Greatest Films of the 1960s
Greatest Films of the 1960s

Greatest Films of the 1960s
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969


Academy Awards for 1967 Films
Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Belle de Jour (1967, Fr./It.), 101 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

Bonnie and Clyde (1967), 111 minutes, D: Arthur Penn
Director Arthur Penn's groundbreaking, controversial, stylish biographical crime drama/romance - and road film - was about a 1930s bank-robbing couple and gang. Its tagline proclaimed: "They're young. They're in love. And they kill people." It had an easy-going, almost-cartoonish, folksy flavor combined with bloody, graphically-violent shoot-outs - especially in its bullet-riddled ending. The landmark film ushered in an increase in visceral cinematic violence, and was influential in setting some fashion trends for the day. The saga was based on the true-life exploits of the notorious Depression-era, early 1930s bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. In the film's stunning opening, gun-toting, amoral ex-con, and impotent drifter Clyde (Warren Beatty) rescued dreamer Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) from her drab existence in her small Texas town as a waitress after a failed attempt to steal her mother's car. The debonair crook then tried to impress Bonnie with his gun substituting as a phallic symbol, and regaled her with colorful tales of the outlaw life by portraying himself as a kind of Robin Hood. Later, he was joined by the so-called Barrow Gang, that included Clyde's older, All-American, hearty, loud-mouthed, ex-con brother Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman), his flighty and hysterical wife Blanche (Academy Award-winning Estelle Parsons) - a preacher's daughter, and dim-witted gas-station mechanic-attendant C.W. Moss (Michael Pollard) who served as the gang's chauffeur-driver - during Mack Sennett-styled stolen car getaways accompanied by twangy banjo music. The group went on a bumbling crime spree through Texas and Oklahoma, first with some disastrous small-time heists before graduating to full-scale bank robberies (and more deaths). Hostages were taken in a humorous joyride - mortician Eugene Grizzard (Gene Wilder) and girlfriend Velma Davis (Evans Evans). And during their later road trip escapades, Bonnie became enamoured by the gang's celebrity and notoriety, and she kept a scrapbook of their misdeeds, as well as composed poetry and a ballad about their exploits. A statewide manhunt was issued by Texas Ranger Capt. Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle), who at one point was captured, handcuffed, and belittled by the gang - to specifically humiliate him. During a lethal shootout in Iowa, Buck was shot in the face and mortally-wounded, while Blanche was also blinded, and later captured and taken into police custody. The remaining group of three sought shelter in the Louisiana home of C.W.'s father Ivan (Malcolm) Moss (Dub Taylor). He cooperated with police to plan a cold-blooded ambush for Bonnie and Clyde, in order to acquire a more lenient sentence for his son. He pretended to have a truck flat tire by the side of the road - where Hamer's forces behind bushes opened fire when the Barrows stopped to help. As the two lovers took a final glance at each other, their bodies were solidly pummeled with a fusillade of bullets - in a slow-motion ballet of death.

Cool Hand Luke (1967), 126 minutes, D: Stuart Rosenberg
Based on Donn Pearce's novel and one of the great prison-chain-gang films. A spirited, irreverent, social misfit Luke (Paul Newman) is arrested for destroying parking meters and imprisoned in a tough Southern prison farm, commanded by a sadistic, prison officer Captain (Strother Martin). After boxing with the chain-gang boss Dragline (George Kennedy), he eventually becomes a hero to his fellow inmates, earning the title "Cool Hand Luke" because his will cannot be broken. A visit by Luke's dying mother (Jo Van Fleet) reveals facts about his past. The stubborn, unruly and independent rebel refuses to submit and continually and cooly defies the authorities with repeated escape attempts. As the inmates start worshipping him as a folk hero, he risks everything in order to live up to their expectations, and is sacrificed in the tragic climax. With the memorable line of dialogue: "What we have here is failure to communicate," and the classic egg-eating scene.

