Great Whites, Light Sabres, Blockbusters, and Sequels

A group of unknown directors emerged in the early 1970's and would go on to create hugely successful and influential films for the next thirty years. Debut efforts from soon to be household names such as Steven Spielberg (The Sugarland Express, 1973), George Lucas (American Graffiti, 1973), and Martin Scorcesse (Mean Streets, 1973) gave their young autuers instant recognition and credibility. They would go on to make some of Hollywood's most financially successful films over the next three decades. The boom of the early 1970's created a shift in the film industry's overall production. A studio's success was now based on the release of only a few pictures per year. Sequels to Blockbuster films like Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Lucas' Star Wars (1977), Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1971), William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), and John Avildsen's Rocky (1976) gave audiences more of what they loved while providing studios and distributors with the comfort of sure-fire return at the box office. 1970's continued to see creative experimentation from clever writers and directors whose message was often overlooked by audiences entranced by the big budget special effects characteristic of blockbuster films. Sydney Lumet traced the off camera, cutthroat world of television with the cynical comedy Network (1976). Woody Allen showed us love through the eyes of psychologically troubled urban professional Alvi Singer in his sophisticated, romantic comedy Annie Hall (1977). Bob Fosse's All That Jazz chronicled the last days of musical director Joe Gideon as he watched from a prop room at the gates of the after life.