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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 1975 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:

  •     Kim Cattrall – Rosebud
  •     Tim CurryThe Rocky Horror Picture Show
  •     Brad Dourif – W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
  •     Laurence Fishburne – Cornbread, Earl and Me
  •     Carrie FisherShampoo
  •     Richard Gere – Report to the Commissioner
  •     Nastassja Kinski – The Wrong Move
  •     Christopher LloydOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  •     Mary Stuart Masterson – The Stepford Wives
  •     Bill Murray – Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle
  •     Kate Nelligan – The Romantic Englishwoman
  •     Bill Paxton – Crazy Mama
  •     Dennis Quaid – Crazy Mama
  •     Chris SarandonDog Day Afternoon
  •     Patrick Stewart – Hennessy
  •     John Travolta – The Devil’s Rain
  •     Treat Williams – Deadly Hero (filmed in 1975, released in May 1976)


Top-grossing Films

RankTitleStudioDomestic gross
1JawsUniversal Pictures$190,000,000
2The Rocky Horror Picture Show20th Century Fox$112,892,319
3One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestUnited Artists$108,981,275
4Dog Day AfternoonWarner Bros.$50,000,000
5ShampooColumbia Pictures$49,407,734
6The Return of the Pink PantherUnited Artists$41,833,347
7Funny LadyColumbia Pictures$39,000,000
8The Apple Dumpling GangWalt Disney Productions$36,853,000
9Aloha, Bobby and RoseColumbia Pictures$35,000,000
10The Other Side of the MountainUniversal Pictures$34,673,100


While The Rocky Horror Picture Show has accumulated revenue for years, technically it is still in its first release because it has never been withdrawn from distribution, and holds the record for the longest theatrical run in movie history.


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Best Director: Miloš Forman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Best Actor: Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Best Actress: Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Best Supporting Actor: George Burns, The Sunshine Boys

Best Supporting Actress: Lee Grant, Shampoo


Among Those Who Died In 1975:

