Greatest Films of the 1970s
Greatest Films of the 1970s

Greatest Films of the 1970s
1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979


Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Airport (1970), 137 minutes, D: George Seaton

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), 110 minutes, D: Russ Meyer

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970, It./W. Germ.) (aka L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo), 98 minutes, D: Dario Argento

Claire's Knee (1970, Fr.) (aka Le Genou de Claire), (5th film in Six Moral Tales), 105 minutes, D: Eric Rohmer

El Topo (1970, Mex.), 125 minutes, D: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Five Easy Pieces (1970), 96 minutes, D: Bob Rafelson
An existential, off-beat road movie and character study of classical concert pianist-turned-oil rigger who must reluctantly return home. A talented musician-pianist Robert Dupea (Jack Nicholson) abandons his privileged, well-to-do family background, becoming the black sheep of his family as a crass, drifting, redneck, rough, beer-drinking oil worker in Southern California. After a period of twenty years, he confronts his past when he returns home to Washington State (Puget Sound) to his artistic, upper-class family and his dying father's deathbed, accompanied by his adoring but clinging, dim-witted, pregnant girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black). With the most-famous scene in the road-side restaurant when he orders a chicken-salad sandwich from a stubborn, strict waitress.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970, It./W. Germ.) (aka Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini), 94 minutes, D: Vittorio De Sica

Gimme Shelter (1970), 91 minutes, D: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970, It.) (aka Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto), 112 minutes, D: Elio Petri

Little Big Man (1970), 147 minutes, D: Arthur Penn

Love Story (1970), 99 minutes, D: Arthur Hiller

M*A*S*H (1970), 116 minutes, D: Robert Altman
Robert Altman's controversial, zany and satirical signature film (earning him the first of his five directorial Academy Award nominations), and best known as the source of the long-running television series. The countercultural, irreverent black comedy anti-war film takes place at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit during the Korean War, a thinly disguised allegory for the unpopular Vietnam War that was raging at the time. Quick-cut editing, fast-quipped overlapping lines of dialogue, and the busy soundtrack make repeated viewings necessary. The film's characters in the ensemble cast became truly memorable: Captain Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Donald Sutherland), Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre (Elliott Gould), Major Margaret "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman in an Oscar-nominated role), moralistic Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall), Major Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt), Colonel Henry Blake (Roger Bowen) and Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff, the only major cast member to star in the TV series.) With little over-riding plot, the episodic film with some improvisation basically examines how the wisecracking surgeons and other unit members irreverently deal with the pressures, boredom and stupidity of wartime, by engaging in pranks and anti-authoritarian behavior. The director capitalizes on the current disenchanted mood about the insane conflict and - with idiotic black humor, poured on the blood and gore in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital's operating room. The irreverent surgeons terrorize Major Burns and sexy head nurse "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan, save the camp dentist Painless Pole (John Schuck) from suicide while singing the famous theme song "Suicide Is Painless," and play in the climactic, rigged football game.

Patton (1970), 170 minutes, D: Franklin J. Schaffner
The epic Best Picture-winning film biography, shot in 70 mm. widescreen color, of the controversial, bombastic, multi-dimensional World War II general and hero George S. Patton. The larger-than-life, flamboyant, maverick, pugnacious military figure, nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts," was well-known for his fierce love of America, his temperamental battlefield commanding, his arrogant power-lust ("I love it. God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life"), his poetry writing, his belief in reincarnation, his verbal abuse and slapping of a battle-fatigued soldier, his anti-diplomatic criticism of the Soviet Union, and his firing of pistols at strafing fighter planes. The bigger-than-life screen biography is most noted for its brilliant opening monologue by Patton (George C. Scott), delivered before a gigantic American flag to the off-screen troops of the Allied Third Army ("No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country"). The story was based on two books: Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and A Soldier's Story by General Omar Bradley (portrayed by Malden).

Performance (1970, UK), 105 minutes, D: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970, UK), 125 minutes, D: Billy Wilder

Tristana (1970, Fr./It./Sp.), 95 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music (1970), 184 minutes, D: Michael Wadleigh

Zabriskie Point (1970), 112 minutes, D: Michelangelo Antonioni

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