With the film industry in both the United Kingdom and the United States entering into recession, American studios cut back on domestic production, and in many cases withdrew from financing British films altogether. Major films were still being made at this time, including Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Battle of Britain (1969), Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970), but as the decade wore on financing became increasingly hard to come by. Large-scale productions were still being mounted, but they were more sporadic and sometimes seemed old-fashioned compared with the competition from America. Among the more successful were adaptations of the Agatha Christie stories Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978). Other notable films included the Edwardian drama The Go-Between, which won the Palme d'Or at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, Alfred Hitchcock's final British film Frenzy (1972), Nicolas Roeg's Venice-set supernatural thriller Don't Look Now (1973) and Mike Hodges' gangster drama Get Carter (1971) starring Michael Caine. Other productions like Shout at the Devil (1976) fared less well, while the entry of Lew Grade's company ITC into film production in the latter half of the decade brought only a few box office successes and an unsustainable number of failures. Other epic productions such as Richard Attenborough's Young Winston (1972) and A Bridge Too Far (1977) met with mixed commercial success.
The British horror boom of the 1960s also finally came to an end by the mid-1970s, with the leading producers Hammer and Amicus leaving the genre altogether in the face of competition from independents in the United States. Films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) made Hammer's vampire films seem increasingly tame and outdated, despite attempts to spice up the formula with added nudity and gore. Although some attempts were made to broaden the range of British horror films, such as the comic Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter or the cult favourite The Wicker Man, these films made little impact at the box office, and the horror boom was finally over by the middle of the decade.
Some British producers, including Hammer, turned to television series for inspiration, and the big screen versions of shows like Steptoe and Son and On the Buses proved successful with domestic audiences. The other major influence on British comedy films in the decade was the Monty Python group, also from television. Their two most successful films were Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), the latter a major commercial success, probably at least in part due to the considerable controversy surrounding its release.
The continued presence of the Eady levy in the 1970s, combined with a loosening of censorship rules, also brought on a minor boom of low-budget British sex comedies and softcore porn movies. Most notable among these were films starring Mary Millington such as Come Play with Me, and the Confessions of... series starring Robin Askwith, beginning with Confessions of a Window Cleaner.
More relaxed censorship in the 1970s also brought several controversial films, including Ken Russell's The Devils (1970), Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971), Quadrophenia (1979), and Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971).
The late 1970s at least saw a revival of the James Bond series with The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. However, the next film, Moonraker (1979), broke with tradition by filming at studios in France to take advantage of tax incentives there. Some American productions did return to the major British studios in 1977-79, including Star Wars at Elstree Studios, Superman at Pinewood, and Alien at Shepperton.