  NameAgeProfessionNotable films
Jan1Arthur Pierson73Director, ActorThe Fighting O’Flynn
     Home Town Story
 9Pierre Fresnay77ActorLa Grande Illusion
     Le Corbeau
 18Gertrude Olmstead77ActressThe Boob
     The Monster
 21Marie Lohr84ActressThe Winslow Boy
     Great Catherine
 24Larry Fine72ActorThe Three Stooges
     4 for Texas
 27Bill Walsh61Screenwriter, ProducerMary Poppins
     Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Feb1Richard Wattis62ActorThe Longest Day
     The Man Who Knew Too Much
 11Maria Balcerkie-wiczówna71ActressVampires of Warsaw
     Augustus the Strong
 17George Marshall83DirectorHow the West Was Won
     Destry Rides Again
 20Robert Strauss61ActorStalag 17
     The Seven Year Itch
 20Lillian Fontaine88ActressThe Locket
     The Lost Weekend
Mar3Edward H. Griffith86DirectorHoneymoon in Bali
 4Renée Björling76ActressSummer Interlude
     A Lesson in Love
 7Ben Blue73ActorThe Big Broadcast of 1938
     The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
 8George Stevens70Director, ProducerA Place in the Sun
 9Shirley Ross62ActressThe Big Broadcast of 1938
     Thanks for the Memory
 14Susan Hayward57ActressI Want to Live!
     The Snows of Kilimanjaro
 15John H. Auer68Director, ProducerJohnny Trouble
     City That Never Sleeps
 15Arthur Crabtree74Director, ScreenwriterCaravan
     Lilli Marlene
 19Harry Lachman88DirectorCharlie Chan in Rio
     It Happened in Hollywood
 22Cass Daley59Actress, SingerRiding High
     Ladies’ Man
 25Michele Girardon36ActressThe Lovers
Apr3Mary Ure42ActressWhere Eagles Dare
     Look Back in Anger
 5Inez Courtney67ActressClarence
     The 13th Man
 10Marjorie Main85ActressMeet Me in St. Louis
     Ma and Pa Kettle
 13Larry Parks60ActorThe Jolson Story
     Down to Earth
 14Fredric March77ActorThe Best Years of Our Lives
     A Star Is Born
 15Richard Conte65ActorThe Godfather
     Ocean’s 11
 15William Hartnell67ActorHell Drivers
     Carry On Sergeant
 22Mary Philips74ActressA Farewell to Arms
     Leave Her to Heaven
May4Moe Howard77ActorThe Three Stooges
     Men in Black
 9Philip Dorn73ActorRandom Harvest
     I Remember Mama
June3Ozzie Nelson69ActorSweetheart of the Campus
     The Impossible Years
 4Evelyn Brent75ActressUnderworld
     The Last Command
 6Larry Blyden49ActorOn a Clear Day You Can See Forever
     Kiss Them for Me
 28Rod Serling50ScreenwriterSeven Days in May
     Planet of the Apes
July2James Robertson Justice68ActorThe Guns of Navarone
     Moby Dick
 20Richard Gaines70ActorDouble Indemnity
     The More the Merrier
 28Alfred L. Werker78DirectorThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
     Repeat Performance
Aug2Jean Yarbrough73DirectorInside Job
     Shed No Tears
 7Phyllis Povah82ActressThe Women
     Pat and Mike
 23Sidney Buchman73ScreenwriterMr. Smith Goes to Washington
     Here Comes Mr. Jordan
 23Hank Patterson86ActorThe Arizona Kid
 25Joseph Kane81DirectorKing of the Cowboys
     Flame of Barbary Coast
 29Bob Baker64ActorThe Singing Outlaw
     The Phantom Stage
Sept9John McGiver61ActorThe Manchurian Candidate
     Midnight Cowboy
 19Pamela Brown58ActressLust for Life
 24Clive Morton71ActorThe Moonraker
     Kind Hearts and Coronets
 27Mark Frechette27ActorZabriskie Point
     Many Wars Ago
Oct18Al Lettieri47ActorThe Godfather
     The Getaway
 24Martin Boddey68ActorCarry on Sergeant
     Carry on Nurse
 31Joseph Calleia78Actor, SingerAfter the Thin Man
     Touch of Evil
Nov2Pier Paolo Pasolini53Director, Screenwriter, ActorThe Hawks and the Sparrows
 4Sheila Ryan54ActressDressed to Kill
     Song of Texas
 5Annette Kellerman88ActressVenus of the South Seas
     A Daughter of the Gods
 17Kay Johnson70ActressDynamite
     Of Human Bondage
Dec9William A. Wellman79DirectorWings
 13Cyril Delevanti88ActorMary Poppins
     Soylent Green
 14Arthur Treacher81ActorThank You, Jeeves!
 20William Lundigan61ActorThe House on Telegraph Hill
     Love Nest
 21Rowland V. Lee84DirectorSon of Frankenstein
     Captain Kidd
 24Bernard Herrmann64ComposerPsycho
     Taxi Driver


The Greatest Films of 1975




Poster for the movie "Barry Lyndon"

© − All right reserved.

Barry Lyndon (UK)

D: Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick’s lengthy tale – the tragic exploits of a scheming Irish rogue named Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) to enter the 18th century aristocracy by marrying a rich widow, captured the Oscar for Best Cinematography. It was one of the most visually-beautiful films ever made. The lush, opulent, romanticized views of English countryside landscapes often dominated the screen, carefully composed as artistic paintings and appearing similar to the works of English portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough. When the camera pulled back, characters were often dwarfed by the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings. Technical innovations in some indoor scenes involved using only natural lighting – the golden illumination from candles.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


The Day of the Locust

© – All right reserved.

The Day of the Locust

D: John Schlesinger

A drama directed by John Schlesinger, and starring William Atherton, Karen Black, Donald Sutherland, and Geraldine Page. The screenplay by Waldo Salt is based on the 1939 novel of the same title by Nathanael West

The dark side of Hollywood in the 1930’s is revealed through the confict-filled lives of a novice art director, an ambitious hustler and an accountant. Burgess Meredith was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Based on Nathaniel West’s novel.



Poster for the movie "Dog Day Afternoon"

© 1975 Artists Entertainment Complex − All right reserved.

