7 movies from the '70s to binge watch

“The Seventies” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Thursdays on CNN US

‘The Conversation’ (1974)

Though conceived long before Watergate, Francis Ford Coppola’s story of domestic surveillance, wiretaps and dirty tricks evokes a chilling paranoia that would no doubt have been familiar to the Nixon White House — and to us in a era in which the limits of privacy are tested by the NSA and by cyberattacks from overseas.


‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)

“The Seventies” episode “Peace With Honor” offered a glimpse at the chaos in the final days of the Vietnam War. Francis Ford Coppola captured some of that chaos in this recasting of Robert Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”

In reviewing the film on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, film critic Roger Ebert celebrated “Apocalypse Now” as “the best Vietnam [War] film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul.”

‘Taxi Driver’ (1976)

In the 1970s, long before “The Lion King” took up residence in Times Square, New York’s 42nd Street was the dirty, seedy heart of a city tarnished by vice and violent crime.

Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece captured that time and place, using it as a petri dish for one of cinema’s great anti-heroes, Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle.

‘The French Connection’ (1971) and ‘Serpico’ (1973)

Here are two more films that explore crime in New York, this time from the police point of view. Both were based on nonfiction accounts of actual detectives. William Friedkin’s “The French Connection” unraveled the working of the international heroin trade. Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico” went undercover to exposure corruption in the police force. Both films were shot on location, documenting a landscape marked by graffiti and garbage.

“The Seventies” will tackle the subject of “Crimes and Cults,” including New York’s infamous “Son of Sam,” in the July 9 episode.

‘The Exorcist’ (1974)

As “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” redefined science fiction in the ’70s, two films set the standard for horror in the decade.

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978), which gave birth to the “slasher” genre, is alas not available for streaming, but William Friedkin’s influential masterpiece, “The Exorcist,” is. The film garnered 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture, best director and acting nominations for three of its stars, and won two including best adapted screenplay.

‘Saturday Night Fever’ (1977)

The season finale of “The Seventies” will look at the music of the decade, with a special focus on the rise of disco and punk. If you can’t wait, groove to the Bee Gees’ songs and John Travolta’s unforgettable dance moves in this ’70s classic.

While the story of disco is rooted in African-American and gay culture, the mainstream success of “Saturday Night Fever” and its seven No. 1 hit singles marked a time when, across America, disco was indisputably king.

Of course, if you missed any of the first three episodes of “The Seventies,” you can watch them on demand and on CNNgo. The series returns to CNN at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Thursday, July 9.

What’s your ’70s IQ? Take our quiz and find out.

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