10 Essential Movies From The 1960s

If the 1970s were a sort of renaissance for movies, the 1960s laid the groundwork. There was so much going on in that decade that it would be virtually impossible for a reflective medium like film to not show signs of the times. But, since movies are large undertakings that require a significant amount of time to actually make, the cultural shifts of this period in history were represented far more towards the end of the decade, particularly its final three years. When it comes to the concept of the “New Hollywood” that is most commonly identified with the work of guys like Spielberg, Coppola, and Scorsese in the 70s, its actual year of birth is probably 1967, when subversive movies finally found the converging point of a) getting made, and b) being popular enough to be a lucrative endeavor.

American society was going through a period of upheaval, with the hippie generation and its countercultural movement influencing the country’s sensibilities whether they liked it or not. Cinema itself was in a state of transition as well, with the Hollywood studio system coming apart and the growing interest in the art cinema in places like France attracting the attention of cinephiles and art aficionados alike. It was the beginning of the rise of the whole idea of a filmmaker, of one person being ultimately responsible for the end product of a movie, analogous to the way a novelist is responsible for the outcome of a novel. It was the 60s, so the fact that this was hopelessly reductive didn’t matter all that much. The way movies were being made, and who was making them, was all starting to change at once.

Here are 10 movies that paint a picture of the kind of decade that the 1960s were for Hollywood cinema.

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