The 1970s were the heyday of a certain kind of cinema, often referred to as the “American New Wave,” when directors were experimenting with unconventional storytelling and darker themes. Though it was released in 1967, Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” helped usher in the 70s cinema with its counter-culture themes and raw depiction of violence and sexuality. The 70s were a decade of social upheaval throughout the nation as well as a seismic shift in the classic Hollywood system.
Thanks to Netflix and other streaming services, we can now watch (or re-visit) some of the quintessential films of the 70s, many of which represent individuals isolated from or alienated by society. Though the films listed below range in subject matter and tone — it’s quite a jump from “Annie Hall” to “Panic and Needle Park,” for instance — as a whole, they represent the mood of a nation in transition, and a film culture churning with new ideas and energy.
The films featured below were directed by some of the seminal directors of the decade, including Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, John Cassavetes, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Bob Rafaelson and Paul Mazursky (who passed away this week). They are listed in chronological order (from most recent to oldest):
“Manhattan” (Woody Allen, 1979)
“An Unmarried Woman” (Paul Mazursky, 1978)
“Annie Hall” (Woody Allen, 1977)
“Carrie” (Brian De Palma, 1976)
“The Conversation” (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
“Don’t Look Now” (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
“The Long Goodbye” (Robert Altman, 1973)
“Paper Moon” (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)
“Serpico” (Sidney Lumet, 1973)
“Minnie and Moskowitz” (John Cassavetes, 1971)
“Panic in Needle Park” (Jerry Schatzberg, 1971)
“Five Easy Pieces” (Bob Rafaelson, 1970)