Iconic Films Of The 1970s

The 1970s stands out as one of the most influential decades in film history. It was during that time that many of Hollywood’s most recent iconic stars, directors, and writers proved their talents. Not only did films during this decade honor their predecessors, but they also paved the way for the film industry as we know it today. Many of the films that people consider to be classic were born out of this era and are considered just as excellent as when they were first released. Take a look back at these iconic 70s films.

A Clockwork Orange Is Packed With Social Commentary

Based on Anthony Burgess’s novel of the same name, A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film that covers themes of morality, psychology, crime, and more. Based in a dystopian near-future Britain, a gang led by a teenager named Alex (Malcolm McDowell) commit all kinds of atrocities such as assault which they refer to as “ultra-violence.”

Alex and Droogs
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Alex is eventually captured and is attempted to be rehabilitated through a horrific psychological process. The film was a smashing success, getting nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. However, some audiences were shocked by the graphic nature of the film.

Taxi Driver Is A Different Look At Heroism

A psychological thriller, Taxi Driver, was written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorcese. Taking place after the Vietnam War in a corrupt version of New York City, veteran (De Niro) takes up work as a nighttime taxi driver. Over time, he slowly loses his sanity and makes plans to assassinate a presidential candidate and the pimp of an underage call girl.

Robert de Niro in ab
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Upon release, the film was praised by audiences and critics and was nominated for four Academy Awards. Even renowned critic Roger Ebert claimed that it was one of the best films he had ever seen.

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest Set A Record At The Academy Awards

Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest follows recidivist criminal, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), who agrees to be institutionalized in a mental facility although not actually mentally ill.

Jack Nicholson
United Artists
United Artists

By doing so, he hopes to avoid manual labor and live out his days in comfort, however, his plan backfires. Since its release in 1975, the film has been considered one of the greatest of all time, being the second to win all five major Academy Awards.

Animal House Set The Bar For Comedies

Written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller, Chris Miller, and directed by John Landis Animal House is a college comedy. Set in 1962, the film follows a raucous group of fraternity members who try and fight against the strict rules enforced by the dean of Faber College.

John Belushi in Animal House
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

While the film had mixed reviews upon its release in 1978, critic Roger Ebert proclaimed it one of the best films of the year. The highest-grossing comedy of all time, the film was made for only $2.8 million and grossed $142 million.

Jaws Still Keeps People Out Of The Water

Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975, Jaws is a thriller-horror about a massive man-eating great white shark that is plaguing the east coast beach town of Amity Island. It is then up to police chief Martin Brody (Martin Scheider) to hunt and kill it along with marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and shark hunter (Robert Shaw).

Movie Cover
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Although the production of the film had countless setbacks, it all paid off in the end, being recognized as “a watershed moment” in film history, changing the Hollywood business model. Today, it is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

Rocky Redefined Sports Films

Rocky is a 1976 sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written and starring Sylvester Stallone. It’s a story about a boxer, Rocky Balboa, who is down on his luck, working as a debt collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia. Boxing on the side, he eventually gets a chance to compete in the world heavyweight championship.

Rocky running
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

With a budget of just $1 million, the film made over $225 million, making it the highest-grossing film of 1976. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it won Best Picture and established Stallone as a full-blown movie star. Since its release, there have been seven sequels including the Creed films.

Close Encounters Of The Third Time Is Out Of This World

A passion project of Stephen Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is considered to be one of his finest works. The film tells the story of Roy Neary, a blue-collar worker whose life is turned upside down after he encounters an unidentified flying object.

Alien ship
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Made on a budget of $20 million, the film grossed over $300 million worldwide, earning numerous nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and is revered by the American Film Institute. Deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress in 2007, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

The Deer Hunter Demonstrated The Horrors During And After The Vietnam War

Released in 1978, The Deer Hunter follows the lives of three blue-collar steelworkers (Robert de Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage), whose lives are turned upside down after fighting in the Vietnam War. Although the film was over-schedule and over-budget, costing $15 million, the film was a smashing success, taking home five Academy Awards and grossing over $49 million.

The main three
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

One of the films most memorable moments includes a game of “Russian roulette” at a Vietnam POW camp. Although the scene displays de Niro and Walken’s incredible acting talent, it was highly controversial among audiences.

All The President’s Men Told A True Story

All the President’s Men is a neo-noir political thriller centering on the Watergate scandal under the presidency of Richard Nixon. Based on the book of the same name by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the film stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the novel’s authors, as they investigate Watergate for The Washington Post.

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The film was nominated for numerous Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards in numerous categories, eventually being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Halloween Was The Beginning Of A Huge Franchise

Directed and scored by John Carpenter, Halloween is an independent slasher film starring Jamie Lee Curtis in her debut film and Donald Pleasence. The film follows Laurie Strode (Curtis) who is stalked by the serial killer, Michael Meyers, who escaped a sanitarium and goes on a killing spree on Halloween night.

Michael Meyers
Compass International Pictures
Compass International Pictures

Earning $70 million worldwide, the film was an overall success, as well as setting the bar for future slasher films. Although there was some controversy regarding sadism and misogyny, the film grew into a franchise which constructs a background, connecting Laurie Strode and Michael Meyers.

Where Were You In ’62?: American Grafitti

Directed by George Lucas American Graffiti follows a group of high school students and everything they get themselves into over the course of a night. This film has an ensemble crew including Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, and which drew crowds.

Mel's Drive-In
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Furthermore, it is a testament to the rock and roll/car culture that came from the baby boom generation after World War II. Working on a meager budget of $777,000, it turned out to be one of the most profitable films of all time grossing more than $200 million.

Serpico Tells The Story of A Real Undercover Police Officer

A biographical crime film starring Al Pacino and directed by Sidney Lumet. It is an adaptation of Peter Maas’s biography of the New York Police undercover officer, Frank Serpico. The film and the book follow Serpico’s life between the 12 years of 1960 and 1972. While working as an upstanding undercover officer, Frank Serpico is exposed to the corruption of other New York police officers.

Al Pacino in Serpico
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

It is then up to him and what he’s willing to risk to expose it. The film earned numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Godfather Remains At The Top

Released in 1972 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather is based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, the story focuses on the Corleone New York crime family between the years 1945 to 1955.

Vito Corleone
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

During that time, we witness the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando) and the evolution of his son Michael (Pacino) going from a reluctant family member to a mafia boss. At the time, it was the highest-grossing film ever made and was praised by critics, and is ranked the second-greatest film in American history by the American Film Institute.