The 1970s was a time of artistic renaissance for American film: a new generation of enthusiastic filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes took independent theatrical theater to grayer, more real and darker realms. At the same time, mainstream movies have become bigger, wilder and grimmer. Reflects the pessimism and economic stagnation of that time, there was a golden era for disaster movies in the 1970s that excited audiences with the possibility of chaos: boats sank, big buses crashed, skyscrapers came down, and nuclear fusion was imminent. These movies shared an affinity for spectacular action scenes, impressive practical effects, and impending death.
Maybe the disaster genre was commercially and critically well received in the 70s because the chaos was spectacular, entertaining and explicitly fictional, unlike the political and economic chaos of real life. Whether you’re a fan or not, the truth remains that disaster movies from the 70’s have created a legacy that resonates to this day. Here are five of the best.
The Airport series of films was so popular in its time that it even led to an even more popular scam, Aircraft! But none of this would have been possible without the magic of the original Airport. The film, released in 1970 and directed by George Seaton, follows the staff of a airport and plane when a blizzard threatens to paralyze the airport while a suicide bomber hijacks a flight. It may sound like a lot is happening at once, which is true, but the film also manages to give viewers a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of an airport. Burt Lancaster plays the manager of the airport who does his best to steer the plane piloted by Dean Martin’s character to safety. The initial critical response to Airport was mixed, with Roger Ebert writes that “the gags are painfully simple (a priest, who pretends to cross himself, punches a wise guy through the face). And the characters talk in regulation B-movie clichés like no B-movie you do in ten years have not seen. ” However, the Academy disagreed, and the film received nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (for legendary designer Edith Head) and Best Supporting Actor for Helen Hayes’ performance, which won the award that night won it. It is undeniable that Airport has inspired many films, and it is considered the one that ignited the disaster trend in the 70s.
4 The Poseidon Adventure
Before there was Titanic, there was The Poseidon Adventure: one of the best disaster-at-sea movies ever made. Directed by Ronal Neame and based on the novel of the same name written by Paul Gallico, the film shows the last voyage of the SS Poseidon as it travels from New York City to Athens, but before the ship meets its destination, the ship is taken over. by a tsunami that traps them in the vessel. The film features a top-notch ensemble cast including names like Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, and Ernest Borgninen. The Poseidon adventure won two Oscars for best visual effects and for best original song, and this resulted in many sequels and a remake in 2006. The film’s legacy still lives on as the most iconic shipwreck film ever and the movie that scared us all to go sailing near a cruise.
3 The Andromeda tribe
While some disaster films have focused on creating somewhat unrealistic and spectacular depictions of chaos, The Andromeda tribe is unique for its scientifically accurate depiction of a deadly organism. Directed by Robert Wise and faithfully based on the novel by Michael Crichton, this science fiction thriller follows a team of scientists trying to save humanity from an invasive and deadly alien organism. In 2003, The Infectious Diseases Association of America argued that The Andromeda tribe is the “most important, scientifically accurate and prototypical of all its films [killer virus] genre … it accurately describes the appearance of a lethal agent, its impact, and attempts to control it, and ultimately the effects of identifying and explaining why certain people are immune to it. “The Andromeda Strain is a forerunner of realistic disaster films such as Infection and Day after tomorrow. This sense of realism was perhaps due to the special effects work of Douglas Trumbull, a master of his art who also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner. The Andromeda tribe was nominated for an Oscar for best art direction and best film editing. The film was remade as a tense mini-series in 2008.
2 The China syndrome
Jane Fonda plays in The China syndrome as a television reporter exposing a series of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. When she tries to show the world what she has found, she is confronted with a conspiracy to hide the possibility of a nuclear meltdown, in which the components of a nuclear reactor around the world would melt into China into the earth. By mixing political intrigue with disaster troop, the film is an exciting experience from start to finish, and unlike many disaster films, it is very realistic and serious, thanks to stars such as Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas and Scott Brady, among others. The China syndrome was so good at predicting the future that only 12 days after its release there was a partial nuclear meltdown in Pennsylvania, which increased the film’s prominence. The China syndrome is one of the best ’70s disaster films, and critics at the time agreed. The film competed for the Palme d’Or and won the Best Actor award for Jack Lemmon at Cannes along with four Oscar nominations, including Best Actor, Actress and Best Screenplay. The China syndrome ask important questions about the energy industry while keeping us on the edge of our seats.
1 The Towering Inferno
The Towering Inferno is the best ’70s disaster movie because it’s a perfect combination of entertainment and film skill. Start with his fantastic cast with screen legends like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, William Holden, and even OJ Simpson among others. Then there is the talent behind the camera: the film was masterfully directed by John Guillermin and produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen from The Poseidon Adventure fame. And then there’s his exciting plot: The Towering Inferno takes place in a poorly built building that on the day of its grand opening catches a fire that threatens to destroy the entire structure and kill everyone inside. This movie is chaotic, frightening and exciting, all of which are the hallmarks of a great disaster movie. The Towering Inferno was the film that earned the most from 1974, and it received eight Oscar nominations and won three for best cinematography, best editing and best original song. The Towering Inferno is as massive as its titular skyscraper, it features fantastic visual effects and many beautiful shots of chaos, which explains why Roger Ebert called it “the best of the mid-1970s wave of disaster movies”. It’s a living proof of the fun and excitement of the 70’s disaster movie.
Over the years, there have been several major disaster films. With that said, there has never been one like Do Not Look Up.
About the author