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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Not only was 1970 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.

Making Their Film Debuts:

  • Jane Alexander – The Great White Hope
  • Linda Blair – The Way We Live Now
  • Brian Blessed – Country Dance
  • Danny DeVito – Dreams of Glass
  • Robert Downey, Jr. – Pound
  • Shelley Duvall – Brewster McCloud
  • Dan Hedaya – Myra Breckinridge
  • Don Johnson – The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart
  • Jeffrey Jones – The Revolutionary
  • Tommy Lee JonesLove Story
  • Diane Keaton – Lovers and Other Strangers
  • Frank Langella – Diary of a Mad Housewife
  • Anne Meara – The Out-of-Towners
  • Ornella Muti – The Most Beautiful Wife
  • Stephen Rea – Cry of the Banshee
  • Susan Sarandon – Joe
  • Tom Selleck – Myra Breckinridge
  • Paul Sorvino – Where’s Poppa?
  • Sissy Spacek – Trash
  • Sylvester Stallone – The Party at Kitty and Stud’s
  • Burt Young – Carnival of Blood


Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio Domestic gross
1. Love Story Paramount Pictures $106,397,186
2. Airport Universal Studios $100,489,151
3. MASH 20th Century Fox Film Corporation $67,300,000
4. Patton 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation $61,749,765
5. Woodstock Warner Bros. $50,000,000
6. The Aristocats Walt Disney Productions $43,727,252
7. Little Big Man National General Pictures $31,559,552
8. Ryan’s Daughter Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures $30,846,306
9. Tora! Tora! Tora! 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation $29,548,291
10. Chariots of the Gods Constantin Film / Sunn Classic Pictures $25,948,300


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Patton – 20th Century Fox

Best Director: Franklin J. SchaffnerPatton

Best Actor: George C. ScottPatton (declined)

Best Actress: Glenda Jackson – Women in Love

Best Supporting Actor: John MillsRyan’s Daughter

Best Supporting Actress: Helen HayesAirport


Among Those Who Died In 1970:

  • January 7 – Jack Natteford, 75, American screenwriter, 1,000 Dollars a Minute, Black Bart
  • January 19 – Hal March, 49, American actor, Hear Me Good, Send Me No Flowers
  • January 23 – Nell Shipman, 77, Canadian actress, writer, producer, Back to God’s Country, The Grub-Stake
  • January 25 – Eiji Tsuburaya, 68, Japanese film director and special effects designer, Godzilla, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
  • February 6 – Roscoe Karns, 76, American actor, It Happened One Night, Alibi Ike
  • February 19 – Jules Munshin, 54, American actor, On the Town, Take Me Out to the Ball Game
  • February 24 – Conrad Nagel, 72, American actor, All That Heaven Allows, The Divorcee
  • March 4 – Peter Godfrey, 70, British director, Christmas in Connecticut, The Two Mrs. Carrolls
  • March 6 – William Hopper, 55, American actor, Rebel Without a Cause, Track of the Cat
  • March 23 – Del Lord, 75, Canadian pioneer Hollywood director, A Plumbing We Will Go, All the World’s a Stooge
  • March 25 – Virginia Van Upp, 68, American producer and screenwriter, Gilda, Cover Girl
  • March 26 – Patricia Ellis, 51, American actress, A Night at the Ritz, Rhythm in the Clouds
  • April 9 – Cobina Wright, 82, American singer and actress, The Razor’s Edge, Footlight Serenade
  • April 11 – Cathy O’Donnell, 46, American actress, Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives
  • April 18 – Glenn Tryon, 71, American actor and director, Lonesome, Miss Mink of 1949
  • April 19 – George Blair, 64, American director, Duke of Chicago, Streets of San Francisco
  • April 25 – Anita Louise, 55, American actress, The Little Princess, The Story of Louis Pasteur
  • April 26 – Gypsy Rose Lee, 59, American burlesque performer and actress, Screaming Mimi, Belle of the Yukon
  • April 28 – Ed Begley, 69, American actor, 12 Angry Men, Patterns
  • April 30 – Inger Stevens, 35, Swedish actress, Hang ‘Em High, A Guide for the Married Man
  • May 10 – Mari Blanchard, 43, American actress, Destry, She-Devil
  • May 14 – Billie Burke, 85, American actress, The Wizard of Oz, Father’s Little Dividend
  • May 17 – Nigel Balchin, 61, British screenwriter, The Man Who Never Was, 23 Paces to Baker Street
  • May 23 – Nydia Westman, 68, American actress, Ladies Should Listen, Dressed to Thrill
  • June 4 – Sonny Tufts, 58, American actor, The Virginian, Government Girl
  • June 14 – William Daniels, 68, American cinematographer, Camille, Ninotchka
  • July 6 – Marjorie Rambeau, 80, American actress, A Man Called Peter, Tobacco Road
  • July 9 – Sigrid Holmquist, 71, Swedish actress, Just Around the Corner, Meddling Women
  • July 14 – Preston Foster, 69, American actor, The Informer, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
  • July 22 – Fritz Kortner, 78, German director, Pandora’s Box, The Razor’s Edge
  • July 24 – Frank Silvera, 55, Jamaican actor, Viva Zapata!, Hombre
  • August 1 – Frances Farmer, 56, American actress, Come and Get It, The Toast of New York
  • September 11 – Chester Morris, 69, American actor, Meet Boston Blackie, Five Came Back
  • September 18 – Jimi Hendrix, 27, American musician, Almost Famous, Wayne’s World
  • September 29 – Edward Everett Horton, 84, American actor, Arsenic and Old Lace, Top Hat
  • October 4 – Janis Joplin, 27, American singer, Watchmen, Three Kings
  • October 10 – Grethe Weiser, 67, German actress, My Friend Barbara, Lemke’s Widow
  • October 17 – Vola Vale, 73, American actress, The Phantom of the Opera
  • October 20 – Patrick Wymark, 44, British actor, Battle of Britain, Where Eagles Dare
  • October 21 – Ernest Haller, 74, American cinematographer, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce
  • November 2 – Fernand Gravey, 64, French actor, The King and the Chorus Girl, The Great Waltz
  • November 17 – Naunton Wayne, 69, British actor, Crook’s Tour, Dead of Night
  • November 25 – Louise Glaum, 82, American actress, Greater Than Love, Sex
  • December 12
    • Carolyn Craig, 36, American actress, House on Haunted Hill, Portland Exposé
    • George Terwilliger, 88, American director and screenwriter, The Fatal Hour, Bride’s Play
  • December 23 – Charles Ruggles, 84, American actor, Bringing Up Baby, The Parent Trap
  • December 30 – Lenore Ulric, 78, American actress, Notorious, Camille
  • December 31 – Suzanne Dalbert, 43, French actress, Mark of the Gorilla, The 49th Man

