National Classic Movie Day Blogathon: 6 From the ’60s

I don’t seem to have the time for participating in blogathons like I used to years ago.

But I never let anything stand in the way of celebrating National Classic Movie Day by joining the annual blogathon hosted by Rick over at the Classic Film and TV Café.

He’s had some great topics in the past – including Five Movies on an Island and My Favorite Movie – and this year is no different, shining the spotlight on six favorite films from the 1960s. Choosing my six was an easy task, initially, until I started finding additional films that I couldn’t believe I’d overlooked the first time around – there was a good deal of switching and substituting, eliminating and reinstating – but at long last, I came up with my final list. Submitted for your approval, my six favorite films of the 1960s.

In no particular order.

“Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein, what a beautiful, beautiful name.”

Funny Girl (1968)

This Barbra Streisand-starrer was one of those that didn’t make my list the first time around. But when I reviewed the decade’s titles again recently, this one jumped out at me like a Jack in the Box. As a rule, I’m no huge fan of musicals, but I’ve loved this one since I was a little girl and taped all the songs off of the TV so I could learn every word. Some of the tunes (“I’d Rather Be Blue”, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, and “My Man”) are still among my favorites to this day.

The film tells the story of comedienne Fanny Brice, from her humble beginnings in vaudeville, to her rise to fame and fortune, and her ill-fated marriage to her first husband, gambler Nick Arstein (Omar Sharif). In addition to the principal players, the film features Kay Medford as Brice’s mother, Walter Pidgeon as Florenz Ziegfeld, and Anne Francis as Fanny’s best buddy in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Favorite quote: “I’m a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls!” – Fanny Brice

She’ll never win Mother of the Year.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

I first saw The Manchurian Candidate in 1988, after MGM/UA made it available for release in theaters and on video. I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate it – or to really even understand what was going on. I’m mature enough now. (BOY, am I!)

This riveting film is about Raymond Shaw, the son of a politically powerful family who is brainwashed into assassinating the leading candidate for the U.S. presidency. It turns out that Shaw, along with several other servicemen, had undergone extensive hypnotism and mind-manipulation while serving together in Manchuria during the Korean War, as part of a Communist plot. The top-notch cast includes Laurence Harvey as Shaw, Frank Sinatra in the role of Shaw’s wartime comrade and closest friend, and Angela Lansbury as one of the most diabolical, thoroughly evil mothers on record.

Favorite quote: “It’s a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn’t always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her.” – Raymond Shaw

They rob banks. (And look good doing it.)

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

I remember first seeing Bonnie and Clyde at the drive-in when I was a little girl – my mother didn’t have any qualms about introducing me to films that today’s world would deem unsuitable for children. (And thank goodness she didn’t!) The main visual that was seared into my consciousness was the scene where the title characters meet their bullet-riddled demise. It wasn’t scary to me – it was more fascinating than anything – and totally unforgettable. That scene still leaves me breathless.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty star as the duo who robbed and shot their way across the country in the Depression-era 1930s before finally being gunned down by Texas lawmen. The outstanding cast also includes Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons as Clyde Barrow’s brother, Buck, and his criminally reluctant and continuously hysterical wife Blanche; Michael J. Pollard as C.W. Moss, another member of the Barrow gang; and Dub Taylor, C.W.’s duplicitous father who facilitates that downfall of Bonnie and Clyde.

Favorite quote: “This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks.” – Clyde Barrow

Crawford and Davis: what a team!

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

I wasn’t sure about including Baby Jane on my list until recently, when I showed it to my two daughters and remembered just how much I love this film. This is another one I remember seeing as a little girl and it served as my introduction to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I had no idea at the time that they would turn out to be my two favorite actresses.

In the film, aging former child performer Baby Jane Hudson (Davis) lives in a crumbling Hollywood mansion with her sister, Blanche (Crawford), who’d once enjoyed a successful movie career but is now paralyzed and unremittingly tortured by her younger sibling. The movie belongs almost exclusively to Davis and Crawford, except for featured roles by Maidie Norman, who plays Blanche’s sharp-witted (but not quite sharp enough) caretaker, and Victor Buono as an unemployed piano player who thinks he’s hit pay dirt when he answers an ad placed by Jane.

Favorite quote: “I didn’t bring your breakfast, because you didn’t eat your din-din!” – Jane Hudson

Eddie and Minnesota Fats face off.

The Hustler (1961)

Although The Hustler isn’t exactly a “feel good” movie, I had to include it on this list, because the performances are just so amazing. I watched it again a few weeks ago, during TCM’s Special Home Edition film festival and was once again riveted – like I was seeing it for the first time.

