Cinema was fast becoming one of the hottest trends in town, portraying the cultural shifts of the era and the changes in cultures around the world. Movie directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and Stanley Kubrick stormed their way onto the movie scene, releasing some of their best films while simultaneously laying the foundations and paving the way for modern cinema to develop into what it is today.
Whether you’re looking for spaghetti westerns, daring escapades, light-hearted musicals, or film classics, the 1960s had it all. We take a look at some of the most important movies of the decade.
Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
A Rat Pack classic starring the biggest names of that era, the original 1960s Ocean’s Eleven has since been remade into a successful modern franchise featuring the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts. However, you can’t beat the original for the impressive cast and classy production quality. Frank Sinatra plays the role of Danny Ocean who plans to rip off five Las Vegas casinos at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Also starring Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, and Angie Dickinson, this film is filled with hidden details that initially pass you by but later become key moments in the development of the plot.
Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Arguably one of the most influential films ever made, Bonnie & Clyde is often referred to as a landmark in the history of American cinema for its graphic violence, acknowledgment of feminine empowerment, and morally questionable leanings towards sympathy with the glamorous criminals. Starring Warren Beatty as a very handsome Clyde and Faye Dunaway as the refreshingly liberated Bonnie, the film was noted for its successful marriage of traditional American filmmaking with European arthouse cinema styles, paving the way for a more innovative and complex method of filmmaking.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
Famous for being one of the most unforgettable spaghetti westerns of all time, this epic movie starring Clint Eastwood has got it all. A compelling storyline, outstanding performances, stunning scenery, and an evocative soundtrack. This is the last in the Sergio Leone-directed trilogy of westerns in which Eastwood reprises his role of the enigmatic loner, seeking to recover a horde of stolen gold from a merciless bounty hunter, Angel Eyes “the Bad” played by Lee Van Cleef, and a Mexican bandit, “the Ugly” played by Eli Wallach. Eastwood’s character fills the role of “the Good”, however, it transpires that he’s simply quicker off the mark at outsmarting his opponents.
A Big Hand for a Little Lady (1966)
Filled with suspense, drama, and unexpected twists, this thoroughly engaging (though rather dated) American western comedy follows the story of Mary (Joanne Woodward) who takes over the reins of a poker match after her husband appears to suffer a heart attack. Starring an array of shady characters looking to exploit Mary’s perceived inexperience of the game, the film certainly speaks to the gender roles of the time, however, it is a highly entertaining, tightly plotted piece of cinema and raises more than a few laughs.
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
One of those classic nostalgia-inducing films that makes you long for simpler times, Viva Las Vegas is one of Elvis Presley’s most popular films of all time. Presley plays a race-car driver who takes on a job as a casino waiter to raise money so that he can compete in the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Featuring no less than 12 songs, all sung by the King himself, this is one of those rainy-day movies you’ll keep coming back to time and time again.
West Side Story (1961)
Famous for transposing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to contemporary New York City, West Side Story is legend among cinematic circles for being one of the best adaptations of a Broadway musical. This award-winning movie depicts the classical tragedy as two warring New York City gangs, whose hatred of each other keeps escalating until it reaches a point at which neither side can begin to understand the other. However, this feud is turned upside down when Tony from the Jets and Maria from the Sharks meet at a dance and fall in love. The film won the hearts of critics and audiences around the world and still endures as one of the most loved musicals ever made.
The 1960s had all of the ingredients for cinematic success, so it is no wonder that so many of these classic films continue to be favourites to this very day!