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09 February 2012

The 70's in Cinema Part 1 (300th Post!)

Ah, the 70’s…a blissful time for cinema. In this post, I will be looking at some of the best films from the 70’s and their influence. I will also be look at the great filmmakers of this time, and what makes this decade so special. The post will be in 2 parts due to its length, so that will be up a day after this post. Many of the most influential films in history derived from the 70’s. The 70’s was a decade that brought many new changes to cinema, with films pushing their ratings, increasing their violence and sexual content and a new wave of filmmakers. It was a time of exploitation and extremism Here is to what I consider the best decade of film.

The film code change in 1966, allowed filmmakers broaden their films content and films started to become a little more grim, more intense and more powerful in how they were made. Towards the end of the 60’s there were some controversial violent films such as “The Wild Bunch” and “Bonnie and Clyde”. Although not extremely violent by today’s standards, it was very controversial at the time and those two films were close to being censored. This was just the beginning of what the 70’s had started.

“Straw Dogs”, released in 1971 was controversial for its portrayal of violence, and even sex. The film starring Dustin Hoffman unfolded slowly with Sam Peckinpah’s special direction. This film was great because of how Hoffman’s character snaps with the film’s bloody climax that shows everyone has a breaking point. Alongside this film, 1971 brought another very controversial film from director Stanley Kubrick and goes by the name of “A Clockwork Orange”.

Viddy well my brother, viddy well.

Adopted from the popular novel by Anthony BurgessClockwork film portrays violence, sex, rape, politics and society as it places itself in a dystopian and pessimistic future. Kubrick’s highly imaginative and intricate filmmaking style makes it one of the greatest films of the 70’s. The film was released in the United Kingdom and due to the blame of violence on the film, Kubrick retracted the film, and it was not to be seen again for over 25 years when Kubrick died in 1999.  

Another great 1971 film was “Dirty Harry” starring Clint Eastwood as the titular character. This film has the memorable quote being “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya punk!?” and features a badass hero cop. This film had great thrills and an excellent story making it worthwhile. “The French Connection” was another great police drama film of 1971 starring Gene Hackman and Roy Schieder on a crackdown on drug dealers. The film was filled with great drama and has an excellent chase scene.

I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.

The film that truly highlights the 1970’s is “The Godfather”. Considered the greatest film of all time by some, it features two of the finest performances given in any film from Al Pacino playing Michael and Marlon Brando as Michael’s father Don Vito Corleone. The film is based on the famous novel by Mario Puzo and has not only great performances, but also masterful direction from Francis Ford Coppola and a solid script that captures the essence of the 1940’s. It looks at the Corleone family, and the Italian Mafia making one of cinemas most powerful and intense dramas in cinema. The cinematography is astounding, the music is beautiful and the film as a whole stands as one of the best films of all time, and a personal favourite to me. The film still lives on today, with it still being quoted and recurring in the media. No Godfather, no television show called Sopranos or Fat-Tony in The Simpsons. This is but a few examples of were the film has lived through and been referenced.

1972 also brought one of my favourite musicals of all time from director Bob Fosse: Cabaret. The obvious thign that makes Cabaret such a wonderfully unique film is its difference with the common musical. Forget about characters breakign directly into character to progress the story, here every song (excluding one) takes place on the stage of the Kit Kat Klub in 1933 Germany, Berlin. The songs were fantastic and this 'nazi' musical is one most certainly worth watching. 

1973 brought us “American Graffiti” directed by George Lucas that portrays the year 1962 in a glorious manner. The film has a huge influence and is known as one of the most influential teen films. Look at this then look at “Grease”, “Hairspray” and even “Cry-baby”, all inheriting the style. It proves Lucas a great director because of the multiple plot threads that grab the audience’s attention and takes you on a ride.

The Godfather Part II in 1974, gained acclaim as the greatest sequel of all time that actually exceeded the greatness of its original (according to many of course). Although I still feel the original is better, it is undeniable that this is one of the greatest sequels ever created. Following two storylines, one following Michael running the mafia in the 50’s, and Don Vito’s rise to power. Ultimately, the film is another landmark in cinema with great influence.

In between the two Godfather films, Francis Ford Coppola also made The Conversation, a film that follows obsession of a workaholic, and quite well too. Definitely a revered film from Coppola that is another fine pick from the 70’s.

