↑ Black Sunday
↑ The Hindenburg
1970s disaster films, ranked by personal preference. I find the disaster genre an interesting one, and I think several disaster flicks are quite underappreciated. The genre attracted some well-known directors (Robert Wise, John Frankenheimer, Mark Robson, Richard Lester, etc). While most disaster films are quite conventionally made, The Cassandra Crossing and The Hindenburg are both sometimes very experimental with visuals and editing, and they’re the disaster films I find most cinematically interesting. Some of the best disaster films take what I find to be an Altman-esque approach to narrative – in Two Minute Warning, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno or Airport, there are multiple intersecting narratives, a big cast of characters, and no obvious heroes. And some of those films make some daring narrative choices, though I won’t spoil anything by revealing which ones!
I think the first six films on the list below are very good, while the ones from 11 down are almost unwatchably bad. There are several late 1970s disaster films, none well-regarded, that I have yet to see. And they don’t appear to be in the mubi database, but Concorde… Airport ‘79 (1979, David Lowell Rich) would have been 14th, and Damnation Alley (1977, Jack Smight), very probably the worst film I have ever seen, would have been dead last (edit – both added!). One disaster film I haven’t seen that I think might be worthwhile is Jan Troell’s Hurricane (1979), a remake of the John Ford film from 1937, and while it isn’t well-reviewed, James Goldstone’s When Time Ran Out (1980) was one of the last big-budget disaster films from the period, and one I hope to see soon.Read less