The Greatest Films of 1970




Poster for the movie "Airport"

© 1970 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.


D: George Seaton

Stars:  Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin

Take a nonstop flight with an all-star cast to a world of tension-filled human drama in this trend-setting box office blockbuster. Based on Arthur Hailey’s runaway bestseller, the emotion-charged adventure stars Burt Lancaster as the manager of a glamorous international airport who must juggle personal crises with professional responsibilities as he attempts to keep his blizzard torn facility open to rescue a bomb-damaged jetliner. The lavish Ross Hunter production co-stars a veritable Who’s Who of Hollywood’s most glittering personalities including Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Lloyd Nolan and Helen Hayes in the role that won her a second Oscar®. The often imitated but never duplicated movie milestone remains a gripping trip from suspenseful take-off to senses-shattering landing.

Learn more and watch the preview here.



© – All right reserved.


D: Mike Nichols

Starring: Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin, Art Garfunkel, Jon Voight

Surreal anti-war black comedy explores a group of flyers stationed in the Mediterranean during World War II, focusing on one who tries to have himself declared mad so he can stop flying missions. Based on the novel by Joseph Heller.


© – All right reserved.

Five Easy Pieces

D: Bob Rafelson

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Lois Smith

An existential, off-beat road movie and thoughtful, episodic and moody character study, regarding a classical concert pianist-turned-oil rigger, who must reluctantly return home to visit his family. An alienated and misfit drifter, but talented musician-pianist Robert Dupea (Jack Nicholson) had abandoned his privileged, well-to-do family background, becoming the black sheep of his family as a crass, drifting, redneck, rough, beer-drinking oil worker in Southern California. The lonely, non-committed drop-out often took the “easy” route (usually denial, escape, or flight) from his discordant problems, career, and relationships with women, friends and family. After a period of twenty years, he confronted his past when he returned home to Washington State (Puget Sound) to his artistic, upper-class family and his dying father’s deathbed, accompanied by his adoring but clinging, dim-witted, pregnant girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black). The existential film’s most classic scene was Dupea’s outburst while ordering a plain omelet with a side of toast (ultimately a chicken salad sandwich) in a roadside diner – symbolic of the 60s generation’s anti-authoritarianism and alienation during the Vietnam War Era. His uncomfortable journey to see his dying father concluded in an open-ended, ambiguous way when he hitched a ride to nowhere.


© – All right reserved.

Gimme Shelter

D: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

Starring: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman

The landmark documentary about the tragically ill-fated Rolling Stones free concert at Altamont Speedway on December 6, 1969. Only four months earlier, Woodstock defined the Love Generation; now it lay in ruins on a desolate racetrack six miles outside of San Francisco.


