This week I will be recommending movies from the 1970s. The ’70s was a very influential time in film with such classics as The Godfather (1972), Star Wars (1977), and The Exorcist (1973) paving the way for a new era of filmmaking. This is also the era where we start to see the film school directors taking over from executives and money people in making films. The 1970s were a wonderful time for filmmakers and cinema-goers alike, so I hope you enjoy my recommendations from this time. It was very difficult to narrow the recommendations down so I may have to revisit this decade again at a later date.
7 Movies From The ’70s You Need To Watch This Week
- Quadrophenia (1979) Directed by Franc Roddam
Quadrophenia is a music drama movie based on ‘The Who’ album of the same name. The movie is centered on the Brighton riots and the intense rivalry between the ‘Mods’ and ‘Rockers’. The movie stars Phil Daniels (‘Parklife’ by ‘Blur’) in the lead role of Jimmy Cooper, a ‘Mod’ whose life revolves around money, drugs, sex, and music. This movie was also Ray Winstone’s (Beowulf) first big role, whilst also being the start of Toyah Wilcox’s (‘It’s a Mystery’ singer) and Sting’s (‘The Police’) acting careers.
Quadrophenia is an intense look at mid-’60’s Britain and the culture of that time. The movie does not shy away from addressing the drug culture, sexual freedoms, or violent tendencies of the teenagers and young adults of that time. This movie does a fantastic job of showing the contrast between the ‘Mod’/’Rocker’ personas that the characters put on when they’re partying, and the real people behind them that work in menial jobs and mostly still live at home. There are funny moments and sad moments, but mostly this movie leaves you thinking about self-identity and the struggles of coming to terms with the real world, all the while set to an amazing soundtrack.
2. The Warriors (1979) Directed by Walter Hill
The Warriors is an action crime thriller movie set in New York and focuses on the fictional gang ‘The Warriors’. ‘The Warriors’ are accused of murdering a well-respected rival gang leader and the movie focuses on the gang trying to get back to the safety of their ‘home turf’. The Warriors resonated with the urban working class, who lived amongst such situations/people, especially because the story is seen from the point-of-view of the gang members, not an outsider or authority figure.
Although initially met with negative reviews, due to the violence and vandalism that is shown, The Warriors is now considered a cult classic, and the movie’s following has grown significantly since its release. This is another movie that is quite intense and gritty, but the storyline is powerful and the themes relevant, even today.
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) Directed by Jim Sharman
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Rocky Horror, is a musical comedy horror movie based on the stage musical by Richard O’Brian (The Crystal Maze). The story of Rocky Horror is set around a newly engaged couple, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), and the ‘unique’ people they meet one night when their car has a flat tire.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was an incredibly controversial movie, as was the stage show, with themes involving sex, affairs, LGBTQ+ people, murder, and aliens. Due to the movie featuring such ‘inappropriate’ themes, it was released as a midnight movie (a movie only shown in select cinemas after midnight) and was mostly ignored by critics and the public alike. It was years later that it gained popularity, and the massive cult following that it has now.
The movie launched Tim Curry’s (It) career in America, and its characters, songs, and messages of sexual acceptance have had lasting effects on pop culture and on the LGBTQ+ community.
4. Rocky (1976) Directed by John G. Avildsen
Rocky is the first film in the Rocky Franchise and is a sports drama movie that started the decades-long career of writer/actor Sylvester Stallone. Rocky is a true underdog story, throughout the movie we follow protagonist Rocky Balboa (Stallone) as he builds his unlikely boxing career.
I would recommend watching all of the Rocky movies, but I understand that they might not be for everyone, but I would highly recommend that everyone watch the first installment at least once. I believe this movie is a testament to having your dreams come true, and I don’t just mean Rocky Balboa and his story, but Stallone’s as well.
Before Rocky Sylvester Stallone was a penniless wannabe actor, who had an idea for a movie about a boxer, and he fought tooth and nail to not only get the movie made but to solidify his writing and acting role within the movie. Because of Stallone’s determination, the movie was made, sparked a franchise, and won three Academy Awards, as well as cementing Stallone’s career as an Action Movie Hero.
5. Robin Hood (1973) Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Robin Hood is a Disney animated movie based on the English folk tale of the same name, but with the twist that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals. Disney had the idea for this movie way back in the 1930s, but it was shelved for more favorable options, but in the ’70s, after the success of The Aristocats (1970), it was thought to reinvent the idea with animals instead of humans as originally intended.
Robin Hood is one of those Disney movies that I think people tend to forget, but I would urge everyone to rewatch this animated classic. The characters are unique, funny, and lovable, the songs are catchy and the story is compelling. It is an all-around family-friendly movie that is easy to watch again and again.
6. Monty Python’s Life of Brian, or Life of Brian (1979) Directed by Terry Jones
Life of Brian is a British comedy movie written by the comedy group Monty Python (Terry Jones, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin). The movie follows Brian, a young Jewish-Roman man that was born on, and next door to Jesus, and is thus mistaken for the Messiah throughout his life. Funding was cut for this movie just days before filming was set to begin, but was saved by long-time Python fan and former Beatle George Harrison, who formed a production company for the sole purpose of funding this movie.
The movie was met with massive amounts of controversy and criticism due to its religious themes. 39 counties in Britain outright banned the movie, with more issuing an 18+ rating, other countries like Ireland, Norway, and Italy banned the movie altogether, with some of these bans lasting decades. Despite this, filmmakers used the controversy to their advantage, for example, in Sweden they released posters stating “So funny, it was banned in Norway!”. It was also a commercial success being the 4th highest-grossing movie in Britain that year, and it has only increased in popularity since then. Life of Brian is now widely considered one of the greatest comedy movies of all time.
7. Carrie (1976) Directed by Brian De Palma
Carrie is a supernatural horror movie based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The movie stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie, a shy 16-year-old that is bullied consistently throughout school and by her overbearing religious mother. This movie is the first in over 100 media adaptations of Stephan King’s works, and while it was a commercial and critical success, King himself hated the movie. The only praise he has ever issued for the movie was of the casting and acting talents of Spacek and credited her solely for the success of the movie.
Carrie has had an impactful influence on pop culture, with 100’s of different types of media paying homage, or referencing the movie. It has only sparked remakes and less successful sequels. It is hailed by many as one of the greatest horror movies to ever be made, in fact, the AFI (American Film Institute) ranked it 46th in their 100 Years…100 Thrills list, with Carrie outranking classics like The Sixth Sense (1999), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Halloween (1978).