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Top 5 Movies Released in the 70s

By Dillon Wallace

Every decade has them. Those monumental movies responsible for defining a decade, reimagining a genre and transforming the movie industry as we once knew it.

These paramount moments in cinema history become the new standard that everything new is compared against. And although time might continue to tick on, these movies will forever hold a place in time for being truly groundbreaking.

Here are the top 5 movies of the decade – 70s rendition. Spoiler: bell bottoms, huge collared shirts and platform shoe sightings are inevitable.


5) Alien (1979)

If there’s one thing movies from the 70s weren’t short on, it was suspense. Ridley Scott’s outer space thriller still holds up thanks to its innovative story, superb character development and groundbreaking special effects. In outer space, no one can hear you scream, but that wasn’t the case in theaters in 1979 when this scream gem was released to shrieks and shrills. It’s the movie that single handedly made Sigourney Weaver a household name and launched a franchise that to this day is still going strong with new video games, crossover movies (AVP, anyone?) and other franchise offshoots, like Prometheus. To say that Alien has had an impact on pop culture would be an understatement.

Best quote: “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”


4) Jaws (1975)

How often does a movie come around that literally makes you afraid to do something? That right there is a true testament to its power, and audiences everywhere were afraid to go into the water after seeing this epic monster flick – one that seemed all too real. Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, Jaws constantly kept audiences on their toes and away from the tide. The movie hit audiences right away with death and didn’t let go until we all felt like fresh chum. Its first-person camera work (an innovation for the time) really helped capture that essence of being hunted. And the music, OMG. You’d be hard pressed to find any scores in Hollywood that are as iconic and terrifying as that simple “dum, dum” that grows with every inch he gets closer to dinner time.

Best quote: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

3) Rocky (1976)

What does a movie about a nobody boxer with a lucky shot at the heavyweight title have in common with the general public. Everything, because this is a true underdog story that we can all relate to. In 1976, audiences were introduced to an unknown writer/actor named Sylvester Stallone, and a low budget boxing drama. Sounds like a recipe for failure but eight movies and four decades later, the rest is history … and still present. While the franchise may seem fairly superficial on the outside (ripped men trying to hit one another harder than the other), it was littered with metaphors and teachable moments underneath that hard surface level. About having the will to be a champion.

Best quote: “Life’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward.”

2) The Godfather (1972)

When you talk about mobster movies, there’s no way around avoiding mention of the king of them all. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather went from destined to fail, cheap pot-boiler mob flick to one of Hollywood’s greatest films ever, and no one really saw it coming. A large part of The Godfather’s success may be attributed to the #1 best-selling book that helped put the movie on the map, but the real reasons behind the film’s legendary status more than likely comes from the compelling and commanding performances from Marlon Brando and a fairly unknown (at the time), Al Pacino. Additionally, Coppala’s vision of weaving in a metaphorical immigrant story throughout just another mafia narrative made the film relatable and timely, especially coming just a few short years after the civil rights movement.

Best quote: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

1) Star Wars: A New Hope

Can you imagine trying to pitch the idea of Star Wars to Hollywood executives back in the late 70s. “Um, yeah … so we’ve got this idea about a light and dark side, it takes place in space, the main villain is actually the main protagonist’s father … but he won’t know that until the 3rd film. Also, there are robots, light speed travel and these people called Jedis. Oh, and lightsabers. They’re like swords but beams of really hot light.” Everyone in that room was probably scratching their heads super confused. So it’s a good thing the brilliant minds behind the out-of-this-world (literally) concept was George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (to an extent) because otherwise, this saga may never have continued, let alone started. But lucky us, it got greenlit and we’re about to enjoy the 9th and final entry of the main series along with several offshoots poised to hit the silver screen in the next couple years. For some, Star Wars isn’t just a film franchise, it’s a way of life … like, for real. And if that’s not impactful, what is?!

Best quote: “Use the force, Luke.”

It’s tough to fit an entire decade of great movies into just its top five entries, but this list can at least get the conversation started. One that could be argued over many of drinks at a local bar. So, how do your top picks of the 1970s line up?

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