15 Must-Watch Movies from the 70s That You’ll Love

The 1970s was an incredible decade for movies, producing some of the most iconic and influential films in cinema history.

This era saw a wide range of genres and groundbreaking storytelling that still resonates with audiences today.

You’ll find films that were both socially significant and highly entertaining.

Why should you care about 70s movies? They’re not just classics; they capture the cultural essence of that time.

Whether you’re a seasoned movie buff or just looking for something great to watch, you’ll find that the 70s offer a unique blend of creativity and innovation that shaped modern filmmaking.

1) The Godfather

If you haven’t seen The Godfather, you’re missing out on one of the most iconic movies from the 70s.

It’s a classic crime drama that spans the years 1945 to 1955.

The movie follows the Corleone crime family, led by Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this film is known for its incredible acting, especially by Al Pacino, who plays Michael Corleone.

Michael initially wants nothing to do with the family business but gets pulled in after an attempt on his father’s life.

The Godfather isn’t just a movie; it’s an experience.

From its unforgettable quotes to its gripping storyline, it’s no wonder it’s considered one of the best films ever made.

The music, composed by Nino Rota, sets the perfect tone for the drama that unfolds.

With a runtime of nearly three hours, you might think it’s long, but every minute is worth it.

The film dives deep into themes like loyalty, power, and family.

The Godfather won several Oscars, including Best Picture, and remains a must-watch for any movie lover.

2) Jaws

You can’t talk about 70s movies without mentioning Jaws.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film came out in 1975 and changed the way we look at the beach forever.

Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody.

He teams up with a marine biologist played by Richard Dreyfuss and a grizzled shark hunter portrayed by Robert Shaw.

Jaws became famous for its suspense.

Sometimes, you don’t even see the shark, just the reaction of the people.

Spielberg used this to create tension, which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The movie also has an iconic score by John Williams.

The simple, menacing notes instantly signal danger and have become a part of pop culture.

Even though the shark, named Bruce, looked a bit fake, it didn’t stop the movie from being scary.

Spielberg’s use of clever camera angles and tight editing made sure you felt the menace lurking below.

Jaws isn’t just a thriller; it’s a cornerstone of movie history.

It was the first summer blockbuster, showing that big-budget movies can be both artful and wildly entertaining.

3) Star Wars

You’re probably thinking, “There’s no way Star Wars isn’t on this list.” And you’re right!

Released in 1977, Star Wars changed movies forever.

First off, you meet iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader.

The epic battle of the Rebels against the Empire keeps you glued to your seat.

The special effects were groundbreaking at the time.

Spaceships, lightsabers, and the Death Star looked so real.

John Williams’ music score is unforgettable and instantly takes you to a galaxy far, far away.

The story is simple but engaging.

A young farm boy turns into a hero.

Good vs. evil at its finest.

And who can forget Han Solo and Chewbacca’s adventures on the Millennium Falcon?

There’s a reason why Star Wars became a massive hit and spun off sequels, prequels, and TV shows.

It’s fun, thrilling, and perfect for any movie night.

4) Rocky

Rocky, released in 1976, is a classic sports drama.

It stars Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer who gets a rare chance to fight the world heavyweight champion.

The film is about his journey, grit, and determination to go the distance.

You’ll find that Rocky is more than just a boxing movie.

It’s a story of hope and perseverance.

The character’s struggle and triumph resonate with viewers, making it a timeless and inspiring film.

The movie’s underdog story and raw emotion captured hearts worldwide.

Stallone’s performance and the film’s iconic training montage, set to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now,” are unforgettable.

These scenes have become a staple in pop culture.

Watching Rocky is like rooting for the little guy.

The film’s spirit and message of never giving up are universal.

It also won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

This success catapulted Stallone to fame and led to a series of Rocky sequels.

5) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a 1975 flick directed by Miloš Forman.

It’s a powerful adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel.

You follow the story of Randle McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson, who fakes insanity to escape prison labor and ends up in a mental institution.

Once admitted, he tries to bring some life to the ward, clashing with the stern Nurse Ratched.

His rebellious spirit stirs up the patients, leading to unforgettable confrontations.

Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched is chilling and earned her an Oscar.

The movie isn’t just about the battle between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.

It delves deep into themes of freedom, control, and the human spirit.

