Ten Movies I Grew Up With in the Sixties
Movies in the Sixties
To a young boy, the decade of the sixties was a scary and wonderful time to grow up in. For a week in October 1962 the news was full of a possible nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. President Kennedy was murdered. We met the Beatles. There was the so-called Summer of Love in 1967. In 1969, we watched-- live-- a man walking on the moon. And, like other kids, I went to the movies. The impact that some had on me was definitely due to my impressionable youth, while others were truly great. Here, then are ten movies that are stuck in my memory:
The Day Of The Triffids
Day of the Triffids (1962)
This movie, about man-eating plants that could move and a populace mostly blinded by a meteor shower, scared the hell out of me. I was that kid with his hands over his face peeking through his fingers. For three days I couldn't sleep in the dark. I didn't want to go into the back yard because it dropped off and I couldn't see what was just below, waiting for me. I stayed out of the woods I loved to play in. My friends and I ended up seeing it two more times.
It is, of course, one of those cheesy B-grade movies made to scare little kids. If it's on TV, I might watch it just for nostalgia's sake. Two annoying scenes now stand out: the incessant, piercing screams of the woman in the lighthouse and the hypnotic ice cream truck tune that won't... leave... my... head.
IMDB Rating 6.0
Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
I was a kid. What did I know about a cinematic masterpiece? All I knew was I loved this movie, starring Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. I remember, though, being a little disappointed that T. E. Lawrence died AT THE BEGINNING of the movie and then his life in the desert followed. CRAP. Now I know how it ends!
I credit Lawrence of Arabia with contributing to my interest in history-- behind the “glory” and “excitement” of war were the statesmen and puppet masters manipulating events for their own benefit and the advancement of a nation's power.
IMDB Rating 8.5
The Haunting (1963)
Another scary movie, but a deeper horror, from inside the mind. You never saw what was haunting Hill House, just its manifestations: the booming, bowing doors, the shaking circular stairs, the child-like laughter. What really freaked me out was when Julie Harris' character held hands with... something... during the night. Hands in front of the face did nothing to alleviate that terror and I kept my hands under the covers for more than three days.
As I matured, I appreciated The Haunting's more subtle, mental horrors and I still like this version more than the 1999 remake because of that subtlety. I still wonder, however, why people in a haunted house insist on sleeping in their own rooms when something is clearly out to get them.
IMDB Rating 7.7
I paid to see this movie at least four times. Sure, the more-or-less true story of 180 British soldiers holding off 4,000 Zulu warriors who had just wiped out a column of 1,500 British soldiers makes for great cinema, but I also liked the characters (this was Michael Caine's first major role) and the scenary. The other thing was that it treated the Zulus as brave adversaries worthy of respect. I still can't resist watching this movie when it's on television.
IMDB Rating 7.7
A young boy's guilty pleasure. Sean Connery as James Bond. Odd Job. The Aston-Martin. The gold-painted girl. Pussy Galore. This was my first James Bond film and just fun to watch.
I'm sick to death of the franchise now but I'll still watch Goldfinger-- if there's nothing else on. A wiser, older man's guilty pleasure.
IMDB Rating 7.8
Major Dundee (1965)
A war adventure only a young boy could love where an unlikely collaboration of Union troops and their Rebel prisoners take on 'the Apache” and columns of French Regulars with bigger cannons.
This movie, starring Charleton Heston and Richard Harris, did not make the transition. It's a stinker and the acting sucks. The only memorable line is when the “surgeon” rips the young soldier's pants to get at the bullet in his butt and says, “Don't worry, Son. It ain't near your heart”.
IMDB Rating 6.8
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Man, this was weird. Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef in a spaghetti-western set during the Civil War. I think half the people were speaking Italian with English dubbed in-- and they looked Italian. And the singing and music were just totally over the top-- and weird. I saw this a few times and bought the soundtrack. Ahh-ah-ahh-ah-ahhh. Wah-wah-wah. Having said that, The Ecstacy of Gold, which plays during the final cemetery scene was, and still is, magnificent.
I've watched this over the years just to figure out what the hell was going on. I'll still watch it. Besides, Clint's in it.
IMDB Rating 9.0
Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The sixties was the era of the anti-hero and who better to portray this as two murderous criminals like Bonnie (yum) and Clyde? What sticks in my mind is the slow-motion machine-gunning of the two in their car. Even today, it can be shocking to watch-- which is really saying something. Gratuitous, but that's what set it apart.
I can take it or leave it. After all the years since then, true life can easily eclipse Bonnie and Clyde's death throes.
IMDB Rating 8.0
War and Peace
War and Peace (1965 – 1967)
This was the 8-hour Soviet epic that was shown in two 4-hour segments on successive days. I saw this as part of a school program. In the time before computer-generated-imagery (where tens of thousands of Orcs or Greeks fill the screen) most battle scenes were shot on football-sized fields with hundreds of extras. The war scenes in this movie were unforgettable. You felt like you were actually witnessing the French and Russian armies as columns of soldiers marched toward each other up and down hills from horizon to horizon. Over 120,000 extras were used in the battle scenes and it cost upwards of $100 million 1967 dollars (nearly $700 million today). The battles were absolutely stunning-- even worth sitting through hours of conversation.
I've only seen it the one time, although I've seen other period pieces that used some of the footage from it. I would definitely like to see it again-- and even pay more attention to the rest of it.
IMDB Rating 7.8
2001 A Space Odyssey
2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)
What teenager in the late sixties would miss the psychedelic voyage to wherever the hell it went at the end of the movie? Combine going to the moon and the promise of space exploration and (perhaps?) some sentient help from “out there” and you've got something. Then there's the black monolith that seems to show up at various points during human evolution (ooh, can I say evolution?). Much of the movie, by Stanley Kubrick, is enigmatic and obscure, but the hardest to swallow was the United States and Russia working together. Come on.
This is pretty dated. By now we should be colonizing Mars and expanding humanity's reach. Instead we have no real space program (we hire Russians to fly us to the space station, so he got that right) and what actually happened in 2001 had nothing to do with expanding humanity.
IMDB Rating 8.4
That's my list of sixties movies and how I saw them at the time and how I see them now. I've enjoyed revisiting that decade, but now it's time to come back to reality. I find myself watching fewer movies; I hardly ever go to the movie complex and I have yet to see a 3D movie. It seems like an almost joyless experience-- much like flying used to be adventurous, but is now just a horror. I do enjoy mini-series and serial TV shows. Downton Abbey is my current guilty pleasure. One of my favorite series was “Edge of Darkness” (the 1985 original series, not the 2010 Mel Gibson remake) about nuclear weapons, corporate and political power and Gaia. I tend to favor dystopian shows because I fear that's where we are headed. At least I have fewer illusions to dispel-- though a tiny part of me still clings to the hope that our children's children will have a livable world.
© 2012 David Hunt