My Top Ten Movies from the 1960s

There’s a sense of déjà vu about this post. Something tells me I’ve written it, or at least started writing it, before. It’s a follow up on My Top Ten Movies of the 1950s.

Your list may vary, but these are my favorites. I started to make this a list of the movies I’d actually seen in the theater. But there are too many classics from the 60s that deserve to be here. Classics that, at a very, very (very) young age, I wouldn’t have been allowed to see in the theater, and maybe not for a while even on television. But I did see the movies on the top 10 list during the 1960s, whether in the theater (noted when I remember it) or on television.

No, these are not the most critically acclaimed movies of the 60s, or even the highest box office earners. They’re the favorites I remember from my childhood.

Here’s my list, in no particular order.


Shenandoah (1965)
A widower gets dragged into the Civil War against his will. With Jimmy Stewart, Doug McClure and more. This one I do remember seeing in the theater. And, if memory serves me correctly it’s the only movie that my whole family (Mom, Dad, brother and I) went to together. And on a school night.


How the West Was Won (1962)
This is one of those epic movies with an all star cast: Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, Lee J. Cobb, George Peppard, Carolyn Jones…the list goes on. And it’s narrated by Spencer Tracy. Family legend has it that I was in the theater as a baby when my family saw this movie (after a family wedding in Norfolk). At least that’s the way I remember hearing the story. But I saw it much later. And I’d watch it again and again. Right now.


The Sound of Music (1965)
I saw this on a special trip with neighbors. We drove about 45 minutes away to Radford to see the movie there. It’s a classic. Still a favorite, and I still want to visit Austria. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.


The Jungle Book (1967)
The Jungle Book was the first Disney cartoon I remember seeing in the theater. I had the coloring book. Don’t judge. It’s a classic.


To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
My mother told me that Scout reminded her of herself. We watched this on a black and white television. Not that it mattered. But this was the first time I began to be aware of the ugliness of racism. With Gregory Peck, Alice Ghostly and Robert Duvall.


The Birds (1963)
The Birds was the first movie I remember seeing that really creeped me out. In a fascinating, can’t take my eyes of it kind of way. Don’t think flocks of birds didn’t creep me out for a long time after that. With Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette and Jessica Tandy.


The Parent Trap (1961)
Twin girls who don’t know each other meet at camp and scheme to get their parents back together. Starring Haley Mills and Haley Mills. How did she do that? It was a Saturday (later in the 60s than 1961) afternoon matinee and I had a crush. On both of them.


Gypsy (1962)
But when I was older I had a crush on Natalie Wood. I remember seeing this, probably on the late show, when one of the two television stations we could get would actually show a movie after the news. This is the film version of the Broadway musical based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee and her stage mother, Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell). Loved seeing Tyne Daly in the role of Mama Rose at The Kennedy Center. Still this movie version is the favorite.


Donovan’s Reef (1963)
Still a favorite and one that made my favorite Christmas movies list. John Wayne, Lee Marvin. Dorothy Lamour. A tropical island. Who could ask for anything more?


Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
A widower with 10 children marries a widow with 8. What can go wrong? I’m sure this was another Saturday afternoon matinee. A classically funny movie with two great stars, Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Also starring Van Johnson, Tom Bosley, a very young Tim Matheson, and an even younger Morgan Brittany.

Honorable Mentions (I had to cut them off to get the list down to just 10):

Mary Poppins (1964)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Hello Dolly (1969)
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
West Side Story (1961) Because Natalie Wood only gets one movie in the top 10 and it was a difficult choice. But she did her own “singing” in Gypsy.
101 Dalmations (1961) The animated version. Admittedly, it was hard to choose between this and The Jungle Book. This was the first time I was able to say “the book was better.”
To Sir, With Love (1967)

See also: The Best World War I Movies.

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