Ever notice how cop movies tend to go with the times? By that it’s meant that the cops become harder or go lighter on crime per the trend in a given decade. In the 70s cops seemed pretty ready to throw down with just about anyone at any given time in a lot of movies. The propensity for pulling out their guns and firing off at the bad guy even when a crowd was around kind of gave cops a bad name for a while since standard procedures don’t often allow such actions. But for all that the cop movies of the 70s were still action-packed and dealt with a wide array of problems both personal and professional that allowed people to feel a kinship with the characters since these types of movies tend to be just a little more real on an average basis and don’t get so wild as to be highly unbelievable.
Here are a few of the best cop movies from the 70s.
5. Death Wish
Obviously the cops in this movie weren’t able to or couldn’t do their job so someone went out and did it for them. Charles Bronson wasn’t the most physically imposing person you’d ever meet but he had a manner about him that was anything but gentle when he really got into the swing of offing bad guys. Of course if someone goes after your family and takes them from you the idea is that you’re not going to sit back and just take it while the cops follow leads and do what they can to apprehend the killer and bring them to the type of justice that will either give them free room and board or let them go on a technicality. That just wasn’t Bronson’s style.
4. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
When you first look at this movie you get the feeling that the criminals have pulled the dumbest stunt possible since despite having hostages they really have nowhere to go. But as you see throughout the movie they did manage to plan everything as much as was needed and had an escape contingency all mapped out ahead of time that the cops and everyone else didn’t seem to remember or even think about being possible. Cops are sometimes painted as being pretty inept but this is one of those movies that you feel that the word “duh” could be appropriate simply because if one is going to be catching criminals they need to think about every possible angle that might be used.
There are examples of those in the movies that are in fact good cops and want to put a stop to corruption and the kind of thing that cops are suspected of even in the real world. But the price those individuals have to pay, as is evident in Serpico, is that they will be hounded, abused, and in many ways disowned since the police force supposedly creates a bond between officers in many areas that is not to be tested and a loyalty that is not to be betrayed. But when Serpico had enough, especially after being shot in the face, he took the leap and testified, but then he managed to get out of town without hesitation.
2. The French Connection
Not all cops that are tough are dirty. Some of them are good cops, but they stretch the boundaries as to what they’re really allowed to do. Popeye Doyle is one of those type since he’s hard on criminals and let’s them know just who’s the law around town. He didn’t mince words and he surely didn’t go easy on anyone unless it was the way to get the information he needed. For the most part Popeye was the guy that you paid attention to when he was around, otherwise he might have seen to it that you were MADE to pay attention to him. This is the kind of cop that people rail against these days, but back in the day he was the kind of cop that fans loved.
1. Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry is an absolute legend when it comes to cop movies and it’s largely because he usually followed his own rules and followed those of the department when he felt like it. Clint Eastwood managed to create a character that a lot of people looked up to and wanted to be like, at least in terms of his character. The movies that came after this one were fairly well received but this one stands as the absolute legend that managed to get everyone interested since it was the one in which one of his most iconic sayings was first uttered. Since then Dirty Harry has been used as a measuring stick for many other movies that have tried to recapture the magic of this film.
Cops back then were fairly trigger happy it seems.