October 14, 2009

Defining Films of the Decades - The 60s

Continuing the "Defining Films of the Decades" series I started some time ago, here are my choices for the 1960s. As a reminder, these films were chosen based on excellence, timelessness, and relevancy as it pertains to the decade in which it was released. This means it should in some way reveal or reflect the decades' current events, social issues, trends, tastes, mores, creative sensibilities or artistic styles.

The 60s

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Gregory Peck gives the performance of the decade as Atticus Finch, whom the American Film Institute named as the single greatest American movie hero of all-time. This film opened the eyes of many to what the power of dignity, principles, and forthrightness can accomplish in the face of oppression, ignorance and racism. In this regard, To Kill a Mockingbird provided inspiration for the American Civil Rights Movement that was reaching critical mass at the time.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
The Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and high command of the US political and military infrastructure, all perfectly satirized by Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers.

The Sound of Music (1965)
With perhaps the most cinematic opening shots ever, The Sound of Music is the third highest grossing film of all-time (after adjusting for inflation) thanks largely to its sweeping, majestic photography, Julie Andrews angelic singing voice, and the masterful songwriting of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The Graduate (1967)
The sixties were largely about counter-culture and railing against traditional thinking, lifestyles and conventions. Films like Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Bonnie and Clyde celebrated this and perpetuated the idea of the antihero. But in its own, more subtle way, The Graduate also had a lot to say about bucking prevailing mores and rejecting America’s “plastic” society. Forty-two years after their release, Simon & Garfunkel’s "Mrs. Robinson" and "Sounds of Silence" from film’s soundtrack are still mainstays on adult contemporary radio.

THE Defining Film of the 1960s:

Goldfinger (1964)
There were two earlier screen adaptations of Ian Fleming spy novels (Dr. No and From Russia with Love) but Goldfinger was the first to really zero in on the formula for a successful James Bond film -- girls, guns and gadgets. The result: a huge hit at the box office (the fifth highest grossing film of the decade) that propelled the popularity of the 007 character to all-time highs. Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger remains one of the most memorable villains in film history and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore is still the ultimate “Bond Girl”.

Related Posts
Defining Films of the Decades - The 50s
Defining Films of the Decades - The 40s
Defining Films of the Decades - The 30s

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