My Top Ten Movies of the 60s
10. The Birds (1963)
The Birds is a movie I honestly didn’t think I would end up liking, thinking its just a silly horror flick. But it has all of the great Hitchcockisms which make his works so great; fantastic dialogue with lots of wit, and a visual panache for storytelling. Not to mention some seriously creepy scene, like the one above.
9. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)
1967 was a watershed year for movie history. Bonnie and Clyde changed the tone o how films can be represented, The Graduate began speaking to its audience in ways movies haven’t before, and the social movement began looking to motion pictures to get the word out with In the Heat of the Night, and my favourite film of 1967 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Yes, this is a movie with deals with race relations, but not in the way you might first think. The parents are not racists, they are in fact quite liberal, which makes there struggle more relatable. But really its the performances which make this movie shine so bright. And with a cast like Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katherine Hepburn, how can the performances not shine?
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Perhaps my favourite novel that I read in high school was To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember watching the film in class and not being particularly impressed. But what did I know back then? Since then I’ve watched it a few more times and grown a stronger appreciation for this wonderful film which manages to capture the children’s point of view and racial tensions beautifully. And now, I’m showing the film to my own high school English class.
7. Charade (1963)
The first time I saw Charade was when I was first getting into older films and it was on TV one afternoon. I didn’t know what it was called, I just remembered the scene with Audrey Hepburn, Walter Mathau, and a bunch of pillars. Eventually I tracked it down, and since then I have grown to like it more and more on each viewing. There is a lot here to like; the intricate plot details (including a wonderful revelation of where the money actually is), the witty dialogue, and the very likable leads. its the Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made and in a way its almost the last of that era of classic studio pictures.
6. Psycho (1960)
In a way, I wish people would stop talking about Psycho. Because if you think about it, how great would it be to go into this film not knowing anything about it? Therefore, I am not going to say anything about the plot just in case there might be someone out there reading this who knows nothing about Hitchcock’s most popular film. I will only say watch it. You will not be disappointed.
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
No one has ever accused me of being a western fan, but Butch Cassidy isn’t a traditional western. It has a much lighter tone than most in its genre. In fact, certain moments are downright hilarious, the train robbery and fight challenge in particular. And of course there is the classic cliff jumping scene.
4. Planet of the Apes (1968)
When I was a kid we got a kick out of watching Planet of the Apes, but as I got older I noticed that there’s a lot more to it that people in funny ape costumes. There’s a lot going on here and a lot of social issues being dealt with, from cruelty of animals to the conflict of religion and science. The best sci-fi are those which deal with real world issues in a foreign context, and this is certainly on of the best.
Not to mention it has one of the greatest endings of all time.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001 is not a film for everyone. Unfortunately. One thing can probably be said about it however; its unique. Some would say brilliant. I am one of those people. 2001 is not just a master achievement in technical effects and scientific concepts, but its also a great showcase in visual medium. There is very little dialogue here, most of the story is bold by the camera; by long shots and silence. There are existential themes running all the way throughout this movie, but above all else it asks, and even boldly tries to answer, the biggest question of all: where do we come from and where are we going?
2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Epics don’t get as epic as this. David Lean is an amazing natural filmmaker. He is meticulous in making his environments as real as possible, by keeping the environments he uses as real as possible. He would even wait days to reshoot a scene on the desert so that the wind would cover over the footprints. As a result we end up with a visual feast which no amount of computer generated artistry to recreate today. What we are seeing is real, and its beautiful.
But on top of the grand scale, what truly makes Lawrence of Arabia a brilliant picture is that at its heart it is an excellent character study. Lawrence, played brilliantly by Peter O’Toole, is a man unlike any we know which makes him fascinating to watch. Lawrence is truly one of the greatest movies of all time.
1. Dr. Strangelove(1964)
Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Its far more than “that movie where that guy rides the bomb”. Its Kubrick’s masterpiece. Its the best dark comedy ever made. Its an absolute joy to watch. Honestly, if you have any shred of a sense of humour apart from gross-out gags and watching people slip on banana peels, watch this movie. The performances are just the right level of outrageous (including three of them from Peter Sellers), the irony is subtle but not too subtle, and the dialogue is just off-putting enough to have you slapping your knee. This is not just one of my all-time favourite comedies, but one of my favourite movies period.