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

1971

Bananas (1971), 82 minutes, D: Woody Allen
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Carnal Knowledge (1971), 97 minutes, D: Mike Nichols
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A Clockwork Orange (1971, UK), 137 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
Provocatively adapted from the famous novel by Anthony Burgess. A glossy, stylish, graphically-violent, controversial, futuristic, science-fiction satire about the effects of crime and punishment (aversion therapy and brainwashing against violence) on a British teenaged punk. After a night of hooliganism with his vicious gang of droogs, including gang rapes and beatings, a sadistic Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is captured. In a grim, unorthodox governmental experiment, he is re-programmed, through his love for Beethoven's music, to reject violence, but he is dehumanized in the process of being cured. Vengeance is revisited upon him by his former victims after he is released into the society.

Dirty Harry (1971), 103 minutes, D: Don Siegel
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Duel (1971), 90 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
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Fiddler on the Roof (1971), 180 minutes, D: Norman Jewison
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The French Connection (1971), 104 minutes, D: William Friedkin
An action-packed, intense, gritty, Best Picture-winning crime thriller filmed on location and based on a true story, starring two hard-nosed, vulgar New York City police cops who expose an international, heroin-smuggling operation based in Marseilles - headed by suave, elusive, mastermind crime boss Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey). Passionate, tough, pushy, and unorthodox narcotics detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) recklessly and obsessively fights crime with partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider). With the breath-taking, famous elevated-railway scene of Doyle fearlessly chasing a runaway train - with Charnier's henchman Pierre Nicoli (Marcel Bozzufi) in a borrowed car while narrowly dodging traffic and bystanders. A sequel four years later chased Charnier to Marseilles.

Get Carter (1971, UK), 111 minutes, D: Mike Hodges
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Harold and Maude (1971), 90 minutes, D: Hal Ashby
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Klute (1971), 114 minutes, D: Alan J. Pakula
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The Last Picture Show (1971), 118 minutes, D: Peter Bogdanovich
Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. A bleak, black and white cinematic modern-day classic, set in the small, northwestern (fictional) Texas town of Anarene in the period between the end of World War II and the Korean War in the early 50s. A poignant, coming-of-age tale of the loss of innocence for teenagers in the slowly-dying town, symbolized by the closing of the local picture palace, owned by Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson). The story is about a pair of HS football players, seniors Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) - who has an affair with the lonely football-basketball coach's wife Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman), and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) - who dates the sexy, self-centered, spoiled student beauty Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd in her film debut) and enlists after being dumped. Other desperate townsfolk are also having affairs - Jacy's loose mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn) with oilfield worker Abilene (Clu Gulager).

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), 120 minutes, D: Robert Altman
A classic, dark-toned, moody anti-Western from iconoclastic and offbeat director Altman, based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton. At the turn of the century, a mysterious, roguish, small-time, frontier drifter/gambler John McCabe (Warren Beatty) opens up a brothel/casino in the great northern, wintry wilderness settlement of Presbyterian Church - a grimy, lamp-lit and shoddy mining town. Amiable braggart McCabe has entrepreneurish ambitions and partners with opium-smoking, British whorehouse madame Constance Miller (Julie Christie) who helps to stabilize the operation and make it a successful enterprise. McCabe refuses to sell out to a corporation, leaving him vulnerable to hired bounty hunters who track him down in the tragic finale. With great cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond.

Play Misty For Me (1971), 102 minutes, D: Clint Eastwood
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Shaft (1971), 100 minutes, D: Gordon Parks
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Straw Dogs (1971, UK), 118 minutes, D: Sam Peckinpah
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Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971, UK), 110 minutes, D: John Schlesinger
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Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song (1971), 97 minutes, D: Melvin Van Pebbles
Actor/director/writer Melvin Van Peebles' X-rated, confrontational cult film was the first true blaxploitation film - it was specifically designed to upset white audiences (advertised with "Rated X by an All-White Jury"), with Peebles himself playing the part of the sex-hungry, violent anti-hero. The successful independent film (budgeted at $150,000) was released by independent distributor Cinemation, and aimed at urban black audiences. It was an anti-White, anti-authority diatribe - explained in the film's opening: "This film is dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man...Starring: The Black Community." It caused tremendous controversy for its militancy, under-age sex, anti-white sentiment, revenge-themes, and violence, although it was one of the most important black American films of the decade. It was supplemented with jump-cuts, experimental lighting, freeze-frames, tinted and overlapping images and montages as it chronicled the successful (uncharacteristically) flight of a black fugitive nicknamed "Sweet Sweetback" (due to his large-sized manhood and insatiable sexual prowess) through Los Angeles - and toward and across the Mexican border.

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), 102 minutes, D: Monte Hellman
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Walkabout (1971, Australia), 95 minutes, D: Nicolas Roeg
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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), 100 minutes, D: Mel Stuart
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W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971, Yugo/W. Germ.) (aka W.R.: Misterije Organizma), 85 minutes, D: Dusan Makavejev
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