The Dirty Dozen (1967), 149 minutes, D: Robert Aldrich

Divorce American Style (1967), 109 minutes, D: Bud Yorkin
Director Bud Yorkin's marital romantic comedy was a cautionary tale about the foibles of marriage, with an Oscar-nominated story and witty, satirical but sanitized screenplay by Robert Kaufman and Norman Lear. It starred Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds as an unhappily-married suburban couple. The serious dark comedy provided a non-stereotypical role for both of its "squeaky clean" lead performers. The two central characters in an LA suburban were an angry, upper middle-class, mid-30s married couple: Richard (Dick Van Dyke) and Barbara Harmon (Debbie Reynolds) - the discontented, unhappy bickering couple, married for 17 years, were experiencing serious marital problems. They revealed that they lived in a $49,000 house with two teenaged boys, two cars, and slovenly maid-housekeeper Celia (Bella Bruck) who was paid $250 per month, all sustained by breadwinner "big-shot" Richard's successful managerial job at Delaney Manufacturing. Their conversation revealed that Barbara had suggested that they pursue family therapy counseling with Viennese-accented psychologist Dr. Zenwinn (Martin Gabel), but Richard was reluctant and Barbara attended alone over the past two years. She summarized their major problem: "There's just no communication. We're strangers, Richard. Total strangers." In the film's most impressive scene without music or dialogue, the two annoyed and bickering individuals went into their bedroom and proceeded through their synchronized, monotonous nightly routine. Richard visited with his friend and co-worker Lionel Blandsforth (Joe Flynn), who suggested that Richard have a life both inside and outside of his marriage: ("A little hanky-panky now and then, that's a must for guys like us"). Richard was delivered by Lionel to the apartment of his own hooker - Dede Murphy (Lee Grant), but she ultimately refused to have sex with Lionel's inebriated friend. A brief rapprochement between Richard and Barbara over champagne occurred although was ruined when Richard mentioned visiting Dede Murphy. Richard moved out and their marriage really disintegrated, shredded and unraveled. Barbara was encouraged to talk to a lawyer and consider divorce by a well-meaning friend. Barbara phoned lawyer David Grieff (Shelley Berman), who urged her to visit her bank and empty out their joint bank account and safe deposit box. Barbara and Richard caught each other in the act in the same bank, and soon after, the estranged couple took decisive steps to seek lawyers and to file for divorce. In a bowling alley with his two sons on a Sunday, Richard met newly-divorced Nelson Downes (Jason Robards), the victim of a messy divorce years earlier, who instantly recognized that Richard was a divorcing father. In a pimp-like role, Nelson took Richard to his home and urged the soon-to-be-divorced Richard to meet and get to know his former wife pretty brunette Nancy (Jean Simmons), hoping they would hit it off, get married, and end his alimony payments. Nancy explained why she hadn't remarried - it was due to economics - it had been difficult to find a suitable or ideal mate who could afford her expensive needs and lifestyle. In the divorce property settlement, Richard was hit with all the debts, payments and premiums, while stripped of everything he had, and after alimony obligations, he was left with $87.30 per week. Richard's accustomed lifestyle drastically changed when he moved into a motel room kitchenette - a small one-bedroom apartment. Both Richard and Barbara suffered the trials of post-divorce dating. Richard dated Nancy and found himself falling in love with her, although they weren't a perfect financial match. Nelson became more and more anxious for Richard to hook up with Nancy, since his pregnant fiancee Eunice Tase (Eileen Brennan in her film debut) from Bakersfield was pressing him for a wedding date. Nelson and Nancy conspired to set up Barbara with millionaire used car dealer Al Yearling (Van Johnson), an ex-Momma's boy who had dated Nancy years earlier. Barbara began regularly seeing Al, while Richard became engaged to Nancy. In the climactic, turning point scene in Monty's restaurant the evening before the year-long Harmon divorce decree at midnight was to be finalized, the trio of fiancees (Nancy and Richard, Barbara and Al, and Nelson and Eunice) met together for drinks to celebrate the successful resolution of all their match-making plans. Things turned out unexpectedly. As part of the evening's entertainment, Barbara was chosen by a hypnotist (Pat Collins) to be put into a trance. After performing a striptease, she was instructed to passionately kiss the man she truly loved. She bypassed an expectant Al and chose to kiss Richard, thereby rekindling their romance. In the film's improbable and pseudo-happy ending, at their front door, Barbara and Richard decided to forgo the divorce and reconciled.

Far From the Madding Crowd (1967, UK), 168 minutes, D: John Schlesinger

The Graduate (1967), 106 minutes, D: Mike Nichols
Acclaimed, satirical, ground-breaking, coming-of-age romantic drama/comedy about a shy, naive college graduate confronting the real world. In the late '60s, a confused, alienated, idealistic, and vulnerable college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman in a breakthrough performance) was uncertain about his future and struggling to find his future place in life, reacting with passive rebellion. Without ambition or responsibility after a spoiled, upper-class upbringing, he received career advice from his overbearing suburban family's associates - "plastics" - a catchword for an entire generation, just days after receiving his diploma. While seduced by the wife of his father's business partner - a rapacious alcoholic named "Mrs. Robinson" (Anne Bancroft), he fell in love with her engaged daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). Ultimately, he stole Elaine away from marriage to another man in the climactic finale. The influential and popular film, with a hit Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, became an emotional touchstone for an entire generation. This film established Mike Nichols as a major director and was Hoffman's first major role. Buck Henry, appearing in the film as a hotel clerk, co-wrote the influential screenplay, based on the novel by Charles Webb.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), 108 minutes, D: Stanley Kramer

