Monday, August 10, 2009

The Best Movies of the 1970s

Sam Juliano and Allan Fish—Allan writing the reviews and counting down the films and Sam acting as compère—have just finished another of their best of the decade series at Wonders in the Dark, this one on the best movies of the 1970s, the third I've participated in. I've submitted my own list and as I've done in the past would like to comment on my impressions of that decade in film.

This was a difficult decade for me in terms of film viewing, especially for foreign language movies. In the early seventies I moved from San Francisco, where I had access to most of the latest foreign movies released in the US, to a small town in rural Northern California. The local theater catered to a clientele that preferred American movies of the John Wayne-Clint Eastwood ilk. I was lucky in that not too long after I moved here, a young couple from Madison, Wisconsin, bought the theater and successfully devised a formula that kept the theater in business for many years.

On weekends they showed the latest American movies and on weeknights some of the latest foreign language movies as well as some classics. (I was fortunate enough to see Gone With the Wind, Rear Window, and Singin' in the Rain among others for the first time on the big screen there.) So even if the selection of foreign films wasn't as extensive as in San Francisco, I still got to see the most widely distributed foreign language movies of the 1970s as well as the major American movies and even some of the more obscure ones. And the occasional trip to San Francisco always included a visit to one of that city's several art theaters.

Still, I had a lot of catching up to do to participate meaningfully in the WitD best of the 70s poll. For the most part I managed to do this to my satisfaction, even though I did not manage to see many of the more obscure films that Allan covered. My two biggest regrets are not being able to see the French films Céline and Julie Go Boating and The Mother and the Whore, neither of which I was able to locate on Region 1 DVD before the poll closed.

Now for my impressions of the decade. I would say that overall this was a very strong decade for movies. In my roundup of the 1960s a few weeks ago, I observed that while American movies of the late 1960s promised much in terms of a clear break with the past, I didn't feel that the new freedoms in subject, attitude, and technique were successfully developed by the most lionized American movies of the time. In retrospect many of the movies that seemed at the time to promise so much don't seem to have stood the test of time. Their promise was just that—potential waiting for future exploitation. For me it was the American movies of the early 1970s that really took the new cinematic freedoms of the 60s and successfully applied them. The years between 1970 and 1976 were incredibly rich ones for the American cinema, and my decade list reflects this belief, with the inclusion of more American movies than on the lists of the previous two decades. Nearly half of my top 25 of the 1970s were either made in the US or directed by an American, including my top two choices of the decade.

Many of the greatest contemporary American directors first came to prominence during the 1970s, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, and Terrence Malick. But perhaps the most important of them all, in terms of his influence on other directors, was Robert Altman. His deft juggling of simultaneous multiple story lines, original takes on well-worn genres like the war movie and the Western (not always successful: consider his disastrous attempt to update the P.I. genre with The Long Goodbye), and heightened sense of realism, particularly in the use of sound and dialogue—so unique at the time—today are so fully integrated into filmmaking technique that few give such things a second thought. I don't think Altman receives nearly the credit he deserves for showing other directors how to achieve this and still keep things interesting and intelligible.

Two other things that American movies of the late 1960s tentatively introduced found their fullest expression in the 1970s. One of these was the alienated, anti-authoritarian attitude of movies like Easy Rider. Even if that movie has dated badly, it made it possible for movies like M*A*S*H, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, All the President's Men, Network, Apocalypse Now, and Being There to embrace a cynical and almost paranoiac mistrust of authority and power—a level of mistrust unseen in American films since the early 1930s—that also found critical and popular approval.

The other element of late 60s cinema that found its way into the American movies of the 1970s is what I would call an increased Europeanization of style. I see this in movies like Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces (particularly the second half, which seems almost like a Bergman movie), Scorsese's Mean Streets, Malick's Badlands (with its New Wavish/Godard-like sensibility), Coppola's The Conversation, or Interiors, Woody Allen's outright hommage to Bergman. All in all, I find the 1970s probably the most exciting time in the post-studio American cinema.

