'The French Connection' (1971)
Gene Hackman stars as Popeye Doyle, a street-smart cop on the trail of one of the biggest shipments of heroin ever to enter New York City. The film won Academy Awards for Hackman as best actor, William Friedkin, it's director, best screenplay and editing as well as the Best Picture of 1971. It also has one of the greatest chase scenes ever put on film.
In an effort to capture the attention of black audiences, Hollywood decided to create a black hero with urban sensibilities. Richard Roundtree played private detective John Shaft: Hard hitting, street smart and with style to spare, Shaft was a revelation. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award for the film's theme song ... "who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? ... Shaft! Can ya dig it?"
'Dirty Harry' (1971)
The poster for 'Dirty Harry' read, "Detective Harry Callahan. He doesn't break murder cases. He smashes them!" Played by Clint Eastwood, Callahan carries a big gun, shoots first and asks questions later. He's more concerned with justice than the law. San Francisco is the backdrop for this gritty and violent crime story. Well before Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone took short cuts to catch criminals, Eastwood was the original bad boy.
'Walking Tall' (1973)
Based on the life of a real Tennessee law man who single-handedly cleaned up crime in his own town, 'Walking Tall' gave a country flair to the action genre. The hero of the story, Buford Pusser, is played by Joe Don Baker, a towering, broad shouldered actor with a heavy Texas drawl. Rather than a big gun, Sheriff Pusser carries a big stick to dole out justice. It was the surprise hit of '73.
'Enter the Dragon' (1974)
Bruce Lee had charisma, good looks and a punch that could level a man from one inch away. Lee is considered the greatest icon of the marital arts genre. Having won over American audiences on TV as Kato in 'The Green Hornet,' which lasted only one season, America was hungry to see Lee in his own film. One on one, multiple attackers, unarmed or with nun-chucks, Bruce Lee does it all in this film. 'Enter the Dragon' was the last film that Lee completed before his death at age 32.
'Star Wars' (1977)
The film is a legend of the sci-fi genre, and is packed with non-stop action. Light-saber duels, laser-gun fights, chase scenes and aerial battles, all in George Lucas' amazing world of long ago and far away. It made stars of Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and started a series of films that were the most lucrative in the history of motion pictures.
'The Warriors' (1979)
Gangs in painted faces and wild costumes go at each other for control of New York City. The Warriors are a gang on the run, trying to cross town to get back to their own turf after a truce with the other gangs in the city falls apart. The film's director was Walter Hill, who would go on to direct such classics as 'Southern Comfort' and '48 Hours.'