Reflections on Must-See Films From 1960

Reflections on Must-See Films From 1960

Back in April of this year, I wrote a celebratory piece about finally finishing reviews for every title in GFTFF released before 1960. I reflected a bit on the 1950s as a cinematic decade, and enjoyed this process enough that I thought I might keep going — but this time, year by year.

“She just goes – a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Today, I posted a review on the final film left from 1960: Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers (1960). It’s a gorgeously mounted film, well worth the three-hour investment, but Luchino’s films are enough of a — well, shall we say, a commitment that I don’t tend to jump into them willingly. (I still have four of his titles left.)

With that said, as I look over the chronological list of all titles in GFTFF from 1960, here are a few thoughts and highlights:

  • Out of the 67 total titles, I voted Yes on 32, which is nearly half — not a bad ratio! It’s these must-see titles I’ll focus on in this post.
  • Of these 32 titles, 17 (more than half!) are non-Hollywood films, indicating a definite trend in what was becoming worth watching at that time. We see six Italian (one dubbed), six British, two French, one Indian, one Swedish, and one independently made title.
  • Five of the remaining must-sees from 1960 are westerns, and four more are historical dramas set in different times. That leaves just five must-see American films set in contemporary times.
  • Enough with the numbers! What else stands out as notable from this list? Psycho is the clear frontrunner, and wins Peary’s (and my) award as Best Alternate Oscars Film of the Year. It really can’t be topped, and is among my personal five favorite films of all time (if I HAD to narrow all the goodness of cinema down to such a minimalist list).
  • Village of the Damned remains a creepy-classic-British-horror-cult-flick (that’s a mouthful) which I wouldn’t mind watching again at any moment. (That hair. Those stares.)
  • Having just watched gorgeous Alain Delon in Rocco and His Brothers, I must point out that he also starred that year in Purple Noon — a dishy, colorful Patricia Highsmith adaptation by Rene Clair, which was a treat to discover.
  • I’m a personal fan of Louis Malle’s delightfully surreal Zazie Dans le Metro, which is probably my favorite of his oeuvre (though Atlantic City is a close second). It’s jam-packed enough that it easily lends itself to multiple viewings.
  • John Huston’s The Unforgiven merits a broader look — especially given how often it’s shunted aside in favor of its more famous near-title-twin (not a remake) from 1992. Lillian Gish had a few significant “wins” in her post-silents career, and this is one of them.
  • Deservedly praised (from all corners) is Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, which has held up well on just about every front. Give it another look if you haven’t in a while.
  • Budd Boetticher gave us many fine, tight little westerns — including Comanche Station, which has a surprisingly lump-inducing (and overall surprising) ending.
  • Finally, I’ll note that The Savage Eye — a pseudo-documentary “made on weekends over a year’s time by a collective team of directors — Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, and Joseph Strick” — is a uniquely hypnotic film about loneliness and despair, and one I plan to revisit at some point (but maybe as a double-header with Pollyanna to round it out!)

I only have two more films left to review from 1961, so I’ll be back soon with my overview of that year in classic cinema!

Leave a Reply