1976 Movies

Plex's 1976 movie database is a great way to explore classic and forgotten films from that era. Our database houses easy-to-navigate links to watch the best of what 1976 had to offer. From Academy Award-winning movies to historical dramas - Plex has you covered with all things 1976. Take a trip down memory lane and explore some of these classic films today!
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The Best Movies of 1976

All the President's Men

"All the President's Men" is based on a non-fiction work of the same title by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, published in 1974. It presents the investigative journey undertaken by two Washington Post reporters, represented by actors Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. The narrative focuses on the infamous Watergate crisis that led to U.S. President Richard Nixon's resignation.

The movie is often cited as a classic in both journalism-themed films and the New Hollywood movement. The timeless narrative encourages viewers to keep their eyes on financial motivations and power structures in politics. Hoffman and Redford effectively convey their characters' awe and determination as they navigate their roles as investigative journalists. The supporting cast is equally impressive, contributing to a well-rounded cinematic production.


"Network" introduces us to Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a seasoned news anchor who, after being demoted, announces on-air his intention to end his life during his final broadcast. His outburst leads to a reconsideration by network executives when the incident results in a spike in ratings.

"Network" successfully communicates several advanced concepts that are remarkably relevant to present times. It manages to balance heavy drama with humorous moments that induce laughter. The dialogue, characterized by its quick pace and biting wit, alternates between cynical humor and solemn introspection, elevating the drama of each conversation.

The Outlaw Josey Wales

"The Outlaw Josey Wales" follows the story of a Missouri farmer, played by Clint Eastwood, who turns vengeful after witnessing the murder of his family by Union soldiers during the Civil War. He joins a Confederate guerrilla group and becomes renowned as a fearsome gunfighter.

This film is one of Eastwood's most notable works, captivating viewers despite its extended running time. Eastwood's portrayal of Wales stands out due to the broad range of emotions he manages to convey while maintaining his signature minimalist acting style. It is considered one of the best character studies in the Western genre.

The Omen

"The Omen'' revolves around Damien Thorn (Harvey Stephens), a young child unknowingly switched at birth by his father after their biological child tragically passed away shortly after birth. As Damien grows older, a series of horrific events and mysterious deaths ensue, leading his parents to discover that he is the foretold Antichrist.

The film's pacing, under the direction of Richard Donner, builds a consistent sense of dread punctuated by dark humor. The concluding sequence, possibly one of the most frightening in any film, showcases Donner's talent as a director. "The Omen" was a successful film that raised the bar for horror films of its time.

Taxi Driver

"Taxi Driver," tells the story of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a former Marine who takes up a job as a cab driver to battle his insomnia. As he navigates the streets of New York City, his sense of belonging and purpose begins to unravel, especially as he embarks on a mission to rescue a young girl from prostitution.

This film by Scorsese offers a visceral depiction of American urban life in the 1970s, capturing themes of alienation, rage, and despair. Despite the violent and harsh themes it tackles, "Taxi Driver" is a film that has significantly influenced American cinema and is a viewing experience that leaves a lasting impact.


During our journey through 1976, we cannot neglect "Rocky." This film introduces us to the titular character, played by Sylvester Stallone. An underdog boxer from a small town, Rocky is given a chance to compete against Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion, played by Carl Weathers. This film offers a close look at sections of American society, enriched by classical music and scenes that have since begun a tale spanning decades. The narrative, circling around a man discovering his potential and finding the person he wants to spend his life with, never ceases to inspire. Stallone, in his endearing performance, builds one of cinema's most cherished characters, echoing aspects of his own life.

The Last Tycoon

A captivating film based on the screenplay by Harold Pinter for F. Scott Fitzgerald's incomplete novel, "The Last Tycoon," is a must-mention. The narrative orbits Monroe Stahr, portrayed by Robert De Niro, a film producer and a rising star in 1930s Hollywood. Stahr has the power to make the impossible happen, even if it involves bending some rules. The characters of Rodriguez and Didi, played by Tony Curtis and Jeanne Moreau respectively, are prominent performers in Stahr's latest film, anticipated to be a huge success upon release. "The Last Tycoon" enhances the historical gangster genre, painting a picture of the triad's influence in 1930s Shanghai on the brink of conflict with an encroaching Japan. Moreover, De Niro reaffirms his prowess, particularly shining in scenes focusing on film industry operations.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

