hmv.com Presents... Decades: Our Top 10 Films of the 1960s
To celebrate the special offers happening in hmv stores across the country over the next few weeks, each week we'll be picking our top 10 films from each decade. Today we pick our top 10 films of the 1960s...
All the below films are included in the in-store offers - check with your local hmv for details...
10. The Graduate
The film that really launched the acting career of Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate is stylish and atmospheric as well as containing some genuine laugh-out-load moments thanks to the awkwardness of Hoffman's naive character Benjamin Braddock. Meanwhile, Anne Bancroft's performance as the sexually frustrated and predatory Mrs. Robinson set the template for shows like Cougar Town and supported by an excellent soundtrack from the pens of Simon & Garfunkel, it's an all-time classic that's still as much fun to watch as it ever was.
9. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Italian director Sergio Leone was the key figure behind the 'Spaghetti Western' films of the 1960s and there is no finer explanation to his popularity as this timeless classic from 1966. The final instalment in his celebrated 'Dollars' trilogy after A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, the film once again stars Clint Eastwood and its stylish and often brutal sequences helped redefine what a western should be. Like the others in the series, the score is provided by the legendary Ennio Morricone and the 'Dollars' films have become a huge influence on directors such as Quentin Tarantino.
You know a film has reached iconic status when it becomes the subject of parody and comedian Leigh Francis' bizarre Craig David character from Bo Selecta! is, according to Francis, based more on Billy Casper, the central character from Ken Loach's film, than on the Southampton-born singer. Featuring an outstanding performance from the young David Bradley, Loach's film was one of the first to address the issue of bullying on the big screen and it is a brilliantly woven depiction of life for adolescents in the working class neighbourhoods of northern Britain. Vital, moving and, at times, utterly heartbreaking, it's a film that doesn't look anywhere near its age.
7. Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
Stanley Kubrick's razor-sharp satire on the subject of nuclear war is made all the better for Peter Sellers' performance, injecting a kind of urgent, mad energy into a the blackest of black comedies in his roles as Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and, of course, Nazi nuclear scientist Dr. Strangelove. Kubrick's film brilliantly skewers the McCarthyist paranoia of the cold war era and it's probably the funniest film he ever made. Actually, it's probably one of the funniest political films anyone ever made, so for that reason we had to put it in our top ten.
6. Easy Rider
Dennis Hopper's film was, and remains, one of the most vital social documents of the 1960s, being one of the first films depicting American counter-culture to become a true mainstream success. Starring Hopper himself alongside Peter Fonda as one of two drug-smuggling bikers riding across America from Mexico, Easy Rider's popularity at the box office reflected a growing movement of dissent against the backdrop of the controversial Vietnam conflict and backed up by one of the coolest soundtracks of the decade its status as a classic is well-deserved.
Possibly Alfred Hitchcock's most iconic film, Psycho will forever be remembered for the shrieking, stabbing sounds of Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack which accompany Marion's brutal murder in the shower at the hands of the unhinged Norman Bates. Aside from being one of the most memorable scenes ever committed to celluloid, it also features Anthony Perkins delivering the performance of a lifetime as the deeply disturbed proprietor of the Bates Motel for which, astonishingly, he didn't even received so much as nomination from the Academy, but even though the film is more than 50 years old it still has the power to captivate and keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird
Adapted from Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a lawyer in the Deep South of the 1950s defending a black man against a bogus rape charge, Robert Mulligan's 1962 film was one of the most important and influential films to be released in an era when the civil rights movement was just beginning to make progress. Featuring an excellent performance from Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and an early screen appearance from Robert Duvall as the reclusive and mysterious Boo Radley, To Kill A Mockingbird is a brilliantly executed adaptation of Lee's book and, in the shadow of current happenings in Ferguson, Missouri, it's easy to see why its message is every bit as relevant today as it was back then.
Steve McQueen was the embodiment of masculine cool in the 1960s, with performances in a string of stylish films that included Cool Hand Luke, The Great Escape and The Thomas Crown Affair, but it's in Peter Yates' 1968 film that he takes on arguably his most iconic role as the Mustang driving San Francisco cop Frank Bullitt. Not only did this film redefine the standards of what a car chase should be, it turned the Ford Mustang GT into one of the coolest cars on the planet and influenced countless other great films like The French Connection and Drive. Throw in a super cool jazz-influenced soundtrack composed by Lalo Schifrin and the result is one of the decade's most stylish films.
2. The Italian Job
Subject to a remake starring Mark Wahlberg in 2003, Peter Collinson's 1969 original is still the best thanks to some fantastic car chase sequences through the streets of Turin, as well as some excellent performances from the cast, particularly Michael Caine in the lead role of Charlie Croker and Noel Coward as the aristocratic crime boss Mr. Bridger. The film also features an appearance from Benny Hill as Professor Peach, the oddball mastermind behind the traffic chaos that allows the robbers to successfully steal a shipment of gold from under the noses of the Mafia. Featuring some of the most often-quoted lines in cinematic history and capped by a cliffhanger ending in the most literal sense, it's not just one of the best films of the 1960s, it's also one of the best British films ever made. All together now: “You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off...”
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick's baffling sci-fi epic was a pioneering moment in cinema and has rightly become regarded as a much loved classic, despite its baffling plot and intense, hallucinogenic sequences. Its story of a series of monoliths placed by an alien civilisation as markers of human evolution is a tough one to grasp and many people tend to remember the film most for HAL 9000, the malevolent computer controlling Dr. Dave Bowman's spacecraft. Eerie, beautifully shot and with a soundtrack to match its scale and grandeur, it's one of Kubrick's best moments and an all-time favourite for us.