20 Best 1970s Movies on Netflix (Feb 2024)

We cannot ignore that there is no future without the present, and there would have been no present without the past. Thus, as we progress toward the future, it is normal to turn back to see how far we have come. As technology advances and society develops, movies develop, too, serving as a means to reflect society and its norms of the time, as well as pioneering new ways of filmmaking. In this list, we bring you the 20 best movies from the 1970s on Netflix. Each of these will take you back in time and give you a taste of how things were back then.

20. Bandie (1978)

Directed by Alo Sarkar, ‘Bandie’ is an Indian Bengali movie. A concoction of complexities, it tells the story of Bhola, a thief, who finds himself rather politely arrested by Bharatpur’s Senapati Raghuvir Singh. Raghuvir wants to use him as the impersonator of the dead King Brajbhan Singh’s missing son, Uday Singh, until the latter is found. Uday’s disappearance seems to be a part of Brajbhan’s brother Vikram’s plan to usurp the throne.

Meanwhile, Bhola, too, comes across a cabin that is seemingly connected to the murder of his mother when he was a kid and starts looking into it. How these two are connected and why Raghuvir chose Bhola to impersonate Uday are what the movie answers most dramatically. The movie stars Uttam Kumar, Amjad Khan, Amrish Puri, Sulakshana Pandit, Madan Puri, Utpal Dutt and Iftekhar. You can watch it here.

19. Khoon Khoon (1973)

A Hindi remake of ‘Dirty Harry’ starring Clint Eastwood, with the usual Bollywood spices incorporated, ‘Khoon Khoon’ sends a hardened cop, Anand, on a chase after a ruthless psychotic killer, Raghav, who has been killing people randomly across the city. Unless he is paid the ransom he demands, the dead bodies will keep on piling up. How the police, led by Officer Anand, manage to apprehend Raghav is what we find out. The cast of the movie includes Mahendra Sandhu as Anand, Danny Denzongpa as Raghav, Jagdeep, Padma Khanna, Murad, Rekha, and Helen. You may watch the film here.

18. Salaakhen (1975)

In what can only be called a play of fate, two inseparable childhood friends, Raju (boy) and Guddi (girl), get separated due to a tragedy, only to reunite years later and become lovers, thanks to different names, Seema (the girl) and Chander (the boy), without realizing that they were once the best of friends. Seema is a singer, while Chander is a thief. As they head to their respective homelands, which, unbeknownst to them, are one and the same, a shocking truth awaits them. Directed by A. Salaam, the cast of ‘Salaakhen’ (translates to ‘Prison Bars’ in English) includes Shashi Kapoor, Sulakshana Pandit, Mehmood, Sudhir, Anjana Mumtaz, Mac Mohan, and Amrish Puri. Feel free to check out the movie here.

17. Elaan (1971)

‘Elaan’ is an entertaining Hindi sci-fi thriller directed by K. Ramanlal. Freelance photographer/journalist Naresh Saxena is given a dangerous assignment by his ladylove Mala’s father, Mr. Mehta, who is the editor of the newspaper agency for which he works. Naresh has to go to a remote island and bring to light the illegal activities going on over there. However, things take a drastic turn when he is captured and put in a prison that they share with a scientist and a troublemaker. The scientist gives him a ring that makes the person invisible when put inside the mouth. What follows is how Naresh uses the ring to escape and then bring the criminals to justice. The cast includes Vinod Mehra, Vinod Khanna, Rekha, Madan Puri, Helen, Rajendra Nath and Iftekhar. You can check out the film here.

16. FTA (1972)

‘FTA,’ short for Free Theater Associates, is a documentary film that follows a road show from 1971, which opposed the Vietnam War and was targeted towards the G.I.s (‘Galvanized Iron,’ that is, soldiers of the U.S. Army and those of the U.S. Air Force). And by targeted, we mean that it pointed a finger at the politics and bureaucracy and America’s unnecessary involvement in the Vietnam War. Led by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, FTA aimed to help soldiers raise their voices opposing the war. The show performed in military bases across the country, the Philippines, and Japan. The film is directed by Francine Parker. You can watch it here.

15. The Front Page (1974)

Directed by Billy Wilder, this film is a black comedy drama that stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Carol Burnett, Austin Pendleton, and Susan Sarandon. It followed prized reporter Hildebrand “Hildy” Johnson (Lemmon), who decides to retire from his job to get married to Peggy Grant (Sarandon). But Matthau’s editor, Walter Burns (Walter Matthau), doesn’t want this and does whatever he can to keep Matthau. Meanwhile, convict Earl Williams (Pendleton) escapes just before his execution and in way lands right in Matthau’s lap. Will Matthau be able to ignore this breaking story despite knowing that his marriage is at stake? To find out what follows and the conspiracy that’s at play, you can watch the film here.

