Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1970

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

The Year 1970
Year
Event and Significance
Early 70s
The success of blaxploitation films led to an onslaught of other black exploitation genres, with numerous remakes or lesser imitations ranging from westerns to martial arts kung fu films to horror and gangster films. Sample films included Hit Man (1972), Blacula (1972) and Blackenstein (1973), and Larry Cohen's Black Caesar (1973). However, the vast majority of these films were still distributed, produced, and controlled by non-blacks. All of the blaxploitation films set the stage for Hip Hop music and subculture, future directors such as Spike Lee and John Singleton, and movies like Harlem Nights (1989), Posse (1993), the Beverly Hills Cop series, and Pulp Fiction (1994).
Early 1970s
Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider (1969), Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces (1970), and Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971) were representative of the New Hollywood movement of unconventional auteur directors with new ideas and personal visions.
1970
George C. Scott won the Best Actor Oscar for his memorable performance as General George Patton in Fox's classic war biopic Patton (1970) but he declined to accept the nomination and the gold statuette award (and did not attend the awards ceremony in 1971), because he did not feel himself to be in any competition with other actors, calling it a "meat parade" or "meat market." Earlier, he had declined his nomination for his role in The Hustler (1961), becoming the first actor to decline an Oscar nomination (received in 1962).
1970
With Helen Hayes' win as Best Supporting Actress for Airport (1970), she became the first actor or actress to receive Academy Awards in the two categories honoring performers. She had previously won Best Actress 38 years earlier for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931/32).
1970
Disaster films became a main staple of films in the 70s -- the trend began with Airport (1970). The entire disaster film craze was really kick-started by The Poseidon Adventure (1972).
1970
On April 13, 1970, an explosion on board the Apollo 13 lunar mission forced the crew to abort their mission to the moon and devise a way to bring their compromised spaceship home. They landed safely in the Pacific Ocean four days later. The events of the space flight were recounted in director Ron Howard's Apollo 13 (1995) twenty five years later, with Tom Hanks in the role of veteran astronaut Jim Lovell.
1970
Director/star Alejandro Jodorowsky's self-conscious, surrealistic, often incoherent, unique and avant-garde El Topo (1970, Mex.) (translated "the Mole"), was a gory (and mystical) "spaghetti" western about a black-clad rogue gunfighter on a quest to defeat the 'four masters of the gun.' It was the first 'official' midnight movie. It premiered at midnight in a rundown NYC theatre (on lower Eighth Avenue) and ran seven nights a week for many months. The concept of long-playing, taboo-breaking, eccentric midnight movies designed to appeal to urban film fans was thereby born.
1970
The AristoCats (1970) was the first feature-length animated film to be entirely completed after Walt Disney's death, and the last animated feature to be approved by Walt Disney.
1970
Director William Friedkin's milestone mainstream film The Boys in the Band (1970), an adaptation of Mart Crowley's off-Broadway 1968 stage play, was notable as being the first Hollywood feature film to examine the homosexual culture and community in close-up fashion, and to portray gays as human beings who could have a sense of camaraderie.
1970
The rock band The Who performed their rock opera Tommy and became the first act to play rock music at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on June 7, 1970. Producer/director Ken Russell's British rock-musical film Tommy (1975) was based on the band's 1969 rock opera album musical Tommy.
1970
The IMAX wide-screen format premiered in the Fuji Pavilion at the EXPO '70 in Osaka, Japan, with the 17-minute film Tiger Child.
1970
Nevada millionaire Kirk Kerkorian bought MGM in 1970, and then promptly downsized the company. He sold off acres of the studio's real estate of backlots, and its valuable film memorabilia (such as Dorothy's The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers) for a fraction of its real value. The sell-off financed an expansion of Kerkorian's hotel-casino investments, and began a decline for the studio.
1970
Sexploitation independent 'nudie-cutie' director Russ Meyer's X-rated Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) was his first major studio feature film. The T & A exploitation spoof film was made for a $1 million budget - it was filled with sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Surprisingly, its screenplay was written by film critic Roger Ebert as an unofficial sequel to Fox's Valley of the Dolls (1967) based upon Jacqueline Susann's trashy novel.
1970
Veteran Hollywood director Irving Rapper's campy biopic released by United Artists, The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970), was adapted for the screen from a best-selling, late 60s autobiographical account. It was Hollywood's first attempt at exploring transgender issues -- it told about an ex-GI who became a blonde beauty and was transformed in the early 1950s in a Denmark clinic from George Jorgensen Jr. into Christine Jorgensen (John Hansen), one of the earliest surgically-altered transsexuals.
1970
Mike Nichols' satirical war comedy Catch-22 (1970), an adaptation of Joseph Heller's 1961 book, was the first US film to depict an individual (Martin Balsam as Col. Cathcart) defecating on a toilet seat, and unwinding a long piece of toilet tissue, while non-chalantly talking to earnest Chaplain Tappman (Anthony Perkins). Both actors also appeared earlier in Hitchcock's thriller Psycho (1960) - another film with a toilet first -- the first on-screen toilet flush. The film was an adaptation of Joseph Heller's anti-establishment 1961 first novel - an autobiographical novel about a bomber squadron in WW-II Italy.
1970
Robert Altman's and 20th Century Fox's anti-war black comedy M*A*S*H (1970), the full length feature film upon which a CBS-TV-series (beginning in 1972 and lasting eleven seasons until its final episode in 1983) was based, was set during the Korean War at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), although it commented upon the current war in Vietnam being waged at the time. It was claimed that MASH was the first major US studio film to use the word "f--k" in its dialogue. Its sole Oscar win (from five nominations) was Best Adapted Screenplay. Screenings of the film were banned on US military bases throughout the world.
1970
The popular landmark tear-jerker and commercially-successful film Love Story (1970), adapted from Eric Segal's screenplay and thin novel, was the first modern romance film blockbuster. Its story of a rich boy/poor girl romance, was backed by Paramount's fast-living head of production Robert Evans. It averted the struggling studio from financial collapse, and beautiful Ali McGraw (Evans married the starlet) was put on the January 11, 1971 cover of Time Magazine. Evans later made the equally-successful The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part 2 (1974) films and Chinatown (1974) in the early 70s.
1970
Following in the tradition of the "Kitchen Sink" UK films in the 50s and 60s, director Ken Loach's low-budget, documentary-style, second feature-film Kes (1969), first shown at the London Film Festival in late 1969 and placed in general release in the UK the following year and shown at the New York Film Festival in the US in 1970, has since been regarded as one of the best British films ever made (it was a Best Film nominee for the 1971 BAFTA Film Awards). The dark and moving independent film was a heartbreaking, authentic, coming-of-age family drama about an abused 15 year old working-class Yorkshire boy who found meaning in his life by raising a baby kestrel (falcon). Surprisingly, the starkly-truthful and socially-conscious naturalistic film was never released commercially in the US.
1970
Let It Be (1970) was released, the last film starring the Fab Four. This effort chronicled the Beatles recording their last-produced Apple studios album - a comeback attempt that actually led to their breakup.
1970
Screen legend Joan Crawford appeared in her final film - long-time Hammer Studios' director Freddie Francis' B-horror film Trog (1970). Her last acting role in the notoriously bad film was as eminent anthropologist Dr. Brockton who discovered a primitive "missing link" troglodyte (Joe Cornelius) living deep inside a cave. Crawford later admitted that she was thoroughly embarrassed by her participation in the campy, monster-on-the-loose film.


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