Paul Newman stars as “Fast Eddie” Felson, the small-time hustler of the film’s title, who yearns to use his skills and talents as a pool player to launch into the upper echelon of high-stakes gaming. The movie takes us through the ups and downs of Eddie’s existence, from besting real-life famed pool player Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), only to lose the thousands of dollars he’s won, to teaming with a ruthless manager (George C. Scott) who has only his own best interests at heart but who unwittingly serves as the catalyst for Eddie’s moral breakthrough. The film also stars Piper Laurie, in a heartbreaking performance of Eddie’s damaged girlfriend.

Favorite quote: “I’m the best you ever seen, Fats. I’m the best there is. And even if you beat me, I’m still the best.” – Fast Eddie

Who wouldn’t want a father like Atticus?

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

The more I see To Kill a Mockingbird, the more I fall in love with it. There’s just so much to love, so much to be fascinated by. Even the smallest, most commonplace conversations seem to be teeming with significance and depth.

Set in the 1930s, the central story of To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the attempts of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. But there’s so much more going on – the relationship between Atticus’s children, Scout and Jem, and their summer visitor, Dill; the lessons – both big and small – that they learn; and the mystery surrounding their reclusive neighbor, known as “Boo” Radley. Atticus is the heart and soul of the film – he’s played to perfection by Gregory Peck, who creates a portrait of the father every one of us would love to have.

Favorite quote: “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.” – Atticus Finch

And that’s it! My six favorite movies from the 1960s. What movies would be on your list?

——-

This post is part of the Classic Film and TV Cafe Blogathon celebrating National Classic Movie Day. Click here to read the great posts offered as part of this year’s event!

You only owe it to yourself. And the writer in you.

~ by shadowsandsatin on May 16, 2020.

11 Responses to “National Classic Movie Day Blogathon: 6 From the ’60s”

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird is an exquisite film and the two things I admire most about it are he very realistic performances by the children and that haunting, evocative music score. I once had the joy of interviewing Piper Laurie, so I especially enjoy seeing her in The Hustler. But The Manchurian Candidate is my favorite movie on your list. It’s just as powerful today as it was in the 1960s and the performances are perfect, especially Frank Sinatra (his best role?), Laurence Harvey, and Angela Lansbury.

  2. You make such a strong case for why each of these movies is a favourite and ultimately made your list. It is a deliciously difficult exercise, and I can’t wait to find out what awaits us next year.

    Happy National Classic Movie Day.

  3. Excellent choices, Karen. Not only are these notable films from the 1960s, they are notable films, period.

  4. i could have gone with james bond, john wayne, etc., etc. but, i really feel the films of the ’60’s belonged to peter sellers & roger corman…5. house of usher (1960), 4. the wild angels (1967), 3. a shot in the dark (1964), 2. dr. strangelove (1964), 1. the party (1968…i still hurt from laughing so hard)…and of course add i love you alice b. toklas (1968)

    • Wow, Joe, I have never seen any of these! However, after expressing an interest in Dr. Strangelove, I received it for Christmas and am very much looking forward to watching it, and I have seen part of The Party, the scene where Peter Sellers loses his shoe. It was hilarious. I really would like to see the whole thing. I will have to keep an eye out for it. Thank you so much for sharing your list!

  5. I am so glad you are still going l have so much admiration for you.

  6. All great picks. Our lists aren’t the same, but five of your six were very nearly – or should have been – on mine. Very glad you kept Baby Jane in, by the way. Though the industry was going through huge changes during that decade, you wouldn’t know it for the abundance of wonderful films that came out of the ’60s.

  7. Nice post, Karen! I liked hearing the reasons behind why these films were your favorites! I’ve seen everything but “The Hustler”, and am recording that on the DVR so I can see why you included it in your list.

    Not in any particular order, here are my top 6: “The Misfits” (1961); “Goldfinger” (1964); “Psycho” (1960); “Charade” (1963); “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967); and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968).

    My favorite film era is the late silent period through the end of studio system (circa 1920-1962). It’s kind of a joke between the people I know and me that I don’t really watch more recent cinema–the number of films I watch from 1960s onward drops significantly from 1962-present day. That being said, the 1960s had some truly wonderful innovative films from the joy and energy of Beatlemania in “A Hard Day’s Night” to John Cassavetes’ groundbreaking films (“Faces”).

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, and I think I will be re-watching the films on your list very soon! 🙂

    • Both Psycho and Rosemary’s Baby were definite contenders for my list, too! So good. Have you read Rosemary’s Baby? I just read it last year.

      My favorite era is just a little more narrow than yours — 1930 to 1960. I totally agree about the 1960s, though. I just bought a book a few weeks ago that focuses solely on the movies from 1962; I’m looking so forward to checking it out and discovering some new-to-me films.

      Thank you so much for your comments, Amy!

  8. “Manchurian” and “Mockingbird” seem to be popular, but that’s no shock. And I agree–it’s always fun celebrating National Classic Movie Day with the rest of the blogosphere. Enjoyed reading this!

    • Thank you so much! It was really interesting reading the other entries — I have a tendency to feel like everybody has the same taste in movies that I do, so I was half-expecting everybody to have the same picks that I did!

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