20 Great Movies From The 1970s That Deserve To Be Seen by Everyone


This is a running series that aims to introduce some of the gems of cinema in each decade. These recommended movies are by no means obscure, and most of them are quite popular among seasoned movie buffs.

However, we think it’s not enough – these brilliant films definitely deserve to be on every cinephile’s radar. We begin this series with the incredible 1970s.


1. Le Cercle Rouge (1970, Jean-Pierre Melville)

Le Cercle Rouge film

If you have seen “Le Samourai”, the quintessential French crime film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Alain Delon, you know how cool this could be. With its intense dialogue-free half-hour heist scene, this is a tour de force made by a master director at his most powerful, and it should never be overshadowed by ”Le Samourai”.


2. Gimme Shelter (1970, David Maysles, Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin)

Gimme Shelter movie

Even you don’t know much about cinema verite and the Maysles brothers, you should check out this landmark documentary about one of the greatest rock bands ever. What made it special was that while most rock documentaries only recorded the cheering atmosphere of the concerts, this one focused more on the tragedy that happened backstage.


3. Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion (1970, Elio Petri)

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

An Italian gem that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film that year, “Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion” is a classic crime drama directed by the genre master Elio Petri. Made 45 years ago, the theme of the movie is still relevant, and the style contemporary.


4. Valerie and Her Week of Wonder (1970, Jaromil Jireš)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

One of the pearls of the dynamic Czech New Wave, “Valerie and Her Week of Wonder” found its new life first on Second Run DVD, and then Criterion Collection Blu-ray. It’s a visually stunning fairy tale about female coming-of-age and sexuality.


5. Straw Dogs (1971, Sam Peckinpah)

Straw Dogs

One of the most controversial movies of the 1970s because of the infamous rape scene, “Straw Dogs” is a perfect study of violence and character arc in film. You will be shocked by Dustin Hoffman’s jaw-dropping transforming performance.


6. A Touch of Zen (1971, King Hu)

A Touch Of Zen (1971)

The first Chinese-language movie that ever won an award at the Cannes Film Festival, “A Touch of Zen” is a fantastic combination of wuxia action filmmaking and Oriental philosophy. The climatic bamboo scene directly influenced Ang Lee’s award-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.


7. Roma (1972, Federico, Fellini)


Often overshadowed by “Amarcord”, Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film about the life of Rimini in 1930s Fascist Italy, “Roma” is an equally poetic and comedic film where the city itself becomes the protagonist.


8. Maîtresse (1973, Barbet Schroeder)


A gem that explores the secret world of BDSM, “Maîtresse” is a film you will secretly fall in love with. Starring the young Bulle Ogier and Gérard Depardieu, the film discusses the relationship between love and desire, control and being controlled.


9. Sisters (1973, Brian De Palma)


This is where all of Brian De Palma’s suspense thrillers began. Inspired by a piece of news in Life magazine, this movie is a direct homage to Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and “Vertigo”, with De Palma’s own twist of sexuality and dark humor.


10. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)


The magnum opus of prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” is a great romance film that transcends race, age, and social class. Deeply influenced by Douglas Sirk’s timeless classic “All That Heaven Allows”, this movie was able to tell a story of impossible love in its own German setting.