1960s films

The decade is known for being prominent in historical drama, psychological horror, and comedy, as well as the sub-genres of spy film, sword and sandal, and spaghetti westerns, all peaking during this decade.

  • Historical drama films continued to include epics, in the style of Ben-Hur from 1959, with Cleopatra (1963), but also evolving with 20th-century settings, such as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) andDoctor Zhivago (1965).
  • Psychological horror films extended, beyond the stereotypical monster movies of Dracula/Frankenstein or Wolfman, to include more twisted films, such as Psycho (1960) and Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations for American International Pictures as well as British companies Hammer Horror and Amicus Productions. Other European filmmakers like Mario Bava directed many notable horror movies.
  • Comedy films became more elaborate, such as The Pink Panther (1963), The President’s Analyst (1967), or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) elevated the concept of a comedy-drama, where the subtle comedy conceals the harsher elements of the drama beneath, and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) set a new standard for satire by turning a story about nuclear holocaust into a sophisticated black comedy.
  • Beyond the trenchcoat and film noir, spy films expanded with worldly settings and hi-tech gadgets, such as the James Bond films Dr. No(1962) or Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). This Spy mania extended throughout the world with many countries notable Italy and Spain producing many of their own fantastical spy movies.
  • Similar to spy films, the heist or caper film included worldly settings and hi-tech gadgets, as in the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960), Topkapi(1964) or The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film).
  • The spaghetti westerns (made in Italy and Spain), were typified by Clint Eastwood movies, such as For a Few Dollars More (1965) or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Several other American and Italian actors were also prominent in such westerns including Lee Van Cleef and Franco Nero.
  • Science-fiction or fantasy films employed a wider range of special effects, as in the original of The Time Machine (1960) and Mysterious Island (1961), or with animated aliens or mythical creatures, as in the Harryhausen animation for Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Some extensive sets were built to simulate alien worlds or zero-gravity chambers, as in space-station and spaceship sets for the epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the psychedelic, space settings for the erotic Barbarella (1968), and with ape-city in the original Planet of the Apes. Russian fairy-tale fantasy was also prominent with the likes of Aleksandr Rou directing many such movies.

 

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