Another notable film of 1976 is "The Man Who Fell to Earth." It is about an extraterrestrial being, portrayed by David Bowie, who lands on Earth to secure water for his dying planet. He establishes a prosperous and technologically advanced business to build a spacecraft for transporting water. However, when the government intercepts him, his plans face jeopardy. Director Nicholas Roeg brings a unique touch to the story by setting it in a meticulously analyzed contemporary America and selecting David Bowie for the lead role, providing the narrative with renewed relevance. Moreover, the film leaves a profound impact through the portrayal of the alien's profound, fragmented grief.

The Tenant

"The Tenant," the final piece of Roman Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy," is another film worth discussing. The narrative focuses on a Polish file clerk who moves into a peculiar apartment building in Paris, taking over the apartment of a woman who had a fatal fall from her window. "The Tenant" is an underrated masterpiece from Polanski, unsettling viewers with its psychological thriller elements, which weave a narrative around paranoia and dual identities. Though it initially received negative reviews, it has since gained cult status, primarily for its double climax, one of cinema's most terrifying.


The final film to be mentioned here is "Carrie." The central character, played by Sissy Spacek, possesses telekinetic abilities, though she is tormented and ostracized by her peers. At her prom, she uses her powers with lethal results when a group of popular students play a harsh prank on her. "Carrie" has left a significant mark on popular culture, and numerous publications recognize it as one of the top horror films. Additionally, director Brian De Palma gets closer to perfecting Hitchcock's signature style of horror and tension with each film he makes.

1976 Movies & Industry Highlights

In 1976, some truly remarkable films took center stage. This was a year where cinema-goers were treated to an interesting mix of drama, action, and horror. Some films made a mark due to their high-grossing nature, while others were noteworthy for the innovative ideas and storytelling they brought to the table.

Highest-Grossing Films

One such film, "Rocky," released by United Artists, grossed an impressive $55,900,000, making it the highest-grossing film in North America in 1976. A drama about a small-time boxer getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ, it captured the hearts of viewers and was highly acclaimed.

"A Star Is Born," distributed by Warner Bros., ranked second with a domestic rental revenue of $37.1M. It was closely followed by "King Kong," released by Paramount Pictures, which garnered $36.9M. Other notable mentions include "Silver Streak," "All the President's Men," "The Omen," "The Bad News Bears," "The Enforcer," "In Search of Noah's Ark," and "Midway."

Important Events in 1976

Along with these groundbreaking films, the year was full of pivotal industry events that forever shaped the film landscape.

Significant Industry Developments

In January of that year, Paramount Pictures established a separate motion picture division and appointed David V. Picker as its president. Paramount Pictures was also part of another major development in November when Michael Eisner was appointed as the company's president and CEO.

Another significant development was in August when Alan Ladd Jr. was promoted from head of worldwide production to president of 20th Century Fox's film division.

Filming Milestones

On March 22nd, filming started on George Lucas' Star Wars, a science fiction film that revolutionized the genre. In an astute business decision, Lucas turned down his directing fee of $500,000 in exchange for complete ownership of merchandising and sequel rights. This move, a significant gamble at the time, paid off handsomely and laid the groundwork for a movie franchise that has transcended generations.

In April, Alfred Hitchcock, one of the greatest directors in cinema history, released his last film, "Family Plot." August saw the release of John Wayne's final film, "The Shootist," marking the end of an era for this beloved actor.

Technical Advancements

A milestone for film technology came in December with the debut of "Bound for Glory." This was the first motion picture to use the new Steadicam for filming moving scenes. This invention by Garrett Brown has revolutionized the way motion pictures are shot, allowing for more dynamic and immersive scenes.

Movie Releases and Their Impact

Two movies had particularly lasting impacts. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was re-released as a midnight movie in April, a move that created a cult following and a tradition that is still alive today. Later in the year, "Rocky" was released in November. This film, which became the highest-grossing movie of 1976, was awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture, cementing its place in cinema history.

"King Kong," released in December, also had a significant impact, opening to the highest weekend gross of the year.