5 films from the 1970s to add to your watch list
The 1970s were a truly magical period in cinema. Some of the greatest and most influential names in film history emerged during the era, and have since established themselves as masters of the craft. Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese released some of their most iconic work during this decade. These films are not only regarded as remarkable pieces of art, but also comprehensive forms of filmmaking education. Here, we look at five films from this influential decade that you must watch if you haven’t already.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Mel Brooks is more than a just a talented director of slapstick comedy. He knew the intricate mechanisms behind a great joke—the set-up, timing, delivery, and everything in between. His genius was on display in the 1974 comedy film, Blazing Saddles. While the film received lukewarm to mixed reviews during its initial run, the movie eventually grew on fans and critics, and is considered a classic today. In fact, for their “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs” list, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked it as the 6th funniest movie in American Cinema. From one-liners, to sight-gags, actors breaking the fourth wall, and an absurd but hilarious ending, the movie has the genius of Brooks written all over it. For those who love comedy this is a must see.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
If you want to find out why Al Pacino is one of the most exceptional actors of his generation, you must watch Dog Day Afternoon. The New York Times praised Pacino for his “brilliant characterization” in the film that slowly revealed his character’s complexities. It was only fitting that he would go on to win Best Actor at the 49th Academy Awards for his portrayal of bank robber Sonny Wortzik. Another gem is Pacino’s crime partner Sal played by the incomparable John Cazale. Alongside their contentious big-brother-little-brother dynamic in The Godfather and The Godfather II, Cazale and Pacino epitomize the words “chemistry on screen”.
Grease may seem like your typical high school love story, but it is certainly more than that. The pairing of a young John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is one of the greatest young romances in cinema history. While Grease is best known for its catchy tunes, it is easy to forget how pioneering the film was in the 70s. Take it from Rotten Tomatoes: “Grease is a pleasing, energetic musical with infectiously catchy songs and an ode to young love that never gets old.”
California Split (1974)
Before the Ocean’s Trilogy and Rounders, there was California Split. This was a movie that gave audiences a peek into the casino world, striking the balance between being informative and entertaining. Respected film critic Robert Ebert points out that the movie is both a “great movie” and “great experience”. The film is considered to be one of cinema’s defining poker films, and a big reason for this was the level of realism brought to the film by actual players of the game. Partypoker revealed that World Poker Series Champion Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Jr. was one of the players who had a cameo in the film. Amarillo Slim won the WPS four times to become one of the game’s most highly regarded players, and the inspiration for many film characters, including most likely those in California Split. The film is not just a great poker film, it is one of the best-hidden gems of the 70s.
Stephen King knows how to create some of the most terrifying fiction the world has ever read, or in this case the world has ever seen. Carrie is the first of King’s stories to be adapted to celluloid and the film iteration didn’t disappoint. While it may look outdated to some, King, along with many moviegoers, maintain that Carrie holds up with the best of them. The film showed the potential for King’s work on the big screen, and is the first step that led to many film adaptations of his work.