50 FURIOUS FILMS: THE 1960s
We’re back with another installment of our special decade themed listing of furious film classics. This time we’ve chosen 50 gems from the swingin’ 60s. Not only are they some really fantastic works of cinema but many also happen to be our “comfort movies”. You know, the kinds that you love to watch over and over and that make you feel good on those quiet days when you’re just chillin’ by yourself. There’s a nice mix of smaller dramas, comedies, westerns, sci fi adventures, thrillers and even a few “cult” titles in there. Our hope is that if you haven’t seen some of these already, you’ll give them a watch and they’ll become favorites of yours too.
Remember our motto: It’s all about sharing the film love! And now we give you: 50 FURIOUS FILMS OF THE 1960s, Enjoy!
1. Psycho (1960, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock) Hitchcock, like Orson Welles’ and his film Touch of Evil took what was supposed to be a low budget genre exercise and turned it into something much more. He essentially made the first true slasher film and brought his mastery of visual storytelling to another level. This movie is a great scene by scene lesson in editing and direction.
2. Cape Fear (1962, Dir: J. Lee Thompson) A newly released ex-convict (Robert Mitchum) returns to get revenge on the lawyer (Gregory Peck) who helped put him away. A classic thriller which was later remade by Martin Scorsese (with even better results).
3. The Killers (1964, Dir: Don Siegel) In this second film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway story, two hitmen played by Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager are hired to kill Johnny North (John Cassavetes). After carrying out the job and noticing something wasn’t right they investigate the reason behind North being marked. Co-starring Angie Dickinson, Ronald Reagan, Normal Fell and Claude Akins.
4. Dark of the Sun (1968, Dir: Jack Cardiff) Based on the real life Congo Crisis of the 1960s which was occurring when the film was made, Rod Taylor plays Bruce Curry a merc who is hired by President Ubi (Calvin Lockhart) to rescue European residents of an isolated town which is being attacked by Simbas deep in the jungles of Africa. This is actually a front for what Curry is really being paid for: retrieve a cache of priceless diamonds from a mine’s company vault. Along with his friend Ruffo (Jim Brown) and an ex-Nazi named Heinlein (Peter Carsten) the men set off on a train and encounter a myriad of obstacles which causes a disruption within their outfit.
5. In the Heat of The Night (1967: Dir: Norman Jewison) Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) an expert detective from the big city of Philadelphia travels to Sparta Mississippi to help a local sheriff (Rod Steiger) solve a mysterious murder. This film was made at the height of the Civil Rights movement and was groundbreaking in how it dealt with the evils of racism.
6. Cool Hand Luke (1967, Dir: Stuart Rosenberg) Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) a rebellious war veteran can’t seem to follow the rules of society. After being arrested for cutting the heads of parking meters he’s tossed on a Florida chain gang where he continues to buck the system, becoming a hero to his fellow prisoners.
7. The Good The Bad and The Ugly (1966, Dir: Sergio Leone) Set during the tail end of The Civil War, this epic spaghetti western about three outlaws after a cache of Confederate gold is a benchmark work of cinema.
8. It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1965, Dir: Stanley Kramer) Criminal Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) tells a group of onlookers about a hidden treasure before he dies following a car accident. This sets off a frantic race to find it at any cost. Along the way the group encounter all sorts of obstacles and colorful characters. A truly epic screwball road movie/treasure hunt!
9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Dir: Roman Polanski) Psychological thrillers don’t get much better than this story about a newlyweds Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes) who find themselves living next to satanic cult members in a NYC apartment building. Paranoia and hallucinatory elements crank the tension up to intense levels.
10. Dr. Strangelove (1964, Dir: Stanley Kubrick) All of Stanley Kubrick’s films set around war (Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket) seemed to share common threads: the equally nihilistic and downright idiotic attitudes that are present by many of those in charge. This hilarious black comedy focuses on the unfunny topic of nuclear war and the buffoons that hold the lives of millions in their hands. Legendary comic actor Peter Sellers plays several different offbeat characters, all of whom are some of the zaniest he’s ever created besides his iconic clod Inspector Clouseau.
