All Hail The 1970’s!
I love 70′s movies! They are chock full of iconic stars with BIG GUNS!
Some of these movies will live forever, some have been unfortunately neglected – 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 ways to start – a collection of some of the toughest action films of that decade, with terrific performances from some of Hollywood’s biggest stars…let’s get started with a neglected gem with Oscar winners in front of and behind the camera!
10-Thunderbolt And 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 Oscar-winning best picture of 1978, “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 – as it features a VERY BIG GUN!
Here’s another film that is fairly obscure as well…and a western!
9-The Hunting Party!
In 1971, Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed and Candace Bergen starred in this gritty western.
Oliver Reed is the outlaw who wants to learn to read, and Candace Bergen is the school teacher he kidnaps to teach him –
Bergen is not only a school teacher, she’s also the wife of cattle baron Gene Hackman – who wants his wife back…
Hackman rustles up a “Hunting Party” and begins to pick off the bad guys one by one. And what starts as a rescue mission turns into a “hunting party”…
This film was shocking for the amount of violence it showed…this was a time shortly after “The Wild Bunch” raised the stakes for violence in a film…
Lots of grindhouse violence here, but kind of interesting to watch a clear B-movie being acted out by some A-list Actors!
And speaking of A-List Actors – here are several, this time is an A+ classic action thriller!
8-The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3
Take some of the greatest character Actors of the 70’s, add some dynamite action sequences…blend with sharp dialogue and a delicious sense of humor and you have one of the great action films of the 70’s. You also have one of the great 70’s movie posters…
Here is the plot summary of “The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3”: Four armed men hijack a New York City subway train and demand 1 million dollars – which must be delivered in 1 hour – or they will begin to execute the passengers…
Legendary Actor Walter Matthau plays Lt. Rico Patrone, who oversees the crime unit for the NY Subway. He is willing to admit that their job isn’t that exciting:
Lt. Rico Patrone: “We had a bomb scare in the Bronx yesterday, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.”
Robert Shaw plays the leader of the hijackers, Mr. Blue. Shaw starred in a number of classic 70’s films, such as “The Sting” and “Jaws”, and he was the nearly-unstoppable killer in “From Russia With Love.” His fight sequence inside a train compartment against James Bond 007’s Sean Connery is a classic as well.
Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo are among the thieves. Balsam brings the “every man” feel to the movie, a regular guy looking to get what he thinks he’s due. Hector Elizondo is terrific as Mr. Gray…that’s right, this is the movie where all of the hijackers called each other by colors…something Quentin Tarantino used effectively in “Reservoir Dogs”.
What’s great about this movie is how honest it feels: for example, the kidnappers don’t get along – at all – leading to this great exchange:
Mr. Blue: “I once had a man shot for talking to me like that.”
Mr. Gray: “Yeah, well, that’s the difference between you and me. I’ve always done my own killing.”
“The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3” has a lot of action, really great action, and a terrific ending…which leads to one of the most acclaimed and controversial films of the decade…
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?
Burt Reynolds plays outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock, who is intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake. Lewis takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
“Deliverance” was one of the most iconic films of the 70′s, but it’s 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 became a superstar based on this film…
If you haven’t seen this brilliant movie, check out new blu-ray and DVD versions that have documentaries and commentary attached, and they are all worth viewing – and of course, there are the “dueling banjos!”
This was such a controversial film – brutal and violent, and of course its known for two amazing sequences: first, the “dueling banjos” scene, when the group comes across a young boy with a banjo…
“Squeal like a pig!”
And then there was the brutal scene with one of the most quoted lines in film history…as the group is ambushed and attacked by rednecks…this was one of the most controversial scenes in 70’s movie history…
Both scenes from “Deliverance” became permanent fixtures in pop culture forever…
Speaking Of Pop Culture Notoriety!
His breakout performance in Deliverance in 1972 made Reynolds a star. The same year, Reynolds gained even more notoriety when he posed naked in the April issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine – a landmark moment in publishing.
Reynolds claims the centerfold in Cosmopolitan hurt the chances for Deliverance and the film’s stars, including himself, from receiving Academy Awards.
6- Dirty Harry!
OK, I already included one Clint Eastwood movie – “Thunderbolt & Lightfoot”, which is lesser known…but of course, you HAVE TO put “Dirty Harry” on any list of classic 70’s action films, right?
Here is the plot: A mad man calling himself ‘the Scorpio Killer’ shoots people from San Francisco’s rooftops…terrorizing the city…
Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down the psychopath, but when we first meet Harry, he is having a hot dog and interrupting a bank robbery…
“Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”
One of the greatest lines in film history comes from this scene, as Harry disrupts the robbery, shoots all of the perps, and walks over to the last one alive. As he approaches, Harry fingers his trigger while a bank robber eyes his own gun lying nearby…
“I know what you’re thinking, punk. You’re thinking “did he fire six shots or only five?” Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow you head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”
That scene cements, within the first ten minutes, that Dirty Harry is a classic “cop who plays by his own rules”. This movie has a great plot, terrific direction by legendary Don Siegel, and Clint Eastwood IS Dirty Harry.
