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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 1976 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:

  • Albert BrooksTaxi Driver
  • Bruce Campbell – It’s Murder!
  • Stephen CollinsAll the President’s Men
  • Lindsay CrouseAll the President’s Men
  • Mariel Hemingway – Lipstick
  • Ernie Hudson – Leadbelly
  • Amy Irving – Carrie
  • Jessica Lange – King Kong
  • Delroy Lindo – Find the Lady
  • Jonathan Pryce – Voyage of the Damned
  • John Ratzenberger – The Ritz
  • Mercedes Ruehl – Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
  • Brooke Shields – Alice, Sweet Alice
  • Debra Winger – Slumber Party ’57
  • Chow Yun-fat – Tou tai ren

 

Top-grossing Films

 TitleStudioDom. gross
1.RockyUnited Artists Pictures$117M
2.To Fly!National Air and Space Museum$87M
3.A Star Is BornWarner Bros.$80M
4.All the President’s MenWarner Bros.$71M
5.The Omen20th Century Fox Film Corporation$61M
6.In Search of Noah’s ArkSunn Classic Pictures

$56M

7.King KongParamount Pictures$53M
8.Silver Streak20th Century-Fox Film Corporation$51M
9.The EnforcerWarner Bros.$46M
10.MidwayUniversal Studios / Cinema International Corporation$43M

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Rocky – Chartoff-Winkler, United Artists

Best Director: John G. AvildsenRocky

Best Actor: Peter FinchNetwork (first actor to win posthumously)

Best Actress: Faye DunawayNetwork

Best Supporting Actor: Jason RobardsAll the President’s Men

Best Supporting Actress: Beatrice StraightNetwork

 

Among Those Who Died In 1976:

  NameAge Notable films
Jan1Walter Janssen88ActorThe Great Longing
     Maskerade
      
 12Agatha Christie85WriterWitness for the Prosecution
     Murder on the Orient Express
      
 13Margaret Leighton53ActressThe Go-Between
     The Best Man
      
 18Sonia Dresdel66ActressThis Was a Woman
     The Fallen Idol
      
 23Paul Robeson77Actor, SingerShow Boat
     The Proud Valley
      
 29Michael Gwynn59ActorCleopatra
     Jason and the Argonauts
      
Feb4Roger Livesey69ActorThe Entertainer
     The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
      
 11Lee J. Cobb64ActorOn the Waterfront
     The Exorcist
      
 11John Twist77Screen-writerKing Richard and the Crusaders
     Annie Oakley
      
 12Sal Mineo37ActorRebel Without a Cause
     Exodus
      
 13Lily Pons77Singer, ActressI Dream Too Much
     Hitting a New High
      
 13John Lounsbery64Ani-    matorDumbo
     Lady and the Tramp
      
 15Maria Corda77ActressWhite Rose
     The Private Life of Helen of Troy
      
 16Campbell Singer66ActorThe Square Peg
     The Hands of Orlac
      
 24Peter Madden71ActorFrom Russia with Love
     Doctor Zhivago
      
 26Frieda Inescort75ActressA Place in the Sun
     The Letter
      
Mar3Doris Hill70ActressSons of the Saddle
     Men Are Like That
      
 5Charles Lederer69Screen-writerHis Girl Friday
     Ocean’s 11
      
 14Busby Berkeley80Director, Chore-ographer42nd Street
     Hollywood Hotel
      
 17Luchino Visconti69Director, WriterThe Leopard
     Death in Venice
      
 20Michael Goodliffe61ActorCromwell
     Jigsaw
      
 28Richard Arlen76ActorWings
     Wildcat
      
Apr2Ray Teal74ActorJudgment at Nuremberg
     Ace in the Hole
      
 4George Pastell53ActorFrom Russia with Love
     The Magus
      
 5Howard Hughes70Director, ProducerHell’s Angels
     The Outlaw
      
 5Robert Lord75Screen-   writer, ProducerOne Way Passage
     20,000 Years in Sing Sing
      
 11Liam    Dunn59ActorBlazing Saddles
     Young Frankenstein
      
 12Paul Ford74ActorAdvise & Consent
     The Music Man
      
 21Léonide Moguy75Director, WriterParis After Dark
     Action in Arabia
      
 25Carol Reed69Director, WriterOIiver!
     The Third Man
      
 26Neil McCallum46ActorThe Longest Day
     Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
      
 26Sid James62ActorThe Lavender Hill Mob
     Trapeze
      
 29Thelma Connell63Film         EditorAlfie
     The Deadly Affair
      
May3David Bruce62ActorSusie Steps Out
     Lady on a Train
      
 7Alan Baxter67ActorSaboteur
     The Set-Up
      
 27Hilde Hildebrand78ActressVictor and Victoria
     Little Dorrit
      
 27Ruth McDevitt80ActressThe Parent Trap
     The Birds
      
Jun5Violet Wilkey73ActressThe Birth of a Nation
     The Burned Hand
      
 6Victor Varconi85ActorThe King of Kings
     The Sea Hawk
      
 9Sybil Thorndike93ActressThe Magic Box
     Melba
      
 10Adolph Zukor103Producer, Studio ExecutiveWings
     Shanghai Express
      
 25Johnny Mercer66Song-      writerThe Harvey Girls
     Darling Lili
      
 28Stanley Baker48ActorThe Guns of Navarone
     Helen of Troy
      
Jul2Frances Howard73ActressThe Shock Punch
     The Swan
      
 7Norman Foster72Actor,     DirectorPilgrimage
     State Fair
      
 12James Wong Howe76Cinema-tographerThe Rose Tattoo
     Hud
      
 17Rina Morelli67ActressThe Leopard
     Senso
      
 28Lucie Mannheim77ActressThe 39 Steps
     The High Command
      
Aug2Fritz Lang85Director,     WriterMetropolis
     The Big Heat
      
 6William Mervyn64ActorThe Ruling Class
     The Long Arm
      
 10Ray Corrigan74ActorThe Three Mesquiteers
     Range Busters
      
 17William Redfield49ActorOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
     Death Wish
      
 17Murvyn Vye60ActorA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
     Al Capone
      
 18Luigi Serventi91ActorA Woman’s Story
     The Story of a Poor Young Man
      
 28Alastair Sim75ActorThe Green Man
     Scrooge
      
Sep10Dalton Trumbo70Screen-        writerSpartacus
     Roman Holiday
      
 30Paul    Dehn63Screen-       writerGoldfinger
     Murder on the Orient Express
      
Oct5Barbara Nichols47ActressSweet Smell of Success
     The Naked and the Dead
      
 14Edith Evans88ActressTom Jones
     The Nun’s Story
      
Nov15Jean    Gabin72ActorLa Grande Illusion
     Port of Shadows
      
 22Rupert Davies60ActorWaterloo
     The Criminal
      
 28Rosalind Russell69ActressHis Girl Friday
     Auntie Mame
      
 29Godfrey Cambridge43ActorCotton Comes to Harlem
     The President’s Analyst
      
Dec3Mary Nash92ActressThe Philadelphia Story
     The Human Comedy
      
 8Cathy Downs50ActressMy Darling Clementine
     The Dark Corner
      
 12Jack Cassidy49ActorBunny O’Hare
     The Eiger Sanction
      
 20Walter Fitzgerald80ActorThe Fallen Idol
     Man in the Sky

 

The Greatest Films of 1976

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "All the President's Men"

© 1976 Wildwood Enterprises − All right reserved.

All the President’s Men

D: Alan J. Pakula

Alan J. Pakula’s mystery-thriller and taut docu-drama about President Nixon’s Watergate scandal and abuse of power followed two real-life, young, persistent investigative journalists at the Washington Post. [Executive producer and co-star Robert Redford’s well-known concern for political issues was reflected in his on-screen portrayal in this substantive film.] The detailed, dialogue-rich script, based on the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction book by the reporters, created an authentic and credible feel. The two main Hollywood actors in the lead roles as clashing Post reporters who reluctantly worked together seamlessly became their characters with contrasting styles and personalities: Robert Redford as the determined junior reporter Bob Woodward, and Dustin Hoffman as the more experienced and outspoken liberal Carl Bernstein. The intrepid rookie duo uncovered a possible connection, through a dogged search for clues, hunches, and informants (including the mysterious Deep Throat), between the 1972 Watergate burglary and an Oval Office staffer. As they uncovered dirty tricks and other illegal, conspiratorial activities, the famous catch-phrase: “Follow the money” (entirely invented for the film), became popularized.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Bound For Glory

© – All right reserved.

Bound For Glory

D: Hal Ashby

The Dust Bowl overtakes his native Oklahoma in the early 1930s, and struggling young musician Woody Guthrie (David Carradine) leaves his wife, Mary (Melinda Dillon), to join the great westward migration to southern California. When he meets singer and union agitator Ozark Bule (Ronny Cox), Guthrie finds his populist political voice — but at the expense of his personal life. Director Hal Ashby adapted this biopic from Guthrie’s 1943 autobiography of the same title.

 

© – All right reserved.

Carrie

D: Brian De Palma

Director Brian De Palma’s first commercial hit was this bloody, R-rated supernatural horror film based on Stephen King’s 1974 best-selling novel of the same name, his first published work. The story was about a socially-outcast, shy, abused and bullied schoolgirl (Sissy Spacek) possessed with retributive telekinetic powers – and continually tormented by her religiously fanatical, sexually-repressed mother (Piper Laurie). Carrie vengefully murdered high school senior prom-goers (shown in split-screen) after being humiliated and cruelly doused with a bucket of pig’s blood from above. The film has always been noted for its second, jump-scare shock ending – a nightmarish dream sequence in which Carrie’s surviving classmate Sue Snell (Amy Irving) was grabbed by Carrie’s bloody hand bursting out of the ground from her grave.

 

The Man Who Fell to Earth

© – All right reserved.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

D: Nicolas Roeg

Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts a high technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return spacecraft.

 

Marathon Man

© – All right reserved.

Marathon Man

D: John Schlesinger

From William Goldman’s best-selling novel comes one of the most daring and affecting thrillers ever brought to the screen. Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (Rainman) plays the likable graduate student and marathon runner of the title, unwillingly trapped in a killing game of intrigue involving a Nazi fugitive, Christian Szell. Laurence Olivier received an Academy Award nomination for his chilling portrayal of the sadistic Szell, who turns dental instruments into tools of torture with dispassionate ease. Directed by John Schlesinger and featuring an all-star cast, Marathon Man moves with nail-biting suspense to its thrilling, fever-pitched conclusion. Co-starring Roy Scheider and William Devane.

 

Poster for the movie "Network"

© 1976 United Artists − All right reserved.

Network

D: Sidney Lumet

A prophetic, explosive, provocative satire from screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky about the medium of network television and its abusive, self-prostituting quest for ratings. Chief UBS TV (a fourth-rated fictional broadcasting system) veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is driven insane when told that he will be fired after twenty-five years because of low ratings. On the air, the beserk newsman tells his audience that he will committ suicide during his final live broadcast. A ratings-mad, cold-blooded, ambitious programming VP Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) exploits the furor when ratings zoom. Messianic hero and cult celebrity Beale continues to report the news and evangelistically urges his viewers to go to their windows and yell: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” The craggy, dissenting head of the news division Max Schumacher (William Holden) is fired, as the network is overtaken by a multinational conglomerate and alliances are made with urban guerrilla terrorists for programming ideas. Married Schumacher, in a mid-life crisis, has a May-December affair with Diana and leaves his wife (Beatrice Straight).

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

The Omen

© – All right reserved.

The Omen

D: Richard Donner

A Series Of Shocking Deaths Leaves The American Ambassador To Britain Convinced That His 5-Year-Old Son Is Actually The Antichrist. Unbeknownst To Them, A Devil-Possessed Priest Changes Babies In The Hospital And The Child They Think Is Theirs Is Destined To Grow Up To Rule The World In The Name Of Satan.

 

The Outlaw Josey Wales

© – All right reserved.

The Outlaw Josey Wales

D: Clint Eastwood

A great Eastwood revisionistic western, and considered his personal favorite. [Note: It was Eastwood’s fifth-directed film and eighth Western as a performer. His next western would be nine years later. It was one of the last few major studio Westerns until the 1990s, marked by Eastwood’s own Unforgiven (1992).] Eastwood fully fleshed-out the title character Josey Wales, who became a vengeful, ex-Confederate rebel guerrilla fighter who refused to surrender. Earlier as a farmer during the Civil War along the Kansas-Missouri border, he had witnessed the massacre of his family and pillaging of his farm in a border raid led by marauding renegade Union Red Leg soldier Captain Terrill (Bill McKinney). Regarded as an outlaw after the war, wanted man Wales journeyed westward to Texas, still haunted by the slaughter and driven to murderous revenge. He joined a band of Confederate irregulars under Bloody Bill Anderson (John Russell). He was pursued by bounty hunters and other lawmen, including reluctant Confederate regimental Captain Fletcher (John Vernon). However, the angry loner-fugitive began to regain some of his humanity when he rescued aging Indian Cherokee Lone Watie (Chief Dan George). He also saved farm family settlers from Comanche raiders – pretty love-interest Laura Lee (Sondra Locke) and her spirited, self-righteous Grandma Sarah (Paula Trueman), on their way to settle down on an abandoned ranch near the ghost town of Santa Rio.

 

Poster for the movie "Rocky"

© 1976 United Artists − All right reserved.

Rocky

D: John G. Avildsen

The phenomenally successful, uplifting, “sleeper” film that was filmed in a record twenty-eight days with a paltry budget of about $1 million, and ultimately grossed well over $100 million. (This low-budget film was positioned between two early “blockbusters” – Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and Lucas’ Star Wars (1977).) Its screenwriter and major star, Sylvester Stallone, was an unbankable unknown at the time – an underdog actor/writer in the film industry (with 32 previously-rejected scripts) similar to the boxing ‘bum’ in the film. Stallone supposedly wrote the script for the sports comeback film over a three-day period. The action-packed, ‘feel-good’ crowd-pleasing story, shot mostly on location, tells of the rise of a small-time, has-been, underdog Philadelphia boxer against insurmountable odds in a big-time bout with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), with the emotional support of a shy, hesitant, loving girlfriend named Adrian (Talia Shire) and wily fight manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith). The low-key film was a combination of On the Waterfront (1954), Marty (1955), and a fairy-tale, Cinderella rags-to-riches story. The original Rocky film, from Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, packed movie houses, and beat out formidable competition for Best Picture: All the President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Network, and Taxi Driver. It was followed by four inferior sequels: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990) and another entry titled Rocky Balboa (2006).

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Taxi Driver"

© 1976 Italo/Judeo Productions − All right reserved.

Taxi Driver

D: Martin Scorsese

One of Martin Scorsese’s greatest films, about a violent, alienated, unfocused, psychotic NYC taxi driver fatalistically disturbed by the squalid, hellish urban underbelly of pimps, whores, winos, and junkies. Ex-Marine Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) works the night shift through Times Square in his cab, encountering nightmarish Gothic horrors, moral decay and lowlifes. Off hours during the day, he kills time by frequenting sleazy porno houses and eating junk food. His one feeble attempt at social and emotional contact – a date with a blonde political campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) fails miserably when he takes her to a porn film. His fantasized one-man campaign/mission to clean up the streets focuses on saving a prepubescent child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster). It ends with a failed political assassination attempt, and a rage-filled, pent-up blood-bath massacre, including the killing of Iris’ pimp “Sport” (Harvey Keitel). In the aftermath, the repellent character emerges as a vindicated, folk savior-hero.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1976?

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