Poster for the movie "I Never Sang for My Father"

© 1970 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

I Never Sang for My Father

D:  Gilbert Cates

Stars:  Gene Hackman, Melvyn Douglas, Dorothy Stickney, Estelle Parsons

Hackman plays a New York professor who wants a change in his life, and plans to get married to his girlfriend and move to California. His mother understands his need to get away, but warns him that moving so far away could be hard on his father. Just before the wedding, the mother dies. Hackman’s sister (who has been disowned by their father for marrying a Jewish man) advises him to live his own life, and not let himself be controlled by their father.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Little Big Man"

© 1970 Cinema Center Films − All right reserved.

Little Big Man

D: Arthur Penn

Stars:  Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam

When a curious oral historian (William Hickey) turns up to hear the life story of 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman), he can scarcely believe his ears. Crabb tells of having been rescued and raised by the Cheyenne, of working as a snake-oil salesman, as a gunslinger, and as a mule skinner under Gen. Custer (Richard Mulligan). As if those weren’t astonishing enough, he also claims to be the only white survivor of the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

Poster for the movie "Love Story"

© 1970 Paramount − All right reserved.

Love Story

D: Arthur Hiller

Stars:  Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, Ray Milland

Harvard Law student Oliver Barrett IV and music student Jennifer Cavilleri share a chemistry they cannot deny – and a love they cannot ignore. Despite their opposite backgrounds, the young couple put their hearts on the line for each other. When they marry, Oliver’s wealthy father threatens to disown him. Jenny tries to reconcile the Barrett men, but to no avail.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "M*A*S*H"

© 1970 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.


D: Robert Altman

Stars:  Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall

Robert Altman’s controversial, zany and satirical signature film (earning him the first of his five directorial Academy Award nominations), and best known as the source of the long-running television series. The countercultural, irreverent black comedy anti-war film takes place at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit during the Korean War, a thinly disguised allegory for the unpopular Vietnam War that was raging at the time. Quick-cut editing, fast-quipped overlapping lines of dialogue, and the busy soundtrack make repeated viewings necessary.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

© – All right reserved.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

Director:  Vincente Minnelli

Stars:  Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand, Bob Newhart

Daisy Gamble, an unusual woman who hears phones before they ring, and does wonders with her flowers, wants to quit smoking, to please her fiance, Warren. She goes to a doctor of hypnosis to do it. But once she’s under, her doctor finds out that she can regress into past lives and different personalities, and he finds himself falling in love with one of them.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Patton"

© 1970 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.


D: Franklin J. Schaffner

Stars:  George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young

The epic Best Picture-winning film biography, shot in 70 mm. widescreen color, of the controversial, bombastic, multi-dimensional World War II general and hero George S. Patton. The larger-than-life, flamboyant, maverick, pugnacious military figure, nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts,” was well-known for his fierce love of America, his temperamental battlefield commanding, his arrogant power-lust (“I love it. God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life”), his poetry writing, his belief in reincarnation, his verbal abuse and slapping of a battle-fatigued soldier, his anti-diplomatic criticism of the Soviet Union, and his firing of pistols at strafing fighter planes. The bigger-than-life screen biography is most noted for its brilliant opening monologue by Patton (George C. Scott), delivered before a gigantic American flag to the off-screen troops of the Allied Third Army (“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country”). The story was based on two books: Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Bradley (portrayed by Malden).

Learn more and watch the preview here.


The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

© – All right reserved.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (UK)

D: Billy Wilder

Starring: Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page

A bored Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) meets Madame Petrova (Tamara Toumanova), a famed ballerina, who tries to seduce him, hoping that their child will have her body and his brains. He manages to extract himself from her grasp, using Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) as a decoy. Then he and the doctor head for Loch Ness in search of the missing husband of Gabrielle Valladon (Genevieve Page). While there, they meet Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft (Christopher Lee), who aids them in solving the mystery.


© – All right reserved.


Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music

D: Michael Wadleigh

Starring: The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana

“Woodstock,” the concert, gave voice to the spirit of a generation, offering the world a three-day microcosm of the turbulent ’60s, set to the music of the era’s greatest rock performers. “Woodstock,” the film, captures it all, now with more than 40 minutes of added material and masterfully remixed sound. This Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary Feature shows in spectacular detail how and why the legendary “Summer of Love” festival was an historical event, and now features additional interviews, memorable footage and, of course, more of the music that brought this “happening” together. This ground-breaking documentary also offered an early career boost to a young Martin Scorsese (“GoodFellas,” “The Aviator”), who served as an editor and assistant director. In 1996, the film was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.


© – All right reserved.

Zabriskie Point

D: Michelangelo Antonioni

Starring: Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, Rod Taylor

At Zabriskie Point, United States’ lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.


Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1970?

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