14. Black Belt Jones (1974)

To crack a conspiracy as well as protect a karate dojo from being taken over by the mafia, Black Belt Jones must lead his team into a gangland stronghold in this martial arts film directed by Robert Clouse (‘Enter The Dragon’ (1973)). Starring Jim Kelly as Black Belt Jones, the film can be said to be a spiritual successor of ‘Enter The Dragon’ with the only difference being this one is a crime action drama underscored by martial arts. The rest of the cast includes Gloria Hendry, Eric Laneuville, Malik Carter, and Mel Novak. You can watch this film right here.

13. Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)

‘Richard Pryor: Live in Concert’ is a stand-up comedy film directed by Jeff Margolis. It was recorded on December 10, 1978, at the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach, California. Considered one of the greatest recorded performance films ever, the film showcases legendary stand-up comedian Richard Pryor as he talks about race, culture, the police, sex, and more; and all of these are underscored by humor and satire as well as propelled by sharp comic timing. If you want to be a part of something historic, you can stream this film right here.

12. Manoranjan (1974)

Directed by Shammi Kapoor, ‘Manoranjan,’ which translates to “entertainment” in English, is a Hindi movie that revolves around a guy named Ratan. He is a now-suspended rookie police officer who takes up the guise of a “Nawab” to spend time with a female prostitute named Nisha, whom he had befriended while patrolling Manoranjan Street, an infamous red-light district, and doesn’t want her to use her body to earn money.

But when he decides to stop using his disguise, he finds himself in trouble because the police think that he has killed the Nawab and is now coming after him. What follows is a hilarious string of events that have Ratan and Nisha going berserk. The stellar ensemble includes Sanjeev Kumar as Ratan, Zeenat Aman as Nisha, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Kumar, Asit Kumar Sen, Madan Puri, and Murad. You can stream the film here.

11. High Plains Drifter (1973)

This Western drama has been directed by Clint Eastwood who also stars in it. ‘High Plains Drifter’ follows a gun-slinging drifter addressed as the stranger (Eastwood) who is hired by the townsfolk of Lago, in the American Old West, to protect them from a trio of criminals, Stacey Bridges (Geoffrey Lewis), Dan Carlin (Dan Vadis) and Cole Carlin (Anthony James), who are about to be released from prison. In return, he can have anything he wants. And it is his needs that seem to bridge the gap between him and the convicts. Is he the right choice for the job? You can find out by watching ‘High Plains Drifter’ right here.

10. Hitler: A Career (1977)

A documentary movie by Christian Herrendoerfer and Joachim Fest, ‘Hitler: A Career’ shows Adolf Hitler’s rise to power from a German POV. Using primarily archival footage, the film explores the different traits of Adolf Hitler that made him who he was and how he is still known as. It explores fascism and throws light on how Hitler, using his talents of persuasion and politics, led the German folk to believe in his ideologies. A controversial yet compelling take on the personality of a dictator and his empire, ‘Hitler: A Career’ is a must-watch. You can stream it here.

9. Death Wish (1974)

Directed by Michael Winner, this action thriller is based on the 1972 novel of the same title by Brian Garfield. It stars the iconic Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, who goes on a one-man crusade with a revolver, cleaning the streets of New York of its thugs after his wife is killed and daughter is raped by intruders. This is after he realizes that the authorities are useless as far as finding the culprits is concerned. Is there any way to stop such a man who has a death wish? The more important question is: Should the authorities stop this man from bringing down the city’s crime rates? To find out what happens to Kersey, you can watch the film here.

8. Joe Kidd (1972)

Clint Eastwood as a Western character (cowboy/outlaw/gunslinger) is one of the best things to happen in cinema, and we get a taste of that in this film as well. ‘Joe Kidd’ stars Eastwood as a former bounty hunter, Joe Kidd, who owns a ranch in the American southwest. When a band of Mexican rebels, led by Luis Chama (John Saxon), pick up arms after the rights to their land are denied by the American government, greedy Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall), landowner, reaches out to Kidd to sort the matter. Kidd doesn’t want to get involved but decides to look into the situation after Chama steals some horses from his ranch. Directed by John Sturges, the film has gained cult status over the years due to its performances and was a commercial success when it was released. You can watch it here.

