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Four Fantastic Thrillers from the 1970s That You Can’t Miss

The 1970’s gave us many memorable, gritty crime thrillers with aspects of realism that audiences had not seen before. It’s hard to look at a movie today and not see how it is related to the movies being made in the 70s. There’s quite a long list of classic movies from 1970’s that includes a long list of great actors and directors. Many people consider the 70s to be the second golden age of cinema, and with good reason.

From creepy to thought-provoking to disturbing, these four films should be on every movie buffs watch list. Checkout:

Play Misty for Me (1971)

In 1971’s Play Misty for Me, Jessica Walter (yes, the same actress who plays Lucille Bluth) is disk jockey Clint Eastwood’s number one fan and its before Kathy Bates was James Caan’s number one fan in Misery. This is early Eastwood, and is markedly different than the spaghetti westerns and cop movies for which Eastwood is best known. And it’s important for a number of reasons; this movie marked Eastwood’s debut as a director, ushering in one of America’s most popular and prolific filmmakers. Eastwood would go on to carve a reputation as a director who delivered successful movies on time and under budget. The scenes are shot on location and not in an obvious sound stage; the tone of the film is dark, and a sense of pragmatism pervades throughout. Like many thrillers of the 1970s, this flick has something of a raw, unstylized feel to it.

Straw Dogs (1971)

Straw Dogs is a chilling commentary on how violence can turn even the most committed pacifist into something unrecognizably violent. An American couple, played by Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, moves to the rural English countryside and runs afoul of the suspicious and atypical locals. The end result amounts to a home invasion violently portrayed by Peckinpah. What happens next is as disturbing as anything offered up by Hollywood in the 1970s. The film is raw and uncompromising. Yes, the film is brutal and violent, and it manages to haunt us still more than 40 years later. Straw Dogs was remade in 2011 with James Marsden, Kate Bosworth and James Woods, and the film sadly manages to come off as a grainy monochrome copy of a colorful masterwork by a masterful director.

Audrey Rose (1977)

Audrey Rose is not a great film, but it’s a good one, and it benefits from fine performances by its cast. It’s a chilling, well-executed film about a young girl’s suffering from reincarnation; Anthony Hopkins is a father who tracks down his supposed reincarnated daughter. As outrageous as the scenario seems to Audrey’s parents, Hopkins is convinced that the girl is truly is child taken from him in death. There’s something disquieting in Hopkins’ performance; he seems threatening, and creates a sense of unease and dread on the screen, while at the same time he manages to remain sympathetic, a grieving father who truly believes his daughter has been reincarnated. As Hopkins forces himself onto this distressed family, we realize that nothing good can come of this. Director Robert Wise is no slouch; as a competent director with an impressive resume, he creates a film that engages his audience by slowly and methodically drawing them into the story and its characters. The film remains one of those worthy of remembering.

Coma (1978)

Coma serves as a precursor for contemporary films like Outbreak and Contagion. Directed by Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) from a novel by Robin Cook, Coma is the story of a doctor played by Geneviève Bujold. He uncovers a twisted plot, headed by a surgeon played by Richard Widmark, to harvest organs from healthy patients who are intentionally placed in a coma and rendered brain dead. The organs are sold to the highest bidder. Michael Douglas is her doctor boyfriend. But can he be trusted? The success of the film benefits from both Cook and Crichton, whose written works have been carefully crafted with scientific possibility to create socially relevant thrillers.

Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to these flicks this week.

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