11. 8 1/2 (1963, Dir: Federico Fellini) A visually mesmerizing surrealistic masterpiece about a film director (Marcello Mastrianni) who is suffering from a creative block. As he tries to work on his new sci-fi project, we see into his mind through flashbacks and visions all of which are mixed together with reality.
12. The Apartment (1960, Dir: Billy Wilder) Billy Wilder’s romantic comedy about an insurance company worker named C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) who rents out his bachelor pad to office supervisors for their weekly flings is a true gem of its time. Baxter begins to fall in love with Ms Kubilik (Shirley MacLaine) a cute elevator operator that is secretly trying to leave her past relationship with a womanizing CEO (Fred McMurray) (who is also Baxter’s boss) behind.
13. The Wild Bunch (1969, Dir: Sam Peckinpah) Sam Peckinpah’s ode to the end of the Old West and the wild world of the outlaw was a beautiful and violent masterpiece of filmmaking. An epic study of honor among bandits that’s filled with beautiful cinematography, humor and visceral action.
14. Blowup (1966, Dir: Michaelangelo Antonioni) Antonioni’s swinging 60s mystery about a freewheeling fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who unknowingly captures a murder on film is a visually intricate masterpiece with a counter-culture edge. The film’s plot inspired several film re-inventions which came later including The Conversation and Blow Out.
15. Bonnie & Clyde (1967, Dir: Arthur Penn) One of the main forerunners of the New Hollywood era which ushered in the 1970s. An explosive, funny and stylized portrait of the real life criminal lovers who robbed their way through the midwest in the 1930s. Featuring amazing performances by the entire cast including Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Michael J Pollard.
16. Bullitt (1968, Dir: Peter Yates) Before Dirty Harry came along, Steve McQueen played Frank Bullitt another tough San Francisco cop who tries to uncover a mystery stemming from a witness murdered while in police custody. This film is probably most well known because it features one of the greatest (and most furious) car chases ever filmed.
17. The Dirty Dozen (1967, Dir: Robert Aldrich) A group of American World War II soldiers turned criminals set to be executed are given a reprieve if they can take out a gathering of Nazi officers successfully. One of the best Men on a Mission films ever made.
18. Easy Rider (1969, Dir: Dennis Hopper) Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda were both veterans of the biker movie genre but with this story they decided to break out of that box and find something more meaningful and important to explore. They play two hippies that are on a motorcycle trip to Mardi Gras but that is just what is on the surface. At its core, the movie is a counterculture, rock and roll driven journey about the idea of what freedom really means.
19. Faces (1968, Dir: John Cassavetes) Whenever I watch John Cassavetes’ films, I really connect with them, much more than I do with say the Nouvelle Vague era (I’d take a Cassavetes film over a Godard anytime). This film is a prime example of the power of low budget filmmaking and how people in front of a camera expressing all their emotions can be just as entertaining as a big action spectacle. Like with many of his films it’s extremely funny and a realistic view of how human’s interact with each other in all their goofiness and ugliness.
20. Danger: Diabolik (1967, Dir: Mario Bava) In the late 60s, America had Adam West as Batman and Italy had a popular fumetti character, the master criminal known as Diabolik (John Phillip Law). Mario Bava crafted a colorful, highly inventive low budget action-adventure film that showcased his brilliance and inventiveness both as a cinematographer and filmmaker.
21. The Great Escape (1963, Dir: John Sturges) Based on a true story about World War II POWs that dig a tunnel beneath the German Stalag to break out. Featuring an all star cast of actors including Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasance.
22. The Birds (1963, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock) A small Northern California town is terrorized by winged nasties. A very simple plot but an extremely entertaining, suspense filled Eco-terror classic. Starring Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor.
23. Hud (1963, Dir: Martin Ritt) Paul Newman stars as Hud, the eldest son of a cattle rancher (Melvyn Douglas). Hud’s nephew (Brandon DeWilde) and the family maid (Patricia Neal) try to get along with him but his cruel, selfish personality causes a destructive rift in the family. One of Paul Newman’s finest performances.