Dog Day Afternoon

D: Sidney Lumet

On the blistering afternoon of August 22, 1972, two optimistic losers attempt to rob a Brooklyn bank — the frantic master-mind Sonny (Academy Award-winner Al Pacino”Scent of a Woman”, “Carlito’s Way”), and his slow-witted buddy Sal (John Cazale”The Godfather“, “The Deer Hunter“). But then the cops arrive. The crowds arrive. The TV cameras arrive. Even the pizza man arrives. As their heist turns into a circus, Sonny and Sal’s notoriety grows, and their chances for survival shrink. Pacino teams with his “Serpico” director Sidney Lumet (“The Verdict“, “Prince of the City”) for a jolting comedy-drama that earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and a win for Frank Pierson’s streetwise screenplay based on a real-life incident. Recently selected by the prestigious American Film Institute as one of the 400 greatest American films of all time. “Funny…vivid…Lumet’s most accurate, most flamboyant New York movie” raves The New York Times of this box-office hit.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Jaws"

© 1975 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.


D: Steven Spielberg

From the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley and with a thrilling, memorable and rousing score by John Williams. A Great White Shark terrorizes a popular Massachusetts seaside resort area, Amity Island (fictional), during the summer tourist season in this action/adventure/horror classic, a quintessential summer blockbuster film from Steven Spielberg. Surprise attacks on the New England coast (partially set over Independence Day), in which the monstrous man-eater preys on the unsuspecting inhabitants and vacationers alike, are truly frightening and scary. Three unlikely partners team up on a suspenseful ‘fishing trip’ to hunt down the rogue and destroy it: the new chief of police from New York (Roy Scheider), a young university-educated oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss), and a crusty, grizzled old-time fisherman (Robert Shaw) resembling the obsessed Ahab in the Moby Dick tale.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "The Man Who Would Be King"

© 1975 Persky-Bright Productions − All right reserved.

The Man Who Would Be King (UK)

D: John Huston

An old-fashioned, rousing costume adventure film and morality tale told in flashback from writer/director John Huston and based on Anglo-Indian novelist Rudyard Kipling’s (Christopher Plummer) short story tale. [Huston had originally wanted to make the film in the 1940s, with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable in the lead roles as soldiers of fortune.] Shot on location in Morocco, it is about two roguish British soldiers-adventurers, Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) and Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) at the turn of the century who set out from Raj-ruled India. While serving as military officers in the remote city of Kafiristan in E. Afghanistan (a province now called Nuristan), the pair are mistaken for gods or kings by the people in the priest cult, when an arrow from a renegade attack strikes Daniel’s chest, but he survives without injury. Rather than actually being immortal, the arrow struck his bandolier and failed to penetrate into his flesh and wound him. The natives believe him to be the incarnation of Alexander the Great, and Daniel himself begins to arrogantly believe in his own divinity, and his right to take their rich royal treasures from the holy city of Sikandergul. Peachy, on the other hand, suspects that eventually their fraud will be found out, and attempts to get Daniel to give up the delusion and leave before calamity strikes. But Daniel insists on taking a native wife named Roxanne (Shakira Caine, Michael’s real-life wife in her screen debut). The marriage turns out to be a disaster, because Roxanne, in fear of marrying a god, bites Daniel’s face and draws blood – thereby exposing the two as mortals. As the two flee the city and its outraged natives, Daniel is killed when he falls to his death from a rope bridge into a deep gorge, while Peachy is caught, tortured and crucified, and left for dead. He eventually survives and returns to England where he tells his story to Rudyard Kipling.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

© 1975 Python (Monty) Pictures Limited − All right reserved.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (UK)

D: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

The silly, chaotic, sick joke-filled and zany Monty Python troupe, a close modern equivalent to the Marx Brothers, first appeared in their late 60s BBC-TV show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Afterwards, the group compiled a retelling of the show’s sketches for the big screen in And Now For Something Completely Different (1971). This was their second film and first feature-length film – a raucous, anarchic retelling of the Middle Ages legend of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his quest, that skewered medieval action epics, mythology, war, religion, the Arthurian legend, Camelot and more. The opening credits in this popular, outrageous, and original cult film slowly give way to mock Swedish titles, and drift into ravings about the moose and its virtues, before grinding to a halt with: “We apologize for the fault in the subtitles. Those responsible have been sacked.” The opening credits resume, but still with odd credits added for everything from “Moose Costumes” to “Moose trained to mix concrete and sign complicated insurance forms,” which is followed by another apology: “The directors of the firm hired to continue the credits after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked. The credits have been completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute.” Their style of humor was best exemplified by the comically-gruesome encounter with the unbelievably persistent Black Knight (John Cleese), who still insists on fighting (“It’s just a flesh wound”) after his limbs have been hacked off by King Arthur. Many fans can instantly recite many of the memorable scenes, vignettes and set-pieces, such as the “Bring Out Your Dead” scene, or the rude, taunting Frenchman, a bloodthirsty killer rabbit, and the tree-shaped Knights who say “Ni.” Over the years, the troupe’s popularity would grow with additional Monty Python films, such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979),and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983).

