10 Great 1970s Movie Classics You Probably Haven’t Seen

6. Straight Time (1978)

Straight Time

Ulu Grosbard has directed films with some of the greatest actors of our time – Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Robert Duvall and Dustin Hoffman who stars in this film that he was initially going to direct. Hoffman plays a former burglar who’s trying to adjust to everyday life after being released on parole. He delivers a strong performance as he did throughout the 70s in films like Lenny, Marathon Man and a year later in his Academy Award-Winning performance as a single father in Kramer vs. Kramer.

The incredibly versatile Kathy Bates appears in one of her first film roles. Also in the cast are the superb character actors Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton and M. Emmet Walsh. Busey’s real-life son Jake Busey makes his film debut. Hoffman finally got to direct a film 34 years later about a retirement home for musicians called Quartet.


7. Uncle Joe Shannon (1978)

Character actor Burt Young was best known for supporting roles, but in this film he takes a stab at being the leading man. He also writes the screenplay for his only theatrical film writing credit. He plays a man who befriends a disabled kid after losing his wife and child in an accident.

Young is best known for the curmudgeon Paulie in the Rocky movies which he played in six separate films. The first Rocky earned him an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor which is how he got this film made. Riding high from the success of Rocky, he recruited Rocky producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Young was even able to bring on Composer Bill Conti who wrote the famous Rocky score. Finally, he got Director Of Photography Bill Butler who previously worked on Jaws and Grease. Young and Butler would go on to work together in the next three Rocky sequels.


8. Prime Cut (1972)

Coming off his Oscar win for the role of Detective Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, legendary actor Gene Hackman crosses to the other side of the tracks as a corrupt slaughterhouse boss. A mob enforcer comes to collect a debt from the boss which can only be played by the tough and gruff Lee Marvin. Hackman successfully played a virtuous good guy just as well as a despicable bad guy. He was the heroic Reverand in The Poseidon Adventure and then became the evil mastermind Lex Luthor in the Superman movies. He was the tough but diligent coach in Hoosiers and the corrupt sheriff in Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood 20 years later which earned him his second Oscar.

Sissy Spacek appears in her film debut before going on to have a legendary career of her own. Michael Ritchie was the director with only his second film. The first being Downhill Racer which also starred Hackman alongside a young Robert Redford who believed in the film. While Downhill Racer underperformed at the box office, it inspired Redford to create the Sundance Film Festival so smaller films could be recognized. Ritchie would go on to direct many famous films including The Bad News Bears, Fletch and Cool Runnings.


9. Fat City (1972)


Celebrated Director John Huston known for such golden age classics as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre takes on the boxing world in this movie about a former champion boxer who has tension with a younger boxer he’s training. It stars Stacy Keach and a very young Jeff Bridges in one of his earliest film roles. Keach is an actor who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as he has ties to film, TV and theater. He’s the kind of actor whose done so many roles, everyone has seen him in something. Whether it’s acting in The Bourne Legacy, the TV series The Blacklist or one of many Shakespeare plays, Keach is a working actor and at 82 years old has no plans of stopping.

Keach is at his best in this film and Bridges proves to be a movie star as soon as he steps on screen. He started acting at the age of two from a family of actors – his father Lloyd and brother Beau. Bridges received his first Oscar nomination the same year Fat City was released for his work in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show. He eventually won for playing a former country music star much like Keach plays a former boxing champion here.


10. The End (1978)

One of the biggest movie stars of the 1970s – the incomparable Burt Reynolds – occasionally wore two hats for some of his films. In addition to starring, he would also direct like this black comedy about a man who finds out he’s going to die within a year. So he takes it upon himself to end his life sooner than later, but each attempt fails. Reynolds stars alongside real-life friend Dom DeLuise and real-life girlfriend Sally Field.

This is one of Reynold’s lesser-known films, but the quality is there. The studio didn’t want to make it and struck up a deal for Reynolds to do it if he also made Hooper. He got the last laugh because both films were hits. This was actually during a peak in his career when he had other big hits such as The Cannonball Run and his most financially successful movie, Smokey And The Bandit which grossed $300 million worldwide against a budget of four million dollars.