24. A Raisin In the Sun (1961, Dir: Daniel Petrie) An African-American family in the city struggle to seek a better life. One of our favorite Mad As Hell Sidney Poitier films. Co-starring Ruby Dee, Claudia MacNeil and Diana Sands. Based on the play by Lorraine Hansberry.
25. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, Dir: John Ford) John Ford is a filmmaker who I’ve seen a number of films by, but this Western about a small town lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) who is the target of an violent outlaw/bully (Lee Marvin) is one of his most exciting films. I love the characters in the town (what an amazing supporting cast!) and the way the story is told through flashbacks and tense confrontations. It really captures the wild atmosphere of what it must’ve been like back in those days. There’s a violence and trepidation that hangs over the scenes because of Marvin’s Valance who even when hes not on screen remains a dangerous presence. Everything in this movie seems bigger than life, even the steaks served at the local restaraunt/saloon!
26. Medium Cool (1969, Dir: Haskell Wexler) A powerful experimental film by DP/director Haskell Wexler that mixed cinema verite and fictional drama together causing a unique outcome. Robert Forster plays a TV news cameraman who becomes disallusioned after discovering his company is providing the FBI with information taken from different journalists. The most memorable scenes were filmed during a real riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago which was set within the story.
27. Midnight Cowboy (1969, Dir: John Schlesinger) – Two outsiders, a male hustler from the South named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and a grimy street urchin named Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) become friends and help each other survive in the Big Apple. A very emotional and daring work of counterculture cinema from the end of the 60s. Featuring a fantastic theme/score by Harry Nilsson.
28. Peeping Tom (1960, Dir: Michael Powell) This disturbing but captivating psychological thriller about an obsessive filmmaker/serial killer comments on the dangers of voyeurism and the twisted results of mental abuse. It is probably even more relevant today than it was when it was made. Sadly, it was a film that seriously damaged Powell’s career due to the critical disdain.
29. Point Blank (1967, Dir: John Boorman) Lee Marvin is Walker, a man who was left for dead and is back to seek revenge and the money that was stolen from him. A truly furious classic! Co-starring John Vernon, Angie Dickinson and Carroll O’Connor. Based on the Parker character by Donald Westlake.
30. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965, Dir: Russ Meyer) Three buxom go go girls (Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams) take off in their sportscars on a little road trip and find out about an old man who has some money hidden on his land. The girls decide to try to use their good looks to steal it, but their simple plan doesn’t go as easily as they had wished. A super blast of cinematic action and eroticism shot in stark black and white from the busty babe obsessed Russ Meyer.
31. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1967, Dir: Mike Nichols): Set in New England, the film centers on a college history professor named George (Richard Burton) and his hard drinking, loudmouthed wife Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) the daughter of the school’s president. When they invite a young couple (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) over to their home for a drink, the craziness begins as George and Martha unleash their frustrations and personal issues onto them. The emotions are at an all time high, in this explosive, funny and heartbreaking look into the lives of broken people.
32. Shock Corridor (1964, Dir: Sam Fuller) A reporter (Peter Breck) goes undercover into a mental hospital to solve a murder but while investigating begins to go crazy himself. A mad as hell pulp tale.
33. Requiem For a Heavyweight (1962, Dir: Ralph Nelson) One of the finest dramas revolving around the sport of boxing which preceded such classics as Rocky and Raging Bull. The screenplay was written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling and features incredsible performances from Anthony Quinn, Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Julie Harris.
34. Gambit (1966, Dir: Ronald Neame) This con caper gem stars Michael Caine and Shirley MacClaine as two burglars who team up to steal a priceless antique from Mr. Shahbandar (Herbert Lom) the worlds richest man.
35. El Dorado (1966, Dir: Howard Hawks) In this remake of Rio Bravo, John Wayne plays Cole Thornton a drifter who is caught up in a ranchers wrath on his old friend, a town sheriff (Robert Mitchum) that has become a drunk. Co-starring James Caan and Christopher George.
