Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Valentine Cortese
The Day of the Jackal – a hitman is hired by the OAS to assassinate Charles de Gaulle in this creeping thriller.Director: Fred Zinnemann
Cast: Edward Fox, Michael Lonsdale, Delphine Seyrig
The Last Detail – escorting a young sailor to prison, two others decide to help him experience life – in 48 hoursDirector: Hal Ashby
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Otis Young
The Long Goodbye – Philip Marlowe investigates again in this Altmanesque 1970s twist on Raymond ChandlerDirector: Robert Altman
Cast: Elliot Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden
The Sting – two conmen tip up in the 1920s to take down a ruthless gangster in this Best Picture winnerDirector: George Roy Hill
Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

1974

Chinatown – after a PI he is set up, he tries to find out why. His investigation leads to murder and dark secrets Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
The Godfather Part II – Best Picture winning sequel that explores the history of Vito Corleone and the corruption of Michael CorleoneDirector: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, John Cazale
The Man With the Golden Gun – Bond goes face-to-face with a hitman who prides himself on never missing.Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland
Murder on the Orient Express – Brilliant all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most famous Poirot novel. A dozen suspects: who did it?Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman
The Odessa File – a German journalist goes undercover to find a secret escape route for NazisDirector: Ronald Neame
Cast: Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell
The Towering Inferno – does exactly what it says on the tin, in this classic all-star disaster film. Director: Irwin Allen, John Guillermin
Cast: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway
Zardoz – in the future a slave hunter discovers he is the tool of the Gods. Or something. Crazy sci-fi, as bad as it soundsDirector: John Boorman
Cast: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman

1975

Barry Lyndon – an Irish chancer rises up the social ladder in 18th century England in this cold and distant epicDirector: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Michael Hordern
Dog Day Afternoon – a desperate bank robber finds himself at the centre of a media storm when he takes the bank hostageDirector: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning
French Connection II – Popeye Doyle follows those French drugs all the way back to Marseilles in this solid sequelDirector: John Frankenheimer
Cast: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson
Jaws – a killer shark terrorises a town: only three men can stop it. Spielberg’s (literal) monster hitDirector: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw
The Man Who Would Be King – in the British Raj, two conmen head out to the furthest reaches of India in search of richesDirector: John Huston
Cast: Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer
Nashville – lives intersect in the city of Nashville over one long weekend. Possibly Altman’s masterpiece.Director: Robert Altman
Cast: Ronee Blakely, Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Best Picture masterpiece as a criminal clashes with a stern matron in an asylumDirector: Milos Forman
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif
The Parallax View – a young journalist goes down a conspiracy rabbit hole, up against forces he can’t controlDirector: Alan J Pakula
Cast: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn
The Passenger – a man steals a dead mans identity, then gets in trouble when he tries to follow in his footstepsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Ian Hendry
Picnic at Hanging Rock – a series of disappearances take place in an Australian all girls school, in this ghostly masterpieceDirector: Peter Weir
Cast: Rachel Roberts, Anne-Louise Lambert, Dominic Guard
Three Days of the Condor – after his whole team is killed on his bosses orders, a young CIA analyst tries to find out whyDirector: Sydney Pollack
Cast: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow

1976

Marathon Man – a college post-graduate’s CIA brother is killed. A renegade Nazi is convinced he passed a secret to his brother. Director: John Schlesinger
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Oliver, Roy Scheider
Midway – a retelling of the famous WW2 battle, which never quite escapes its made-for-TV rootsDirector: Jack Smight
Cast: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn
Network – ahead-of-its-time media satire, as a TV anchorman loses his mind on and the Network turns him into a “mad prophet”Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Peter Finch, William Holden, Faye Dunaway
Rocky – a jobbing boxer gets offered a title shot. This Best Picture winner is more kitchen-sink than you’ll rememberDirector: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith
Taxi Driver – a desperate nobody fixates on a woman, a Presidential candidate and a child prostitute. Gripping, essential.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Cybil Shepherd, Jodie Foster

