Let’s journey back in time, guided by the flickering light of the projector, to find ourselves surrounded by the nostalgic charm and enduring appeal of the best family movies of the 70s.
The 1970s was a decade of change and innovation, both in the culture at large and in the film industry. From animated features to adventure films, the 70s produced some of the most memorable family movies of all time.
And people today still love to watch them!
Long before the invention of the modern streaming service, families would enjoy time together with a trip to the movie theater. They would make a whole night out of it to see the best movies on the big screen.
Films like The Aristocats, The Rescuers, and The Muppet Movie continue to be adored by audiences, while others like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory have become cult classics.
These films etched themselves into our imaginations, shaping not only our childhoods but also the trajectory of the American film industry.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at some of the best family films of the 1970s. Join us as we embark on an exploration of all-time classics from best pictures to kid’s movies that will become your child’s favorite!
These family classics are sure to be a delight at your next movie night.
The Top 10 Best Family Movies of the 70s
The 1970s was a decade of great family movies that have stood the test of time. Here are the top 10 best family movies of the 70s.
Star Wars (1977)
The heroic journey of Luke Skywalker and his connection with the enigmatic force resonated with audiences globally.
The flick’s groundbreaking special effects and captivating storytelling set a new standard for science fiction, paving the way for generations of future filmmakers.
The entire Star Wars saga (and cultural behemoth) began in the 70s with the release of Episode 1, A New Hope on the big screen. And yes, I said Episode 1.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The musical fantasy film, which Roger Ebert said provides “genuine imagination,” stars Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and a group of children as they tour Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.
The Aristocats (1970)
Who couldn’t love this story of a family of aristocratic cats who are kidnapped and must find their way back home with the help of an alley cat?
Full of great music and good times, this classic animation is great for the entire family.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Using an innovative combination of live-action and animation, this classic family film from Disney tells the story of three children who are sent to live with a woman who is a witch-in-training.
The children must help her find a magical spell to save England from the Nazis during World War II.
Charlotte’s Web (1973)
We all remember the first time we saw Charlotte’s Web!
This animated movie is based on the beloved children’s book by E.B. White and tells the story of a spider who befriends a pig and tries to save him from being slaughtered. Perfect for those in Elementary school.
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
This live-action movie from Disney tells the story of two orphaned siblings who have magical powers and are pursued by a millionaire who wants to exploit their abilities.
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Surely, before the 1970s, no one would have expected a puppet show to become an all-time family classic, with additional feature films, specials, and TV series being released nearly every year.
This is the original movie that started it all. The Muppet Movie follows Kermit the Frog as he sets out to make it big in Hollywood, all with the help of his friends.
This musical comedy film introduced the world to Jim Henson’s beloved Muppets and tells the story of how they came together to make…a movie.
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The Rescuers (1977)
The Rescuers tells the story of two mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca, who set out to rescue a kidnapped girl.
The high-flying adventure flick features delightful animation and has captured the hearts of youngsters for generations.
Watership Down (1978)
This animated movie tells the story of a group of rabbits who must find a new home after their warren is destroyed.
Based on the beloved novel of the same name by Richard Adams.
1970s Family Movie Re-Releases
Before the advent of home video, movies relied on theatrical second runs and television broadcasts to maintain or create a fresh groundswell of popularity.
Here are a few family films that secured their classic status in the 1970s.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This classic movie was re-released in the 70s and continues to captivate audiences of all ages.
It’s a delightful story of a young girl who is transported to a magical land and goes on a journey to find her way back home.
Related: Non-Animated Family Movies
The second full-length Disney film, re-released in the 70s, tells the story of a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy.
Pinocchio’s journey is full of timeless life lessons, making it one of the best-animated films for your kiddos and their best friends to watch.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Could you imagine if this movie never existed?
While not re-released in the theaters, the story of how Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey became a Christmas staple is well known.
If you haven’t heard, in brief, it’s this: The movie didn’t even recover its budget upon release, so the studio didn’t bother to renew its copyright.
In 1974 it fell into the public domain, so TV stations could show it without any licensing or royalty fees. Of course, they would show it around the holidays, and a Christmas tradition was born.
More Great Family Movies from the 1970s
Here are some more great family movies from the 1970s that are worth watching.
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) – Don Knotts stars as a bumbling outlaw in this fun western comedy for the whole family.
- The Black Stallion (1979) – A young boy and a mysterious Arabian stallion develop a special bond in this visually stunning and emotionally thrilling adaptation of the classic children’s book.
- The Cat from Outer Space (1978) – An alien (who happens to look exactly like a cat) crashes his spaceship on Earth and enlists the help of a scientist to repair his ship in this silly sci-fi adventure.
- Freaky Friday (1976) – A coming-of-age movie starring a young Jodie Foster, where a mother and daughter switch bodies, learning valuable lessons about each other’s lives in this charming comedy.
- The Last Dinosaur (1977) – A group of adventurers discover a prehistoric world hidden in the Arctic in this cheesy but entertaining B-movie.
- The Mouse and His Child (1977) – A pair of clockwork mice go on a journey of self-discovery in this quirky animated film.
- Jaws (1975) – The classic shark movie that started it all, by legendary director Steven Spielberg. For families with older kids, as it is actually pretty tense.
- Superman (1978) – Christopher Reeve stars as Clark Kent in his most iconic screen role.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – Brilliant comedy from John Cleese, Eric Idle, and the rest of the Monty Python gang. Some innuendo, which will likely go over most kids’ heads.
Other great family movies from the 1970s include:
- The Railway Children (1970)
- Scrooge (1970)
- Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
- Sounder (1972)
- Robin Hood (1973)
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
- Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)
- The Strongest Man in the World (1975)
- The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975)
- The Shaggy D.A. (1976)
- No Deposit, No Return (1976)
- Bugsy Malone (1976)
- The Three Caballeros (1944, released 1977)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
- Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)
- Candleshoe (1977)
- Pete’s Dragon (1977)
- The North Avenue Irregulars (1979)
- Joni (1979)
- The Jesus Film (1979)
- The Secret of NIMH (1979)
Movies that people think are from the 70s but are actually from the 1980s:
- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- The Karate Kid (1984)
- Princess Bride (1987)
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
These best family movies of the 70s offer a wide range of genres and themes for families to enjoy together, from heartwarming tales of friendship and adventure to silly comedies and thrilling sports movies.
With so many great choices, there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.
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