The cast includes future stars like Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd in supporting roles.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” made history by sweeping the top five Academy Awards.

It won Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay.

This achievement put it in the elite league of films.

The cinematography and direction add to the film’s intense atmosphere.

It remains a must-watch classic from the 70s, showcasing incredible performances and a gripping story.

6) Apocalypse Now

“Apocalypse Now” is a war film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The movie came out in 1979.

You follow Captain Willard’s mission into the heart of the Vietnam jungle.

He’s sent to find and kill Colonel Kurtz, who has gone rogue.

The film shows the chaos and madness of war.

The scenes are intense and often surreal.

“Apocalypse Now” stars Martin Sheen as Captain Willard and Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz.

Their performances are legendary.

The movie’s famous line, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” is delivered by Robert Duvall.

He plays the eccentric Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore.

The cinematography in “Apocalypse Now” is stunning.

You see lush forests, burning villages, and chilling river journeys.

The film’s soundtrack is also noteworthy.

Songs like “The End” by The Doors add to the eerie atmosphere.

What makes “Apocalypse Now” truly special is its exploration of human psyche and morality.

It’s dark and thought-provoking.

Filming this movie was notoriously difficult.

The making of it became almost as legendary as the film itself.

When you watch “Apocalypse Now,” you’re not just seeing a war story.

You’re delving into a cinematic experience unlike any other.

It’s a must-watch from the ’70s era.

The film leaves an impact that stays with you long after the credits roll.

It’s one of those movies that you have to see to truly understand its power.

7) The Exorcist

“The Exorcist” is one of the scariest movies of the 70s.

It’s about a young girl named Regan who gets possessed by a demon.

Her mom then asks two priests to help.

Directed by William Friedkin, this movie has become a classic in horror.

The film is famous for its shocking scenes and special effects.

The story keeps you on the edge of your seat.

You’ll remember the creepy voice and spinning head forever.

Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair give amazing performances.

Their acting makes the supernatural events feel real.

This movie isn’t just about scares.

It’s also about the struggle between good and evil.

With a huge box office success, it grossed over $232 million.

It also received ten Academy Award nominations.

Even if you aren’t a horror fan, “The Exorcist” is a must-see.

8) A Clockwork Orange

This 1971 film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a classic from the 70s.

It’s based on the novel by Anthony Burgess.

You follow Alex DeLarge, the sadistic leader of a gang.

They commit crimes in a dystopian future.

The story gets intense when Alex is caught and subjected to a behavior modification experiment.

The film’s visuals are striking and the soundtrack is unforgettable.

You’ll experience a mix of classical music and futuristic scenes.

It explores themes of free will, violence, and the nature of evil.

A Clockwork Orange was controversial upon release.

Its violent scenes and disturbing content caused an uproar.

Despite this, it’s praised for its bold narrative and direction.

The film continues to spark discussions about morality and society.

Kubrick’s direction and Malcolm McDowell’s performance as Alex make it a must-watch.

You might find some scenes hard to watch, but they also make you think.

If you’re into thought-provoking cinema, this film is for you.

9) Taxi Driver

“Taxi Driver” is a film you can’t miss.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this 1976 movie stars Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle.

Travis is a lonely and troubled cab driver in New York City.

You follow Travis as he navigates a city riddled with crime and corruption.

He becomes increasingly unhinged, leading to a shocking vigilante rampage.

De Niro’s performance is intense and unforgettable.

His portrayal of Travis is both compelling and disturbing.

You see the world through Travis’s eyes, making it a gripping experience.

The movie also features a young Jodie Foster.

She plays Iris, a teenage prostitute whom Travis tries to save.

Scorsese’s direction and Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score add to the movie’s dark atmosphere.

The film is visually striking, capturing the gritty essence of 1970s New York.

“Taxi Driver” is a deep dive into loneliness and madness.

It’s a must-watch, especially if you’re into psychological dramas or classic films.

10) Chinatown

Released in 1974, Chinatown is a top-notch detective movie.

It’s set in Los Angeles and follows private investigator Jake Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson.

Directed by Roman Polanski, the film mixes crime, mystery, and drama.

The story dives into corruption and deceit tied to water rights in California during the 1930s.

Faye Dunaway and John Huston deliver memorable performances.

