by Barry Monush
The Top Films of 1965-1969
York: Applause Books, 2009)
Pp. 398. Illustrated. Paperback, $24.99.
Review by Dr.
years ago, Bonnie and Clyde, released in the summer of 1967,
exploded on the screen, exhilarating many viewers, alienating others,
and deeply dividing critics. Brilliantly scripted by Texan Robert
Benton and his writing partner, David Newman, and adeptly directed
by Arthur Penn, the film starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in
the title roles. This groundbreaking motion picture was an unusual,
and compelling, blend of violence, humor, social commentary, and banjo
music. Penn shot his masterpiece in the Lone Star State, home of the
notorious desperado couple, in such towns as Ponder,
Waxahachie, and Red
This landmark picture, which received ten Academy Award nominations,
is just one of more than 100 movies Barry Monush discusses in his
engaging survey of Sixties cinema. What a period to be a film lover!
"Seldom had so many followers of so many kinds of movies had such
a great choice of what to see," Monush contends. "There were," he
asserts, "wonderfully probing dramas exploring important themes; westerns-traditional,
epic, and radical; gloriously entertaining musicals; comedies of both
a sophisticated and a bawdy nature; daring explorations of formerly
taboo subjects; influential horror films that still retained some
degree of restraint before this genre got so out of hand; ambitious
science-fiction films…and war movies, both flag waving and critical."
Among the pictures he examines are 1965's Cat Ballou, The Sound
of Music, The Sandpiper, Doctor Zhivago, and Shenandoah;
1966's Born Free, Alfie, A Man for All Seasons, Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?, and Fantastic Voyage; 1967's The Dirty
Dozen, You Only Live Twice, Camelot, Wait Until Dark, and Cool
Hand Luke; 1968's Planet of the Apes, Rosemary's Baby, Funny
Girl, Bullitt, and The Odd Couple; and 1969's Easy Rider,
The Wild Bunch, Midnight Cowboy, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In short, Monush observes, this
is "an incredibly diverse range of films in which a terrific selection
of actors and filmmakers gave us some of their finest work."
To accompany his text, the author provides numerous illustrations,
including souvenir booklets, record albums, movie posters, sheet music,
and tie-in paperbacks. Monush also provides famous quotes from the
movies he explores. From True Grit (1969), for example:
Rooster Cogburn: "I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you
hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?"
Ned Pepper: "I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man."
Or consider this iconic line from The Graduate (1967):
Benjamin Braddock: "Oh, no, Mrs. Robinson. I think…I think you're
the most attractive of all my parents' friends. I mean that. I find
In short, Monush, Screen World editor and a researcher at the
Paley Center for Media in New York, has published an admirable overview
of classic Sixties movies. My rating? Two thumbs up!