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The 1960s - Movies

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As with music and television, cinema embraced the new era of 'permissiveness' and groovy tripped-out culture. Films like Blow-Out, a voyeuristic exploration of the glamorous world of modelling and photography that er... doesn't really amount to much; Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, which shows the impact that a mixed-race relationship could have on a nice, polite, white middle-class and - significantly - politically and racially aware family; The Graduate, featuring the most famous older woman/toyboy relationship in film history; and even the blatant 'laddism' on display in films like Alfie would have been completely unacceptable even five years before.

Academy Award-winning Films of the 1960s

  • 1960: The Apartment

  • 1961: West Side Story

  • 1962: Lawrence of Arabia

  • 1963: Tom Jones

  • 1964: My Fair Lady

  • 1965: The Sound of Music

  • 1966: A Man For All Seasons

  • 1967: In The Heat Of The Night

  • 1968: Oliver!

  • 1969: Midnight Cowboy

Popular Sixties Movie Genres

We loved musicals in the 1960s. We possibly loved them too much as, despite the fact that musicals regularly topped both the box-office charts and succeeded in winning major awards year after year, the genre has struggled to reach such levels of popularity ever since. So for the last true golden age of films where people burst into song and no-one calls for a psychiatrist, think back to when you could watch for the first time such gems as Oliver!, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

The horror genre benefited from a shot in the arm (or a stab in the back, if you will) courtesy of two iconic masterpieces - Peeping Tom and Hitchcock's Psycho. Despite these landmark films, the genre did tend to stagnate somewhat in the USA, with only the regular output of Britain's Hammer Film Studios keeping scare-fans happy during the middle of the decade. However, in 1968, a whole new genre of horror film burst onto the screen thanks to George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead, a film which set a new benchmark in splatter, satire and horror content.

On both sides of the Atlantic, a new wave of movie directors began to make their mark on the industry. In the USA, independent directors began to make films outside of the traditional movie studio system - the first generation of film-makers who had studied their craft at University. Some worked their way up via television, some through the low-budget exploitation films of Roger Corman. They'd make their first films in the 1960s, but it would be in the following decade that they'd make their names - and those names were Coppolla, Scorsese, De Palma and Lucas.

In France, the 'New Wave' directors such as Goddard, Truffaut and Chabrol founded their careers on a lifetime of watching and criticising the established conventions of cinema. Employing experimental, bizarre and sometimes downright self-indulgent stylistic techniques, these directors stretched the boundaries of cinema and forever changed the way in which film is viewed by cinephiles. Their influence even extended to the 'Old Guard' - Hitchcock in particular was impressed with the enthusiasm and film knowledge of Truffaut and began to adapt his film style accordingly. Strange then that, post 1963, Hitchcock wouldn't have a hit film for nearly a decade.

Top Ten Movie Stars of the 1960s by Box Office Figures

In alphabetical order:

  • Julie Andrews

  • Sean Connery

  • Doris Day

  • Rock Hudson

  • Jack Lemmon

  • Paul Newman

  • Lee Marvin

  • Sidney Poitier

  • Elizabeth Taylor

  • John Wayne

Further Reading

h2g2 boasts a number of entries relevant to the 1960s. Here's a small selection of them:


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