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20 Great Classic Movies of the 1970's (Part 1)

Updated on August 10, 2008

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ~ 1971

The French Connection ~ 1971

Shaft ~ 1971

Dirty Harry ~ 1971

The Godfather ~1972

The Sting ~ 1973

American Grafatti ~ 1973

Chinatown ~ 1974

Young Frankenstein ~ 1974

1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ~ 1971 A children's black comedy of sorts. Gene Wilder Transports us into an imaginary world of an over-the-top chocolate factory. Wonka (Wilder) is a world-renowned candy maker that creates a contest that hides 5 golden tickets in his candy, in order to find his lucky successor. A film that both entertains the young and young at heart. Completely engaging through every musical number, magical creatures and quirky dance routines.

2. The French Connection ~ 1971 "Popeye" Doyle played by Gene Hackman is a New York Police detective who fervently entrenches the viewers in his quest to win the war against drugs. Car chases, train-wrecks, and groundbreaking editing transfers to the big screen like a celebrated explosion. The French Connection won the Oscar for best picture, Gene Hackman for best actor.

3. Shaft ~ 1971 A sexy, tough as nails, hard-edged detective, who also happens to have a way with the ladies, is compellingly portrayed by Richard Roundtree. A Harlem version of the Godfather. Slickly narrated and filled with non-stop action. Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for best song.

4. Dirty Harry ~ 1971 Clint Eastwood as a San Francisco "supercop" that goes by the name "Harry Callahan". He investigates a warped phsycopath known as "Scorpio", played by Andy Robinson. Harry's arch nemisis takes him a wild chase from the underground burrows to the highest sky-lines. Brilliant cinematogrophy. "Are you feeling lucky?"

5. The Godfather ~ 1972 A masterpiece that is "The Godfather". An epic tale that follows the "Corleone" family. The youngest son "Michael", played by Al Pacino, is born into a family business riddled with crime, sordid deals and a mobster underground. After Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, is murdered, Michael is left with the honorable task of avenging his father's death. Albert S. Reddy won an Oscar for best picture. Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola for best screenplay, and Marlon Brando for best actor (he refused the award).

6. The Sting ~ 1973 Paul Newman and Robert Redford paired again for this gritty, slick and stylaized drama. Newman and Redford play two eager con-men roaming the streets of Chicago in search of their next big score. Loyalty, mobsters and revenge create a memorable film that highlights the undeniable chemistry of Newman and Redford. This film won 7 Oscars, including Best Picuture.

7. American Grafatti ~ 1973 Another Francis Ford Coppola film that took an entirely different direction. A nostalgic and entertaining coming of age story that centers around recent high-school graduates testing their boundaries. Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley were obvious spinoffs that successfully delivered a much needed throwback to more innocent times. American Grafatti was an enormous box-office hit, as well as hugely financially successful. Critically acclaimed, and Francis Ford Coppola won for best picture and director that year.

8. Young Frankenstein ~ 1974 Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks create a masterful spoof of the classic Mary Shelley novel "Frankenstein". Filmed in black and white, it proved to be one of the most satirically funny and most original films of it's kind. Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle are superb in each of their respective roles. Cloris Leachman is scene-stealing. Wilder and Brooks won a nomination for best screenplay.

9. Chinatown ~ 1974 A thoughful and detailed highly intelligent film that borders on old-style intrigue and mystery. Jack Nicholson is standout in his performance in a role that is said to be written specifically for him. Roman Polanski's direction was inspiringly genius and garnered him an Oscar nomination, as well as Jack Nicholson for best actor. Faye Dunaway was especially amazing and won the Oscar for best actress that year.

10. Mean Streets ~ 1973 Mean Streets put Martin Scorsese on the map and skyrocketed his credibility. Harvey Keital and Robert Deniro offer their intensity and dramatic prowness. An underground mobster script thrown a twist of sarcastically funny banter.

Mean Streets ~ 1973 (STRONG LANGUAGE)

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I am sad that Isaac Hayes today 8/10/2008 died at the age of 65, found collapsed by his treadmill at home. I hope that everyone pays attention to heart health and the risk of cardiovascular disease that has no symptoms but kills. No cause of death was issued this afternoon, but it is a wake call for the rest of us anyway.

      As for these great movies, I loved Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka and Young Frankenstein.

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