The European cinema of the 1970s seemed a time of endings and new beginnings. Many of the established great European directors made their last, or their last major, films during the decade. François Truffaut made two masterpieces—The Wild Child (1970) and The Story of Adèle H. (1975)—and two near-masterpieces—Day for Night (1973) and Small Change (1976). Truffaut died in 1984, and his last major film, The Last Métro, was released in 1980. In 1970 the great French comic director Jacques Tati released his fifth and final full-length film, Trafic, an enjoyable but rather haphazard work that unfortunately was not up to his best. Luis Buñuel, who died in 1983, directed his last four films, all of major importance in his canon, in this decade. In the 1970s Vittorio de Sica, who died in 1974, directed his last movies, including the masterful Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970). The last film of another of the original Italian neo-realists, Luchino Visconti, was released in 1976, the year of his death—The Innocent, a movie memorable for its pictorial elegance and (for Visconti) restrained romanticism. The great Federico Fellini continued to direct until 1990, but he produced what is widely considered his last masterpiece in 1973, the charming autobiographical film Amarcord.

After his great work of the 1960s, Ingmar Bergman continued at the peak of his art for most of the 1970s yet by the end of the decade had pretty much shifted his attention to works made for television. He made three masterpieces—Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and his version of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute (1975)—and two near-masterpieces—Face to Face (1976) and Autumn Sonata (1978). The Magic Flute was made for television before being shown theatrically, while Scenes from a Marriage and Face to Face were originally made for television and edited down by Bergman for theatrical distribution. Autumn Sonata was made in Norway during Bergman's temporary self-imposed exile there after his traumatic problems with the Swedish tax authorities and, even though he directed a dozen or so more features and documentaries for television, it was his next-to-last film made specifically to be shown in theaters.

The big news in 1970s European cinema came from Germany. Rainer Maria Fassbinder, who died in 1982, directed more than 30 theatrical and television movies in the 1970s. I've seen very few of these, but they are by most accounts of an incredibly consistent quality. Other major German directors who first gained attention in this decade were Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Volker Schlöndorff, all of whom continue to work to this day. Barbet Schroeder, of Swiss-German and German parentage, has directed films in the US, Germany, and France and produced several films by Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.

One change that WitD made with the 70s poll was to allow certain television movies to be eligible for inclusion. (The guidelines about which are permitted and which are not are rather convoluted.) Because I watch TV movies and theatrical movies differently and with different expectations, and because the distinction between the two isn't always that clear, I decided to consider only films that to my knowledge were shown in movie theaters in the US, even though I may have watched them on the small screen myself. This probably didn't make much difference with this poll but no doubt will present dilemmas in future polls when works like Berlin Alexanderplatz, Brideshead Revisited, and The Singing Detective become eligible.

As with my previous decade lists, the films were chosen from my own list of **** movies. My best of the 1970s list is a personal one limited by my viewing experience and reflects my own likes and preferences. I restricted myself to one film for any director. Here is my final list of the top 25 movies of the 1970s, to my mind one of the top decades in film history:


  1. Chinatown, Polanski (1974)
  2. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II, Coppola (1972/1974)
  3. Cries and Whispers, Bergman (1972)
  4. Amarcord, Fellini (1973)
  5. The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Olmi (1978)
  6. The Last Picture Show, Bogdanovich (1971)
  7. Lacombe, Lucien, Malle (1974)
  8. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Bunuel (1972)
  9. Dersu Uzala, Kurosawa (1975)
  10. The Wild Child, Truffaut (1970)
  11. The Conformist, Bertolucci (1970)
  12. M*A*S*H, Altman (1970)
  13. Taxi Driver, Scorsese (1976)
  14. Fox and His Friends, Fassbinder (1975)
  15. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Herzog (1974)
  16. Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick (1975)
  17. Days of Heaven, Malick (1978)
  18. The Tin Drum, Schlöndorff (1979)
  19. The Mirror, Tarkovsky (1974)
  20. Manhattan, Allen (1979)
  21. Cabaret, Fosse (1972)
  22. Sunday Bloody Sunday, Schlesinger (1971)
  23. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, de Sica (1970)
  24. Five Easy Pieces, Rafelson (1970)
  25. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Forman (1975)
American and British: McCabe and Mrs. Miller, American Graffiti, Mean Streets, The Conversation, Thieves Like Us, Nashville, All the President's Men, Star Wars, Interiors, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tess, The Life of Brian

Foreign Language: Chloë in the Afternoon, Scenes from a Marriage, The Magic Flute, Aguirre: the Wrath of God, The Story of Adèle H., The Innocent, The Marriage of Maria Braun
Results of the Wonders in the Dark best movies of the 1970s poll are in. Click here for link.


John said...

A very perceptive piece on dissecting the decade. Of the directors, you mention Altman certainly took the most chances and deservers to be in the forefront of American filmmakers of the period. While I do no like all his work, even his lesser works are of great interest.