7. The Gambler (1974)

All about a gambler spiraling into insanity due to debt, ‘The Gambler’ follows New York City English professor Axel Freed (James Caan), who lives two lives. One is where he is loved and respected by all due to his nature, both as a literature professor and as a beloved family man; another is where he is a gambler with a die-hard addiction to the game. But with $44,000 in debt, can respect be useful? Or will he have to take the illegitimate path to clear it? This critically acclaimed film was directed by Karel Reisz and got James Caan a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. You can watch it here.

6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

A comedy film that can easily be termed as a satire of the highest order, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones of the Monty Python comedy group, the rest of whose members include Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin. The film brings together Arthurian legends with a present-day murder investigation and tells the story of King Arthur and his knights whom God commands to find the Holy Grail and how, in the endeavor, they encounter many dangerous but silly obstacles, but one of these obstacles means serious business, i.e., the police. Alongside the ones mentioned above, the rest of the cast of the film includes Carol Cleveland, Neil Innes, and Connie Booth. You can check out the film here.

5. Charley Varrick (1973)

Things do not go as planned for Charley Varrick (Walter Matthau) and his team of 3 (his wife, Al, and Harman) when their bank robbery ends up in the death of two of his team members, his wife and Al. Things get even worse when Charley figures that the bank was used to launder money by the mafia and that the money they have stolen is illicit. Now, not only does Charley have the cops after him, but also the mafia. Thus, he has to figure out a way to get the two parties off his tail, and for that, he needs to stay alive. Walter Matthau won the 1974 Best Actor BAFTA for his performance. Directed by Don Siegel of ‘Dirty Harry’ fame, ‘Charley Varrick’ can be watched right here.

4. Life of Brian (1979)

Another project by the Monty Python group, ‘Life of Brian,’ shows what happens when The Three Magi mistake baby boy Brian for Jesus Christ and set off a chain of events that make the movie a laughter riot and a satire that is expected of a Monty Python production. Brian is born on the same day as Jesus, and he joins a faction that is against the Romans taking over Judea or Judaea. He falls in love with a woman named Judith and is even declared the Messiah, AKA Brian of Nazareth, something he doesn’t want or care about. In this way, the film is set from the POV of those who weren’t interested in what Jesus had to say. The cast includes Graham Chapman as Brian of Nazareth, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, and Terence Bayler. You may watch the film here.

3. Lal Patthar (1971)

‘Lal Patthar’ is an Indian Hindi movie directed by Sushil Majumdar and is a remake of an Indian Bengali movie named ‘Lal Pathar’ that was released in 1964. Set against the backdrop of the historical red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, the movie centers on Gyan Shankar Rai, AKA Raja Kumar Bahadur, who breaks his vow of abstinence after bringing Saudamani, a young woman, home, and even renames her as Madhuri.

While he treats her as his wife, he doesn’t marry her. Then, years later, he marries Sumita, a woman half his age, and brings her home. However, upon finding out that Sumita has a lover named Shekhar, Kumar Bahadur plots an end for the lovebirds, assisted by Madhuri, who is secretly jealous of Sumita. The stellar cast includes Raaj Kumar as Raja Kumar Bahadur, Hema Malini as Saudamani aka Madhuri, Rakhee Gulzar as Sumita, Vinod Mehra as Shekhar, Ajit, D. K. Sapru, and Asit Sen. You can watch the movie here.

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Directed by Mel Brooks, ‘Blazing Saddles’ follows Rock Ridge’s newly appointed Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little), a black guy and a former railroad worker, who is a pawn for Attorney General Hedley Lamarr to drive the people of Rock Ridge away and use the town to make millions. However, his plan backfires when he finds out that Bart, who was expected to be hated by the racist townsfolk, has become a savior for them, keeping Lamarr’s (Harvey Korman) thugs off the town. How Bart does it, assisted by the Rock Ridgers, is what makes ‘Blazing Saddles’ a brilliant satirical Western black comedy. You can stream it here.

1. The Conversation (1974)

A mystery thriller directed by Francis Ford Coppola (‘The Godfather’ (1972), ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974)), the film follows San-Francisco-based surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), whose latest job is to listen and record the conversation of a couple in the middle of Union Square as well as take their pics. He shall then hand over the intel to his client and get paid. However, Harry realizes there’s more to the conversation than it sounds, and the couple’s lives might be in danger. With three of his previous subjects having already died, he stands divided about whether to pass on the intel to his client or inform the couple and save their lives. As Harry tries to figure out what’s going on, he finds himself in a situation that can be fatal. Alongside Hackman, the cast includes Harrison Ford, John Cazale, Phoebe Alexander, Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams. ‘The Conversation’ is a recipient of the 1974 Palme d’Or, the highest honor at the Cannes Film Festival. You can watch it here.

Read More: Best Movies of the 1990s

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