15 Overlooked Films of the 1970s

Sharing is caring!

With the birth of the New Hollywood film movement and a rise in American independent cinema brought upon by the French New Wave, the 1970s is considered by many film critics and historians to be one of the best decades not only for American film but for film as an art form. We would see the emergence of filmmakers that would come to define the back half of the century, including people like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brian De Palma, to name a few. We would also see a lack of censorship give way to bolder works from our elder politicians, with Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, Federico Fellini, and Francoise Truffaut making some of the best work of their careers in this decade. 

With the 70s being such a watershed decade for the art form, it can be easy to see why some great films would fall through the cracks. Today, we’ll look at some of the most underrated movies of the 1970s and explain why the films shown here are worth seeking.

1. Busting (1974)

Photo Credit: United Artists.

A directorial debut from Peter Hyams, the film follows two LAPD officers as they attempt to stop the corruption that infiltrates their department while trying to crack down on a crime ring pushing drugs into the streets of LA. This film would inspire Starsky and Hutch, leading to a wave of buddy cop comedies that would take over in the following decade.

2. Zombie (1979)

Photo Credit: Variety Film Production.

Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci’s semi-sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead follows a group of reporters and scientists who must travel to the fictional island of Matul to investigate a mysterious disappearance. What follows, however, will not be spoiled here, but this author would be remiss if it weren’t mentioned that the film features an insane scene where a zombie fights a shark. You don’t want to miss this one, folks!

3. Quintet (1979)

Photo Credit: Lion’s Gate Films.

This Robert Altman-directed oddity stars Paul Newman as a traveler in a post-apocalyptic ice age struggling to survive. His fate is determined by a deadly board game known only as Quintet. It’s a bizarre film that stands out amongst Altman’s menagerie of hits.

4. Messiah of Evil (1973)

Photo Credit: V/M Productions.

Future American Graffiti screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz would co-write and direct this atmospheric horror film about a woman who travels to a coastal California town in search of her missing father. However, strange events unfold around her, leading to some of the scariest scenes ever put on film. 

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

5. Frenzy (1972)

Photo Credit: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions.

The penultimate film by the great Alfred Hitchcock—his final film was 1976’s Family Plot—this nasty little thriller follows Richard, an ex-RAF squad leader who tries to acquit himself after he’s falsely accused of a series of murders popping up around London. The only Hitchcock film to be rated R on its original release, this film shows the master is still in top form.

6. Abby (1974)

Photo Credit: American International Pictures.

Directed by the great exploitation filmmaker William Girdler, this 1974 rip-off of the previous year’s The Exorcist played so closely to that film’s plot structure that Warner Brothers successfully sued the filmmakers and had nearly every print of Abby destroyed. If one looks beyond this story, however, they will find a frequently thrilling b-horror film about a woman’s journey to liberation after being possessed by the spirit of an African demon. It’s highly recommended.

7. 200 Motels (1971) 

Photo Credit: MGM.

The only film ever directed by musician Frank Zappa, this 1971 mockumentary follows the hectic world of rock musicians as they tour the world in search of harmful drugs, awful sex, and pocket change. It features former Beatles member Ringo Starr in an extended role and is the first film ever shot on video to be released in theaters. 

8. Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Photo Credit: Harbor Productions.

Brian De Palma’s update of the classic horror film The Phantom of the Opera follows Winslow Leach, a singer-songwriter whose music is stolen by Swan, an unscrupulous music producer. Seeking revenge, Winslow haunts the balcony of Swan’s newly opened concert hall, The Paradise. A camp classic of the highest order, this film deserves the reputation that The Rocky Horror Picture Show received.

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

9. The Wild Child (1970)

Photo Credit: Les Artistes Associés.

French darling Francoise Truffaut kicked off the 1970s with this based-on-a-true-story drama about Victor of Aveyron. A child raised feral and trained to live in civilized society after being found in the woods. Among Truffaut’s most morally complicated films, it will leave you thinking after tugging on your heartstrings.

10. Framed (1975)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Old Hollywood director Phil Karlson’s final film is an action-packed epic starring cult favorite Joe Don Baker as Ron, a gambler whose wrongful conviction leads him down a bloody path to get revenge on the crooked cops who sent him to prison. The film features one of the single most insane car stunts ever captured on film.

11. Darktown Strutters (1974)

Photo Credit: Penelope Productions.

Riding on the tail of biker gang epics like Easy Rider and The Wild One, silent-era Western director William Witney’s final film follows The Darktown Strutters, an all-female, all-African American biker gang, as they try their damnedest to evade rival gangs, the police, and even the U.S. Marines! Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of the film, calling it a “ridiculous satire.”

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

12. Nickelodeon (1976)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Peter Bogdanovich’s tribute to silent film comedy follows an attorney and a gunslinger who, through a series of misunderstandings, end up getting into the film industry. Trouble strikes, however, when the two fall in love with the same actress. Though misunderstood upon its release, Peter Bogdanovich would later release a director’s cut that would fix the pacing issues and re-color time the film to be in its original black-and-white. 

13. Old Boyfriends (1979)

Photo Credit: Pressman Film.

Written by Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader with his brother, Leonard, this dark comedy follows a clinical psychologist who, after failing in her marriage, decides to take a road trip to reconvene with three of her ex-boyfriends in an attempt to get her life back together. Watch out for a pre-Blues Brothers John Belushi’s performance of Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock.”

14. Real Life (1979)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Comedian Albert Brooks’ directorial debut, this film follows a documentary crew as they decide to make a film about the lives of an everyday suburban family. One of the sharpest satires of its era, the film would go on to predict the reality television craze that would proliferate the United States in the 1990s.

15. God Told Me To (1976)

Photo Credit: Larco Productions.

B-movie king Larry Cohen’s sci-fi horror shocker follows a homicide detective as he tries to solve a series of random mass killings that all end with the killer saying that God commanded them to do so. Though this premise may seem like stock prep fare, the ending is one of the most bizarre and unsettling moments in cinema.

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

25 Big Movies With Production Nightmares Most People Don’t Know About

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Several big movies with significant nightmare productions have some seriously delicious tea. After a recent poll on the internet, here are twenty-five films with disasters that made filming difficult.

25 Big Movies With Production Nightmares Most People Don’t Know About

25 Extraordinary Sequels and Remakes That Outshine the Originals

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sequels and remakes have a bad reputation for being really bad. However, not every sequel feels like a money grab to extend a successful franchise. These 25 movies are actually better than the original.

25 Extraordinary Sequels and Remakes That Outshine the Originals

Similar Posts