Wait Master, it might be dangerous... you go first.

And how could we forget about the comedy of this decade? Director Mel Brooks made to hilarious films during the 70's. Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. The one I will be talking about is Young Frankenstein. In comedic homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein. Gene Wilder is nothing short of hilarious in his exaggerated and comically insane performance, and the film stands firmly as one of the funniest comedy films every made.

The power of christ compels you!

The 70's deifnitely changed horror films quite a bit, and The Exorcist was one of those reasons. The film terrified audiences with its horrific depiction of possession. The film is about having faith, and seeing the demon-possessed girl with a head that can spin 360 degrees, it is hard not to be haunted by the films atmosphere. Not much really happens in the film, but I can guarantee it will scare the wits out of you.

In 1975, a very strange b-movie musical was created called The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It would be years before the film gained the cult status it has today, with the film still running at countries across the world, and with people identifying (and dressing up as) the films characters. After long thought, the films songs are magnificent and catchy, and the films campy, b-movie style is lovable, but it is not an amazing film. It will be easy for some to be put off by the sight Tim Curry in tights, dancing with many other transsexual's. Regardless of the films oddity, it is still influential as a successful b-movie.

You talkin' to me?

Another film with a lot of acclaim is Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, starring Robert De Niro. Still, today, it is one of the best films with an anti-hero and definitely, brilliant as far as cinema goes. Inside out, the film is a thrill ride of a man-going psycho. Scorsese’s direction and De Niro’s performance make this one of the all-time great American movies.

Supervixens I am giving mention because of how it is a perfect example of sexual content in 70’s cinema. In the 70’s, the invention of home video (VHS) became reality, which led to many pornographic films being made. It was, if you will, the rise of the pornographic film industry (though, there were a few pornographic films in the 60’s). Russ Meyer takes you on a strange, voyeuristic trip of pleasure that will probably put some people off. It is not necessarily a bad film, but I would not call it an amazing film.

You're gonna need  a bigger boat

Jaws in 1975 became an instant success by terrifying audiences to going in the water and thrilling them quite easily. It takes the concept of a sea predator and strikes terror into audiences using a big animatronic shark (that is fake looking by today’s standards) and suspense. Steven Spielberg did an undisputed job directing Jaws. Undeniably, he one of Hollywood’s important directors, with this film still today, being talked about and cherished.

One film that definitely justifies my point on the 70’s daring bravery is Salo: or 120 days of SodomFrom Italy, it is still today, one of the most disorientating and revolting films around. Its salacious depiction of torture, masochism, sex and fascism is difficult to watch and unless your willing to sit through raunchy torture, and the eating of excrement, it is probably a good idea to stay far away from it.

What was going on for Cinema in Europe? Well, Germany was certainly having a big new wave of filmmaking with Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night (1977) and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1975) under their belt. These are two great films. Nosferatu is an excellent remake of F.W Murnau’s silent original, and director Werner Herzog reinvents it perfectly. ALI tells the story of two very different people that share the same loneliness and decide get married. Their marriage starts to crumble and it is another fine film from Germany.  

1976 brought a new face to the screen, and a film that would influence many films after it. It goes by the name of Rocky. Written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as the titular character, it is predictable, but sweet story is plenty to fall in love with. The film follows Rocky, a down on his luck boxer who fights his way to the top. It is more than just a boxing film; it is about having hope, perseverance and transformation. 


  1. Never seen several of these (Ali: Fear Eats The Soul and Salo being the two that interest me the most), but of the ones you mentioned, I like most of them. I had hoped you might include a bit on The Exorcist, considering how it revolutionized the horror genre, but I suppose you had your own reasons for not including it. My favorite decade for movies as well, excellent write-up.

  2. excellent post Thomas. and congrats on reaching 300

  3. Ah yes I was going to mention that film. It was definitely influential but I feel it is a tad overrated. Still a great film though, definitely very scary. Thanks for reading and give ALI a look soon!

  4. One of the greatest decades ever for sure, but really when I think 70s two things come to mind: Francis Ford Coppola showing he is a top 10 director, and Stanely Kubrick taking full advantage of the laws allowing sex in films haha.

    Great post my friend! Congrats!

  5. Congrats on reaching your 300th post!

  6. Interesting for your 300th post! Congrats and long life to this blog!

  7. congratulations on 300 posts



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