What I find sad is the deterioration of the American film audience whose outlook today is very narrow and the studios, or rather conglomerates that control what we see feeding to the lowest common denominator. Many of the films you mention (Being There, Network, most of Altman’s work) would not be made today or if they were would probably be regulated to the so-called Independent film of art house circuit.

My one surprise with you list is the exclusion of The Godfather 2 to the Honorable Mention category. I am curious as to why the disparity between Godfather 1 and

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but for me the 1970s was the last decade where movie actors and professional athletes seemed larger than life. Maybe that has to do with me being a child at the time, but whether it was Jack Nicholson reeling off one great performance after another from 1969-1975, or Reggie Jackson hitting three consecutive home runs on three pitches off of three different pitchers, the artists of the silver screen and the baseball diamond were infused with greatness. I can't really comment on your entire list, but if I had to choose one film as the film of the decade, it would be The Godfather. It is as epic as anything in the Golden Age or Cinemascope fifties, and it had competition on a par with the 1930s best films. The AMPAS should've reinstated their ten movie nominees for the 1970s instead of in 2010.

Great article, and I like the personal reminscences as well. I also can often recall where I was and many other details that surround a memorable moviegoing experience.

Juliette. said...

Agreed with John-- really perceptive and interesting...glad you included Malick among today's directors. For some reason he's always forgotten around here.

What a wonderful and diverse list. The Tin Drum, Amarcord, and Cabaret? Count me in. :)

R. D. Finch said...

Thanks for the quick responses.

C.K., I know exactly what you mean. I think of the 70s as dominated (in the American cinema anyway) by Nicholson and Jane Fonda. Those two actor-personalities seem so in tune with the cinematic spirit of that decade. I'm uneasy about future decade polls, as my interest in movies drops off after the 70s. Maybe I got more picky, maybe I'd just seen too much, or maybe it was just premature fogeyism setting in!

Juliette, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I did see "Days of Heaven" many years ago but have only recently really discovered Malick (and rewatched "Heaven," which I loved). Allan at WitD once commented that when the history of current American movies is written Malick and David Lynch will probably be at the top of the list of great directors, and I have to agree, if for no other reason than that both of them are totally unique in their vision. Glad you share my like of the 3 movies you named. I saw "Amarcord" a few months ago for the first time since it was released, and it soared in my estimation.

John, about the Godfather movies. The appearance of "Godfather II" was a fluke of the process. I really wanted to list them together, but WitD didn't permit that, as it wouldn't work for their vote tabulation. And since I imposed on myself the limitation of one movie per director, I couldn't list them both. They're so equal in quality yet so different in nature. As I watched "Godfather II" I wasn't so sure about its approach. Then I caught on to what Coppola was doing: paralleling the rise of the Corleones with their downfall by cross-cutting between the two stories. When that clicked for me I saw what a brilliant strategy it was. Anyway, the choice of one over the other was purely arbitrary: I picked the first one made. But we can consider that unofficially the #2 spot is shared by both.

Juliette. said...

Lynch and Malick, huh? That's really interesting. I used to be "into" David Lynch quite a bit more than I am now, but I'm sure it was just one of those pretentious teen phases. Now I feel like I should watch some his stuff again, to actually appreciate it on the level, you know?

Hahaha, will there be one of these for the eighties? ;)

R. D. Finch said...

John, your comments about "The Godfather" got me thinking. I'm going to revise the post and list them together as I feel they should be. Thanks for shaking me out of my mental blind spot!

hal0000 said...

Uh oh, not a fan of The Long Goodbye ;)? I admit I was less than impressed on a first viewing, but lately, I've found it difficult to drive out of my head and I've found subsequent viewings helpful. The picture, like many Altman films, really defies classification. Clydefro, who I read often (and also has top 50s lists for the 40s-90s), wrote extensively on it here:

I haven't seen all the pictures Altman directed (12!) during the decade, but many of them are my favorites. Nashville is unfortunately dismissed amongst the netflix and imdb crowds more than I would like, since I find it one of the essential representations of American culture, with a rare level of emotional resonance.

3 Women is another, with fascinating performances by Shelley Duvall and Sissey Spacek. There's a touch of Persona in there, but Altman makes it his own.

M*A*S*H isn't my favorite of Altman's work, but it's one of the most rewatchable movies out there, and I simply love its rendition of The Last Supper.

As a decade, I generally find the 70s the most interesting, especially for American output, as you've said. Which is kind of odd, considering I have yet to write an entry for a 70s film.

