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Stanley Kubrick once named his 30 favourite films from the 1970s

The cinematic output of Stanley Kubrick is simply stunning, ranging from noir classics such as The Killing to all-encompassing, all-consuming masterpieces like 2001: A Space Odyssey. While many of his films were misunderstood when they were first introduced to audiences, Kubrick’s legacy continues to grow in stature and they remain a vital part of the discourse surrounding cinematic art.

Although he never got a formal education in filmmaking, Kubrick developed a strong interest in the art-form in his youth. Starting out as a photographer, he developed his visual flair while studying the works of great masters such as Elia Kazan and Max Ophüls who influenced him tremendously at the start of his directorial journey.

Alongside the classics of world cinema, Kubrick also paid close attention to contemporary gems and the filmmakers behind them. The 1970s was an important period for Kubrick during which he directed two of his greatest films – A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon – following the towering artistic achievements of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

While talking about some of the other films that came out during that time, Kubrick named popular classics such as The Godfather as well as comedies like The Jerk. Even though Kubrick’s right-hand man Jan Harlan said that Kubrick only liked the film because of Steve Martin’s performance, it was reported that he often quoted lines from the movie.

Kubrick also commented on the career choices of George Lucas, citing American Graffiti as one of his top picks: If I made as much money as George Lucas, I would not decide to become a studio mogul. I cannot understand why he doesn’t want to direct films anymore, because American Graffiti and even Star Wars were very good.”

He also mentioned cult works of art like David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Lynch later revealed that Kubrick borrowed inspiration from the film while venturing into the horror genre with his 1980 masterpiece The Shining. He even screened it for the cast and crew of The Shining to “put them in the mood”. Lynch later declared: “It wasn’t one of his favourites, it was his favourite.”

Check out the full list below.

Stanley Kubrick’s favourite films from the 1970s:

  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, 1970)
  • The Emigrants (Jan Troell, 1971)
  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
  • Get Carter (Mike Hodges, 1971)
  • Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
  • Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)
  • Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)
  • Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
  • Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
  • The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
  • American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)
  • La bonne année (Claude Lelouch, 1973)
  • The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
  • The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)
  • The Terminal Man (Mike Hodges, 1974)
  • The Cars that Ate Paris (Peter Weir, 1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
  • Cría Cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976)
  • Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
  • Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
  • Abigail’s Party (Mike Leigh, 1977)
  • Girlfriends (Claudia Weill, 1978)
  • The Jerk (Carl Reiner, 1979)
  • Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  • Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
  • Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

In his extensive list, Kubrick also noted the importance of Claudia Weill’s 1978 masterpiece Girlfriends. An essential exploration of female friendship, Girlfriends was a welcome deviation from the male-centric cinematic visions that were prevalent during the ’70s.

Kubrick said: “I think one of the most interesting Hollywood films, well not Hollywood – American films – that I’ve seen in a long time is Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends. That film, I thought, was one of the very rare American films that I would compare with the serious, intelligent, sensitive writing and filmmaking that you find in the best directors in Europe. It wasn’t a success, I don’t know why; it should have been.”

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