Special Report

The Most Successful Movies of the 1970s

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

15. Billy Jack (1971)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $544.6 million
> Starring: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Clark Howat, Victor Izay
> Directed by: Tom Laughlin
> Run-time: 112 minutes

“Billy Jack” was the second of four Billy Jack movies (the first was called “The Born Losers”) and the most successful. The film is about a mixed-race former Green Beret who defends Native Americans and students and teachers at an untraditional Arizona school from bigoted locals. Tom Laughlin wrote, directed, and starred as the title character.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

14. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $554.9 million
> Starring: John Belushi, Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst
> Directed by: John Landis
> Run-time: 109 minutes

John Landis’ subversive comedy is about a dissolute fraternity that takes revenge on the college administration for trying to kick it off campus. Though he’s not in the movie for very long, “Saturday Night Live” star John Belushi’s outrageous behavior steals the film.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

13. The Towering Inferno (1974)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $568.8 million
> Starring: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway
> Directed by: John Guillermin
> Run-time: 165 minutes

Besides the stars, this John Guillermin disaster movie about a San Francisco high-rise on fire at its opening ceremony featured an ensemble cast that included Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Wagner, Jennifer Jones, Robert Vaughan, and…O.J. Simpson.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

12. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $573.3 million
> Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali
> Directed by: John Badham
> Run-time: 118 minutes

“Saturday Night Fever,” about a young Italian-American man looking to break out of his suffocating family and neighborhood life in Brooklyn, launched John Travolta into stardom.The movie was released at the height of disco and is remembered as much for its soundtrack – featuring songs from the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, and The Trammps – as for its plot.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

11. Blazing Saddles (1974)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $586.0 million
> Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman
> Directed by: Mel Brooks
> Run-time: 93 minutes

Mel Brooks skewered Nazis (and Broadway) in “The Producers” and would go on to do the same for horror films with “Young Frankenstein” – but with “Blazing Saddles,” he took on Westerns. Brooks and comedian Richard Pryor co-wrote the farce, chock full of memorable scenes such as former football player Alex Karras knocking out a horse with one punch.

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