The 1970s are often referred to as the golden era of cinema. It was a decade of creative and groundbreaking movies that redefined the medium of filmmaking. However, some lesser-known films from that era have not received the recognition they deserve. A film connoisseur whose favorite film decade is the 70s asked fellow movie fans for more underrated 70s gems, and these are 15 of their top selections.
1. Don't Look Now (1973)
Don't Look Now is a psychological horror-thriller film directed by Nicolas Roeg about a couple who travel to Venice after the accidental drowning of their daughter and encounter a series of eerie occurrences. As the couple tries to cope with their loss, they become entangled in a web of supernatural events that leave them questioning their sanity.
2. Harold and Maude (1971)
Hal Ashby directs this dark comedy-drama about a young man obsessed with death who meets an eccentric 79-year-old woman and forms an unusual bond. Despite their significant age difference, the two develop a close bond as they explore life, death, and what it means to truly live.
3. Never Give an Inch (Sometimes a Great Notion) (1971)
This Paul Newman-directed drama based on the novel by Ken Kesey is about a family of loggers in Oregon who clash with the union during a strike. The film explores themes of family, loyalty, and the human cost of progress in the changing American West.
4. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Assault on Precinct 13 is an action-thriller film directed by John Carpenter about a police officer who must defend a nearly abandoned police station from a gang who wants to kill a prisoner being held there. The film's intense action sequences and suspenseful plot have made it a cult classic among action movie fans.
5. The Streetfighter (Hard Times) (1975)
This crime-drama film, directed by Walter Hill, is about a drifter who becomes a bare-knuckle boxer in New Orleans during the Great Depression. The film's realistic portrayal of the hardships faced by boxers during the Great Depression has earned it critical acclaim.
6. The Gauntlet (1977)
The Gauntlet is an action-thriller film directed by Clint Eastwood about a detective who escorts a witness from Las Vegas to Phoenix but must fight off corrupt police officers along the way. The film's high-octane car chases, and shootouts make it one of Eastwood's most thrilling films.
7. The Conversation (1974)
A psychological thriller directed by Francis Ford Coppola about a surveillance expert who becomes increasingly paranoid when he believes he has stumbled upon a murder plot. The film's haunting score and expertly crafted suspense have made it a genre classic.
8. The Harder They Come (1972)
This crime-drama film directed by Perry Henzell is about a young Jamaican man who turns to a life of crime and becomes a folk hero after recording a hit reggae song. The film's soundtrack, which features reggae legends such as Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals, helped to introduce Jamaican music to a global audience.
9. The Way We Were (1973)
The Way We Were tells the story of a headstrong political activist named Katie (Barbra Streisand) who falls in love with a handsome and charming writer named Hubbell (Robert Redford). Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s and 70s, the film explores themes of love, politics, and the struggle to maintain one's identity in a rapidly changing world.
10. Papillon (1973)
Papillon is a biographical drama film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the memoir of Henri Charrière, about a man wrongly convicted of murder and sent to a brutal penal colony in French Guiana. The film's harrowing depiction of life in a brutal penal colony has made it a memorable and enduring classic.
11. Breaking Away (1979)
A coming-of-age sports comedy-drama film directed by Peter Yates about four friends from working-class families in Indiana who dream of racing in the annual “Little 500” bicycle race. The film's heartwarming themes of friendship and determination have made it a beloved classic.
12. The Last Detail (1973)
The Last Detail is a comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby about two Navy petty officers tasked with escorting a young sailor to a naval prison but deciding to show him a good time before he is incarcerated. The film's witty dialogue and memorable performances have earned it a reputation as one of the best films of the 1970s.
13. Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (1972)
This fantastic Japanese film is often forgotten about, but it really should be on everyone's list of movies to watch. The dramatic film follows one woman's search 26 years after the war to find out what actually happened to her deceased husband during World War II. Under the Flag of the Rising Sun shows the other side of the destruction of war.
14. The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Sunshine Boys is about two vaudevillians reuniting one more time for a television special. While their on-stage chemistry was great, they actually hated each other in their personal lives. Now back together again, can the two get over their differences to put on a good show?
15. Frenzy (1972)
This Hitchcock murder mystery follows a London police officer who is trying to find a serial killer who strangles women with a necktie. But even when it seems like the case is closed, it turns out the police have the wrong man.