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Nashville"

© 1975 American Broadcasting Company (ABC) − All right reserved.


D: Robert Altman

Altman’s great country-music, Bicentennial epic length drama, set in the capital city of Nashville – a microcosm of America, was summed up in one of the film’s lyrics: “We must be doing something right to last 200 years.” It was one of the great American films of the 1970s with its multi-level, original, tragic-comedic epic study of American culture, show-business, leadership and politics. Altman was cynically commenting upon the confused state of American society with its political emptiness and showy commercialism. The business of country-western music co-existed with the election campaign of an unseen, independent (populist) party candidate. It was told as an intricate, free-form, impressionistic, intertwining tale, tangentially linking together twenty-four protagonists who arrived on the scene to be part of the Nashville showbiz crowd, and appeared at a pop concert and a political rally for the “Replacement Party.” Colorful characters, both performers and audience members in the mosaic-style film, converge in a massive traffic jam and were present during a violent assassination scene by the film’s conclusion: Presidential hopeful Hal Philip Walker, frail, crooning country western sweetheart Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley), singing rival Connie White (Karen Black), folk-singing lecherous lover Tom Frank (Keith Carradine), BBC tele-journalist Opal (Geraldine Chaplin), a groupie from LA (Shelley Duvall), and master of ceremonies Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson). A satirical film that commented upon religion, politics, sex, violence, and the materialistic culture. Altman keenly observed the differing agendas of the characters – companionship and/or sex, a shot at stardom or political advancement, and musical aspirations, to name a few. Notice the multiple means of communication to connect the characters (phone calls, tape recordings, radio and TV, and P.A. announcements), and that most of them performed somewhere or another.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Night Moves"

© 1975 Layton Productions − All right reserved.

Night Moves

D: Arthur Penn

A neo-noir film directed by Arthur Penn. It stars Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark, and features early career appearances by Melanie Griffith and James Woods. Los Angeles private investigator Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter. Moseby tracks the daughter down, only to stumble upon something much more intriguing and sinister.

Although Night Moves was not considered particularly successful at the time of its release, it has attracted viewers and significant critical attention following its videotape and DVD releases.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

© 1975 United Artists − All right reserved.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

D: Milos Forman

The mid-70s baby-boomers’ counter-culture was ripe for a film dramatizing rebellion and insubordination against oppressive bureaucracy, and an insistence upon rights, self-expression and freedom. A compelling, socially-conscious portrait of mental institution patients pitted the protagonist against a tyrannical, sinister head nurse, cinematically adapted from Ken Kesey’s celebrated 1962 novel. A free-spirited, ebullient, rebellious convict Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), an energetic, flamboyant, wise-guy anti-hero, feigned insanity to avoid a jail sentence, and was incarcerated in an insane asylum. His crazed struggles against oppression, the status-quo, conformity and the manipulative, authoritarian Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) symbolized the rebellious 60’s era. He served as a catalyst and invigorating inspiration for the subdued, troubled patients against the mental institution (“the cuckoo’s nest”). When he protested the arbitrary and heavy-handed rules about watching the World Series, and illegally staged both a fishing trip and a drinking party in the ward – he found that his rebellious struggle was hopeless and powerless, capped by his own zombie-producing, paralyzing lobotomy. He was taken down and paid the ultimate price for his messianic, outrageous non-conformity. The strong and silent Indian Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) that he had befriended relieved his pitiful misery.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Picnic at Hanging Rock"

© 1975 McElroy & McElroy − All right reserved.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Australia)

D: Peter Weir

Adapted by Cliff Green from the 1967 novel of the same name by Joan Lindsay, who was deliberately ambiguous about whether the events really took place, although the story is in fact entirely fictitious.  In the early 1900s, Miranda (Anne Lambert) attends a girls boarding school in Australia. One Valentine’s Day, the school’s typically strict headmistress (Rachel Roberts) treats the girls to a picnic field trip to an unusual but scenic volcanic formation called Hanging Rock. Despite rules against it, Miranda and several other girls venture off. It’s not until the end of the day that the faculty realizes the girls and one of the teachers (Vivean Gray) have disappeared mysteriously.

