Art Vs Commerce: Dawn of the Blockbuster (1970s)

My Personal Ranking

Been nearly 20 years since something cracked the Top Five, and not only has that happened, the Top Two became a game of inches. So let’s see the rankings, five decades in. Now with years, so we can start to see which decade brought the most to Oscar history.

  1. Casablanca (1943)
  2. The Godfather (1972)
  3. It Happened One Night (1934)
  4. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
  7. On The Waterfront (1954)
  8. All About Eve (1950)
  9. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  10. The Apartment (1960)
  11. In The Heat of the Night (1967)
  12. The Sting (1973)
  13. Rocky (1976)
  14. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  15. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  17. Cimarron (1931)
  18. The French Connection (1971)
  19. Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)
  20. Annie Hall (1977)
  21. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  22. Going My Way (1945)
  23. Rebecca (1940)
  24. Wings (1928)
  25. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  26. West Side Story (1961)
  27. The Sound of Music (1965)
  28. Hamlet (1948)
  29. My Fair Lady (1964)
  30. Patton (1970)
  31. Marty (1955)
  32. You Can’t Take It With You (1938)
  33. The Grand Hotel (1932)
  34. An American in Paris (1951)
  35. Gigi (1958)
  36. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  37. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
  38. Around The World in 80 Days (1956)
  39. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  40. Oliver! (1968)
  41. A Man For All Seasons (1966)
  42. Tom Jones (1963)
  43. Ben-Hur (1959)
  44. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
  45. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  46. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  47. All the King’s Men (1949)
  48. From Here To Eternity (1953)
  49. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  50. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  51. The Broadway Melody (1929)
  52. Cavalcade (1933)

The Top 20 is 40% 70s movies, at least twice as many as any other decade, and there has been a significant improvement in blockbusters since Hawaii or the bible epics of the 50s and early 60s. So I’d call New Hollywood a raging success. Sorry, Quentin Tarantino, movies as whole seem to have gotten better after the 60s.

Parting Thoughts

The Blockbuster had arrived, and there was no going back. But you know who I feel bad for? Not the Oscars, on the beginning of their slow slide out of relevance, they did that to themselves. Not critics who wish the blockbuster genie could go back in the bottle, those joyless pedants can leave me to love my superheroes. No, I feel bad for Irwin Allen. The Master of Disaster.

He jumped into the disaster genre and gave it its biggest successes, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. People compared him to DeMille or P.T. Barnum. Inferno got him a Best Picture nomination. He was on top of the world… and then one year later Spielberg pits three men in a small boat against a pissed-off shark and the disaster genre collapses. Even Smokey and the Bandit made Towering Inferno look like small potatoes. Saturday Night Fever nearly doubled Towering Inferno’s gross and it came in fourth that year. I said, after Ben-Hur, that genres don’t end after their biggest success, but 70s disaster movies may as well have once Spielberg and Lucas showed up. The biggest year for disaster movies was also their last hurrah.

But it means we have some great stuff coming in the 80s, so fine. Great stuff. And also Chariots of Fire.

See you then.

Author: danny_g

Danny G, your humble host and blogger, has been working in community theatre since 1996, travelling the globe on and off since 1980, and caring more about nerd stuff than he should since before he can remember. And now he shares all of that with you.

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