Friday, January 4, 2008


The 1970s was when my love of film commenced, and I’ve slowly been ticking off and seeing or renting every critical favorite that I didn’t see the first time around. We had this awesome cable channel called “The G Channel” which was a poor man’s Z CHANNEL, and every night at 8pm it would show one current film, several of which are represented on the list below. They might be monster movies like “Humanoids From The Deep” or “The Swarm”, or slightly heavier fare like “Taxi Driver” or “Badlands”. In any event, I think the 70s have it over every decade in terms of amazing film. If you want to get in the spirit of the 70s, there’s three ways I suggest you get started: 1.) Rent the DVD “A Decade Under The Influence” and watch it tonight; 2.) Rent the DVD of the documentary “The Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession” (I’ll write more about that one another time), and 3.) Absorb my list of the top 25 films of the seventies (which is nearly my Top 25 films in total), and make sure you watch them all by sundown, January 10th, 2008:

(Note: list updated on 1/6 thanks to comments below; I plum forgot about "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", which I love, and misdated "The King of Comedy", which I thought was a '79 film).

1. 3 Women
2. Apocalypse Now
3. Scenes From A Marriage
4. A Woman Under The Influence
5. Nashville
6. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
7. Chinatown
8. The Last Picture Show
9. Midnight Cowboy
10. Fat City
11. Marathon Man

12. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
13. Carnal Knowledge
14. The Exorcist
15. Taxi Driver
16. The Godfather
17. The Panic In Needle Park
18. The Conversation
19. Five Easy Pieces
20. Dog Day Afternoon
21. Badlands
22. Klute
23. Cries and Whispers
24. Opening Night
25. Duel

Hey, did I miss anything?


Anonymous said...

Hey Jay,

Firstly, you GOTTA mention One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Deliverance and Serpico: essential '70s cinema, if ever there was. Have you witnessed Apocalypse Now lately? I LOVED it when I was a lot younger and in a bit of an angry-young-man listen-to-Black Flag/Killdozer/Scratch Acid (etc.) kinda phase, though having witnessed it again recently, I dunno... it's beyond pretentious and more than a little embarrassing. See it again and let me know what you think. Certainly the "redux" version is a turd. For some reason it just reminds me of Henry Rollins, and not in a good way.
BTW, King Of Comedy was made in 1981, so it doesn't count. And it actually wasn't theatrically released until 1983, as it was deemed "unsellable" at the dawn of the '80s. People wanted to "feel good" about themselves, ya know?! Go figure, it's one of my faves a well, and definitely in the downbeat spirit of the best of 1970s cinema.

- Dave Lang

Anonymous said...

I'm missing Detailed Twang and was bummed to see it end but like this new blog. I like good movies especially from the great 70's era but am no movie "expert" or whatever so this Top 25 list will have me update my NetFlix queue pronto. Thanks for postin.


Danny Plotnick said...

What, no Kramer vs. Kramer??!!!!?? Just kidding.

Love the list, though it is very very grit bath, Decade Under the Influence. So where’s the Peckinpah?

Some other flicks worthy of consideration.

1. Straw Dogs
2. Network
3. The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3
4. McCabe and Mrs. Miller

Also some great B-Movie action going on in the 70s
1. Watermelon Man
2. Death Race 2000
3. Desperate Living
4. Phantom of the Paradise
5. The Warrirors

Some good sci-fi
1. Andromeda Strain
2. Close Encounters (gotta admit it)

Some good hippie influenced stuff
1. Harold & Maude

Some good non-Bergman foreign stuff
1. Fox and His Friends or I Only Want You to Love Me
2. W.R. or The Mysteries of the Organism
3. Walkabout

Some Music stuff
1. The Last Waltz
2. Wattstax


luKe said...

Mixed feelings about this list. As with your music blogs Jay, it's very American oriented. Here are some classic directors who realised some of the most essential movies of the 1970s I think:

- Tarkovski (Stalker, Solaris, The Mirror)
- Kubrick (Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange)
- Werner Herzog (Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Enigma of Kasper Hauser)
- Luis Bunuel (Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Tristana, That Obscure Object of Desire, The Phantom of Liberty)
- Theo Angelopoulos (The Travelling Players)
- R.W. Fassbinder (Fear Eats The Soul, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, The Marriage of Maria Braun)
- Ermanno Olmi (Tree of Wooden Clogs)
- Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris)
- Antonioni Michelangelo (The Passenger)
- Federico Fellini (Satyricon)
- Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter)
- George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead)
- Luchino Visconti (Ludwig)
- David Lynch (Eraserhead)
- Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep)
- Akira Kurosawa (Dodes'ka-den, Dersu Uzala)
- Roman Polanski (The Tenant)
- Alexandro Jodorowsky (El Topo)
- Kinji Fukasaku (Graveyard of Honor
- Shohei Imamura (Vengeance is Mine)
- Stan Brakhage (Text of Light)

and I didn't even mention Nicolas Roeg, Jacques Rivette, Pier Paolo Pasolini,...

But your list is interesting and entertaining nonetheless. Last week for example, I had the DVD version of 3 WOMEN in my hands and although it was dirt cheap, I didn't buy it because I didn't know if it's a good movie. I'm gonna get it tomorrow, that's for sure!

sean said...

Although probably not top 25, Car Wash and Pumping Iron are two of my favorite movies from the seventies

Anonymous said...

Two movies I would include are Jaws and The Wanderers; two of my favorite films of any era.

John R said...

Hey Jay: generally a good list. For being such a fan of Altman (I am as well), I am surprised you don't have what I think is his best movie (and maybe my all-time favorite film) on the list: "The Long Goodbye." It's brilliant, particularly the performance of Elliot Gould. A few other omissions:

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
Solaris & Stalker (Tarkovsky)
Suspiria & Deep Red (Argento)
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Killer of Sheep
Dirty Harry
The Godfather II

Thanks for the post.

John R said...

Btw: not that anyone probably cares, but I think the 1970s (along with the last few years of the 1960s) is the best period by far for films. It was just such an amazing, period: daring, inventive, and adventurous. The movies from that period always hit home so much harder: angrier, edgier/grittier, funnier/campier, sadder, scarier, and more desperate... That period blows today's cinema away.

SDD said...

The Devils!

Arturo said...

great list. all great (few i havent seen)
but two off the top of my head i would have on there (or recommend if you havent seen em) are
The Last Wave and Rolling Thunder.

luKe said...

I'll be seeing WANDA (Barbara Loden, 1970) at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2 weeks. Has anybody seen this "forgotten masterpiece"?

Anonymous said...

Killing of a Chinese Bookie
also, Straw Dogs
Also, Bad New Bears.

Over the Edge.

Then again Jay never even thought that the Angry Samoans were important.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, The Warriors, Slap Shot, and Rabid.

Srsly, have you seen mid-targeted movies that great? There is not one Oscar-buzz movie this year even as good and rewatchable as 70's middle& under-brow stuff.

(OK, 'cept the blood being coming movie).

Can someone explain to me why Atonement ain't just Chariots of Fire + sex, yet more boring, even with sex?

luKe said...

Atonement: read the book, ignore the movie!

Anonymous said...

Straight Time
The American Friend
Kings of the Road
Mean Streets
The Mother and the Whore

Good to see Detailed Twang back in action!

Anonymous said...

The Last Detail
Alice in the Cities
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Le Circle Rouge
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Two-Lane Blacktop

Anonymous said...

Being There
Best Boy
Punishment Park