Greatest Films of the 1960s
Greatest Films of the 1960s

Greatest Films of the 1960s
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969


Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Belle de Jour (1967, Fr./It.), 101 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

Bonnie and Clyde (1967), 111 minutes, D: Arthur Penn
Groundbreaking, controversial, stylish crime drama/romance, and road film - about a 1930s bank-robbing couple and gang with easy-going, folksy flavor and bloody, graphically-violent shoot-outs. The saga was based on the true-life exploits of the notorious Depression-era bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Gun-toting, amoral, impotent drifter Clyde (Warren Beatty) rescues dreamer Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) from her drab existence by regaling her with colorful tales of the outlaw life. Joined by Clyde's brother (Gene Hackman), his wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons), and a gas-station attendant (Pollard), the gang goes on a bumbling crime spree through Texas and Oklahoma. Controversial when released because of its bullet-riddled ending, it marked the coming increase in visceral cinematic violence.

Cool Hand Luke (1967), 126 minutes, D: Stuart Rosenberg
Based on Donn Pearce's novel and one of the great prison-chain-gang films. A spirited, irreverent, social misfit Luke (Paul Newman) is arrested for destroying parking meters and imprisoned in a tough Southern prison farm, commanded by a sadistic, prison officer Captain (Strother Martin). After boxing with the chain-gang boss Dragline (George Kennedy), he eventually becomes a hero to his fellow inmates, earning the title "Cool Hand Luke" because his will cannot be broken. A visit by Luke's dying mother (Jo Van Fleet) reveals facts about his past. The stubborn, unruly and independent rebel refuses to submit and continually and cooly defies the authorities with repeated escape attempts. As the inmates start worshipping him as a folk hero, he risks everything in order to live up to their expectations, and is sacrificed in the tragic climax. With the memorable line of dialogue: "What we have here is failure to communicate," and the classic egg-eating scene.

The Dirty Dozen (1967), 149 minutes, D: Robert Aldrich

Far From the Madding Crowd (1967, UK), 168 minutes, D: John Schlesinger

The Graduate (1967), 106 minutes, D: Mike Nichols
Acclaimed, satirical, ground-breaking, coming-of-age romantic drama/comedy about a shy, naive college graduate confronting the real world. In the late '60s, a confused, alienated, idealistic, and vulnerable college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman in a breakthrough performance) was uncertain about his future and struggling to find his future place in life, reacting with passive rebellion. Without ambition or responsibility after a spoiled, upper-class upbringing, he received career advice from his overbearing suburban family's associates - "plastics" - a catchword for an entire generation, just days after receiving his diploma. While seduced by the wife of his father's business partner - a rapacious alcoholic named "Mrs. Robinson" (Anne Bancroft), he fell in love with her engaged daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). Ultimately, he stole Elaine away from marriage to another man in the climactic finale. The influential and popular film, with a hit Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, became an emotional touchstone for an entire generation. This film established Mike Nichols as a major director and was Hoffman's first major role. Buck Henry, appearing in the film as a hotel clerk, co-wrote the influential screenplay, based on the novel by Charles Webb.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), 108 minutes, D: Stanley Kramer

Hombre (1967), 111 minutes, D: Martin Ritt

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), 121 minutes, D: David Swift
This musical comedy film version (with Bob Fosse choreography) virtually duplicated Frank Loesser's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from 1961 - it included two stars reprising their roles from the stage: Robert Morse (as boyish, gap-toothed ex-window washer and ambitious, up-and-coming corporate executive J. Pierpont "Ponty" Finch), and Rudy Vallee (as pompous boss Jasper B. Biggley). In this cynical and satirical look at corporate America in the mid-1960s, with all its corporate chicanery, gray flannel suits, executive washrooms, and office sexism, the strongly-ambitious 27 year-old Finch bought a self-help guidebook titled: "How to Succeed in Business..." to begin his ascent up the corporate ladder, using mostly devious and sneaky methods. He took a job in the NY offices of the World Wide Wicket Company, working under eccentric boss Biggley and ingratiating himself by posing as a graduate of Grand Old Ivy, Biggley's alma mater. Soon, he became VP of Advertising, and began a romance with cute secretary Rosemary Pilkington (Michele Lee in her film debut). At the same time, Biggley was having an affair with hip-swiveling, curvaceous, high-pitch voiced, but incompetent office worker Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur), his secret live-in girlfriend. Finch arranged a tryst between rival Bud Frump (Anthony Teague), Biggley's bratty, whiny and nepharious nephew and Hedy, thereby eliminating the co-worker. He also disposed of troublesome Mr. Ovington (Murray Matheson) by exposing that his alma mater was Biggley's rival college. His successful advancement eventually brought him to the position of Chairman of the Board.

In Cold Blood (1967), 134 minutes, D: Richard Brooks

In the Heat of the Night (1967), 109 minutes, D: Norman Jewison
An intense whodunit detective story thriller, and Best Picture-winning film, set in the little town of Sparta, Mississippi during a hot summer, with an innovative score by Quincy Jones and title song sung by Ray Charles. Norman Jewison masterfully directed this murder melodrama from a screenplay by Stirling Silliphant that was based on John Ball's novel. The film's posters proclaimed: "They got a murder on their hands. They don't know what to do with it." The liberal-minded film, realistically-filmed by cinematographer Haskell Wexler (who had just filmed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and would later go on to Coming Home (1978)), was a milestone for the racially-divided mid-60s because it forced the odd-couple collaboration of a bigoted but shrewd, redneck Southern sheriff named Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) and a lone, intelligently-clever black homicide expert from Philadelphia named Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier). The film, with a non-white actor in a lead acting role, was so controversial that it couldn't be filmed in the Deep South, so the sets were recreated in various small towns in two states: Sparta, Freeburg, and Belleville, Illinois, and Dyersburg, Tennessee.

The Jungle Book (1967), 78 minutes, D: Disney Studio

Playtime (1967, Fr./It.), 124 minutes, D: Jacques Tati

Point Blank (1967), 92 minutes, D: John Boorman
A dreamy, non-linear thriller plot, with flashbacks, time lapses, and bold surrealistic colors. Left for dead before the opening credits, Walker (Lee Marvin) then seeks revenge against a Los Angeles crime syndicate.

Two for the Road (1967, UK), 112 minutes, D: Stanley Donen

Valley of the Dolls (1967), 123 minutes, D: Mark Robson
Based upon Jacqueline Susann's 1966 best-selling book, this trashy, 'it's-so-bad-it's-good' soap-opera feature-length film became Fox Studios' top money-maker hit for 1968, although it was severely criticized by most film critics. The title of the trashy melodramatic film referred to 'uppers' and 'downers' - barbiturate pills. Three fame-seeking, aspiring starlets who became 'corrupted' by Hollywood were bitchy Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke), Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins), and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate). The campy classic included scenes of their sexual dalliances (never very explicit) and their failings due to pill-popping (pills=dolls) and drinking. Most of the sex (filmed in silhouette), scandal, and drug abuse now seem tame by today's standards, although appropriate for the 1960s.

Wait Until Dark (1967), 108 minutes, D: Terence Young

Week End (1967, Fr./It.), 105 minutes, D: Jean-Luc Godard

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