10 Great 1960s Movie Classics You Probably Haven’t Seen

6. Wait Until Dark (1967)

Wait Until Dark

This film is based on a Broadway play of the same name. The incomparable Audrey Hepburn stars as a blind woman who unknowingly encounters a few devious criminals. Mainly Alan Arkin who pretends to be different people to trick Hepburn. Richard Crenna known for playing Colonel Trautman in the Rambo movies also appears in an early role.

The film showed up on AFI’s 100 Thrills list in 2001 and placed above such thrilling classics as Halloween, Speed, The Sixth Sense, and The Matrix. That may be in part due to Henry Mancini’s amazingly unorthodox score. A nail-biting moment occurs later in the film when all the lights go out and the screen is black. Movie theaters added to the suspense by turning off all the lights until the auditorium was completely dark too. The Broadway play was revived in 1998 with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino which received terrible reviews. It paled in comparison to the film, which is a hidden gem for its great performances and incessant suspense.


7. Targets (1968)

Targets (1968)

Legendary Director Peter Bogdanovich makes his directorial debut which stars the man whose known for playing the monster in Frankenstein – Boris Karloff. Coincidentally Karloff plays an actor known for making horror films. Another storyline that coincides with the film is an unlikely killer who goes on a shooting spree.

The film was produced by independent film icon Roger Corman who gave Bogdanovich his start with this film. Bogdanovich was a rare talent who could do it all – direct, write, produce, act and edit. All of which he did here. He also had creative freedom to make any film he wanted if he could use Karloff within two shooting days. Bogdanovich came up with the idea to use clips from Karloff’s movies including one of Corman’s – The Terror from 1963 which also starred Jack Nicholson. It’s very different from anything Bogdanovich directed in the future, but it’s just as good as anything he did.


8. The Swimmer (1968)


Based on John Cheever’s short story of the same name, this film isn’t what you’d expect though it’s a film worth seeing. It stars the powerful Burt Lancaster who goes from pool-to-pool and meets people along the way. Ironically, Lancaster had a fear of water and took swimming lessons to deal with the long days of being in the pool. Celebrated composer Marvin Hamlisch writes his very first film score for this film.

This was an early film in the career of producer and director Frank Perry. He would later direct the classic film Mommie Dearest which stars Faye Dunaway in a famous performance as the classic movie star Joan Crawford. Keep an eye out for legendary comedian Joan Rivers who has a cameo in the film. Lancaster is a powerful actor, but here he shows a sensitive side which makes it a unique performance on top of the unconventional plot of the film.


9. Harper (1966)

Paul Newman-Harper

Director Jack Smight makes a second appearance on this list with this Paul Newman film that stars other big names that includes Robert Wagner, Janet Leigh, Shelley Winters and Lauren Bacall. As Lew Harper, Newman plays a private investigator who’s on the lookout for a multi-millionaire who’s gone missing. It’s based on The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald who wrote several books with the Harper character who is named Lew Archer in the books. It was written for the screen by William Goldman who was a big admirer of Macdonald’s books.

Bacall appears as a tribute to the movies of her late husband and star Humphrey Bogart who played private investigators like Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. Newman would play the character of Harper again nine years later in The Drowning Pool. Th mystery genre that features the private eye is a constant throughout movie history and this one stands out as one of the best of the decade.


10. The Sand Pebbles (1966)

One of the great film directors of this time was Robert Wise. He directed films for two decades before making the classics West Side Story and The Sound Of Music. Following The Sound Of Music, Wise came out with this film about war-torn China in the 1920s.

Steve McQueen plays an engineer on a ship referred to as “Sand Pebble”. Richard Crenna also stars in his second film on this list along with Murphy Brown star Candice Bergen and veteran James Hong who recently appeared in the celebrated film Everything Everywhere All At Once. In addition, Mako has a major role in the film. This was only his fourth film as he did a lot of television work including various roles on the popular TV sitcom McHale’s Navy. He went on to have a diligent career in film, television and theater.

The film also stars Richard Attenborough three years before he started his renowned directing career. With the film Gandhi in 1982, he earned two Academy Awards. Even with his successful directing career, he’s best known for his role of the eager industrialist John Hammond in the Jurassic Park films.

The Sand Pebbles was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor for McQueen, Supporting Actor for Mako, and Original Score for Jerry Goldsmith. Unfortunately, there was no director nod for Wise, but being the sole producer meant he could accept the Best Picture award. Though the film didn’t receive any Oscars, it did earn a Golden Globe for Richard Attenborough’s performance.