The intricate plot and complex characters keep you hooked from start to finish.

Chinatown’s script, written by Robert Towne, is often praised.

Its clever dialogue and twists make it a must-watch for any film buffs.

The movie has received numerous accolades, making a significant impact on the film noir genre.

Its legacy continues to be felt in cinema today.

11) The French Connection

You’ve got to see “The French Connection” if you’re diving into ’70s cinema.

This 1971 film is a gritty, neo-noir action thriller directed by William Friedkin.

It’s based on a true story, which adds an extra layer of intrigue.

Gene Hackman stars as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, a tough New York City cop on a mission to bust a drug ring.

Roy Scheider plays his partner, Buddy “Cloudy” Russo.

Their chemistry on screen is electric.

One of the most famous scenes in the movie is the high-speed car chase through New York.

It’s intense and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

It’s no wonder the film won several Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Hackman.

Don’t miss out on this iconic film that truly captures the gritty vibe of New York in the ’70s.

The authenticity and rawness of the film make it a standout in cinema history.

You’ll appreciate the realness and the edge it brings to the table.

12) The Deer Hunter

If you haven’t seen The Deer Hunter, you’re missing out on a powerful film from the late 70s.

This movie, directed by Michael Cimino, looks closely at how the Vietnam War messes up the lives of a group of friends from a small steel mill town in Pennsylvania.

Robert De Niro leads a strong cast, including Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep.

The acting is top-notch, making you feel the intense emotions and struggles they face.

The film starts with a long wedding scene that sets the stage for the close-knit community.

Once they are thrown into the war, the story gets gritty.

The wartime scenes are brutal and gripping, showing the horrors the friends endure.

When they return home, life is not the same.

They are changed forever, struggling to fit back into their old lives.

The movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

It’s also one of AFI’s Top 100 Films of All Time.

Even if war dramas aren’t usually your thing, The Deer Hunter is definitely worth watching for its powerful storytelling and unforgettable performances.

13) Blazing Saddles

“Blazing Saddles” is a classic comedy from 1974.

This Western parody was directed by Mel Brooks and stars Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.

The movie pokes fun at the typical Western genre while addressing some serious topics with humor.

You’ll find it hilarious and smartly written, with jokes that still hold up today.

You’ll laugh at the absurd situations.

The movie features sharp satire and witty dialogue.

A memorable line you might recall is, “Excuse me while I whip this out.” The film stands out for its bold humor and unforgettable scenes.

Mel Brooks has a knack for creating comedies that stick with you. “Blazing Saddles” is one of his best works.

It’s hard not to appreciate how it mixes slapstick and clever humor.

If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, this film is a must-watch.

14) Animal House

“Animal House” is a classic comedy from 1978.

Directed by John Landis, this film is all about the wild and crazy adventures of a college fraternity.

Set in 1962, the story focuses on the misfit members of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity.

They are known for their wild parties and rebellious antics.

Dean Vernon Wormer wants to shut down the fraternity.

The Delta guys, however, have their own plans to outsmart him and stay on campus.

The cast includes Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, and John Belushi.

Belushi’s performance as Bluto is iconic and full of memorable moments.

“Animal House” was not only a hit at the box office, but it also became a cultural phenomenon.

Its humor and outrageous scenes have influenced many comedies that followed.

With its mix of slapstick comedy and satire, “Animal House” remains a must-watch for fans of the genre.

Whether you’re looking for laughs or a glimpse into college life in the 60s, this film delivers.

15) Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Directed by Steven Spielberg, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” hit theaters in 1977.

You follow Roy Neary, an everyday lineman in Indiana, whose life takes a wild turn after he encounters a UFO.

Roy becomes obsessed with finding answers.

You watch him leave his ordinary life behind on a quest that stretches across the country.

The film showcases amazing special effects for its time, making the UFO encounters feel real and awe-inspiring.

You will also meet characters played by Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, and François Truffaut.

Their performances add depth to this sci-fi drama.

Spielberg’s direction ensures the story keeps you on the edge of your seat.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” blends mystery, adventure, and the unknown.

If you’re into films that make you think about what’s out there, this one is a must-watch.

Cultural Impact of 70s Cinema

The 1970s was a time of major change in both society and the film industry.

Movies from this era often mirrored social and political issues and pushed the boundaries with new film techniques.