36. Seconds (1966, Dir: John Frankenheimer) A story about a secret organization that grants certain people a wish of restarting their lives with a new identity. A visually stylized, twisted neo noir which stars Rock Hudson, Will Geer and Jeff Corey.
37. In Cold Blood (1967, Dir: Richard Brooks) Two criminals (Scott Wilson and Robert Blake) out to steal some money from a family end up killing them all. This captivating true story was based on the book by Truman Capote and is a character study of the men as they travel on the road while evading the law.
38. X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes (1963, Dir: Roger Corman) Low budgets be damned, Roger Corman created this enthralling, fast paced story about a doctor named Xavier (Ray Milland) who creates a miraculous x-ray vision serum. The only problem is the side effects cause Xavier to go a bit mad. Soon he is on the run from the law while trying to reach the outer limits of the power he has discovered. A fantastic little sci-fi B-thriller that delivers.
39. Planet of the Apes (1968, Dir: Franklin Schaffner) A group of U.S. astronauts led by Taylor (Charlton Heston) crash land on a planet where they encounter a race of human hating apes. One of our favorite mad as hell sci-fi/adventures!
40. Once Upon A Time in The West (1968, Dir: Sergio Leone) This sprawling epic masterpiece focuses on the modern changes in the West and also a personal tale of one man’s need for revenge. Starring Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda and Jason Robards.
41. Breathless (1960, Dir: Jean Luc Godard) A wannabe Humphrey Bogart/French criminal on the lam (Jean Paul Belmondo) falls in love with an American journalist (Jean Seberg). This directorial debut from the Nouvelle Vague’s original “Enfant Terrible” is also our favorite for its furious style, inventive camerawork and editing.
42. Targets (1968, Dir: Peter Bogdanovich) Producer Roger Corman gave first time director Peter Bogdanovich the chance to make a film if he could incorporate leftover footage from his movie The Terror (1963) and Karloff himself. What he created was this intrigiuing two tier story about a legendary horror film actor (Karloff) on the verge of retirement and a psychotic sniper (Tim O’Kelly) who goes on a killing spree.
43. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, Dir: George Roy Hill) Based on the true story of the legendary outlaws starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. One of the greatest Westerns ever made.
44. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969, Dir: Peter R. Hunt)First time actor George Lazenby only played James Bond 007 once but in our opinion he was outstanding as the legendary British spy and should’ve been cast in more of the films.
45. Take The Money and Run (1969, Dir: Woody Allen) In his hilarious directorial debut, comedy writer/stand up comic turned filmmaker Woody Allen plays criminal Virgil Starkwell. This film follows his life from early childhood when he committed petty crimes to his adult years where he falls in love and robs banks.
46. Yojimbo (1961, Dir: Akira Kurosawa) If you loved Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars (1964), you should definitely check out the original film it was based on. Starring the great Toshiro Mifune as a lone samurai who plays two warring factions against each other.
47. The Producers (1968, Dir: Mel Brooks) Mel Brooks’ directorial debut tells the tale of Broadway producer/shyster Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and his new accountant (Gene Wilder) who come up with a foolproof plan to make lots of dough. They’ll produce a massive flop then use the non refundable investment money to split out of the country. Only the play, distastefully titled “Springtime For Hitler” which they expect to close in one day, ends up being a smash hit. This movie is a furiously funny masterpiece.
48. Putney Swope (1969, Dir: Robert Downey) An offbeat, funny, very clever satire about the world of advertising, corporate power structures and portrayal of race in popular culture.
49. Night of the Living Dead (1968, Dir: George A. Romero) A group of Pennsylvania residents are trapped in a country house when the dead rise from graves and begin attacking. A paranoia induced B-movie classic which spawned a new subgenre.
50. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Dir: Stanley Kubrick) This existential sci-fi epic was a benchmark for its technical innovation and storytelling methods. It is definitely a film that is best experienced on the big screen in all its visual splendor although a hi-definition Blu Ray on a big TV screen should work for home viewing.