10 movies to see from 1975
#10 – A Boy and His Dog
Directed by L.Q. Jones. Starring Don Johnson, Susanne Benton & Alvy Moore.
This one is a post-apocalyptic film of the more light-hearted variety. Imagine if Mad Max met Lassie.
The film follows Vic (Don Johnson) and his telepathic dog named Blood, who work together to survive the desolate wasteland of the Southwestern USA. It’s a fun and heart-warming film, and it’s got plenty of doggo content, so what’s not to love?
It’s slightly odd, and the comedy is a little dark at times, but it’s fun to watch from start to finish and you’ll never want to take your eyes off it. It’s also far more profound than the initial premise would suggest, taking on an intense critique of America and managing to be an oddball comedy at the same time.
Fun fact: this film provided much of the inspiration for the smash-hit video game series Fallout.
#9 – Three Days of the Condor
Directed by Sydney Pollack. Starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway & Cliff Robertson.
This spy film is a perfect gem if you’re interested in Robert Redford’s earlier career. He absolutely shines.
Three Days of the Condor follows bookish CIA researcher Joe Turner (Redford), who returns one day to find his coworkers murdered and has to outwit those responsible to stay alive. It’s a classic edge-of-your-seat thriller and one of Sydney Pollack’s best.
This film was an absolute smash hit in the months following the Watergate scandal, as it took on a different element of believability. It’s a story of paranoia, secrecy and an absolute thriller from start to finish. Redford, as well as Faye Dunaway, puts on a fantastic performance.
Interestingly, this film was the first in history to be disputed in court over piracy and copyright violations, so, please stream it legally.
#8 – Barry Lyndon
Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson & Patrick Magee.
If there’s one thing Stanley Kubrick is remembered for, it’s the subtlety and detail of his direction. He was a directorial perfectionist.
Barry Lyndon is the perfect example of this. Based on the 1844 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, it follows an 18th-century Irish rogue who marries a rich widow in order to climb the social hierarchy. Just take a look at the extremely drawn-out scene above, and watch the subtlety of how the story is told through body language. It’s like a Where’s Wally of narrative clues.
To be totally frank, Barry Lyndon is a French wine of cinema, and in 2020, we prefer vodka cruisers. It’s not action-packed or fast-paced, but it’s an absolute visual treat from one of the masters of Hollywood cinema.
If you’re a cinema buff, watch this one about three times over. I guarantee you’ll still be noticing things the third time around.
#7 – The Man Who Would Be King
Directed by John Huston. Starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine & Christopher Plummer.
You have to love Rudyard Kipling. And that includes this incredible adaptation by director John Huston.
The Man Who Would Be King, one of Kipling’s popular novellas, follows two rogue ex-soldiers who set off from British India and discover the faraway land of Kafiristan. It’s an adventure that has a very classical and intrepid feel to it. And just check out that lead cast!
Featuring some young faces you might recognise, including Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer as Kipling himself, you’ll be entertained by performances from some of Hollywood’s greats. The story is a thrilling adventure from start to finish – no less than we expect from Kipling.
If you needed any more convincing, both Connery and Caine have said that this was one of their favourite films to work on.
#6 – Death Race 2000
Directed by Paul Bartel. Starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth & Sylvester Stallone.
OK, get this. It’s R-rated Wacky Races with death and explosions and hitting a spectator gets you points. What more do you want?
I can just imagine being a young teenage boy when this trailer aired on TV. I would already be planning my sneak entry into the cinema. Death Race 2000 takes place in a dystopian America where a major source of entertainment has become a brutal cross-country road race where you either win or die trying.
I’m not going to lie to you: this storyline is no masterpiece. However, the film itself actually holds up quite well. It’s campy in a fun way, and, despite critics giving it mixed reviews on its initial release, it has gained critical acclaim over the years and become something of a cult classic.
Not only that, but this is the predecessor to a number of more famous movies inspired by it, including Mad Max and even The Hunger Games.
#5 – Dog Day Afternoon
Directed by Sidney Lumet. Starring Al Pacino, John Cazale & James Broderick.
Anyone who ever thought Al Pacino wasn’t a good actor just needs to watch the scene above. He’s powerful in this one.
Dog Day Afternoon is a dramatisation of a real-life attempted bank robbery that took place in Brooklyn in 1972. Pacino plays Sonny Wortzik, who attempts to rob a bank with his partner Salvatore Naturale (John Cazale) and is forced to take hostages when it fails.
What’s fascinating about this film is the freedom that Pacino and Cazale, in particular, had to improvise their dialogue. Director Sidney Lumet workshopped every scene, encouraging them to say what felt natural and let their emotion guide them through. The result is a staggering performance from both and some iconic scenes in cinematic history.
Music fans, check this one out. It very cleverly has no score whatsoever, using only three songs in the entire movie, completely diegetically.
#4 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Directed by Jim Sharman. Starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon & Barry Bostwick.
The top four of this week’s countdown were basically indivisible. On another day, this could have been number one. It’s an absolute classic of massive proportions.
Tim Curry is the stand-out star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one of the strangest and yet most iconic films in history. Curry plays Dr Frank N. Furter, an alien transvestite who turns out to be a mad scientist creating a muscle man in his secret laboratory.
This one has a strange story behind its release as well. Originally, critics panned the film. It seemed doomed to be passed by as a bad film until audiences began participating with the iconic musical numbers in cinema screenings. Today, it remains one of the most successful cult classic films in history.
For an astounding Curry performance, catchy songs and a wild ride from start to finish, you can’t do any better than The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
#3 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese & Terry Gilliam.
I never wanted to review movies. I wanted to be… a LUMBERJACK! Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia!
The giant redwood! The larch! The fir! The mighty Scots pine! The lofty flowering cherry! The plucky little aspen! The limping roo tree of Nigeria! The towering wattle of Aldershot! The maidenhead weeping water plant! The naughty Leicestershire flashing oak! The flatulent elm of West Ruislip! The quercus maximus mamber gascoigne! The epigillus! The barter hughius greenus!
With my best girl by my side, we’d sing, sing, sing!
But seriously, watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I shouldn’t need to say any more.
#2 – Jaws
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw & Richard Dreyfuss.
There can be no mincing words about this one. This film literally changed the course of Hollywood history.
Lauded as the first blockbuster film in history, Jaws was the making of not only Steven Spielberg’s career, but the entire film industry as we know it today. Gaining an exceptionally wide release from Universal Pictures and turning over $470 million on a $9 million budget, it set the trend for the big studios over the next half-century: making big-budget films that would make an even bigger profit.
As for the film itself, it’s perhaps Spielberg’s best. The suggestive nature of the presence of the shark is perfectly executed, making Jaws a fantastic and nail-biting blend between horror and blockbuster. You gotta love it.
And how could we review Jaws without mentioning that stellar score by the master himself, John Williams?
#1 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Directed by Milos Forman. Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher & William Redfield.
The only way that anything could topple Jaws from the top of this list would be a literally perfect piece of cinema. What a coincidence.
Milos Forman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most finely-directed and written films of all time. Featuring a performance from Jack Nicholson that will blow you away, this is a picture that will have your emotions wrapped around its little finger.
I don’t think I’ve successfully watched this film without crying at the end, smiling at the feel-good moments and even laughing from time to time. It’s a raw and emotional story told in literally perfect cinematic style. This film is worthy of all five of its Oscars, and probably more.
Forman and Nicholson, take a bow. You’ve just stolen the “Best Movie of 1975” title right out of Steven Spielberg’s jaws.