50 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 1970s

From cosmic head trips to adventures in galaxies far, far away

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9. 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977)

When was the last time you watched the first fruit of Steven Spielberg's post-Jaws harvest? Did you remember the extended, door-slamming scenes of marital discord between Richard Dreyfus and Teri Garr? Did you remember how long Spielberg delays the big reveal? Did you remember how easily Dreyfuss agrees to board the spaceship? Unlike 1977's other sci-fi blockbuster, Star Wars, the secret to Close Encounters of the Third Kind's greatness is how it takes the time to immerse us in a swirl of Seventies paranoia and Reader's Digest-derived mysticism before blowing us away with a Manhattan-sized mothership. Four decades after Orson Welles warned of marauding Martians, Spielberg gave us a wholly friendly alien visitation, complete with oh-hey totally harmless abduction of a toddler, frenzied keyboard-based attempts at communicating, and a luminescent, kind-eyed species of being that has the rare power to tame Francois Truffaut. EH

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