Hombre (1967), 111 minutes, D: Martin Ritt

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), 121 minutes, D: David Swift
This musical comedy film version (with Bob Fosse choreography) virtually duplicated Frank Loesser's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from 1961 - it included two stars reprising their roles from the stage: Robert Morse (as boyish, gap-toothed ex-window washer and ambitious, up-and-coming corporate executive J. Pierpont "Ponty" Finch), and Rudy Vallee (as pompous boss Jasper B. Biggley). In this cynical and satirical look at corporate America in the mid-1960s, with all its corporate chicanery, gray flannel suits, executive washrooms, and office sexism, the strongly-ambitious 27 year-old Finch bought a self-help guidebook titled: "How to Succeed in Business..." to begin his ascent up the corporate ladder, using mostly devious and sneaky methods. He took a job in the NY offices of the World Wide Wicket Company, working under eccentric boss Biggley and ingratiating himself by posing as a graduate of Grand Old Ivy, Biggley's alma mater. Soon, he became VP of Advertising, and began a romance with cute secretary Rosemary Pilkington (Michele Lee in her film debut). At the same time, Biggley was having an affair with hip-swiveling, curvaceous, high-pitch voiced, but incompetent office worker Hedy LaRue (Maureen Arthur), his secret live-in girlfriend. Finch arranged a tryst between rival Bud Frump (Anthony Teague), Biggley's bratty, whiny and nepharious nephew and Hedy, thereby eliminating the co-worker. He also disposed of troublesome Mr. Ovington (Murray Matheson) by exposing that his alma mater was Biggley's rival college. His successful advancement eventually brought him to the position of Chairman of the Board.

In Cold Blood (1967), 134 minutes, D: Richard Brooks

In the Heat of the Night (1967), 109 minutes, D: Norman Jewison
An intense who-dunit detective-mystery story thriller, and Best Picture-winning film, set in the little town of Sparta, Mississippi during a hot summer, with an innovative score by Quincy Jones and title song sung by Ray Charles. Norman Jewison masterfully directed this murder melodrama from a screenplay by Stirling Silliphant that was based on John Ball's novel. The film's posters proclaimed: "They got a murder on their hands. They don't know what to do with it." The liberal-minded film, realistically-filmed by cinematographer Haskell Wexler (who had just filmed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and would later go on to Coming Home (1978)), was a milestone for the racially-divided mid-60s because it forced the odd-couple collaboration of a bigoted but shrewd, redneck Southern sheriff named Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) and a lone, intelligently-clever black homicide expert from Philadelphia named Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier). The film, with a non-white actor in a lead acting role, was so controversial that it couldn't be filmed in the Deep South, so the sets were recreated in various small towns in two states: Illinois: (Sparta, Freeburg, and Belleville) and Tennessee (Dyersburg).

The Jungle Book (1967), 78 minutes, D: Disney Studio

Playtime (1967, Fr./It.), 124 minutes, D: Jacques Tati

Point Blank (1967), 92 minutes, D: John Boorman
A dreamy, non-linear thriller plot, with flashbacks, time lapses, and bold surrealistic colors. Left for dead before the opening credits, Walker (Lee Marvin) then seeks revenge against a Los Angeles crime syndicate.

Two for the Road (1967, UK), 112 minutes, D: Stanley Donen

Valley of the Dolls (1967), 123 minutes, D: Mark Robson
Based upon Jacqueline Susann's 1966 best-selling book, this trashy, 'it's-so-bad-it's-good' soap-opera feature-length film became Fox Studios' top money-maker hit for 1968, although it was severely criticized by most film critics. The title of the trashy melodramatic film referred to 'uppers' and 'downers' - barbiturate pills. Three fame-seeking, aspiring starlets who became 'corrupted' by Hollywood were bitchy Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke), Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins), and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate). The campy classic included scenes of their sexual dalliances (never very explicit) and their failings due to pill-popping (pills=dolls) and drinking. Most of the sex (filmed in silhouette), scandal, and drug abuse now seem tame by today's standards, although appropriate for the 1960s.

Wait Until Dark (1967), 108 minutes, D: Terence Young

Week End (1967, Fr./It.), 105 minutes, D: Jean-Luc Godard

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