These lists are always helpful in telling me what I need to see and what I need to re-evaluate, but there will always be some disagreement here and there, which is fine by me. Lists are never definitive, but they make excellent learning tools, and yours is a worthwhile, thoughtful one.

R. D. Finch said...

Hal, I'm a great admirer of Raymond Chandler and the genre movies made from his novels. A few years ago I read that "Chinatown" and "The Long Goodbye" were the best of the genre from the 70s and since I liked "Chinatown" so much went right out and rented "The Long Goodbye." Was I ever disappointed. I believe this was Chandler's last published novel, and he had already done his own updating. Its setting is more the L.A. of "L.A. Confidential" than of "The Big Sleep" or "Farewell, My Lovely." Marlowe is sliding into middle age, more mature and less prone to see things in terms of absolutes. If Altman had just followed the book (and cast someone more appropriate than Elliot Gould), he could have made a great movie. For me his attempts to update the film to mid-70s L.A. ruined the special feeling you get from Chandler. And Altman changed the ending from one of moral ambiguity (something new for Chandler) and turned Marlowe into a vigilante. I found Penn's "Night Moves" and Benton's "The Late Show," both of which I like very much, to be far more palatable 70s updates than Altman's attempt. I know many people like "The Long Goodbye," but it strikes me as the kind of movie that appeals more to those who don't have the special fondness for the genre that I do.

Sam Juliano said...

"John, about the Godfather movies. The appearance of "Godfather II" was a fluke of the process. I really wanted to list them together, but WitD didn't permit that, as it wouldn't work for their vote tabulation. And since I imposed on myself the limitation of one movie per director, I couldn't list them both. They're so equal in quality yet so different in nature. As I watched "Godfather II" I wasn't so sure about its approach."

Well R.D. (and John) I'll admit it's a tricky situation here. The truth is that these are completely different films, made two years apart, and examining different aspects of the criminal empire and the Corleone family. It's interesting that your late ballot R.D. almost turned the tables on the voting as both films were in a close battle for the top spot since the beginning of the balloting. I hav ealways considered GODFATHER II as th egreater film, if such a comparison can rightfully be made. They are both American masterpieces without question, and each has it's own aspects of supreme artistry. The baptism scene at the end of the first fil m is arguably the most brilliant cinematic component in the entire saga, and then there's Brando, the wedding sequence at the beginning with Bonasera and the favor people, and the tense hospital siege, which is incomparable for hair-raising fear. The second part though, goes deeper into the psychology and the motivations that informed the rise to power, and the fascinating Italian roots, as well as the prominence of the evil son and his political power and plottings. Pacino gives, of course his greatest performance.

I personally resisted voting either film in my top 10, but I can't offer a rational reason. For me Bogdonovich's THE LAST PICTURE SHOW was THE masterpiece of the decade, but as you R.D. and many others noted in the balloting, foreign cinema was hugely influential as it will be again in the 80's.

I was thrilled to see CRIES AND WHISPERS finish third, as it is one of it's creator's greatest and most emotional works, and I remember well that you may have written your most spectacular piece on it weeks back.

Thanks to you and your graciousness and red-carpet treatment for yet another toast to WitD, and for typically presnting her this equisite and superbly defended list. It's always one of the very best we receive our very good friend.

R. D. Finch said...

Sam, thanks again for your astute comments and generous support. I understand the point about the two Godfather movies being separate works--a perfectly valid point, in my view--and followed that guideline for the WitD poll. But after reading John's comments I decided to stretch the rules here, even my self-imposed one about one movie per director. I take it that others did this in their original ballots and that's why your vote tabulator added that note about not doing this. I understand that Coppola has edited both movies into one long film presenting the story in chronological order. Even though I haven't seen that version, I daresay it wouldn't have the same impact as the original presentation. Coppola took a huge risk in making a sequel in the first place and then in doing the sequel as a bookend to the original movie--and he succeeded brilliantly. I don't believe there has ever been a two-film sequence like it.

For me the most pleasant surprise in the poll was how well "The Last Picture Show" did, and that you chose it as #1. I loved this movie when it first came out and equally when I saw it again a few months ago. I didn't realize others felt as strongly about it as I did. In a way it was Bodganovich's "Citizen Kane" in that its brilliance promised so much, and he never seemed to fulfill that promise. But at least we still have that one wonderful movie. Reading the various ballots was a kick, too, because some (very worthy) films appeared over and over, while other films were such individualistic and unexpected choices. Like they say, there's no accounting for tastes.

Sam Juliano said...

