The U.S. box office of 1974: the receipts of all the hit films, released 40 years ago

These are the twenty top-grossing films of 1974 in the U.S. and Canada. There are two disaster movies (“Earthquake” and “Airport 1975,” both with Charlton Heston, and both listed in the top five), while director Sidney Lumet and Robert Stevenson are the only filmmakers with two films (Sidney Lumet’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” at No. 7, and “Serpico,” at No. 11; and Robert Stevenson’s Disney productions of “Herbie Rides Again,” No. 8, and “The Island at the Top of the World,” No. 20). Academy Award-winner “The Godfather, Part II” made the top five.

Some of the films, as well some of the filmmakers, were and are pretty unknown, like Tom Laughlin (“The Trial of Billy Jack,” surprisingly at No. 3) and Joe Camp (“Benji,” No. 9).

In all, there are two screen classics in the top 20 that stood the test of time: “The Godfather, Part II,” at No. 4, and Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” at No. 15. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” became a cult classic, while “That’s Entertainment!” was a nostalgic and heartwarming compilation movie.

Source: Variety [February 22, 1992 issue], which included the all-time film rental champs, by decade.

  1. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks)
    CAST Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Mel Brooks
  2. Earthquake (Mark Robson)
    CAST Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene
  3. The Trial of Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin)
    CAST Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Victor Izay, Teresa Kelly
  4. The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola)
    CAST Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton
  5. Airport 1975 (Jack Smight)
    CAST Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Ziimbalist Jr.

    Michael York and Jacqueline Bisset in Sidney Lumet’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” at No. 7
  6. The Longest Yard (Robert Aldrich)
    CAST Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad
  7. Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet)
    CAST Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset
  8. Herbie Rides Again (Robert Stevenson)
    CAST Helen Hayes, Ken Barry, Stefanie Powers, John McIntire
  9. Benji (Joe Camp)
    CAST Peter Breck, Christopher Connelly, Patsy Garrett, Tom Lester
  10. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (John Hough)
    CAST Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Roarke, Kenneth Tobey

    Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in one of the decade’s screen classics, Roman Polanki’s “Chinatown,” at No. 15
  11. Serpico (Sidney Lumet)
    CAST Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe, Cornelia Sharpe
  12. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper)
    CAST Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain
  13. The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton)
    CAST Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black
  14. Freedie and the Bean (Richard Rush)
    CAST Alan Arkin, James Caan, Loretta Swit, Jack Kruschen
  15. Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
    CAST Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez

    Dustin Hoffman playing Lenny Bruce in Bob Fosse’s “Lenny,” at No. 17
  16. That’s Entertainment! (Jack Haley)
    CAST Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra
  17. Lenny (Bob Fosse)
    CAST Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine, Jan Miner, Stanley Beck
  18. The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester)
    CAST Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York
  19. For Pete’s Sake (Peter Yates)
    CAST Barbra Streisand, Michael Sarrazin, Estelle Parsons, Molly Picon
  20. The Island at the Top of the World (Robert Stevenson)
    CAST David Hartman, Donald Sinden, Jacques Marin, Mako