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405 voters

The Greatest Directors of the 1970s

Updated September 21, 2021 2.8k votes 405 voters 29.9k views42 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1

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

    BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, USA

    The Godfather (1972)
    The Conversation (1974)
    The Godfather Part II (1974)
    Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • 2
    Dec. at 70 (1928-1999)
    122
    54

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

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    Barry Lyndon (1975)
  • 3
    clash1977 addedAge: 78
    115
    50

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

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

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

  • 4
    Dec. at 86 (1924-2011)
    83
    30

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

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, 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)
  • 5
    64
    29

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

    BirthplaceMunich, 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)
  • 6
    Dec. at 89 (1918-2007)
    55
    23

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

    BirthplaceUppsala, Sweden

    The Touch (1971)
    Cries and Whispers (1972)
    The Magic Flute (1975)
    Face to Face (1976)
    The Serpent's Egg (1977)
    Autumn Sonota (1978)
  • 7
    Dimos Dicoudis addedAge: 83
    53
    24

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

    BirthplaceSouth Shields, United Kingdom

    The Duellists (1977)
    Alien (1979)

  • 8
    63
    31

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

    BirthplaceChicago metropolitan area, Illinois, Chicago, United States of America, United States

    The French Connection (1971)
    The Exorcist (1973)
    Sorcerer (1977)
    The Brink's Job (1978)
  • 9
    Dec. at 81 (1925-2006)
    64
    33

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

    BirthplaceKansas City, Missouri, 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)
  • 10
    Mollevangsvagen addedDec. at 60 (1929-1989)
    50
    25

    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

    BirthplaceRome, Italy

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

  • 11
    Dec. at 60 (1927-1987)
    61
    27

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

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, United States of America

    Cabaret (1972)
    Lenny (1974)
    All That Jazz (1979)
  • 12
    Dec. at 73 (1920-1993)
    46
    22

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

    BirthplaceRimini, Europe, Eurasia, Italy, Province of Rimini

    The Clowns (1970)
    Roma (1972)
    Amarcord (1973)
    Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976)
    Orchestra Rehearsal (1978)
  • 13
    Mollevangsvagen addedDec. at 54 (1932-1986)
    52
    29

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

    BirthplaceYuryevetsky District

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

  • 14
    59
    45

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

    BirthplaceParis, France

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

  • 15
    48
    31

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

    BirthplaceČáslav, Czech Republic

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

  • 16
    starwarssuperfan addedAge: 77
    34
    13

    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

    BirthplaceModesto, California, United States of America

  • 17

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

    BirthplaceContiguous United States, New York, United States of America, Ulster County, United States

    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)
  • 18
    Mollevangsvagen addedAge: 85
    34
    26

    Credits (Film)Hitler: A Film from Germany, Parsifal, The Ister, A Dream, What Else?

    BirthplaceNossendorf, Germany

    Sex-Business: Made in Pasing (1970)
    San Domingo (1970)
    Nach meinem letzten Umzug (1970)
    Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King (1972)
    Theodor Hierneis oder Wie man ehem. Hofkoch wird (1972)
    Karl May (1974)
    The Confessions of Winifred Wagner (1975)
    Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977)

  • 19
    Dimos Dicoudis addedDec. at 80 (1927-2007)
    31
    18

    Credits (Film)Cool Hand Luke, The Amityville Horror, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Voyage of the Damned, Brubaker

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    Move (1970)
    WUSA (1970)
    Pocket Money (1972)
    The Laughing Policeman (1973)
    The Drowning Pool (1975)
    The Voyage of the Damned (1976)
    Love and Bullets (1979)
    The Amityville Horror (1979)

  • 20
    Alex Gaginsky addedAge: 93
    25
    12

    Credits (Film)Office Romance, The Irony of Fate, Station for Two, Watch Out for the Automobile, Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia

    BirthplaceSamara, Russia

    Grandads-Robbers (1971)
    Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia (1974)
    The Irony of Fate (1975)
    Office Romance (1977)
    The Garage (1979)

  • 21
    Dec. at 52 (1932-1984)
    32
    24

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

    BirthplaceParis, 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)
  • 22
    Mollevangsvagen addedAge: 81
    27
    21

    Credits (Film)Tenue de soirée, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Never Forget, Going Places, 1

    BirthplaceBoulogne-Billancourt, France

    Going Places (1974)
    Calmos (1976)
    Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1978)
    Buffet froid (1979)

  • 23
    starwarssuperfan addedAge: 74
    8
    0

    Credits (Film)Jaws, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

    BirthplaceCincinnati, Ohio, United States of America

  • 24
    Mollevangsvagen addedAge: 82
    21
    19

    Credits (Film)Allegro Non Troppo, Grasshoppers, Self Service, Rapsodeus, Il signor Rossi cerca la felicità

    BirthplaceLombardy, Eurasia, Italy, Milan, Province of Milan

    Mr. Rossi Looks For Happiness (1976)
    Allegro non troppo (1976)
    Mr. Rossi's vacation (Le vacanze del Signor Rossi, 1976)
    Mr. Rossi's dreams (I sogni del Signor Rossi, 1977)

  • 25
    starwarssuperfan addedAge: 85
    1
    0

    Credits (Film)Rocky, The Karate Kid, Rocky V, The Karate Kid, Part II

    BirthplaceOak Park, Illinois, United States of America

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