10 Essential Movies That Turn 50 in 2021
From box office blockbusters to cult classics, 1971 was a banner year for movies.
The 10 choices below represent a portion of what hit theaters 50 years ago. You'll read about everything from family fare to selections that caused controversy or needed to be edited to avoid an X rating. The year saw a rise in detective films, including one of the seminal entries in the nascent blaxploitation genre, along with more science fiction movies in the post-2001: A Space Odyssey world and Sean Connery's return to James Bond.
Two of Hollywood's most celebrated directors, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, made their big-screen debuts in 1971. Lucas' THX-1138 showed off some of the futuristic ideas he would soon put to use in Star Wars, while Spielberg's Duel premiered as a made-for-TV movie, but the audience response prompted a cinematic release.
Some were critically praised and won Oscars, while others were panned and flopped, only to find their audience years later. But they all have something special about them, like the iconic car chase in The French Connection or Clint Eastwood's memorable "Do I feel lucky?" line in the original Dirty Harry. Just about the only thing that connects all these films is that they went on to influence generations of filmmakers.
Join us as we look back at some of 1971's seminal films and examine exactly what leaves us still talking, writing and thinking about them a half-century later.