Watchworthy

The Greatest Directors of the 1970s 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated October 13, 2018 2.3k votes 363 voters 28.3k views 40 items

List Rules Vote based on each director's body of film work between 1970 and 1979

List of the top directors of the '70s. The 1970s were filled with absurd styles and monumental changes in movies, as some of the world's greatest directors began experimenting like never before. Fellini, Bergman, and Truffaut, for instance, inspired Americans like John Cassavetes and Hal Ashby to make some of their most unique and cherished films of the decade.

The top directors of the 1970s made some defining works of art during the period. For instance, Roman Polanski struck gold with Chinatown while Stanley Kubrick did the same with A Clockwork Orange. The same can be said for Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola, whose 1970s filmographies seem unparalleled and as if they could do no wrong. Not only was this decade the time of the two Godfather movies, but the seventies is also when director Sidney Lumet came out with his two Al Pacino spectaculars: the unforgettable '70s hits of Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Francis Ford Coppola is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 80

Credits (Film): The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, Patton, American Graffiti, + more

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The Godfather (1972)
The Conversation (1974)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Apocalypse Now (1979)

More Francis Ford Coppola 

Actors in the Most Francis Ford Coppola Movies #512 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #858 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time

2
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 71 (1928-1999)

Credits (Film): The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Barry Lyndon (1975)

More Stanley Kubrick 

18 Mind-Blowing Theories About A Shared Universe In Stanley Kubrick Movies #339 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #1,135 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

3
Martin Scorsese is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
clash1977 added Age: 77

Credits (Film): Goodfellas, The Departed, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

Nationality: United States of America

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
Taxi Driver (1976)
New York, New York (1977)

More Martin Scorsese 

The Best Martin Scorsese Movies #173 of 243 Celebrities Who Should Run for President #765 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

4
Sidney Lumet is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 87 (1924-2011)

Credits (Film): Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Network, Fail Safe, + more

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The Anderson Tapes (1971)
Child's Play (1972)
The Offence (1972)
Serpico (1973)
Lovin' Molly (1974)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Network (1976)
Equus (1977)
The Wiz (1978)

More Sidney Lumet 

#1,013 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #25 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #72 of 139 The Greatest Auteurs in Film History

5
Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 89 (1918-2007)

Credits (Film): The Seventh Seal, Persona, Fanny and Alexander, Wild Strawberries, Cries and Whispers, + more

Birthplace: Uppsala, Sweden

Nationality: Sweden

The Touch (1971)
Cries and Whispers (1972)
The Magic Flute (1975)
Face to Face (1976)
The Serpent's Egg (1977)
Autumn Sonota (1978)

More Ingmar Bergman 

The Best Movies Directed by Ingmar Bergman #534 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #413 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

6
Werner Herzog is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 77

Credits (Film): What Dreams May Come, Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Aguirre, + more

Birthplace: Munich, Germany

Nationality: Germany

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
Fata Morgana (1971)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
Heart of Glass (1976)
Nosferatu the Vampire (1979)
Woyzeck (1979)

More Werner Herzog 

Silly Movies That Would Be Better If Werner Herzog Narrated Them #1,837 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #28 of 215 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

7
Robert Altman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 81 (1925-2006)

Credits (Film): MASH, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, + more

Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

MASH (1970)
Brewster McCloud (1970)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller 1971)
Images (1972)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Thieves Like Us (1974)
California Split (1974)
Nashville (1975)
3 Women (1977)
A Wedding (1978)
Quintet (1979)
A Perfect Couple (1979)

More Robert Altman 

Actors in the Most Robert Altman Movies #57 of 119 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History #56 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

8
Federico Fellini is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 73 (1920-1993)

Credits (Film): La Dolce Vita, 8½, La Strada, Amarcord, Fellini Satyricon, + more

Birthplace: Rimini, Italy

Nationality: Italy

The Clowns (1970)
Roma (1972)
Amarcord (1973)
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976)
Orchestra Rehearsal (1978)

More Federico Fellini 

The Best Movies Directed by Federico Fellini #354 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #382 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time

9
William Friedkin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 84

Credits (Film): The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Chips, Sorcerer, + more

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The French Connection (1971)
The Exorcist (1973)
Sorcerer (1977)
The Brink's Job (1978)

More William Friedkin 

#54 of 215 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked #71 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #10 of 15 The Weirdest, Worst Things Directors Have Ever Forced Actresses To Do

10
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dimos Dicoudis added Age: 82

Credits (Film): Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Prometheus, + more

Birthplace: South Shields, United Kingdom

Nationality: United Kingdom

The Duellists (1977)
Alien (1979)

More Ridley Scott 

The Bizarre Sequel To 'Gladiator' That Almost Got Made #8 of 215 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked #254 of 477 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

11
Sergio Leone is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Mollevangsvagen added Dec. at 60 (1929-1989)

Credits (Film): Good, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, + more

Birthplace: Rome, Italy

Nationality: Italy

Duck, You Sucker (AKA A Fistful of Dynamite, 1971)
My Name Is Nobody (1973)
A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975)

More Sergio Leone 

#587 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #292 of 484 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time #12 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

12
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 86

Credits (Film): Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist, Repulsion, Rush Hour 3, + more

Birthplace: Paris, France

Nationality: France, Poland

Macbeth (1971)
What? (1972)
Chinatown (1974)
Tess (1979)
The Tenant (1976)

More Roman Polanski 

#24 of 215 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked #42 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #300 of 309 Famous People Most Likely to Live to 100

