Hollywood was changing by 1967. It was the year for some groundbreaking films.
(1) The Graduate
Even seeing edited versions of this film on TV when I was growing up, I still knew it was very special. Director Mike Nichols uses cinematic techniques to their utmost to tell the ultimate generation gap story of the 60s. Simon and Garfunkel’s music gives it just the right punch, and Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are perfect.
(2) Bonnie and Clyde
Who would have thought a movie about a bank robbing couple from the 1920s would be a commentary on Vietnam? Funny, fast, and bloody, the movie changed Hollywood and became a box office smash.
(3) Cool Hand Luke
“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” became one of the most oft quoted movie lines of all time. (Number 11 on AFI’s list of memorable quotes.) Paul Newman was transcendent as a Christ-figure on a Southern chain gang.
(4) In the Heat of the Night
The interaction between Sidney Poitier as a super smart big city detective and Rod Steiger as a snarly Southern police chief trying to overcome his racial prejudice makes it impossible to take your eyes off the screen. My favorite scene is at the train station where Chief Gillespie is trying to convince Virgil Tibbs to help him solve the crime and Tibbs can’t resist the idea of showing these small town racists just how smart he is.
(5) Wait Until Dark
Alan Arkin, who usually plays such sympathetic characters, is terrifying as a psychopathic criminal trying to get the best of a blind woman played by Audrey Hepburn, but she changes the odds in the end.
(6) Week End
A bizarre film by Jean Luc Godard, it’s here for one reason. The tracking shot of a traffic jam, which I think is one of the best scenes in cinema history. Godard tells us tons about these anonymous people, and about life, just by sliding by them, as our main characters make their way to a murder.
(7) In Cold Blood
My favorite piece of film trivia: In a swirl of coincidence, the favorite movie of murderer Perry Smith, portrayed by Robert Blake in this movie, was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, in which Blake had a small role as a Mexican newspaper boy when he was just 14. Of course, Blake himself would later be indicted for murder, but unlike Smith, he gets acquitted.
(8) Five Million Years to Earth
Titled Quatermass and the Pit in England, it was the last and best of a trilogy. Construction crews dig up the remnants of ancient astronauts in a London subway station – giant insect shells inside a sleek spaceship that has psychic power over humans. The set up is well constructed and gives you a bit of a shiver.
(9) The Jungle Book
When I was a kid, I had the soundtrack for this movie on a record album. It not only included the great songs from the film (“Bare Necessities,” “I Wanna Be Like You,” “Trust in Me”) but some of the dialogue as well, which I memorized with my friends.
(10) Barefoot in the Park
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are adorable as a young couple learning how to get along in a sixth floor walk-up apartment. Neil Simon’s stage plays were the starting point for so many good movies in the 1960s and 70s. He adapted this one himself.