The Most Underrated Buddy Cop Movies of the 1970s, Ranked
Surprisingly enough, the 1970s gave us not only disco and bell-bottoms, but also a solid collection of buddy cop movies, mixing action, drama, and comedy together all at once.
1. "Freebie and the Bean" (1974)
San Francisco detectives Freebie and Bean are out to bring down a mob boss. But first, they need to keep him alive long enough to testify. The plot has these guys running all over the city, crashing cars and getting into fights. Bean even finds out his wife might be cheating, so the duo breaks into her hotel room in the middle of all the chaos.
Classic '70s shenanigans mixed with real action.
2. "The French Connection" (1971)
You ever chase a train? Detectives Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo do exactly that, as they go after a heroin-smuggling ring from France. Based on a real-life case, these guys pull out all the stops, from car chases to shootouts. Doyle's famous car chase against a train is a highlight, but it's the raw, gritty realism that's the real star here.
This bad boy even snagged five Oscars, so you know it's legit.
3. "Serpico" (1973)
Alright, this one's cheating a bit, as it's not exactly a "buddy cop" film. But Al Pacino's character, Frank Serpico, is such an iconic figure that we gotta mention it. He's a cop who's out to expose corruption within the NYPD. Problem is, nobody wants to listen. Serpico gets ostracized, harassed, and eventually shot, all in the name of justice.
What makes this film especially gripping is the fact that it's based on a true story. Al Pacino is so compelling that you're glued to the screen.
4. "The Super Cops" (1974)
These aren't just any cops; they're "super cops"! Dave Greenberg and Robert Hantz are two NYPD officers who bend the rules—okay, they snap 'em right in half—to get results. They tackle drug dealers, corrupt landlords, and gangsters without waiting for backup. They get so famous that even Batman and Robin could eat their hearts out.
It's a fun movie that gives the impression that cops in the '70s were action heroes 24/7.
5. "The Seven-Ups" (1973)
If you're into undercover operations, this one's got your name on it.
Buddy Manucci leads a squad of NYPD detectives known as the Seven-Ups, who go after criminals with sentences of seven years and up. The twist? One of Manucci's informants is involved in a kidnapping scheme. Cue a high-speed chase across the city that'll make your grandma's Sunday drive look like a snail race.
A box-office hit, it raked in over $6.8 million—big money back in the '70s!
6. "Magnum Force" (1973)
Dirty Harry's back, baby! Clint Eastwood reprises his role as Inspector Harry Callahan, but this time he's got a new partner, Early Smith. They're trying to solve the murders of notorious criminals who somehow escaped the law. Twist? The killers are a group of rogue traffic cops on bikes. Harry's known for playing by his own rules, but even he has a line he won't cross.
This sequel brought in a whopping $39.7 million at the box office. Yeah, people couldn't get enough of ol' Dirty Harry.
7. "Busting" (1974)
Vice cops Michael Keneely and Patrick Farrell have a simple mission: bust a prostitution ring run by a mobster named Rizzo. Sounds straightforward, right? Well, not when everyone in the police force seems to be on the mobster's payroll.
Entangled in bureaucracy and corruption, our heroes end up suspended but decide to go rogue, culminating in a chaotic grocery store showdown.
8. "Across 110th Street" (1972)
Capt. Matelli and Lt. Pope are like oil and water—a white, corrupt cop and a black, by-the-book guy forced to work together to solve a robbery-homicide in Harlem. Amid racial tensions, these two navigate the grimy, crime-ridden world of 1970s New York City.
This movie isn't just action; it's a snapshot of a turbulent era. You can't help but sit on the edge of your seat as the tension between the two leads mirrors the world outside.
9. "Walking Tall" (1973)
Buford Pusser, an ex-wrestler turned sheriff, wants to clean up his little Tennessee town. Armed with a big stick (seriously), he's on a rampage against moonshiners and corrupt cops. He even survives an assassination attempt that leaves him scarred but more determined. Buford's not about that due process life; he's all about hands-on justice.
This one's based on a true story, which makes it all the more riveting.
10. "Fuzz" (1972)
Detectives Steve Carella and Meyer Meyer are the ultimate chill cop duo. They're dealing with a series of crimes, including a mad extortionist who's threatening to blow up the city. Amid all the chaos, they also find time for love and laughs.
It's a lighter fare compared to other films on our list, but encapsulates the quirky charm of '70s cinema.