13
Hal Ashby is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 59 (1929-1988)

Credits (Film): Harold and Maude, Being There, Coming Home, Shampoo, The Last Detail, + more

Birthplace: Ogden, Utah, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The Landlord (1970)
Harold and Maude (1971)
The Last Detail (1973)
Shampoo (1975)
Bound for Glory (1976)
Coming Home (1978)
Being There (1979)

More Hal Ashby 

#75 of 119 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History #211 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #102 of 139 The Greatest Auteurs in Film History

14
Andrei Tarkovsky is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Mollevangsvagen added Dec. at 54 (1932-1986)

Credits (Film): Solaris, Stalker, Andrei Rublev, Ivan's Childhood, The Mirror, + more

Birthplace: Yuryevetsky District

Nationality: Russia, Soviet Union

Solaris (1972)
The Mirror (1975)
Stalker (1979)

15
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 87

Credits (Film): One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon, + more

Birthplace: Čáslav, Czech Republic

Nationality: United States of America, Czechoslovakia

Taking Off (1971)
Vision of Eight (1973)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Hair (1979)

More Miloš Forman 

#41 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #254 of 309 Famous People Most Likely to Live to 100 #328 of 428 Here's a List of Every Known Republican Celebrity

16
Peter Bogdanovich is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Age: 80

Credits (Film): The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Mask, + more

Birthplace: Kingston, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The Last Picture Show (1971)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
Paper Moon (1973)
Daisy Miller (1974)
At Long Last Love (1975)
Nickelodeon (1976)
Saint Jack (1979)

More Peter Bogdanovich 

#76 of 119 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History #119 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #34 of 50 The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece

17
Bob Fosse is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 60 (1927-1987)

Credits (Film): Chicago, Cabaret, All That Jazz, Lenny, Liza with a Z, + more

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Cabaret (1972)
Lenny (1974)
All That Jazz (1979)

More Bob Fosse 

The Tumultuous Relationship Of Bob Fosse And Gwen Verdon, The Inspiration For FX's 'Fosse/Verdon' #583 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #213 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

18
François Truffaut... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 52 (1932-1984)

Credits (Film): Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Breathless, Fahrenheit 451, The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, + more

Birthplace: Paris, France

Nationality: France

The Wild Child (1970)
Bed and Board (1970)
Two English Girls (1971)
A Gorgeous Kid Like Me (1972)
Day for Night (1973)
Small Change (1976)
The Man Who Loved Women (1977)
The Green Room (1978)
19
John Cassavetes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dec. at 60 (1929-1989)

Credits (Film): Rosemary's Baby, The Dirty Dozen, A Woman Under the Influence, The Fury, Shadows, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Husbands (1970)
Minnie and Moskowitz (1971)
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
Opening Night (1977)

More John Cassavetes 

#302 of 1,030 The Best Actors in Film History #230 of 301 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting) #87 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

20
Robert Bresson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Mollevangsvagen added Dec. at 98 (1901-1999)

Credits (Film): A Man Escaped, Au Hasard Balthazar, The Devil Probably, Mouchette, Pickpocket, + more

Birthplace: Bromont-Lamothe, France

Nationality: France

Quatre nuits d'un rêveur (Four Nights of a Dreamer, 1971)
Lancelot du Lac (Lancelot of the Lake, 1974)
Le diable probablement (The Devil Probably, 1977)

21
George Lucas is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
starwarssuperfan added Age: 75

Credits (Film): Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Men in Black, + more

Birthplace: Modesto, California, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

More George Lucas 

Everything You Need To Know About Skywalker Ranch Before You Visit #6 of 50 The Best Celebrity Star Wars Cameos, Ranked #139 of 243 Celebrities Who Should Run for President

22
Blake Edwards is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dimos Dicoudis added Dec. at 88 (1922-2010)

Credits (Film): Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, 10, The Return of the Pink Panther, + more

Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Darling Lili (1970)
Wild Rovers (1971)
The Carey Treatment (1972)
The Tamarind Seed (1974)
The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) 
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
0 (1979)

23
Carl Reiner is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dimos Dicoudis added Age: 97

Credits (Film): Ocean's Eleven, The Jerk, Ocean's Thirteen, Ocean's Twelve, Summer School, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Where's Poppa? (1970)
Oh, God! (1977)
The One and Only (1978)
The Jerk (1979)

More Carl Reiner 

#191 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time #26 of 119 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History #338 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History

24
Éric Rohmer is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Mollevangsvagen added Dec. at 90 (1920-2010)

Credits (Film): Claire's Knee, My Night at Maud's, I Think I Love My Wife, La Collectionneuse, A Tale of Autumn, + more

Birthplace: Tulle, France

Nationality: France

Love in the Afternoon (1972)
The Marquise of O... (1976)
Perceval le Gallois (1978)

More Éric Rohmer 

#248 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #29 of 56 The Greatest Directors of the 1980s #29 of 29 The Best Directors of the '90s

25
Robert Wise is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Directors of the 1970s
Dimos Dicoudis added Dec. at 91 (1914-2005)

Credits (Film): The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Haunting, + more

Birthplace: Winchester, White River Township, Indiana, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

The Baby Maker (1970)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Two People (1973)
The Hindenburg (1975)
Audrey Rose (1977)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

More Robert Wise 

#115 of 742 The Greatest Directors In Movie History #19 of 54 The Best Horror Directors in Film History #6 of 35 35 Celebrities Who Were in Phi Delta Theta