In the times-they-were-a-changin’ 1960s, the movies reflected America’s enormous culture swings. From beach party escapism and effervescent musicals to dark political comedies and sophisticated adult dramas, the best films of the decade remain an incredible (and deeply entertaining) archive of that dynamic decade. Check out these divine dozen films — all streaming online — for the very best of the 1960s.
The Apartment (1960)
Billy Wilder’s genius adult comedy (five Oscars in 1960 including best picture!) stars Jack Lemmon as an insurance clerk trying to succeed in business. When he loans his flat to big boss Fred MacMurray for extracurricular activities, the ambitious employee falls for his superior’s mistress: sexy elevator operator Shirley MacLaine, now 86.
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic remains as fresh and frightening as the day it was made. Sexually active secretary Janet Leigh embezzles some dough and drives off. When she stops for the night at the lonely Bates Motel, she meets the even lonelier proprietor (Anthony Perkins) and his bossy mother — and pays a hefty price for her dishonesty.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Stanley Kubrick’s enduring comic masterpiece looks at the world on the edge of nuclear extinction — and laughs bitterly. Arguably the greatest anti-war movie of all time, the movie scrambles the great Peter Sellers in a triple role and George C. Scott as Gen. “Buck” Turgidson.
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Life’s a beach party with Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, now 79, in this swinging ‘60s classic about young love in the sand and surf. The pair duet on the title song and “I Think You Think.” Star Avalon threw in the towel after this fifth of American International’s classic beach flicks.
Richard Lester captures the Beatles at their most fun and frothy in their second film together, following A Hard Day’s Night. This comedic caper has John, Paul, George and Ringo on the run from Buckingham Palace to the Bahamas while performing such classics as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Rodgers & Hammerstein screen musical scooped up best picture and four more Oscars on its run to being one of America’s most loved musicals. Based on the true story of the singing Von Trapp family, Robert Wise’s movie follows runaway singing nun Maria (Julie Andrews, now 84) who becomes a nanny for the seven motherless Von Trapp kids and steals the heart of their stern father (Christopher Plummer, now 90).
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The tasty Sergio Leone spaghetti Western has cowboy-of-few-words Clint Eastwood, now 89, tracking down $200,000 in Confederate dollars on the dusty frontier, while Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef try to get it first.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Legendary critic Pauline Kael wrote a 7,000-word rave about Arthur Penn’s “iconic gangster film.” The Oscar-winning, fact-based crime drama foregrounds the outlaw lovers Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty, now 83) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway, now 79) on a violent crime spree that ends in a spray of bullets.
The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman, now 82, gives a heartbreaking and humorous performance as a recent college grad who gets an advanced class in seduction from older woman Anne Bancroft. When he has the temerity to fall in love with her daughter Katharine Ross, now 80, tempers flare. Mike Nichols’s 1967 comedy was way ahead of its time.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Gorgeous Genevieve Bujold, now 77, steps into the gowns of English royal Anne Boleyn opposite Richard Burton’s hefty King Henry VIII in this lush, romantic and ultimately tragic biopic.