You know you're a child of the 70s when you went to the cinema to see these classic films…
When Grease came out in June 1978, playgrounds across the nation were awash with Travolta-obsessed schoolgirls re-enacting dance routines that involved stubbing out imaginary cigarettes and squeaking ‘Tell me about it…stud!’, without actually having any idea what a ‘stud’ was!
Cheesy lines aside, we loved everything about this 70s film. The songs, the dance routines, the Pink Ladies. But most of all, we loved John Travolta, his big blue eyes, and the way he uttered ‘But…oh’ at the end of Summer Nights. It’s a miracle we all didn’t combust with lust!
2. Bugsy Malone
Featuring an all-child cast, this classic 70s film became a massive hit with kids and adults alike in 1976. With Happy Days’ Scott Baio playing the lead role of Bugsy and Jodie Foster, then 13, starring as gangster’s moll Tallulah, this 1920’s themed film had great songs and an even greater finale involving ‘splurge guns’ and a whole lot of custard pies. Parents were afraid. Very afraid!
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Much loved by adults now, when this adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released in 1971 it had the dubious honour of scaring the hell out of a generation of children!
Gene Wilder was brilliantly sinister as Willy Wonka, causing naughty kids to come to sticky ends such as falling down a rubbish chute, being shrunk to a few inches tall, and blowing up into a giant blueberry.
And lest we forget the fantastic orange faced, green haired Oompa Loompas adding to the surreal mix. Bonkers, brilliant and more than a bit creepy, this is one 70s film we still love to watch today!
4. The Herbie films
It might sound crazy now, but in the early 70s kids were crazy for Herbie – a Volkswagen Beetle with a personality all of his own! Able to drive himself, Herbie would get his ‘owner’ – who would always be entering Herbie into road races and rallys – into all kinds of scrapes.
Ok, we appreciate this sounds a bit lame in these days. But trust us, back in the day these Disney films were top entertainment. And Herbie was kinda cute!
5. The Railway Children
Though released right at the start of the decade, this 70s film, based on the book by E. Nesbit soon became a kids’ classic, often being repeated on TV throughout the 70s.
Starring Jenny Agutter and Sally Thomsett, and set in Edwardian Britain, the film tells the story of three children forced to move to Yorkshire after their father is wrongly imprisoned as a spy.
The children spend most of their time watching the steam trains go by, waving at passengers, and having the odd adventure such as preventing a train crashing into a landslide. Cripes!
A happy ending is ensured when an old man they befriend on the railway manages to prove their father has been wrongly imprisoned.
We defy you not to blub when Jenny Agutter, finally reunited with her father, cries out ‘Daddy, my daddy!’ in the closing minutes of the film.
6. Star Wars
When it was released in 1977 no one could have known what a phenomena the Star Wars franchise would become, spawning a whole series of films and merchandise, and a worldwide following so obsessive that 31 years after its release a new religion ‘The Church of Jediism’ was founded. As Yoda would say – bonkers it is!
7. Watership Down
From the moment you hear the haunting strains of Art Garfunkle’s ‘Bright Eyes’ you know you’re going to be in for an emotional rollercoaster when watching this 70s film.
Based on the Richard Adam’s novel, this 1978 animated movie follows the adventures of a group of rabbits fleeing the destruction of their warren and the wicked rabbit police – the Owsla. We’re not going to give the ending away, but let’s just say when the ‘Black Rabbit of Inle’ appears at the end of the film, make sure you’ve got your hankies ready!
8. Saturday Night Fever
When we think of Saturday Night Fever, we tend to picture John Travolta finger pointing in his white suit and the Bee Gees belting out their disco classics. Real ‘family favourite’ stuff.
Only, when it was first released in December 1977, Saturday Night Fever had an adult rating due to its violent and sexual content, as well as its bad language. It was a film for grown ups, not us kids.
But when the mega-hit movie Grease established John Travolta as a major teeny heartthrob just six months later, everything changed. Studio bosses swiftly re-released Saturday Night Fever with all the controversial content removed, ensuring us kiddies could get in on the fab disco action too. Yay!
If you’re a child of the 70s you only have to hear the Jaws theme tune – that menacing tuba building up into a frenzied crescendo – and suddenly you’re 7 again and want to hide behind a sofa cushion and cling to your mummy!
OK, so in these days of awesome special effects the shark now looks decidedly rubbery, but back in 1975 it was truly terrifying. And its legacy lives on. Just try shouting ‘shark!’ on any busy beach and see what happens (or maybe don’t actually!!)
So what were your favourite films of the 70s?