1960 Movies

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The Best Movies of 1960


"Psycho," directed by the esteemed Alfred Hitchcock, stands as a pivotal work in the horror genre. Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and John Gavin, the film tells the story of a secretary who embezzles a substantial sum of money and her encounter with a seemingly benign motel owner harboring dark secrets. "Psycho" is renowned for its innovative narrative structure, the chilling performance by Perkins, and the infamous shower scene that has become a cultural touchstone. Hitchcock's masterful use of suspense and psychological manipulation in this film has influenced countless horror movies that followed.

The Magnificent Seven

"The Magnificent Seven," directed by John Sturges, is a film that redefined the action and adventure genre. With a star-studded cast including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and Eli Wallach, the film follows seven gunfighters hired to protect a Mexican village from oppressive bandits. This film stands out for its gripping action sequences, memorable musical score, and exploration of themes like bravery and sacrifice. It has since become a benchmark for ensemble action films.

The Apartment

Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," featuring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray, offers a unique blend of romance and comedy. The story centers on an insurance clerk who, in an attempt to climb the corporate ladder, allows his superiors to use his apartment for their extramarital affairs. The film is notable for its witty script, exceptional performances, and its critique of corporate America. It skillfully balances humor with poignant social commentary, making it a standout film of its era.

BUtterfield 8

Directed by Daniel Mann, "BUtterfield 8" is a drama starring Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, and Eddie Fisher. The film revolves around a New York model and socialite who becomes involved with a married man, leading to dramatic consequences. Elizabeth Taylor's performance in this film is particularly noteworthy, showcasing her range as an actress. The film explores themes of love, infidelity, and the societal pressures faced by women during the era.

The Virgin Spring

"The Virgin Spring," directed by an unnamed filmmaker, presents a compelling narrative in the drama genre. The film's plot and character details were not specified, but its inclusion in the notable films of 1960 suggests its impact and significance in the cinematic world of that year.

Cruel Story of Youth

Nagisa Ôshima's "Cruel Story of Youth" is a crime drama that delves into the darker aspects of youth and rebellion. Starring Miyuki Kuwano, Yûsuke Kawazu, and others, the film follows a young man's seduction of a woman and their subsequent descent into criminality. The film is known for its raw portrayal of youthful angst and its critique of societal norms.

Bad Luck

John Guillermin's "Bad Luck," starring Richard Todd, Peter Sellers, Elizabeth Sellars, and Adam Faith, is a comedy that explores themes of misfortune and irony. Although specific plot details are not available, the film's inclusion in this list points to its effectiveness in using humor to engage with life's unpredictable nature.

The Unforgiven

"The Unforgiven," directed by John Huston and starring Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, and Audie Murphy, combines elements of drama, romance, and the western genre. The story revolves around a frontier family ostracized by their community. The film is notable for its exploration of themes such as family, belonging, and the harsh realities of frontier life.

La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" stars Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, and Anouk Aimée in a drama and comedy that delves into the life of a gossip journalist in Rome. The film is celebrated for its stylish direction, complex characters, and its exploration of the pursuit of happiness. "La Dolce Vita" remains a significant film in Fellini's oeuvre and in Italian cinema.


Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless," featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and Daniel Boulanger, is a crime drama that broke new ground in filmmaking. The story of a small-time thief and his chaotic journey is marked by Godard's innovative direction, including the use of jump cuts and a loose narrative structure. This film played an important role in the French New Wave movement and continues to be a reference point for filmmakers exploring the crime genre.

1960 Movies & Industry Highlights

The End of the Hollywood Studio System

The 1960s marked a pivotal moment in the film industry. The Hollywood studio system, which had dominated for decades, began to unravel. This system, characterized by its tight control over film production, distribution, and exhibition, gave way to more independent and underground forms of cinema. Major studios shifted their approach, opting to finance and distribute films produced independently within the United States. This change significantly altered film production and distribution, leading to greater diversity in the types of films being made and seen by audiences.

Rise of Independent and Underground Cinema

With the declining influence of the traditional studio system, independent and underground cinema gained prominence. Filmmakers now had more freedom to explore new themes, styles, and narratives, unrestrained by the strict guidelines previously imposed by major studios. This freedom allowed for the exploration of more diverse and sometimes controversial subjects, reflecting the changing social and cultural scene of the time.

The Economic Context of 1960s Cinema

In the 1960s, the economics of movie-making and movie-watching were vastly different from today's standards. The average ticket price for a movie was less than a dollar, making cinema an accessible form of entertainment for a wide audience. Additionally, the average film budget was slightly over one and a half million dollars. This budgetary constraint often necessitated a more creative approach to filmmaking, as directors and producers had to work within these financial limitations.

Dominant Films and Their Impact

In 1960, films such as "Swiss Family Robinson," "Psycho," "Spartacus," "Exodus," and "The Apartment" led the box office in North America. Each of these films made a significant impact in its own right.

"Psycho," directed by Alfred Hitchcock, stood out particularly for its influence on the horror genre. Its innovative storytelling, visual techniques, and psychological depth not only captivated audiences but also set a new standard for horror films. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its impact on the genre.

"The Apartment," directed by Billy Wilder, was another film that broke new ground. It dealt openly with the issue of infidelity, a topic that was previously avoided in Hollywood productions. The film's success, as evidenced by its five Oscar wins including Best Picture, highlighted the changing attitudes towards film content and what was deemed acceptable to discuss on screen.

Significant Films of 1960

Beyond the top-grossing films, 1960 also saw the release of influential movies like "The Magnificent Seven," "BUtterfield 8," and "Breathless." "Breathless," in particular, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, was a seminal film in the French New Wave movement. Its innovative narrative structure, visual style, and approach to character development had a lasting influence on the art of filmmaking.

Transitioning Entertainment Landscape

The 1960s were not just about changes in film production and content; they also saw a shift in audience behavior and preferences. Audiences began to explore a wider variety of genres, moving away from the traditional fare offered by the major studios. This diversification in audience taste encouraged filmmakers to take more risks and push boundaries in their storytelling, reflecting the social changes and unrest of the era on screen.

Television's Growing Influence

During this period, television also started to play a more significant role in the entertainment industry. Made-for-TV movies became a regular feature of network programming by the mid-1960s. This development offered audiences an alternative to cinema, influencing the types of stories that were being told and how they were being presented. The rise of television as a competitive medium forced the film industry to adapt and innovate to maintain its audience.

Cultural and Cinematic Transformations

The shifts that began in the 1960s set the stage for the cultural and cinematic transformations that would continue throughout the decade and beyond. Filmmakers were now exploring themes that mirrored the social and cultural upheavals of the time. This period laid the groundwork for the more open, diverse, and experimental cinema that would emerge in the subsequent decades.