Social and Political Influences

The 1970s cinema was deeply affected by the social and political movements of the time.

Films often tackled heavy topics like the Vietnam War, civil rights, and corruption.

For example, “Apocalypse Now” explored the horrors of the Vietnam War, while “All the President’s Men” delved into the Watergate scandal.

These movies didn’t shy away from controversial subjects.

Instead, they brought them into the forefront, making audiences think deeply about what was happening around them.

This era saw a rise in gritty, realistic films that gave voice to societal concerns.

Innovation in Filmmaking Techniques

The ’70s were also known for groundbreaking innovations in filmmaking.

Directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas experimented with special effects and changed how stories were told. Jaws became the first summer blockbuster, using suspense and special effects in revolutionary ways.

Films like Star Wars introduced advanced visual effects that had never been seen before.

This period also saw the use of new camera techniques and styles, such as the steady-cam used in The Shining.

These technical advancements allowed filmmakers to create more dynamic and visually stunning scenes.

Filmmakers took more creative risks during this time, resulting in a lasting impact on how movies are made today.

Iconic Directors and Their Contribution

The 1970s was a decade when filmmakers pushed boundaries and created some of the most memorable movies.

Two of the most influential directors of that era were Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese.

Stanley Kubrick’s Visionary Works

Stanley Kubrick was known for his meticulous and innovative approach to filmmaking.

In the 1970s, he directed A Clockwork Orange (1971), a film that shocked audiences with its disturbing themes and striking visuals.

Kubrick’s ability to blend artistic visuals with deep, often controversial themes made his work stand out.

Kubrick also directed Barry Lyndon (1975), a period drama noted for its beautiful cinematography.

He used natural lighting and special lenses to capture the 18th-century setting authentically.

Kubrick’s dedication to perfection often required numerous takes, but the result was a visually stunning and emotionally complex film.

Kubrick’s influence from this decade stretched into future generations of filmmakers.

His unique style and insistence on creative control helped set new standards in the industry.

Martin Scorsese’s Early Masterpieces

Martin Scorsese burst onto the scene in the 1970s with a series of gritty, character-driven films. Mean Streets (1973) marked his emergence as a significant new talent, capturing the raw energy of New York City’s streets.

Scorsese’s ability to craft complex characters and intense narratives made his work unforgettable.

In 1976, Scorsese released Taxi Driver, a dark and compelling portrait of urban alienation.

The film’s moody atmosphere and Robert De Niro’s powerful performance earned it a place among the greatest films of the decade.

Scorsese’s films often explored themes of guilt, redemption, and personal struggle.

His unique storytelling techniques and ability to direct actors with immense skill added depth to his movies.

Popular Genres in the 70s

The 1970s was a vibrant decade for movies, with specific genres coming into full bloom.

You saw the rise of groundbreaking sci-fi, edgy Blaxploitation films, and unforgettable horror movies.

Rise of Science Fiction

Science fiction took off in the 1970s and featured many iconic films.

Some of the biggest names include Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

These movies introduced audiences to fantastic new worlds and special effects that were unheard of at the time.

The massive success of these films showed that sci-fi had a broad appeal and commercial potential.

Directors like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg became household names. Star Wars, for example, mixed adventure, futuristic tech, and compelling characters, shaping pop culture for decades.

Blaxploitation Films

Blaxploitation films became a significant cultural phenomenon in the 1970s.

These movies often featured Black protagonists in urban settings, fighting against corruption and crime.

Titles like Shaft and Super Fly are key examples.

They often had funky soundtracks, vibrant characters, and a distinct visual style.

These films were groundbreaking in giving Black actors and filmmakers a more prominent platform.

Despite criticism for sometimes promoting stereotypes, Blaxploitation was crucial in showcasing Black culture and talent in mainstream cinema.

The Golden Era of Horror

The 1970s are considered a golden age for horror films.

Classics like Halloween, The Exorcist, and Jaws defined this period.

These movies weren’t just about jump scares but created lasting tension and memorable moments.

For example, John Carpenter’s Halloween launched the slasher genre into the spotlight.

Horror during this decade often tackled deeper fears and societal issues.

Directors like Wes Craven and William Friedkin brought their unique styles, creating horror experiences that still influence the genre today.

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