It is this exchange, however, that to me helps cement “Dirty Harry” as a classic action film of the 70’s…San Francisco’s Mayor wants Harry to explain why he shot a rapist…
Harry Callahan: Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That’s my policy.
The Mayor: Intent? How did you establish that?
Harry Callahan: When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher’s knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn’t out collecting for the Red Cross!
[walks out of the room]
The Mayor: He’s got a point.
“Dirty Harry” is a great film, and the sequels are pretty good as well, especially “Magnum Force” and “Sudden Impact!”
Now, speaking of cops who play by their own rules…
5 – The French Connection!
It was the Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 1971, and it’s the true story of “Popeye” Doyle, a NY cop determined to bust a heroin smuggling ring…
He is, of course, a cop willing to break all the rules in order to get his man – and that includes one of the most amazing car chases ever filmed…beautifully filmed by legendary Director William Friedkin, who went on to make “The Exorcist”, “To Live And Die In LA”, “Sorcerer” AND “Killer Joe”!
The Legendary Car Chase!
Thanks to the terrific website IMDB, here are some amazing anecdotes about the filming of the legendary car chase through the streets of New York in “The French Connection.”
The car crash during the chase sequence, at the intersection of Stillwell Ave. and 86th St., was unplanned and was included because of its realism. The man whose car was hit had just left his house a few blocks from the intersection to go to work and was unaware that a car chase was being filmed. The producers paid the bill for the repairs to his car!
According to IMDB, the car chase was filmed without obtaining the proper permits from the city! Members of the NYPD’s tactical force helped control traffic. But most of the control was achieved by the assistant directors with the help of off-duty NYPD officers, many of whom had been involved in the actual case.
A camera was mounted on the car’s bumper for the shots from the car’s point-of-view. Hackman did some of the driving but the extremely dangerous stunts were performed by Bill Hickman, with Friedkin filming from the backseat.
Friedkin operated the camera himself because the other camera operators were married with children and he was not. The mjaority of the chase was, however, very well choreographed, but it is that realism in the filming that makes the scene itself so heart-pounding!
The film spawned a less successful sequel, but it is also a great movie, just a different one…
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 arthouse action movie – what a combo, right? But it’s not only a great film, Michael Caine is tough as nails, so well worth checking out!
Lee Marvin was one of film’s all-time tough guys, and no more so than in this gritty thriller, where he saves a naked Sissy Spacek from the mob…here’s a teaser:
Lee Marvin plays his toughest role ever, as an “Enforcer” for the Mob, who heads to Kansas City to get the money that Gene Hackman owes the Mob..
Oh yeah, Hackman’s not really interested in paying back what he owes…and from then on out, the fight is on!
Hackman plays a cattle rancher who not only grinds his enemies into sausage, but sells women as sex slaves.
The movie was considered highly risqué for its time based on its level of violence, as well as its graphic depiction of female slavery, including a scene depicting the auctioning of young women in the manner of beef cattle.
Gene Hackman digs into his role as the bad guy, but it’s Marvin to kick ass and takes no prisoners. There is a scene where Marvin and Sissy Spacek are chased through a wheat field by a shredder…a great action sequence.
Marvin and Spacek have a great rapport in the film, as he takes on a “father figure” role to help her escape from the bad guys…
A couple of years before she catapulted to stardom in “Carrie”, Sissy Spacek co-stars, and does a great job in the role…
This was Sissy Spacek’s feature film debut – and involves a lot of nudity.
Marvin and Gene Hackman have a number of great scenes together, a couple of tough guys chewing up the scenery in a great B-movie.
But at the end of day, nobody beats Lee Marvin, the coolest guy in town.
Speaking of the coolest guy in town, NOBODY was cooler than this guy in 1971:
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 – with a big gun, of course…
“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!
Now, this is my personal favorite of them all:
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!
This is the film that led to McQueen and Macgraw leaving their spouses and running off together. Here is a surprisingly long trailer!
Here’s the plot: 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! Just look at McQueen and MacGraw blasting their way out of trouble…
Ali McGraw’s Husband!
Ali MacGraw was one of Hollywood’s biggest female star when she made “The Getaway”, thanks to the mega-hit “Love Story.” She was also married to movie Executive Robert “The Kid Stays In The Picture” Evans!
MacGraw and McQueen began an affair during the filming of the movie, and ended up getting married…Evans discusses this part of his life in his terrific memoir, “The Kid Stays In The Picture.”
Sally Struthers has a deliciously wacky small role in the film, as the wife of a mild-mannered Dentist! They are both kidnapped by a ruthless thug out to find McQueen…
Struthers was a big star at the time on TV’s “All In The Family”…”The Getaway” is a great action movie, beautifully directed, and worth finding on dvd…
There you have it – ten great 70’s action films, with ten very big guns!
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