Directed by Alan J. Pakula
The Establishment, in the person of Donald Sutherland's straightlaced cop, and the Underworld--Jane Fonda's sharply portrayed prostitute--encounter each other on some bumpy common ground as the characters work together to solve a murder.
The Last Picture Show, 1971
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Best friends Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges bump around a tiny town on the Texas plains, where high school football and jaded sexual adventures substitute for connection and love.
The Last Detail, 1973
Directed by Hal Ashby
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young play two career Navy enlisted men assigned to escort a naive, teenaged sailor to his eight-year sentence in prison. The two veterans decide to show the younger man, played by Randy Quaid, a little of the world before he bids it farewell; he shows them the power of innocence.
The Conversation, 1974
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Gene Hackman's Harry is a surveillance expert who uses his talent for tapping into the private lives of others as a shield against the world. When a routine marital fidelity job turns out to be something more vicious, Harry's detachment, and his moral certainty, collapse.
Directed by Hal Ashby
Though a frothy comedy by Seventies standards, with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as a pair of '60s-crossed lovers, the movie soon sours on Beatty's promiscuity. A good example of how directors in the '70s liked to push farcical complications to their logical, and darker, conclusions.
Taxi Driver, 1976
Directed by Martin Scorsese
A portrait of a would-be, small-time assassin played by Robert DeNiro. The movie is almost a documentary of paranoia--see the heavily quoted "You talking to me?" scene--with plenty of blood and a cynical twist at the end.
The Deer Hunter, 1978
Directed by Michael Cimino
Portraying the lives of three friends from a small Pennsylvania town before and after they ship out to Vietnam, this sometimes confusing, sometimes brutal movie examines patriotism and the binding power of ritual.
Days of Heaven, 1978
Directed by Terence Malick
The sheer beauty of the setting--blowing wheat fields--and its stars--Richard Gere, Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard--mitigate this movie's bleakness. But the way Shepard's character stumbles awkwardly into a doomed romantic triangle, and the movie's tragic ending, qualify "Days of Heaven" as a Seventies special.