Three Great 70’s Action Films! Clint Eastwood! Steve McQueen! Walter Matthau Too!

All Hail The 1970’s!

I love 70′s movies!

Here’s just a partial list of what that decade offered movie fans:

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

These movies will live forever, thanks to DVD, blu-ray, and the thousands of films available on demand and streaming!

If you need to see some classic 70′s action films, here are three ways to start – a few of the best 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!

action movie thunderbolt_and_lightfoot

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!”

Check out the trailer:

Jeff bridges oscar

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.

clint eastwood jeff bridges movie

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!

obscure action movies

“Thunderbolt & Lightfoot” has a great plot, strong acting, and Jeff Bridges giving a terrific performance…a real gem!

And speaking of A-List Actors – here are several, this time in another 1974 film with an A+ cast!

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…

best action movies of all time

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.”

classic 70's police thrillers

“The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3” has a lot of action, really great action, and a terrific ending…and what about Walter Matthau, known for his great comedic roles, playing a tough guy?

Matthau had a great run in some great 70’s action thrillers – see them here:

Finally, another great action star in one of his best roles:


The Getaway!

Take notorious Director Sam Peckinpah, add the toughest – and coolest – action star of that 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!

best action films

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.

Steve McQueen The Getaway

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.

best 70's action movies

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…

best action films of all time

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!

sex symbol ali macgraw

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.”

Oh Sally!

Sally Strutters 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…

As for McQueen, he would die several years later from cancer, but not before shooting his last film in Chicago:

While not a great film, it does includes something never seen before or since!

The Producers convinced the owners of the city’s iconic “corn cob” buildings to let them sail a car off the building and into the Chicago river!

See how they did it here:

There you have it – 3 great 70’s action films!

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Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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22 replies

  1. Great list! So much good stuff. Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978) is another great one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was a huge Clint Eastwood fan as a tween, John. I used to watch his film with my mom. You have included a great selection of movies here. I think I’ve mentioned before that Jaws traumatised me for life. I still cannot swim in the ocean or a pool at night.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent acting. Excellent plots. And not a super hero or explosions or mass destructions of a major city in any of them.


  4. Some great selections here! I agree that Clint’s ’70s movies are all great ones to watch, as are almost all directed by Peckinpah 😉 And the original Taking of Pelham 123 is still so good that you wonder why they felt the need for the remake, plus it has one of the best last lines of any move 😉


  5. i loved everyone of these! now you’ve reminded me of them, i’m going to give some of them another look


  6. A great selection, John. I’m pleased to say I have seen and enjoyed them all! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.



  1. A New “Cry” For Clint! His New “Macho” Movie And Five Powerful Clint Eastwood Films! – johnrieber

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