August 28, 2014 Presents... Decades: our top 10 films of the 1970s
by James

by James Forryan

hmv London; 28/08/2014


"Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, Presents... Decades: our top 10 films of the 1970s

To celebrate the special offers happening in hmv stores across the country over the next few weeks, each week we'll be picking our top 10 films from each decade. Today we’re picking our faves from the 1970s…

All the below films are included in the in-store offers - check with your local hmv for details

The Exorcist

10. The Exorcist


William Friedkin's 1973 horror film about a child possessed by a demon is still considered one of the scariest horror films ever made, even if some of its effects seem a little dated now, but the film's influence on the horror genre is immeasurable, from its subject matter (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) to its use of 'subliminal' imagery (Event Horizon). Starring Max von Sydow and Jason Miller as the two priests tasked with exorcising the demon from the young girl Regan (Linda Blair), Friedkin's atmospheric horror-thriller has grown a reputation over the years as one the finest of its era.

Annie Hall

9. Annie Hall


Even though it was released in 1977, Woody Allen's film is still the most recent comedy to win a Best Picture Oscar, beating off competition from George Lucas' Star Wars in the process. Starring Diane Keaton in the title role and Allen himself as the lovestruck comedian Alvy Singer, Annie Hall's Academy win is a landmark achievement for a comedy that has yet to be equalled, a testament to its razor sharp dialogue and perfectly measured performances. This is Woody Allen at his best.

The Deer Hunter

8. The Deer Hunter


Featuring an impressive cast that included Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale and Meryl Streep amongst its ranks, Michael Cimino's film took a different perspective on the effects of the Vietnam war on the lives of Americans called up for the conflict. Remembered most the iconic scene in a Vietnamese P.O.W. camp in which the captives are forced to play Russian roulette, it's an important social document as well as a great film, picking up five Oscars for Best Director, Best Picture and a Best Supporting Actor for Walken in his role as Nick.


7. Quadrophenia


Anybody taking a day trip to Brighton in recent years may have encountered the strange sight of tourists taking photographs of an empty alleyway in the city's Lanes area, but for anyone familiar with that scene from Franc Roddam's 1979 film that should come as no surprise. One of the most iconic British films of the whole decade, Quadrophenia's legacy can still be seen around the streets of Brighton today. Featuring a cast that includes Phil 'Parklife' Daniels, Leslie Ash, Philip Davis and Ray Winstone, not to mention some brilliant cameos from Sting and Toyah Wilcox, the film's tale of counter culture and the frustrations of modern life are epitomised in its climactic final scene at Beachy Head. The scene may have changed, but the film's message is as relevant as ever.

Taxi Driver

6. Taxi Driver


Martin Scorcese's film about an increasingly unhinged Vietnam veteran trying to readjust to life on civvy street was the second in a series of successful collaborations between the director and actor Robert De Niro, following the latter's role in Mean Streets and preceding his appearances in films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas. De Niro delivers one of his best ever performances in the role of Travis Bickle and the director even coaxed Bernard Herrmann out of retirement to provide an iconic score that would be the composer's last before his death the same year. Every bit as vital now as it was on its release, this is still one of our all-time favourites.

Apocalypse Now

5. Apocalypse Now


The film that finally saw Marlon Brando make the transition from method to madness and nearly drove its director to the same fate, the stories from the set of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam war epic have become almost as legendary as the film itself, but Apocalypse Now has to rank as one of the finest cinematic achievements of the 1970s and is possibly the greatest war film ever made. With Charlie Sheen starring in the lead role and Brando as the mesmerising Colonel Kurtz, the film features an embarrassment of acting talent that includes Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford among others, and supported by a groundbreaking soundtrack courtesy of Walter Murch, Apocalypse Now is an undisputed classic that deserves every bit of the reverence afforded to it.

A Clockwork Orange

4. A Clockwork Orange


Contrary to popular belief, A Clockwork Orange was never banned, rather it was withdrawn at the request of Stanley Kubrick after the director discovered to his horror that the film's many scenes of 'ultra-violence' were being copied by gangs of youths in a real-life homage to his 1971 film. Kubrick may have felt he had failed to translate the message from Anthony Burgess' dystopian sci-fi novel to the big screen, but we'd argue that its message about a totalitarian approach to social order is not only clear but even more frighteningly relevant now. Featuring a career-defining performance from Malcolm McDowell in the lead role of hoodlum Alex DeLarge, Kubrick's film is stylish, slick and brilliantly unnerving.


3. Alien


Ridley Scott's 1979 film has created a legacy that has spawned countless sequels, video games and parodies, and while its follow-up Aliens was a bigger hit at the box office, the original has an atmospheric feel to it that sets it apart from many other sci-fi horrors of the era.
Parodied too many times to mention, the film's iconic scene with an Alien bursting from the stomach of one of the Nostromo's crew members has become one of the most memorable in history and a fantastic performance from Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ellen Ripley has helped to cement Alien's place as once of the best films of the decade.


2. Jaws


Another of the most iconic films of the 1970s, Jaws turned Steven Spielberg from jobbing film director into the golden Hollywood cash cow that has since gone on to helm more big blockbusters than anyone in history. The plot is a pretty simple one, but thanks to some great performances and an equally iconic soundtrack, Jaws is one of the most gripping thrillers of its era and has no doubt instilled a fear of sharks into the minds of millions. Seriously, next time you spot a singular fin popping out of the water somewhere, we bet you don't get to count to ten before somebody does this: “dun-dun, dun-dun...”

The Godfather

1. The Godfather


In our opinion, The Godfather isn't just the best film of the 1970s, it's a contender for the best film of all time. Reportedly, Coppola and several other members of the cast and crew received numerous death threats from the Mafia during the film's production, apparently concerned that a screen adaptation of Mario Puzo's celebrated novel might draw too much attention to some of their activities, but when the film was released, all the threats went away. The reason? They loved it, and so did everybody else.