I love 70’s movies. Many posts have confirmed that so far, and why stop now? There are so many forgotten films – but thanks to DVD, blu-ray, and the thousands of films available ondemand, you never have to forget them again. If you need to see some classic 70’s cinema, here are ten more ways to start – an eclectic collection – some mainstream, a few more offbeat.
10-Thunderbolt & Lightfoot. This 1974 action film is a classic, criminally overlooked Clint Eastwood heist movie – Jeff Bridges was Oscar-nominated for his role here – and it is directed by Michael Cimino, who would go on next to do “The Deer Hunter.” That’s right, Jeff Bridges was Oscar-nominated for this, and he is terrific as always! Clint Eastwood plays a bank robber par excellence with a flair for explosives who is being hunted by his former partners, who think he has their loot from their last job. Bridges is his eager apprentice and sidekick, who helps him escape; when Eastwood finally makes peace with his hunters, Bridges convinces them to try a daring robbery–but things inevitably go awry. Well worth the effort to find this one!
9-The Hunting Party. Now this one is even more obscure – perhaps for good reason. In 1971, Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed and Candace Bergen decided to star in this gritty, fairly grimy western…alot of rape and revenge elements here – that said, as far as gritty westerns go, it delivers. Oliver Reed is the outlaw who wants to learn to read, and Candace Bergen is the school teacher he kidnaps to teach him – except she’s also the wife of cattle baron Gene Hackman – who rustles up a “Hunting Party” and begins to pick off the bad guys one by one. Lots of grindhouse violence here, but kind of interesting to watch a clear B-movie being acted out by some well-known Actors.
8-Hit! In 1973, blaxploitation films were all the rage, and Billy Dee Williams jumps into the mix with a VERY BIG GUN. He plays a federal agent whose daughter dies of a heroin overdose – and he is determined to destroy the drug ring that supplied her. He recruits various people whose lives have been torn apart by the drug trade and trains them. Among the cast is Richard Pryor, in another role that showcases his amazing talent and comedic ability, but this is no comedy – lots of action here!
7-Deliverance. One of the most iconic films of the 70’s, but a bit overlooked these days. In 1972, this was an extremely controversial film – “squeal like a pig!” anyone? It was also one of the great action dramas of the seventies – Burt Reynolds has never been better, and Jon Voight is terrific as well. New DVD versions have documentaries and commentary attached, and they are all worth viewing – and of course, there are the “dueling banjos!” Oh, and did I say “squeal like a pig!” That’s right, I did.
6-Catch-22. “That’s some catch that catch-22.” “One of the best!” In 1970, on the heels of the success of “MASH”, anti-war statements were the rage. So acclaimed Director Mike Nichols took on one of the most celebrated novels of our time. He created a darkly comic look at war, and populated it with a “who’s who” of the time. Look at this cast: Alan Arkin, Bob Newhart, Richard Benjamin, Charles Grodin, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel and Orson Welles – that’s right, ORSON WELLES, plus a ton more too numerous to mention. This surreal nightmare of a war film is not perfect, but there are some amazingly disturbing things here…the special edition includes a commentary from Steven Soderbergh, a huge fan of the film!
5-Play Misty For Me. Remember “Fatal Attraction?” Well, watch Clint Eastwood’s directing debut from 1971 and you’ll know where they got the idea! Clint plays a DJ who picks up an obsessed fan who just won’t take “no” for an answer. Jessica Walter plays his quickie lover/ultimate stalker – and you know how Clint loves jazz? Well here he puts in a long segment from the Monterey Jazz Festival, so you have time to take a break mid-movie!
4-Get Carter. In 1971 Michael Caine tore up the screen as London gangster Jack Carter. Heading “up north” to get to the bottom of the recent death of his brother, he runs afoul of the local color, who don’t appreciate his meddling. Not content to accept the police report of suicide, Carter begins investigating. He encounters the local mob boss, his sleazy chauffeur with eyes like “piss holes in the snow,” and the lovely town porn star. Naturally, he kicks alot of ass and takes names later. This is a pure 70’s piece of action/art, but well worth checking out!
3-Straw Dogs. In 1971 Director Sam Peckinpah delivered one of the cinema’s most controversial films, and turned Dustin Hoffman into an action star! Wait, WHAT??? Well, kinda…this is based on the novel “The Siege at Trencher’s Farm” – and focused on what turns a mild-mannered man into a savage. Actress Susan George plays a sex-kitten who takes her new bookish husband back to her local English town, where everything spirals out of control. Warning: this has a very controversial rape scene, so be warned…
2-Shaft! Who’s the cat that won’t cop out, when there’s danger all about? John Shaft of course! This blaxploitation classic is a hard-charging action thriller about Detective John Shaft, played to perfection by Richard Roundtree.
“You see this cat Shaft is a bad motherf-”
“Watch Your Mouth!”
“But I’m talking about Shaft!”
“Then we can dig it!”
Check out this movie and also buy the soundtrack on iTunes, it’s a classic as well from Isaac Hayes!
1-The Getaway. Take notorious Director Sam Peckinpah, add the toughest – and coolest – action star of the time in Steve McQueen, and add new star Ali McGraw, and you have a dynamite action film from 1972 that is as entertaining today as the day it was released. Master thief Doc McCoy knows his wife has been in bed with the local political boss in order to spring him from jail. What he doesn’t know are all of the double-crosses that will sour the deal once he’s on the outside – and pulling off the ultimate robbery. This is filled with iconic scenes, and so much cool it will put a chill on your living room!
Allright, get watching and let me know what you think!