1977

Annie Hall – Woody Allen’s Best Picture winner about a neurotic man in a relationship with a lovable ditz. Genuinely funny.Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts
A Bridge Too Far – reconstruction of the disastrous Battle of Arnhem. A personal favourite and also a powerful call for peace.Director: Richard Attenborough
Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Sean Connery, Michael Caine
Close Encounters of the Third Kind – a number of people have alien encounters and receive a strange calling. Magical filmDirector: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Equus – a young boy blinds a stable of horses – a psychiatrist tries to find out why. Crude and literal,makes the play look badDirector: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Richard Burton, Peter Firth, Jenny Agutter
Julia – dubious biopic of Lilian Hellman and her friendship with a left-wing Jewish radical in Nazi GermanyDirector: Fred Zinnemann
Cast: Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards
The Spy Who Loved Me – Roger Moore’s ultimate Bond film: huge, silly, crammed with jokes and raised eyebrowsDirector: Lewis Gilbert
Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens
The Turning Point – two ballet dancers – one who retired young, one near the end of her career – deal with old resentmentsDirector: Herbert Ross
Cast: Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine, Tom Skerritt

1978

Blue Collar – in a car factory, three workers deal with heartless management in this rare slice of Loachian style US film-makingDirector: Paul Schrader
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor, Yaphet Kotto
Death on the Nile – all-star Agatha Christie murder mystery on the Nile. Perfect Sunday afternoon viewingDirector: John Guillermin
Cast: Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Bette Davis
The Deer Hunter – controversial Vietnam-set Best Picture winner as steel workers return from the war but are changed foreverDirector: Michael Cimino
Cast: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
The Driver – a nameless getaway driver gets involved in a huge score while being chased by an obsessed copDirector: Walter Hill
Cast: Ryan O’Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabella Adjani
The First Great Train Robbery – in Victorian London a gang of criminals plans a train heist.Director: Michael Chrichton
Cast: Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley Anne-Down
Invasion of the Body Snatchers – people’s behaviour changes overnight – could it be they are being replaced by aliens?Director: Philip Kaufman
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy
Midnight Express – Turkish Prison drama – to say it looks a bit racist and homophobic today is an understatementDirector: Alan Parker
Cast: Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt

1979

Alien – the classic space horror has the crew of a ship are haunted by a relentless monster.Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm
Apocalypse Now – landmark Vietnam epic, a demented fever dream version of Hearts of Darkness. I have mixed feelingsDirector: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
All That Jazz – autobiographical film based on Bob Fosse’s life. Electric and dynamic, an overlooked classic.Director: Bob Fosse
Cast: Roy Scheider, Ann Reinking, Leland Palmer
Being There – a mentally handicapped gardener, who has never left his home, is hailed as a sage by the rich and powerful.Director: Hal Ashby
Cast: Peter Sellers, Melvyn Douglas, Shirley Maclaine
The Black Hole – feeble attempt by Disney to do Star Wars with a demented scientist trying to control the power of a black holeDirector: Gary Nelson
Cast: Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster
The China Syndrome – a near-meltdown at a nuclear plant is covered up in this well made conspiracy thrillerDirector: James Bridges
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas
Kramer vs Kramer – Best Picture winning divorce and childcare drama as a Dad learns to care for his son than fights for custodyDirector: Robert Benton
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry
Moonraker – James Bond does Star Wars in what’s pretty much a remake of The Spy Who Loved MeDirector: Lewis Gilbert
Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale
Murder by Decree – Holmes investigates Jack the Ripper in this enjoyable mix of pastiche and Bonkers conspiracy theoryDirector: Bob Clark
Cast: Christopher Plummer, James Mason, Frank Finlay
Scum – power struggles between the kids in a brutal expose of the Borstal system. Hardhitting but essentialDirector: Alan Clarke
Cast: Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Julian Firth
Stalker – pretentious Russian sci-fi epic, as men travel through a zone given a strange power by an extra terrestrial encounterDirector: Andrei Tarkovsky
Cast: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – terminally dull launch of the Star Trek franchise, about a mysterious probe in spaceDirector: Robert Wise
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Tess – beautifully shot and tragic (if a little long) Hardy adaptation, filmed in France (for obvious legal reasons)Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth, Leigh Lawson
Time After Time – HG Wells builds a time machine and chases a fleeing Jack the Ripper to 1970s San FranciscoDirector: Nicholas Meyer
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen