The 1970s was a decade of disillusionment in the United States as the nation reeled from the traumas of the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, the gas shortage, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Movies such as “Three Days of the Condor,” “Coming Home,” and “All the President’s Men” captured the ethos of an era plagued with national self-doubt.
While these three films were box-office hits, however, they were not among the most successful of the decade. To identify the most successful movies of the 1970s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the domestic inflation-adjusted box office gross for the 1,191 movies with available data released during the 1970s according to The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. (See how the ‘70s hits compare with the most profitable movies of all time.)
Disaster films were popular in the 1970s, and three of them – “The Towering Inferno,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” and “Airport” – all won at least one Academy Award. Indeed, more than half of the movies on the list won at least one Oscar. “The Sting,” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, took home seven statues, and “Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope” – the first film in the franchise, despite its retroactive numbering – picked up six.
Five comedies were among the decade’s most successful movies, two of them – “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” – directed by Mel Brooks. (Both are among the funniest American movies of all time.)
The 1970s also saw the ascendency of the younger generation of directors. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas each helmed one of the biggest films of the 1970s, and Francis Ford Coppola directed his masterpiece, “The Godfather.”
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