Thursday, April 16, 2015

Decades of Cinema - 10 Best of the 1960's

Previous lists are the 1920's1930's1940's and the 1950's. Here we have my ten favorite films from the 1960's.

10. The Apartment

Thanks to the Katherine Heigl's and Gerard Butler's of the world, the words "romantic comedy" have gotten a bad name. Here's the thing though: a good film is a good film, regardless of genre, and there have been a lot of terrific rom com pictures over the years. The Apartment by Billy Wilder is one of the all time greats. 

9. Winter Light

I find it ironic that I am always drawn in by pictures filled with religious themes and those that frequently feature religious imagery because in reality such things have little to no meaning in my life. I may not go to church, well, ever, but I will certainly attend a sermon directed by Ingmar Bergman. Winter Light is a truly special film that follows the pastor of a church as he searches for answers from a silent God. 

8. Persona

Oh, that Ingmar Bergman guy? Was I just talking about him? Well how about that, here we are again with one of his masterful works, this time the psychological mind fuck known as Persona. When I saw this film, I had no idea what I was watching unfold, but I didn't care. I knew what I was seeing was brilliantly crafted and the definition of memorable.

7. Night of the Living Dead

The ultimate zombie film from none other than the master himself, George A. Romero. Night of the Living Dead has so much more going on than just the walking dead. It is easy to ignore these days and treat as inconsequential, but this is a horror film released in 1968 and the lead role was a black male who bossed around the white people. Think about that for a second. Think about how controversial it must have been to see at the time.

On a much simpler level, this is a brilliantly made classic and it's entertaining as hell.

"They're coming to get you, Barbara!"

6. Breathless

This film from Jean-Luc Godard can only be described in the most simplistic of terms, even though the picture itself is anything but: it's just so god damn cool. From the model himself in the vein of Bogart Michel to his hip and beautiful girlfriend Patricia, Breathless is one of the earliest and most influential movies from the French New Wave.

5. La Jetee

One of the finest films ever created and it clocks in at less than 30 minutes in length, La Jetee is short but utterly brilliant. Director Chris Marker takes us on a science fiction journey in an unconventional way by delivering a story not with a normal cinematic flow but as a slide show of images and a voice-over narration. La Jetee ended up being the work that influenced the creation of the movie 12 Monkeys, and while I love the Terry Gilliam picture, the original is the masterpiece for me.

4. Dr. Strangelove

The top four films from the 1960's will be a perfect representation of why I consider Stanley Kubrick to be quite possibly the greatest cinematic mind in history. While only two of the four films will be his, they represent just how much range he demonstrated as an auteur and here we have one of the all time most brilliant comedies ever made. Yet another example of Kubrick being extremely anti-war only instead of delivering these messages via Paths of Glory or Full Metal Jacket type narratives, he makes us laugh out loud early and often here.

3. Psycho

If you have been following my lists thus far, you have figured out by now that I am quite the fan of Hitchcock. Psycho is iconic and having the chance to see it on the big screen last year for the first time in my life was quite the experience. Also, is it just me or does Andrew Garfield look an awful lot like Anthony Perkins? Too bad they wasted a remake on Vince Vaughn.

2. Lawrence of Arabia

There was never another film like Lawrence of Arabia and there never will be again. It is a once in a lifetime miracle of cinema, a massive epic that, if it were made today, would demand a 300 million dollar budget and most of it would be wasted on special effects. Don't be fooled by the daunting length of this one and let that stop you from watching, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the smoothest and easiest films I have ever digested.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey

A haunting monolith of cinema, 2001: A Space Odyssey is considered by many to be the greatest achievement in movie history and it is difficult for me to find a compelling reason to disagree. Stanley Kubrick does something mesmerizing and profound with the material by baffling us yet also inspiring his audience into believing that film can be an art form unlike any other. Personally, I think 2001 is a giant, amazing representation of the evolution of humanity, but hey, what the hell do I know?

The most important thing to remember when experiencing 2001 is to not get frustrated trying to analyze the details to death. That first time you see it, who cares what it is about? Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Next up, the 1970's. Oh boy the 1970's. I had to make some real tough choices and leave off some amazing films there. One that did make the cut is depicted above.


  1. Phew! What a great list. Although I hadn't seen any above Breathless, I can say that one of these films permanently affected me. Psycho. I'd never seen a frightening film before my new husband and I went to the movies to watch and slink away afterwards. For years, I was afraid to be in the bathroom alone. I've never been able to like anything else of Hitchcock's without clamping a steel lock around my heart.

    1. Thank you so much Francene, I appreciate the kind words!

      Isn't it amazing, the way Hitchcock crafted films like Psycho that leave such a lasting impression? The way they haunt you long after they are over in ways you never expected?

      The brilliance of his work is the way it lingers, that you may think what you saw wasn't "that" big of a deal yet days, weeks, months, even years later you will think about it and get the chills. Like you said, you were afraid to go in the bathroom alone, and I completely get that. It doesn't sound ideal, living with that fear but it is a huge compliment to a filmmaker that he was able to have that effect on you.