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Top 15 Favourite Films of the 1960s

The 1960s were a decade of social and political unrest. The civil rights movement opposed blacks and whites in a war against unfair treatment of races. The LGBT community demanded a right to be different, while female activists stroke down barriers to women's personal freedom and professional careers. Young people rebelled against the establishment and denounced the Vietnam War, which they criticized as «immoral.» John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Che Guevara were assassinated, Chairman Mao starved 30 million people to death, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the Moon, the Berlin Wall divided Germany in two, The Beatles started the «British Invasion» and Woodstock became the biggest music festival in the world.
 
The construction of the Berlin Wall begins (August 13, 1961). The Beatles arrive in New York (February 7, 1964). Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon (July 20, 1969). The Woodstock music festival takes place (August 15-18, 1969).
 
The «Swinging Sixties» changed Hollywood as well. From spaghetti westerns and sophisticated spy films to racy comedies and science-fiction epics, movies began to break social taboos and turned increasingly dramatic, unbalanced and hectic. This was the beginning of the New Hollywood era that brought down the infamous Production Code and revolutionized the motion picture industry. These are, as of now, my top 15 favorite films of the 1960s. Please bear in mind that this is my own personal opinion, which is obviously limited to the films I have seen so far.
 

15. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Directed by Sydney Pollack | Starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin and Gig Young

In this Depression-era melodrama, a group of disparate characters try to make some money by participating in a dance marathon run by an opportunistic emcee. This is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen, but it is the perfect depiction of the hopelessness of the Great Depression, which drove people to do the unthinkable in order to survive.
 
 
Directed by Daniel Petrie | Starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Claudia McNeil
 
A Raisin in the Sun follows a black family as they attempt to improve their lives with an insurance payout after the death of the father. Although it features an all-black cast (and an incredibly talented one at that), the film's storyline is universal and proves that family is more important than anything else. I have seen this film twice and I am astounded that Sidney Poitier did not receive an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
 
 
13. Marriage on the Rocks (1965)
Directed by Jack Donohue | Starring Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and Dean Martin
 
This film is a hoot and a half. But then again, it's a Rat Pack (sort of) film, so of course it would be. It goes something like this: Deborah Kerr is married to Frank Sinatra, who, in an attempt to spice up their marriage, takes his wife on a second honeymoon to Mexico. But things get a little lost in translation and Deborah Kerr ends up divorcing Frank Sinatra and marrying his best friend, Dean Martin. As you do. It is genuinely quite funny.
 
 
Directed by Gene Saks | Starring Robert Redford, Jane Fonda and Charles Boyer
 
Free-spirited Jane Fonda marries stuffed-shirt Robert Redford. At first, it's all rainbows and unicorns, but then things go a little south because he's apparently too «prim and proper» for her. But don't worry, everything ends well after he proves he's not so uptight after all by literally walking barefoot in the park for her. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
 

 
11. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Directed by Arthur Penn | Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway epitomize the fast and fury of the counterculture by playing the 1930s legendary couple of bank robbers, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Bonnie and Clyde was one of the many films that finally brought down the Production Code and started the New Hollywood era. I have seen it twice, and it's a damn good film!
 
Directed by Elia Kazan | Starring Warren Beatty, Natalie Wood and Pat Hingle

Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood are madly in love with each other, but their love almost destroys them both and they end up going their separate ways. I'm still a little miffed that they didn't end up together, although they would most likely kill each other if they had.



Directed by Stanley Kramer | Starring Spencer Tracy and Maximilian Schell

Maximilian Schell tries to defend four Nazis who stand accused of crimes against humanity, but Spencer Tracy tells him to go f*ck himself. In all seriousness, this film is outstanding, but also really disturbing because it's a reminder of the atrocities perpetrated under the Nazi regime. Everyone in the cast is phenomenal, especially Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift, who should have won Oscars for their performances. I'm honestly astounded that they didn't.
 

8. The Great Escape (1963)
Directed by John Sturges | Starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough

In this three-hour epic, Steve McQueen and company escape from a German POW camp during World War II. It is based on a real mass escape that occurred in 1944, in which British and Commonwealth airmen broke out of Stalag Luft III, although the plot deviates significantly from the historical events. Regardless, it is a really good film and Steve McQueen and company are really good in it. This was actually the film that made me fall in love with him.
 

7. The Longest Day (1962)
Directed by K. Annakin, A. Marton and B. Wicki | Starring John Wayne

As you have probably realized by now — yes, I love World War II-related films. This one in particular is one of my personal favorites, and it is about the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Fun fact: one of the actors in The Longest Day, Richard Todd, was actually one of first British officers to land in Normandy and he participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge, which is depicted in the film. Todd was offered the chance to play himself, but instead he took the part of Major John Howard, who commanded said assault.
 

6. Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)
Directed by Robert Mulligan | Starring Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen

Natalie Wood has a one-night-stand with Steve McQueen and becomes pregnant. She tries to have an abortion, but he doesn't let her go through with it. In the end, they fall in love with each other, with bells and banjos and everything. This is a proper good film!
 

5. Two for the Road (1967)
Directed by Stanley Donen | Starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney
 
Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney play a married couple who reflect on their relationship while on a road trip to Southern France. This is one of the best romantic comedies ever made. Miss Hepburn is an absolute star (as always) and I was quite charmed by Mr. Finney. I had never seen a movie with him prior to watching this one last summer, and I fell slightly in love with him.
 
 
4. This Property is Condemned (1966)
Directed by Sydney Pollack | Starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford
 
This Property is Condemned is also set during the Great Depression. It tells the story of a young woman stuck in a small town, who falls in love with a handsome stranger working for the railroad. Look, it's Sydney Pollack, Natalie Wood and Robert Redford. What more do you want?
 

3. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Directed by John Schlesinger | Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman

Jon Voight is a young Texan who moves to New York to become a prostitute. Dustin Hoffman is an ailing con man without a penny to his name. By a strange twist of fate, the two begin a «business relationship», which turns into a strong bond. This is honestly one of the best films I have ever seen in my life. It's a bit disturbing, but Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are perfection.
 

2. The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Directed by Arthur Hiller | Starring Julie Andrews, James Garner and Melvyn Douglas

This is another World War II-related film and it's so good! It's set in the weeks leading up to D-Day and it follows a cynical U.S. Navy officer who falls in love with an English driver. If you don't want to fall madly in love with James Garner, I advise you not to watch this film.
 
 
1. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Directed by Blake Edwards | Starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard

Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the first classic films I saw and it remains one of my personal favourites (and, as of now, my favourite movie of the 1960s). Audrey Hepburn plays a New York socialite with a dark past, who becomes interested in the struggling writer living in her apartment building. To this day, I still call George Peppard «Fred-baby.»
 
 
And there you have it, my top 15 favourite films of the 1960s. Were you surprised by some of my choices? What are some of your favourite films of the «Swinging Sixties»?
 
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>> MORE FAVOURITE FILMS BY DECADE:
 

Comments

  1. Check out "Wild River" sometime. That might sneak into your list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG! I love your list- I came around to Splendor- it took a few tries, but now I get it!! B-fast at Tiffany's- what more could you need!? and Love with the Proper Stranger- such an under rated gem!!
    PS- LOVE all the Natalie Films- shes just wonderful isn't she!!

    ReplyDelete

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