The 1970s are typically regarded as a period of Renaissance for the American movie industry. Financially, Hollywood was struggling, unable to match the heyday of the previous decades of the 40s and 50s, with television on the rise and new restrictions on the major studios. This resulted in a greater willingness for those with the big bucks to take chances on young filmmakers, many who had been studying film for their entire lives, and had been influenced by the evolving styles seen in Europe, France in particular.
A new generation of directors were able to foster in a new era of box office and critical successes, and this led to a wave of new voices and new visions being given the opportunity to have their work shown to a massive audience. These were movies that deviated pretty significantly from what was previously the Hollywood mainstream of musicals and wholesome Westerns. It gets romanticized quite a lot, and there are surely comparable advances constantly occurring in the world of cinema, even and perhaps especially today. But any decade that witnesses the arrival of the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas is worthy of some serious respect.
Here are 7 key movies that are essential to understanding what the 1970s were all about in the film world. It’s a list meant to serve as a taste rather than an exhaustive summation of a remarkable decade.
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