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

The Americanization of Emily (1964), 115 minutes, D: Arthur Hiller
his entertaining and daring satirical black comedy, with a screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, was about the absurdities of war. It was set in 1944 during WWII - the main character was charming, callow, larcenous, scheming American Navy officer, Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison (James Garner). His main job, residing in a swanky London hotel, was to be a "dog-robber" - to make sure his superior general, commanding officer Rear Adm. William Jessup (Melvyn Douglas), was comfortable and supplied (with everything from Hershey bars, to liquor, food, and Cokes). He was despised and called a womanizer ("a complete rascal") by his prim British war-widow motor-pool chauffeur and ambulance driver Miss Emily Barham (Julie Andrews), who had strong anti-American prejudices (what he termed: "sentimental contempt"). She hated his loud and brash ways, wastefulness, and avowed cowardice - although they did have romantic feelings for each other. Their situation drastically changed when the commanding admirals decided that they wanted the first American casualty of an upcoming dangerous mission (the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach) to be a sailor - to be filmed for PR's sake, and Madison was ordered to arrange it when Admiral Jessup suffered a nervous breakdown. In the film's twisting conclusion, it appeared that Madison was killed by an exploding shell on the beach, and was subsequently lauded as a hero. However, he was wounded - with Jessup now planning to dub him "the first man on Omaha Beach."

Becket (1964, UK), 148 minutes, D: Peter Glenville

Dear Heart (1964), 114 minutes, D: Delbert Mann
This offbeat, sensitive black and white romantic comedy told about a "most unconventional love affair" that occurred over two and a half days between two middle-aged out-of-town conventioneers - they were total opposites. It also was taglined as: "'Dear Heart' Evie Jackson...tonight, she'd get herself a man and they'd never call her that again." Arriving in New York City for an annual Postmasters' Convention, single, lonely and dowdy spinster Evie Jackson (Geraldine Page), a post-mistress from small-town Ohio, met bachelor Harry Mork (Glenn Ford), a greeting cards traveling salesman. He was engaged and about to marry shallow widow Phyllis (Angela Lansbury) from Altoona, PA (the "tomato from Altoona"). Due to circumstances involving his soon-to-be stepson - Phyllis' 18-year-old, college student-son Patrick (Michael Anderson, Jr.) and his crazy girlfriend Zola (Joanna Crawford), Harry was invited to share a room with Evie. Inevitably, their destinies would converge further.

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, UK), 93 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick's classic, cynical Cold War, satirical black comedy, with scathing humor and timeless performances, was based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George and a script by Terry Southern. It was the first commercially-successful political satire about nuclear war, doomsday and Cold War politics. A crazed, anti-Communist psychotic US general Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), paranoid about his own sexual potency, sparked a nuclear crisis with a pre-emptive strike against "the Russkies." The American President Muffley (Peter Sellers in one of three roles) must deal with gung ho military brass Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), bureaucratic bumbling, an incompetent Soviet ambassador, and a twisted, black-gloved German rocket scientist, Dr. Strangelove himself (Sellers again). It ended with the memorable bucking bronco image of Major Kong (Slim Pickens) riding the fatal bomb and howling wildly toward oblivion: "YAHOO!! YAHOO!!"

Fail Safe (1964), 111 minutes, D: Sidney Lumet

Goldfinger (1964, UK), 112 minutes, D: Guy Hamilton
The third entry in the long-running series of Bond films and the first official blockbuster for the franchise. Considered by most viewers as the quintessential 'Bond' film that set many precedents and the formula for future 007 films, including: Sean Connery's definitive portrayal of the MI6 agent, Bond gadgets, iconic 'Bond Girls,' the theme song and pre-credits sequence, classic lines of dialogue, the Aston-Martin, great action sequences, etc. After an initial pre-credits sequence set at a Latin America drug lord's laboratory, Bond (Sean Connery) was dispatched to investigate gold-obsessed bullion dealer-smuggler Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) staying at a Miami hotel. During an affair with Goldfinger's mistress Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) there, Bond was knocked unconscious by Goldfinger's mute Korean servant Oddjob (Harold Sakata) with a lethal bowler hat, and Masterson was asphyxiated to death by gold body paint. During Bond's pursuit of Goldfinger to Switzerland, Bond assisted Jill's vengeful sister Tilly (Tania Mallet), but she also lost her life to Oddjob. Bond was captured and subjected to torture via a laser-beam. Bond later pursued Goldfinger at his stud-horse ranch in Kentucky where he learned of Goldfinger's grand plot, known as "Operation Grand Slam," to infiltrate the US Depository at Fort Knox, contaminate the gold reserve, and disrupt the world's economy.
In the climactic scene at Ft. Knox, Pussy Galore's Flying Circus (five planes) took off and sprayed Delta 9 nerve gas over the Fort Knox area and the facility's troops to gain entry, not realizing the canisters had been changed. A showdown occurred between Bond and Oddjob, both caught inside as a bomb ticked down. Bond cleverly electrocuted Oddjob and the timer on the bomb was disarmed. Later, escaping villain Goldfinger hijacked Bond's private jet enroute to the White House, but suffered death when the plane decompressed by a gunshot and he was sucked through a window. Bond and sexy, lesbian-leaning, but converted private pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) parachuted to safety into the ocean with Bond before being rescued. Goldfinger was the first Bond film to win an Academy Award - its sole nomination for Best Sound Effects.

