Hollywood, much like the rest of America, was rapidly changing in the 1960s. The system of years before came tumbling down, ushering an era more similar to the modern Hollywood we know today. This divide from the old and the nosedive into the new gave us some pretty spectacular films. Here are six of my favorites.
6. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb” (1964)
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb” is, at 13 words, the longest title for a film ever nominated for best picture, and a movie about a group of generals and politicians in a frenzy to stop a rapidly approaching nuclear war set on by a manic general. This movie is funnier than most comedies to this very day. It’s a fairly underrated film by iconic director Stanley Kubrick, whose more famous works include “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” and “A Clockwork Orange.” The screenplay, by Kubrick and Terry Southern, is one of the smartest and most darkly humorous scripts of all time. The performances are absolutely hilarious. Some standouts include Sterling Hayden’s performance as a calmly manic General Jack D. Ripper, George C. Scott’s performance as the loud and outrageous General Buck Turgidson, and Peter Sellers doing triple-duty as Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the titular Dr. Strangelove. “Dr. Stangelove” is a movie that’s simultaneously extremely funny and disturbingly realistic, to a point where actual U.S nuclear policy was changed.
5. “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (1966)
The third and final installment in Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” tells the story of three men racing to find lost confederate gold in a secluded graveyard. This film is unarguably the quintessential spaghetti western. Every shot is oozing with that classic Sergio Leone style. The score by Ennio Morricone, much like the film itself, is epic and revolutionary. There isn’t much else that can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said many times before. The film’s final stand-off has stood its ground as one of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema history. The scene, along with the rest of the film, always manages to give me goosebumps.
4. “The Apartment” (1960)
“The Apartment” follows C.C Baxter, a young insurance worker who lets his bosses use his bosses use his apartment for their extramarital affairs. Not many people believe me when I say I’m actually something of a fan of romantic comedies. However, I am, and I consider this to be the very best in the genre. The film is unbelievably sharp, witty, and just perfectly written. The stars, Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, give absolute wonderful performances and the film, as a whole, just has a feeling of overwhelming sweetness to it. It really is like no other. Well, film-wise, that is.
3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” follows Scout Finch as her father, Atticus, defends a black man who is falsely accused of rape in the depression-era deep south. It would absolutely be a sin not to include this film on the list. This film will make viewers happy, get them angry, and have them shedding tears over the course of a couple hours. Gregory Peck’s performance as Atticus Finch is powerful in every sense of the word. His closing statement monologue is one of, if not the most, moving cinematic speeches of all time (and it was filmed in only one take). I, and surely countless other people, consider this film a must-watch for anyone and everyone.
2. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
“2001: A Space Odyssey” is a film about astronauts searching for the origins of a mysterious “monolith” found underneath the surface of the moon, with the help of an hyper-intelligent A.I by the name of H.A.L 9000. This is yet another Kubrick piece, but it’s absolutely nothing like “Dr. Strangelove.” This is less of a film and more of a full-body experience. That being the case, this is not everybody’s cup of tea. When the film first opened, it was panned by critics. To this day, the film is still divisive. Most of the people I have talked to about the movie either think that it’s an overly-pretentious and shiny piece of empty garbage, or a complete masterpiece that transcends space and time. I consider myself to be in the party of the latter. It is a stunningly shot, beautifully scored, and just an overall amazingly made film.
1. “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)
“Lawrence of Arabia” follows the real story of T. E. Lawrence, a young officer of the British army, who lead a group of Arabic tribes against invading Turks. If a theatre nearby is playing “Lawrence of Arabia,” run—don’t walk, run—to go see it. It is a truly dazzling spectacle of film that should be seen on the biggest screen available. Everything about the movie is positively breathtaking in every possible sense of the word. The cinematography is grand, extravagant, and truly wonderful. It will take your breath away in a way that can never be put into words. The music is sweeping and epic. The performances are amazing and complex. Everything in the film is composed in a perfect symphony to tell a fascinating story. This is not only the greatest film of the ‘60s, but it is quite possibly one of the greatest of all time.
“The Graduate” (1967)
“The Graduate” follows Ben Braddock, a college graduate who finds himself in a love triangle with his true love and her mother. There is not much to be said about this that hasn’t already been said. The soundtrack by the classic folk duo Simon and Garfunkel is simple, yet moving. The performances are amazing, especially that of Anne Bancroft as “Mrs. Robinson.” I would recommend this film to going through any sort of significant life change, as it has some incredibly relatable concepts.
“West Side Story” (1961)
“West Side Story” is a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” set in New York City, where two people from rivaling gangs find love. This is really just one of those “must-watch” musical films. It’s full of catchy songs, wonderful performances, and grand sets, with cinematography to match. It’s just an all round classic for any fans of either musicals or the bard.
“Psycho” follows Marion Crane, a woman on the run from the law, checking into “Bates Motel,” a motel run by a suspicious yet mild-mannered young man named Norman, and his domineering mother. Alfred Hitchcock has been called a “master of suspense” numerous times, but it is on full display in this film. The movie which serves as one of the first “slasher” films, keeps viewers on the edge of their seat at all times, and an ending that will stick with anyone as long as they live.