Picnic at Hanging Rock was a commercial and critical success.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"

© 1975 Michael White Productions − All right reserved.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (UK)

D: Jim Sharman

Perhaps the most popular cult film of all time, this low-budget, campy horror rock musical from writer/director Jim Sharman initially bombed at the box-office. One of the longest-running films of all time, the bizarre film honors (and gently spoofs) the horror and science fiction genres of the past (RKO Pictures’ King Kong (1933), Forbidden Planet (1956), The Wizard of Oz (1939), the Hercules films, The Day of the Triffids (1962), the classic “atomic age” sci-fi horror of the ’50s, such as It Came From Outer Space (1951), and, of course, Frankenstein (1931)). The film was based on the 1973 British musical stage play The Rocky Horror Show by playwright/composer Richard O’Brien (who also plays the butler named Riff Raff), about a haunted house inhabited by transexual aliens. The strange tale follows a straight-laced, wholesome, newly-engaged couple, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick in his feature film debut) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) who are forced to take refuge in a spooky mansion/castle on a rainy night when their car has a flat tire. The two are brought into a world of subversiveness by the bisexual host – the carnivorous “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a mad scientist whose dream is to create the perfect man named Rocky “with blond hair and a tan.” The film features catchy, overtly-sexual songs like “The Time Warp,” “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me,” and “Sweet Transvestite.” When the film began to play at midnight showings in Greenwich Village in April 1976, the film was revived as a multi-media, audience participatory experience and exploded as a worldwide phenomenon for many years.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Shampoo"

© 1975 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.


D: Hal Ashby

A satirical romantic comedy-drama film written by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty, and directed by Hal Ashby. It stars Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, and Goldie Hawn, with Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Tony Bill, and, in a first film appearance, Carrie Fisher.

The the film was nominated for four Academy Awards® and has been chosen as one of the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies. George is one of L.A.’s most desirable men, a Beverly Hills hairdresser who makes all his clients look and feel better than ever. Encouraged by his girlfriend Jill (Goldie Hawn) to open his own salon, George approaches conservative businessman Lester (Jack Warden) for financing. Unbeknownst to Lester, George is sleeping with his wife (Lee Grant), his mistress (Julie Christie) and his teenage daughter (Carrie Fisher). Can George resist temptation and settle down with Jill or will he get tangled up in even more scandalous affairs?

Upon its release, the film generally received positive reviews from critics who lauded its talented cast and sharp, satirical writing. Praise was not universal; some critics, including Roger Ebert, pronounced it a disappointment.

Commercially, Shampoo was a great success. Produced on a budget of $4 million, the film grossed $49,407,734 domestically and $60 million at the worldwide box office. It was the fourth most successful film of 1975 by box office takings, beaten only by Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Tommy"

© 1975 Robert Stigwood Organization (RSO) − All right reserved.

Tommy (UK)

D: Ken Russell

A musical fantasy drama film based upon The Who’s 1969 rock opera album Tommy. The film featured a star-studded ensemble cast, including the band members themselves (most notably, lead singer Roger Daltrey, who plays the title role), Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson.

This is the story of Tommy, who, when just a boy of six, witnessed the murder of his father by his mother (Ann-Margret) and her lover (Oliver Reed). They command him, “You didn’t hear it, you didn’t see it, and you won’t say anything to anyone…” As a result, the traumatized boy retreats into the shadows of his mind and becomes deaf, dumb and blind. Growing into manhood, Tommy (Roger Daltrey) is subjected to several bizarre cure attempts by The Acid Queen (Tina Turner), the Preacher (Eric Clapton), and the Specialist (Jack Nicholson). In spite of his handicap, Tommy defeats the Pinball Wizard (Elton John) and becomes the champ, attaining a devoted following. When he is finally cured, he is hailed by his fans as a “Messiah.”

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, and praised Ann-Margret as being “simply great as Tommy’s mother”. He called the pinball tournament sequence “the movie’s best single scene: a pulsating, orgiastic turn-on edited with the precision of a machine gun burst.”[

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1975?

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