Thursday, November 1, 2012


The decade of the 1960s was a decade of change for America. It also was a decade of change for the movies. The movies finally were allowed to show more sex and violence that they had been able to show since the official Hays code was enacted in 1934. The popular movies at the time was a reflection of those changes. It was really hard to do this top five favorite movies, because there was so many quality films in the 1960s. Here are my five favorites though:

5. COOL HAND LUKE (1967)
Paul Newman became a star in the 1950s, but his super stardom was cemented by the 1960s, and great movies like Cool Hand Luke definitely helped. Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp[ who refuses to submit to the system. In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed Cool Hand Luke to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Upon its initial release, Bosley Crowther wrote an NYT Critic's Pick review, saying "what elevates this brutal picture above the ruck of prison films and into the range of intelligent contemplation of the ironies of life is a sharp script by Donn Pearce and Frank R. Pierson, and splendid acting by Paul Newman and George Kennedy. I would agree.

4. IN COLD BLOOD (1967)
The true crime novel In Cold Blood written by Truman Capote is one of my favorite novels of all time, and this 1967 adaption is true to the novel and in ways is superior to the book. It stars Robert Blake as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as Richard "Dick" Hickock and John Forsythe as Alvin Dewey. The film follows the trail of Smith and Hickock: they break into the home of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, kill all four members of the family, go on the run, are found and caught by the police, tried for the murders and eventually executed. Although the film is in parts faithful to the book, Brooks created a fictional character, "The Reporter" (played by Paul Stewart). This was also the first commercially released film in the US to use the word 'bullshit'. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, but no acting awards. I personally do not like Robert Blake, but he deserved at least a nomination for his gritty role.

Another prison drama, this movie takes place during World War II. The Great Escape is a 1963 American film about an escape by Allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp during World War II, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough. The film is based on the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill, a non-fiction account of the mass escape from Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland), in the province of Lower Silesia, Nazi Germany. The characters are composites of real men. The film was made by the Mirisch Company, released by United Artists, and produced and directed by John Sturges. The story was adapted by James Clavell, W. R. Burnett, and Walter Newman from Paul Brickhill's book The Great Escape. Brickhill had been a prisoner at Stalag Luft III during World War II. The film was to some extent a work of fiction, based on the real events but with compromises made for purposes of commercial appeal, serving as a vehicle for its box-office stars. While many of its characters were fictitious, most were amalgams of several real characters and many were based on real people Hilts' dash for the border by motorcycle was added by request of McQueen, who did the stunt riding himself except for the final jump (done by Bud Ekins). If you want to find a movie to have a guy’s movie night with, you can not go wrong with this film.

Is this movie a horror movie or just a campy film that spotlights two aging stars. I can never tell, but I love to watch this movie at Halloween. It is not real scary other than the part with the dead rat (I have a phobia of rodents), but the movie is fun to watch. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller (not really a horror film) produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the novel of the same name by Henry Farrell. In 2003, the character of Baby Jane Hudson was ranked #44 on the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Villains of American Cinema. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White. Before, during and after the film's production and release, there was heavy fighting between Davis and Crawford, which included Davis actually kicking Crawford in the head (she went for small stitches) and Crawford putting weights in her clothes for the scene of Jane's dragging Blanche (Davis got muscular backache as a result). Not even director Aldrich could stop the fighting, which escalated in the coming months. I think that real life drama makes the movie fun to watch.

One of my favorite television shows was The Twilight Zone, which was created by Rod Serling. He also was the brainchild behind this original Planet Of The Apes in 1968, and he was responsible for the terrific ending which has become one of the greatest movie endings in all of cinema history. The film tells the story of an astronaut crew who crash-land on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes have assumed the role of the dominant species and humans are mute creatures wearing animal skins.The script was originally written by Rod Serling but had many rewrites before eventually being made. Directors J. Lee Thompson and Blake Edwards were approached, but the film's producer Arthur P. Jacobs, upon the advice of Charlton Heston, chose Franklin J. Schaffner to direct the film. Schaffner's changes included creating a more primitive ape society, instead of the more expensive idea of having futuristic buildings and advanced technology. The film was groundbreaking for its prosthetic makeup techniques by artist John Chambers, and was well received by critics and audiences, launching a film franchise, including four sequels, as well as a short-lived television show, animated series, comic books, various merchandising, and eventually a remake in 2001 and a reboot in 2011. I enjoyed both of the remakes, but nothing can compare to the original film. The movie was much more deeper than anyone realized in 1968, and almost 45 years later, the film is my favorite of the decade…

Of course there are movies I left out but I wish I didn't have to. Honorable mention goes to: The Music Man (1961), The Hustler (1961), To Kill A Mockinbird (1962), The Odd Couple (1968), and Midnight Cowboy (1969).


  1. Why limit yourself to 5 - why not 10?

    Here's my 5 then, more British and Europe based:

  2. I don't think Bette Davis would have been nominated for an Oscar if "Baby Jane" had been intended as pure camp. Its huge success (it was released on Halloween 1962 and was an instant smash) set a trend and a string of inferior similarly themed movies starring aging movie queens (often either Crawford or Davis) followed. All were campy, intentional or not. "Baby Jane" is one of my '60s favorites, too. But I don't have a '60s top 5, too many greats come instantly to mind and I'm unable to winnow the list down to just 5.

  3. Hi, I just discovered your blog after looking for some information about Gene Kelly and I am very happy to have found it, there is a lot of very interesting informations ! I am french, 22 and I love old american movies. I am sure I have still a lot to see to have a complete knowledge about it, but your blog helps a little ! Thanks a lot and sorry for my english !...

  4. Enjoyed your choices and what you had to say about them.

    Choosing only 5 from a decade of film isn't easy, but I want to give it a shot:

    1. True Grit
    2. The Music Man
    3. The Apartment
    4. Who's Minding the Mint?
    5. Ride the High Country