Naming 5 best adventure movies of the '70s was an adventure in itself because there are so many that qualify. The following movies were among those that began what is called spectacular action adventure/disaster films with special effects. The movies, their special/visual effects,and outstanding actors and actresses were often nominated for Academy Awards and managed to win some of those Oscars.
- "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972) was the number one movie in 1973, and by the end of 1974 it was one of the six most successful movies in film history. It also won Academy Awards for Best Song and Special Achievement in Visual Effects. Shelley Winters won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. A luxurious ocean liner was flipped over by a tsunami/tidal wave caused by an underwater earthquake, and the survivors had to work their way up to the bottom of the hull.
- "Airport" was a 1970 film that won an Oscar for Helen Hayes. It combined a man having a bomb in his briefcase with a blizzard. Sequels in 1975, 1977, and 1979 featured a 747 airplane hit by a small plane, the passengers trapped underwater in the Bermuda Triangle in a jet, and a Concorde plane trying to avoid missiles by flying upside down. All these "Airport" movies were very popular.
- "The Towering Inferno" in 1974 was about a huge blaze working its way up to the top floor of a 138-story skyscraper. The celebrants were all well-to-do and included Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, O.J. Simpson, and Fred Astaire who was nominated for an Oscar for his rendition of an old gentleman.
- "The China Syndrome" was a 1979 thriller about a cameraman and a reporter. They discover that there were cover-ups in safety issues in a nuclear power plant. It starred Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda, and Jack Lemmon who won Best Actor at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. Where did the name come from? There was a concept that the melting down of an American nuclear plant would go through the Earth until it reached China. It was ironic that this film was released in March, 1979, just 12 days prior to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident in Pennsylvania.
- "Jaws" came out in 1975 and is regarded as one of the greatest all-time films. The police chief attempts to protect beach goers from a great white killer shark, but the town council wants the beach to stay open to get profit from tourists. Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Jaws" is said to be the father of the blockbuster summer film.