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


Greatest Films of the 1970s
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1972

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

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972, W. Germ/Peru/Mex.) (aka Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes), 100 minutes, D: Werner Herzog

Cabaret (1972), 124 minutes, D: Bob Fosse
Set in a cabaret in sexually-charged, decadent, 1930s pre-war Berlin, one of the greatest musicals ever produced, adapted from the Kander-Ebb Broadway stage musical from John Van Druten's play (and movie) I Am a Camera, which, in turn, was based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories. Young, bisexual Englishman Brian Roberts (Michael York) becomes involved with free-spirited, promiscuous Kit Kat Club singer and American expatriate Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli in her first singing role on-screen). Unbeknownst to her, he also shares her with wealthy German baron playboy/homosexual Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem). The seedy and sleazy Kit Kat Club is presided over by a sinister, leering, androgynous emcee/master of ceremonies (Joel Grey). After Sally's abortion and the end of her affair, she sings: "Life is a cabaret, old chum, it's only a cabaret, old chum, and I love a Cabaret!" The show 'must go on' night after night as the monstrous Nazis come to power, anti-Jewish persecution and propaganda increases (the subplot of the love affair between Brian's Jewish friends Fritz and Natalia) and the horror of war appears on the horizon.

The Candidate (1972), 109 minutes, D: Michael Ritchie

Cries and Whispers (1972, Swe.) (aka Viskingar Och Rop), 106 minutes, D: Ingmar Bergman

Deliverance (1972), 109 minutes, D: John Boorman
British director John Boorman's gripping, absorbing, action-adventure film - about four suburban Atlanta businessmen-friends who encounter a disastrous rite-of-passage during a summer weekend's river-canoeing trip. Its famous tagline was: "This is the weekend they didn't play golf." The buddy group, composed of Ed Gentry (Jon Voight), ultra-macho Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), fearful weakling Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty), and Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) face a nightmarish situation when they come upon the rapids and local hillbillies who degrade and terrorize them. The stark, uncompromising film was one of the first to deal with the theme of city-dwellers against the powerful, territorial forces of nature and the wilderness. The exciting box-office hit, most remembered for its banjo dueling and brutal, visceral action (and sexually-violent sodomy scene), was based on James Dickey's adaptation of his own 1970 best-selling novel (his first) of the same name - he contributed the screenplay and acted in a minor part as the town sheriff. The beautifully photographed film (by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond), shot entirely on location (in northern Georgia's Rabun County, bisected by the Chattooga River), was the least-nominated film among the other Best Picture nominees.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, Fr./It./Sp.) (aka Le Charme Discret De La Bourgeoisie), 105 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

Fat City (1972), 100 minutes, D: John Huston

Frenzy (1972, UK), 116 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock

The Godfather (1972), 175 minutes, D: Francis Ford Coppola
The operatic, violent Best Picture-winning drama was based on Mario Puzo's novel of the same name. Here is a bravura, genre-defining, epic-length Mafia/gangster classic that evokes the mid and late 1940's period with powerful character development, lighting, costumes, and settings. The film follows the fortunes of the fictitious Corleones, a powerful Mafia family with its own family rituals and separate code of honor, revenge, justice, law and loyalty that transcends all other codes. When Godfather Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is shot by rivals, his sons Sonny (James Caan), Fredo (John Cazale) and favorite young son Michael (Al Pacino) assume control, with Michael ascending to a prominent position of power. Flawless performances from an all-star cast, a dramatic plot, Nino Rota's unforgettable music, violent set-pieces, and the grotesque, severed horse-head scene.



Last Tango in Paris (1972, It./Fr.)
, 125 minutes, D: Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial, landmark X-rated (or NC-17) film initiated a trend for arthouse films to include explicit erotic content. It told about a primal sexual affair between middle-aged, bitter and grieving hotel owner Paul (Marlon Brando in his seventh and last Best Actor-nominated role) whose wife had committed suicide and a 20-year old French student Jeanne (Maria Schneider) who was engaged to be married to Tom (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a film director who was making a cinema verite film about her. Upon meeting in an apartment both are looking to rent, Paul forces himself violently on Jeanne sexually, bordering on rape, and begins a torrid, sexually perverse but anonymous 'no questions asked' affair with her (they don't know each other's names) that becomes increasingly vile, unromantic and scatological. His set of rules was notable for the time: "We are going to forget everything we knew - everything". The pure sexual nature of their relationship included the bathtub washing scene and the infamous, disturbing, and explicit sodomy (butter-lubricated anal sex) scene on the floor ("Get the butter"). Later, Paul reciprocated by letting Jeanne penetrate him anally with her fingers - part of his objective to "look death right in the face...go right up into the ass of death... till you find the womb of fear." Predictably, the film ended with his violent death on the balcony when she shot him with her father's gun.

Play It Again, Sam (1972), 85 minutes, D: Herbert Ross

Pink Flamingos (1972), 93 minutes, D: John Waters

The Ruling Class (1972, UK), 148 minutes, D: Peter Medak

Sleuth (1972, UK), 138 minutes, D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Solaris (1972, Soviet Union) (aka Solyaris, or Солярис), 165 minutes, D: Andrei Tarkovsky

Sounder (1972), 105 minutes, D: Martin Ritt


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