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW has had a deeper affect on me than any film I have seen in my life. i saw it first at 17 years old, and it was so impressionable. I have an affection for it that goes beyond film watching. It was part of my life, in fear of being too mawkish.

Nick said...

Where is Rocky on the List??

Jul. said...

shouldn't The Deer Hunter be on this list?

Jul-Hss said...

shouldn't The Deer Hunter be on this list?
Just asking.

Hugh Jastukis said...

Where's "JAWS"? You give an honorable mention to crap like "Star Wars", yet no sign of "JAWS" anywhere.

Anonymous said...

This list fails, in my humble opinion, because of largely ignoring horror films. The Exorcist, Alien, Halloween, Jaws, etc. all had strong influences on popular culture and film making following their releases, and all were critically praised as well.

But, admittedly, all of these lists are subjective and you had no obligation to include anything you really didn't think deserved to be there. Just giving my opinion.

seanpomp said...

Very thorough and well thought out list of the best of 70s cinema, but where is "Spirit of the Beehive"? There's no doubt in my mind that "Days of Heaven," however great, was heavily influenced by "Spirit of the Beehive."

Anonymous said...

Dude where the fu*k is "Superman?" It made Christopher Reeve a star. Are you fuc*ing kidding me? And where's "Jaws?" Wow. What a tosser!

Eric said...

Where's Annie Hall? And Jaws?

Anonymous said...

Apocalypse Now?

Anonymous said...

Um. Dog Day Afternoon. Network. Deer Hunter. Badlands?????

Wilson said...

This is probably the worst list I've ever seen. Not only does it assume that Chinatown is better than the Godfather it assumes that rather minor works from both Bergman and Fellini are better than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which should be in the top five easily. Jaws is not on this list. Therefore it has absolutely no credibility with me. Finally, while I'm glad to see Malick represented on the list his best movie of the 70's was Badlands. Vastly superior to Days of Heaven. This list is crap. I can't believe it's on IMDB

Anonymous said...

Where the fuck is Jaws!!! If your gonna tell me that fellini's films are better than JAWS then i really pity you. And Taxi Driver, One flew over the cuckoos nesr Star Wars should be behind the godfather!!

Wilson said...

Good point last poster. How in the hell is Star Wars not on this list. This thing is bogged down with arty foreign films. Don't get me wrong I love Fellini Bergman Buneul and The Tin drum but these are lesser works from these guys (aside from the Tin Drum)

greg said...

no JAWS = E P I C F A I L !

Anonymous said...

An interesting list on what I believe to be the greatest decade in American film. Altman, Ashby, Rafelson, Coppola, Allen, Polanski, Cassavetes, Scorcese, Malick...all doing the work we're going to be talking about a hundred years from now. Well, not us, per se, but you get the idea.

My love of Altman, especially, knows no bounds...please check out an article I wrote about him: here.

Again, I really liked your article/list...a guaranteed argument-starter.

Jesus Alonso said...

No Jaws, no Halloween, no Apocalypse Now, no The Deer Hunter, no Day for Night... I could go on.

And Barry Lyndon could be the most precious-looking film by Kubrick, but, still, that doesn't make it great: I yawned sooo many times with it. Probably #1 on my "overrated" list of Film History.

Anonymous said...

Coming Home-

There are some brilliant performances in that picture

bener1hannover said...

thx for addin' "Derzu Uzala"!! It deserves more attention!!

Daniel said...

It's a lovely list. Can I just throw my tupence in for Roeg's Don't Look Now.

shane said...

A very eclectic list that demonstrates an international appreciation for all film, not just America. Its a shame to see such childish posts from people whose favorites were left off, but while I also enjoy Alien, Jaws, and Star Wars, these films, while great entertainments, lack the narrative complexity, ambiguity, and visual dynamics of some others on this list (that is not to say that there is no place for entertainment on a list such as this, in fact both Alien and Jaws make my list). These are just off the top of my head... I only came up with 17.

1. Days of Heaven
2. Aguirre the Wrath of God
3. The Mirror
4. The Passenger
5. El Topo
6. Don't Look Now
7. The Conversation
8. Chinatown
9. Killer of Sheep
10. Woman Under the Infuence
11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
12. Alien
13. Picnic at Hanging Rock
14. McCabe and Ms. Miller
15. Spirit of the Beehive
16. The Conformist
17. Jaws

bryan said...

I think we would all put The Wizard of Oz on a list of the best films of the 30's, right? So how could you leave The Wiz off a list of the 70's best films? Smart move not including porn flicks, too many good ones to list.

