1973 Movies

Eager to journey through 1973's cinematic offerings? Plex is your guide. You'll find game-changers like "The Exorcist," which turned horror inside out, alongside "The Sting," a crime flick that still sets the standard. No need to wade through endless lists; our organized database makes finding your next must-watch quick and painless.
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The Best Movies of 1973

The Exorcist, American Graffiti, The Sting, and Enter the Dragon are just some of the movies that have become iconic in 1973. Let's take a closer look at some of the best movies from that year.

The Exorcist

As one of the iconic films in the horror genre, The Exorcist confronts audiences with a bone-chilling tale that centers on the demonic possession of young Regan MacNeil. The sheer terror induced by the movie made it a box office success. Rarely do horror films receive accolades from academies, but The Exorcist broke the mold by winning two Oscars and getting nominated for eight more.

Paper Moon

Set against the backdrop of the 1930s Great Depression, Paper Moon is a heartwarming yet cunning tale of Moses Pray and his young daughter Addie. The film introduces us to an America burdened by economic hardships, creating fertile ground for Moses and Addie's small-time cons. Tatum O'Neal's debut is nothing short of sensational. Her role as the precocious and equally manipulative Addie won her an Oscar, setting a record for the youngest-ever winner.

Mean Streets

Martin Scorsese's early work, Mean Streets, revolves around Charlie, portrayed by Harvey Keitel. Living in New York City, he confronts difficult choices related to his family's Mafia affiliations and his unpredictable friend, Johnny Boy, played by Robert De Niro. This film marked the onset of Scorsese's affinity for mob-centric narratives, a recurring theme in many of his later works. This film was the genesis of the longstanding collaborative relationship between Scorsese and De Niro, a partnership that has led to the creation of ten films.

Enter the Dragon

This film marks Bruce Lee's most notable work and leaves a mark on martial arts films and action movies alike. Recruited by British intelligence, Lee's character participates in an exclusive fighting tournament, uncovering a dark secret that links to his past. The film's narrative structure has inspired various aspects of popular culture, including video games like Mortal Kombat and Tekken.


This intense drama stars Al Pacino as Frank Serpico, an incorruptible police officer who finds himself surrounded by corruption within the New York Police Department. The story unfolds as he makes strenuous efforts to expose the corruption, putting his life at stake in the process. Based on a true story, the film offers a gripping narrative and features one of Pacino's most memorable performances, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination.

The Wicker Man

Sergeant Howie, enacted by Edward Woodward, travels to a secluded Scottish island to investigate a young girl's disappearance. He becomes enmeshed in a society with unconventional Pagan practices, triggering a tension between his Christian beliefs and the islanders' rituals. Known as a seminal folk horror film, The Wicker Man has influenced numerous subsequent entries in the genre. A less successful remake starred Nicolas Cage, memorable for his over-the-top lines like "no, not the bees!"

The Sting

Featuring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, The Sting is a well-crafted crime drama that seamlessly blends humor, wit, and suspense. After his partner is killed, Johnny Hooker teams up with veteran swindler Henry Gondorff to avenge his death. The result is a cleverly executed scam that leaves audiences both entertained and intrigued. Winning the Oscar for Best Picture, the film's influence on crime comedies remains indelible.


This gripping drama features Steve McQueen as Papillon, a character sentenced for murder and confined in a penitentiary set in a perilous French jungle. Unlike other prison break films that usually focus on compelling action sequences, this one takes a different route. Papillon provides a sobering look into the brutal conditions and inhumane labor that prisoners face. Alongside him is Louis Dega, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, a forger who becomes an integral part of Papillon's daring escape plan. The film notably diverges from a high-octane portrayal to focus on the bleakness of their circumstances.

Robin Hood

In 1973, Disney introduced its unique rendition of Robin Hood, with characters represented as animals. In this animated classic, Robin Hood is a fox who redistributes wealth from the affluent to the impoverished. Accompanied by his loyal band of Merry Men, Robin opposes the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. Though met with ambivalence upon its release, the film has achieved enduring appeal across multiple generations. It's evident that the anthropomorphic approach in the film also inspired other animations, notably Zootopia.

1973 Movies & Industry Highlights

Top-Grossing Films of 1973 in North America

The Exorcist Leading the box office in North America was The Exorcist, a Warner Bros. Pictures production. Garnering $88,500,000 in domestic rentals, this horror classic became a cultural phenomenon. The movie is particularly known for bringing prestige to the horror genre by earning accolades that are usually reserved for dramas and biographies.

The Sting Following closely was The Sting, which earned Universal Pictures $79,000,000 in domestic rentals. Featuring icons Robert Redford and Paul Newman, this crime caper movie was lauded for its screenplay and garnered several awards, including Best Picture.

Top-Grossing Films Worldwide

While we have fairly detailed data for North American rentals, worldwide figures are somewhat scarce. However, some impressive numbers are worth mentioning:

The Exorcist: Garnered a worldwide gross revenue of $441,306,145.

Enter the Dragon: Secured $400,000,000 in worldwide revenue.

Live and Let Die: Earned $161,800,000 globally.

1973's Influence Abroad


The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob topped the charts in France with 7,295,727 admissions. The film was produced by SNC.


In Germany, the film Papillon had a significant impact, earning 8,500,000 admissions.


The Indian film Bobby by R. K. Films broke barriers by earning ₹110,000,000 ($14,210,000).

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, The House of 72 Tenants from Shaw Brothers Studio earned HK$5,600,000.

Pivotal Events of 1973

  • March: Five Fingers of Death was released in the United States, starting a newfound North American fascination for kung fu movies.
  • April 11: Kim Jong-il published his film treatise On the Art of the Cinema.
  • May 1: Zeppo Marx, one of the Marx Brothers, ended his marriage with his second wife, Barbara Blakely.
  • July 20: Bruce Lee passed away just before the release of Enter the Dragon on July 26, which became a hit.
  • August 17: Westworld became the first feature film to incorporate digital image processing.
  • December 25: The Sting was released, later becoming one of the most financially successful films ever.
  • December 26: The Exorcist was released, invigorating the horror genre and becoming a cultural milestone.