The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964, Fr./It.) (aka Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo), 137 minutes, D: Pier Paolo Pasolini

A Hard Day's Night (1964, UK), 90 minutes, D: Richard Lester
The Beatles' first charming, wacky, original and impish movie was released not long after the Fab Four's landmark debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. At first thought to be a cross-promotional exploitation of their phenomenal 'Beatlemania', even critics agreed that it was an inventive, funny and ingenious musical comedy that later helped to inspire the music video craze. Innovative American director Richard Lester used the same type of goofy humor and imaginative visuals from his earlier experimental, grainy, hand-held short film, The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959) starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, along with black-and-white film stock and a semi-documentary style. Screenwriter Alun Owen based his Oscar-nominated script on the group's frenzied popularity, supplemented by musical interludes of concert footage. The frantic film documents thirty-six hours of the group's life as they are on their way from Liverpool to London for a TV performance, marked by the memorable opening intercut to the title song - as the singing group is chased by screaming, hysterical and obsessed teenage girls while they board a train. The rock-and-roll stars express their charming, laid-back, and saucy personalities in this slice-of-life film that fictionalized their lives -- best exemplified during their interview scenes with their dry, playful one-liner responses (Reporter: "Are you a mod, or a rocker?" Ringo: "Um, no. I'm a mocker"). Wilfrid Brambell also plays Ringo's "very clean," eccentric grandfather who serves as the film's trouble-maker. The Academy's membership unjustly overlooked the now-classic songs in the film's un-nominated soundtrack in favor of those from Mary Poppins ("Chim Chim Cher-ee"), Dear Heart, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Robin and the 7 Hoods ("My Kind of Town"), and Where Love Has Gone. However, George Martin, the Beatles' producer often recognized as the "Fifth Beatle," was nominated for Best Adapted Score.

I Am Cuba (1964, Soviet Union/Cuba, or Я-Куба), 140 minutes, D: Mikhail Kalatozov

Marnie (1964), 130 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock

Mary Poppins (1964), 139 minutes, D: Robert Stevenson

The Masque of the Red Death (1964, UK/US), 89 minutes, D: Roger Corman

My Fair Lady (1964), 170 minutes, D: George Cukor
One of the best and most popular musicals of all-time, a Best Picture-winner from Lerner and Loewe - based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion. Arrogant, fastidious, linguistics Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison repeating his Tony Award-winning performance on Broadway) wagered fellow linguist Colonel Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White) that he could transform Cockney flower-selling, street urchin Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) - a 'guttersnipe' - into a proper lady with prescribed diction/elocution lessons. The irrepressible 'guttersnipe' was scrubbed, dressed, and tutored, in time to attend the Ascot races and a society ball. In the end, he reluctantly fell in love with Eliza. Included songs "On the Street Where You Live," "Get Me to the Church on Time," and "I Could Have Danced All Night."

The Night of the Iguana (1964), 125 minutes, D: John Huston

The Pawnbroker (1964), 114 minutes, D: Sidney Lumet

A Shot in the Dark (1964, UK/US), 101 minutes, D: Blake Edwards

Topkapi (1964), 120 minutes, D: Jules Dassin

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964, Fr./W. Germ.) (aka Les Parapluies de Cherbourg), 87 minutes, D: Jacques Demy

Woman in the Dunes (1964, Jp.) (aka Suna No Onna), 123/147 minutes, D: Hiroshi Teshigahara

Zorba the Greek (1964, UK/Greece), 142 minutes, D: Michael Cacoyannis

Zulu (1964, UK), 139 minutes, D: Cy Endfield

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