Fundamental Films of the 1970s

Since my motive in proposing this film canon is to counter the proliferation of popularity-driven lists, the logical response is, “How high the bar?” My answer is, “The higher the better.” Canons are by definition elitist enterprises. Film criticism, sunk in a bog of best-of polls (hundred-best movie lines, hundred best movie songs, hundred best villains and heroes) and awards beyond count or comprehension, beset by box-office gurus and per-screen averages, enthralled by explications of the obvious, treatises on trash, thumbs up, downwell, perhaps a little elitism is in order. Paul Schrader, Canon Fodder

There are countless ways to go about making up representative lists of movies. By genre, year, decade, and so on. Filmmaker Schrader (screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, director of American Gigolo and The Canyons, among many other credits) was famously asked to put together a cinema “canon” that would resemble Harold Bloom’s much-debated reading list The Western Canon; that’s more along the lines of what we decided to aim for in this series, with Irv offering us his impressions of the films he estimates are the “fundamental” viewing choices from each decade.

We’ll start with one of the truly great decades of movies, the 1970s:

There you have it. Are these the five indispensable films of the ’70s? Have you got different choices that meet Irv’s criteria for inclusion…or do you have your own “rules” to offer in selecting the five fundamental films of this decade? Argue your case below!