Top 10 Most Influential Films of the 70s


10) M*A*S*H (1970) – the unconventional style that Robert Altman brought to cinema can be seen best in the humorous depiction of Korean War doctors known simply as M*A*S*H. Poetically portraying what Altman felt was the senselessness of war along with the mischief and unorthodox approach to medicine with his main characters makes M*A*S*H stand out as not only a great comedy but also an inventively viable piece of artistic cinema.


9) Taxi Driver (1976) – the gritty and unrelenting portrait of an anti-social hermit living in the bowls of an unforgiving New York City, which came to be known as Taxi Driver, put Martin Scorsese on the map as an eloquent and artistic filmmaker. With Paul Schrader’s brilliantly layered screenplay and a hauntingly memorable performance from Robert De Niro, Scorsese was able to create an intensely creative cinematic master piece.


8 Jaws (1975) – borrowing the suspense conventions from Hitchcock and pitting our own imagination and fears against us, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is a psychological thriller filled with determination and a subjectively haunting isolation. Using the endless backdrop of the ocean and the suspense tool of turning something familiar into something frightening, Jaws will remain a model for suspenseful filmmaking in the most classic use of that style.


7) A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Stanley Kubrick’s loose adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange is by far one of the most originally conceived criticisms of our society’s degradation in the future, including language, culture, insensitivity, and the youth. Known for its bizarre futuristic atmosphere and the horrifyingly realistic depictions of violence, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is an original example on how film can not only be an expressive form of art, but also a medium for meaningful cinema with a direct purpose and message.


6) Annie Hall (1977) – Woody Allen’s neurotic existentialist comedy Annie Hall tackles the eccentricities and struggles of a delightfully unique relationship that serves as a critique and study for all relationships. A film that will be consistently referenced for not only the comedic genre but also for all original relationship films, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall can truly be defined as timeless.


5) Apocalypse Now! (1979) – being a cryptic and innovative adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now places the protagonists in the chaotic and animalistic backdrop of the Vietnam War. Ranging from the psychedelic subjective and the bitterly realistic, this war drama presented war in a vastly different way than experienced generations before.


4) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Ken Kasey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which subtly uses the setting of an insane asylum to represent the 60s counter culture, is brought justly to life through Milos Forman’s nuanced directing style. The utterly amusing yet tragic tale of R.P. McMurphey, portrayed delicately and naturally by Jack Nicholson, standing against the establishment of regulation, ignites the screen resulting in a memorable and passionate film experience.


3) Chinatown (1974) – Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, a matchless portrayal of the 40s noir genre set in the dry climate of LA, uniquely layers the usual conventions of its intended genre. Along with its compelling and shocking twist there is a cast that seamlessly brings the complex and intricate plot together making it one of the best noir films in history.


2) Star Wars (1977) – probably the most inventive and technologically influential film in the 70s, George Lucas brought to life an entirely new world that was almost unimaginable until Star Wars reached the silver screen. The cinematic action and the successful depiction of an idiosyncratic imagination are just a few of the characteristics that make this science-fiction space opera an adventure worth experiencing.


1) The Godfather (1972) – the riveting cinematic portrayal of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, directed flawlessly by Francis Ford Coppola, is practically the most influential film of all time, let alone for the 70s generation. Iconic and mesmerizing, The Godfather remains to this day at the number two position on the AFI top 100 films list for its deep and passionate depiction of the Corleone family embedded in the Italian mob scene.

Honorable Mentions (no particular order): The French Connection, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Rocky, Patton, The Godfather Pt. II, The Last Picture Show, Blazing Saddles, Alien, The Exorcist, The Deer Hunter

2 Responses to “Top 10 Most Influential Films of the 70s”
  1. Juan C says:

    Good list, I have watched almost all of them. Jaws scared me so much I won’t go to the Beach! I would rather sell Genco Olive oil and have broken bones than work on the Orca.

  2. Michael J says:

    Where is The French Connection???

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