Juliette. said...

Were you kidding about The Wiz? As a musical it was fine, but as a movie musical it was...not very good. But that might just be my opinion.

bryan said...

Don't even get me started on Sgt Peppers lonely hearts club band not being on the list. But yes, i was and am kidding. Honorable mention for Star Wars...The Phantom Menace.

Juliette. said...

Ah good. Just checking. One never can be sure.

L'oeil said...

not a word on Cimino ? Very weird.

Anonymous said...

The list lacks merit without Rocky, a film that has profound impact on society. It deserves to be on the list because it lacks " the narrative complexity, ambiguity, and visual dynamics" and yet still moves people for its superior characterization and the beauty of its simplicity. Achieving elegance with simplicity is always more difficult than just "complexity, ambiguity, etc."

Anonymous said...

No excuse for Rocky and to a lesser extent Jaws not being on this list.

Fuzzy Duck said...

No love for "A Clockwork Orange"?

Juliette. said...

This list can't be infinite, guys. ;)

May 25, 1977 said...

Where's Star Wars and Jaws? Bah! This list is bogus.

Anonymous said...


I get that and I can see many reasons to argue against all of the other movies people are naming. But I honestly can't get past not having Rocky. A critical and box office smash, creating a pop culture icons that endures to this day.

Sam Juliano said...

This is a TREMENDOUS list, and I think the few commenters who posed otherwise are condemning themselves to cinematic hell.

Anonymous said...

Very good choices!!!!
Others excellents movies from 70s
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of Third Kind
Dog Day Afternoon
French Connection
3 Women

Foreign Movie
Les Ordres (Quebec/Canada)

Anonymous said...

Boring list, mostly critic favorites that was not seen by anyone. Does anyone own more than 3 of these films.

Sam Juliano said...

Would you rather have brainless commercial films instead of challenging works of cinema? And since when does film ownership have anything to do with quality?

Anonymous said...

Great List--a little light on Allen. While not a big fan, the classic "women's picture" peaked with The Way We Were. May seem not seem comparable, but it is essential. The 70's belonged to Redford and Streisand--actors who shaped their careers.

Anonymous said...

I would have thought The Exorcist was worth a mention, but what do I know?

Jamie said...

How about another stock-imdb'er post how this list needs 'Jaws', 'Rocky', or some other piece of garbage. Where's 'Dirty Harry' I don't respect you!

Funny how so many people get so passionate about film, yet that passion doesn't drive them to actually go out and see MORE, CHALLENGING works. i guess all the energy is used being anonymous internet post hard asses. here's my top 25:

1. Badlands (US…Terrence Malick)
2. Taxi Driver (US…Martin Scorsese)
3. Radio On (England...Christopher Petit)
4. The Red Circle (France…Jean-Pierre Melville)
5. Don't Look Now (England...Nicolas Roeg)
6. Husbands (US…John Cassavetes)
7. The Conversation (US…Francis Ford Coppola)
8. 3 Women (US...Robert Altman)
9. Stalker (USSR…Andrei Tarkovsky)
10. Eraserhead (US…David Lynch)
11. Claire’s Knee (France…Eric Rohmer)
12. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (France…Luis Buñuel)
13. Carnal Knowledge (US…Mike Nichols)
14. Straw Dogs (UK…Sam Peckinpah)
15. A Clockwork Orange (UK…Stanley Kubrick)
16. Manhattan (US…Woody Allen)
17. Network (US…Sidney Lumet)
18. Vengeance is Mine (Japan…Shohei Imamura)
19. Stroszek (West Germany…Werner Herzog)
20. The Last Detail (US…Hal Ashby)
21. The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany…Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
22. Kings of the Road (West Germany…Wim Wenders)
23. Black Christmas (Canada...Bob Clark)
24. Sisters (US…Brian de Palma)
25. Numero Deux (France…Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Nieville)

btw tough guys i could list another 75 and 'Rocky', and 'Jaws' would still be sitting on the bench.

bryan said...

Oh yeah! Well, what about Jaws and Rocky? I'm a tough guy and I beat up movie snobs. But seriously, the fact that Rocky beat Taxi Driver for best picture is the real tragedy. Don't hate on Jaws though. Watch it in French or Italian if you need to.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be slow in commenting, R.D., but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your list and your piece on movies of the 1970s, and am glad they have reached a wider audience, though it is a pity you had the negative comments as a result. As ever, you have given me plenty of ideas about films to watch in the future. Judy