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Best movies of the 60s

  • Best movies of the 60s

    As one of America’s most transformative decades, the 1960s represented a cultural shift on multiple fronts, cinema being no exception. Between the emerging youth market, the collapse of the studio system, the influence of foreign films, increased competition from television, and a variety of other factors, the decade ushered in new paradigms as far as what constituted big-screen entertainment. In the process, Old Hollywood became New Hollywood, and along with this changing of the guard there came an endless sense of possibility and innovation.

    Even with so much change in the air, there was still plenty of room left for a good old-fashioned John Wayne Western or blockbuster musical. However, groundbreaking films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Easy Rider” not only challenged the medium’s very own conventions, but broadened the country’s cultural horizons by refusing to pander to previous norms. In the wake of these historic films, there came a slew of talented young visionaries—like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg—all of whom would continue to redefine the possibilities of cinema in the 1970s and beyond.

    To honor the decade in which everything initially changed, Stacker is listing out the top 50 movies of the 1960s as voted on by the users of IMDb. Each film on the list was produced in America (in English), and had at least 25,000 votes on IMDb. In the case of a ratings tie, the film with more votes was ranked higher. Counting down from #50 to #1, here are the best movies of the 1960s.

    Related: Ranking John Wayne movies from worst to first 

  • #50. True Grit

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 36,948
    Release year: 1969
    Director: Henry Hathaway

    From a novel by Charles Portis came this hard-hitting 1969 western, in which John Wayne plays drunken U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. In the film, Cogburn is enlisted by a young tomboy to help track down her father’s killer. In the wake of his performance, Wayne won his one and only Best Actor Award at the Oscars. A 1975 follow up, simply titled “Rooster Cogburn,” continued the character’s adventures, although to less acclaim. Then in 2010, the Coen Brothers released a remake, starring Jeff Bridges as the disgruntled U.S. Marshal.

  • #49. Easy Rider

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 83,652
    Release year: 1969
    Director: Dennis Hopper

    While not the greatest film of the 1960s, Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” was among the decade’s most influential. Depicting the adventures of two motorcycle-riding drug dealers as they ride off in search of the American dream, the film was awash with taboo subject matterfor its timeand hyper-realistic performances. Made on a shoestring budget and shot in a guerilla style, the movie generated more than $60 million at the box office and helped pave the way for much of the auteurist cinema that followed.

  • #48. Bullitt

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    IMDb user votes: 52,089
    Release year: 1968
    Director: Peter Yates

    Before “Dirty Harry,” in 1971, there was “Bullitt” in 1968, starring Steve McQueen as a no-holds-barred cop on the trail of a ruthless underworld kingpin. Directed by Peter Yates, the film features lots of hand-held footage, a legendary car chase, and no shortage of spilt blood. It won the Oscar for Best Editing.

  • #47. The Haunting

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 29,381
    Release year: 1963
    Director: Robert Wise

    Based on a novel by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting” puts a psychological twist on a classic horror premise. It tells the story of two women who spend the night in a supposedly haunted house, which leads to one of the women losing her mind. The film features a famous scene involving a bending door; to achieve the effect, the film crew built a rubber door and then had stagehands push it from behind.

  • #46. The Time Machine

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 31,052
    Release year: 1960
    Director: George Pal

    Bringing H.G. Wells’ classic novella to the big screen, “The Time Machine” follows a man as he travels to a future society where things aren’t as utopian as they first appear. To show the world changing as it passes by our protagonist, the movie utilized a nifty photographic time-lapse effect. As a result, the film ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

  • #45. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 32,618
    Release year: 1963
    Director: Stanley Kramer

    In “It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” a legion of strangers are sent on a cross-country adventure in search of hidden treasure. The slapstick comedy was the second-highest-grossing film of 1964, and it would end up earning $60 million worldwide by 1970. This was the first film to premiere at Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome, and a special 70mm version was made just for the occasion. Meanwhile, a shorter, 35mm version was released in regular theaters around the country.

  • #44. The Party

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 33,249
    Release year: 1968
    Director: Blake Edwards

    “The Party” saw director Blake Edwards teaming with actor Peter Sellers, after the two found meteoric success working together on “The Pink Panther.” In the film, an inept Indian film star accidentally gets invited to an exclusive Hollywood party, and hilarity ensues—most of it improvised. This was one of Elvis Presley’s favorite films

  • #43. The Guns of Navarone

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 39,992
    Release year: 1961
    Director: J. Lee Thompson

    Continuing a tradition of burly World War II action films, “The Guns of Navarone” centers on a group of Allied and Greek soldiers who are tasked with destroying a German gun emplacement. Sharing the marquee were Old Hollywood A-listers Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn. The film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and two Golden Globes, including one for Best Motion Picture—Drama.

  • #42. Lolita

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 77,760
    Release year: 1962
    Director: Stanley Kubrick

    Giving the decency envelope an early push in 1962 was Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita.” Adapted from the famous novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the movie tells the story of an older man who has feverish, carnal desires for an underage girl. Look for an unintentional cameo from Kubrick, who can be seen walking out of a shot during the opening sequence.

  • #41. West Side Story

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 82,218
    Release year: 1961
    Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

    While American cinema might have become a discernibly grittier beast by the end of the 1960s, the decade still featured a range of celebrated musicals—including the 1961 film “West Side Story.” Despite a premise that involves warring New York City gangs, the film remains a joy to behold, brimming with fantastic songs and thrilling dance sequences. Cherished among both audiences and critics, this modern day “Romeo and Juliet” adaptation raked in over $40 million at the box officea lot at the time, and a whopping 10 Academy Awards out of 12 nominations.

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