Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 18 March 2016

20 top 1970s movies.

Looking at all those BFI lists of 10 best French/Italian/Swinging 60s/gay etc lists on their website, got me compiling another Best of 1970s - but I can't do ten, or twelve - it will have to be a Top Twenty. Were the 1970s the last great decade for movies? I dare say it depends on if you were there and how old you were - I was 24 in 1970 so  been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. We like the 80s and 90s and 2000s too of course, but the 1950s were my childhood, the 1960s my teens and early twenties, so the 1970s was a great era to live through as one went into one's thirties, for movies and music, and of course also discovering the gems of the 1940s and '30s.   So here are the 1970s for me:
  • THE PASSENGER. I was mesmerised by Antonioni's mystery and had to return to it several times, as per my review in "Films Illustrated" in 1976.
  • BARRY LYNDON - I could see the brilliance of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE but didn't like it, but I love BARRY LYNDON - see next post, above.
  • TAXI DRIVER - those searing visuals, Herrmann's powerful score, Scorsese and De Niro .... and Paul Schrader's script.
  • OBSESSION - a favourite De Palma, with another amazing Herrmann score (and another Schrader script) and wonderful Genevieve Bujold
  • CHINATOWN - Polanski's all time great, its Faye Dunaway's movie as much as Nicholson's.
  • KLUTE - the first of Pakula's paranoia thrillers, with Jane Fonda just as mesmerising now
  • SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY - Schlesinger's masterpiece with Finch and Jackson never better
  • DON'T LOOK NOW - ditto for Nick Roeg, with Julie Christie
  • L'INNOCENTE - Visconti's last film in 1976, directed from a wheelchair - another ravishingly opulent costume drama.
  • NEW YORK NEW YORK - another Scorsese classic for me, re-imagining those great '40s and '50s musicals for the '70s, with De Niro's Jmmy Doyle the man we love to hate ... this is Liza's other great role.
  • CABARET - the other great '70s musical - Fosse also stunned us with ALL THAT JAZZ in '79
  • THE GODFATHERS - I have to bundle Coppola's majestic twosome together .... then there is his APOCALYPSE NOW ...
  • HAROLD AND MAUDE - Hal Ashby's cult classic still works
  • NASHVILLE - after the great MASH, McCABE & MRS MILLER, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE Altman gave us his magnum opus in 1975 - America seems even madder now ...
  • CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND - Spielberg's space opus we loved  (never cared for STAR WARS).
  • ANNIE HALL - Woody and Keaton - with MANHATTAN and INTERIORS following, after their early items like LOVE AND DEATH ..
  • AUTUMN SONATA - A late Bergman, with the other Bergman (Ingrid) and Liv Ullmann providing an acting masterclass, its very affecting too. 
  • FOX AND HIS FRIENDS - a terrific Fassbinder, as good as his FEAR EATS THE SOUL
  • SEVEN BEAUTIES - Lina Wertmuler's searing drama still stuns now
  • THE DEER HUNTER - Cimino's opus
  • NETWORK - Finch, Dunaway, Holden etc excel in Lumet's searing drama by Chayefsky.
Thats 20 then - other interesting Euro films included Bunuel's DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, Bergman's CRIES AND WHISPERS, Truffaut's DAY FOR NIGHT, the Taviani's PADRE PADRONE, Scola's A SPECIAL DAY, and for some fun, Richard Lester's THREE & FOUR MUSKETEERS, and also his tense JUGGERNAUT, lovely ROBIN AND MARIAN, and more hi-jinks in ROYAL FLASH, and Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Thats my 1970s in a nutshell, plus of course THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, THE PARALLAX VIEW, De Sica's GARDEN  OF THE FINZI CONTINI, Visconti's LUDWIG and Bertolucci's THE CONFORMIST and 1900, Blier's outrageous LES VALSEUSES in '74, then those Romy Schneider French films .... while Helmut's DORIAN GRAY in 1970 ramped up the trash level, as did JUST A GIGOLO in '78 and BLOODLINE in 1979. 


  1. How could one argue with everything UP to ANNIE HALL. On one viewing I was less impressed with AUTUMN SONATA than most people though it is on MUBI so I may watch it again and I just didn't like FOX AND HIS FRIENDS, (simply not in the same class as FEAR EATS THE SOUL). The only one on your list I have never seen is SEVEN BEAUTIES. Another for my friend Pat to check out for me, methinks!

  2. Of the others ROBIN AND MARIAN should be much higher.