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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

The year 1963 in film involved some significant events, including the big-budget epic Cleopatra, Alfred Hitchcock’s horror The Birds, and two films with all-star casts, How the West Was Won and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Not only was 1963 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.

Making Their Film Debuts:

  • Alan Alda – Gone are the Days!
  • James Brolin – Take Her, She’s Mine
  • Mel Brooks – The Critic
  • James CaanIrma la Douce
  • William Daniels – Ladybug Ladybug
  • Dick Van DykeBye Bye Birdie
  • Héctor Elizondo – The Fat Black Pussycat
  • Peter Fonda – Tammy and the Doctor
  • Teri Garr – Fun in Acapulco
  • Estelle Parsons – Ladybug Ladybug
  • Kurt Russell – It Happened at the World’s Fair
  • Lynn RedgraveTom Jones
  • Donald Sutherland – The World Ten Times Over

 

Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio Gross
1. Cleopatra 20th Century Fox $57,777,778
2. How the West Was Won Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Cinerama $46,500,000
3. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World United Artists $46,332,858
4. Tom Jones United Artists $37,600,000
5. Irma la Douce United Artists / The Mirisch Corporation $25,246,588
6. The Sword in the Stone Walt Disney Productions $22,182,353
7. Son of Flubber Walt Disney Productions $22,129,412
8. The Birds Universal Pictures $18,500,900
9. Dr. No United Artists $16,067,035
10. The V.I.P.s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $15,000,000
11. McLintock! United Artists $14,500,000
12. Charade Universal Pictures $13,474,588
13. Bye Bye Birdie Columbia Pictures $13,129,412
14. Move Over, Darling 20th Century Fox $12,705,882
15. Come Blow Your Horn Paramount Pictures $12,000,000
16. The Thrill of It All Universal Pictures $11,779,093
17. The Great Escape United Artists $11,744,471
18. The Cardinal Columbia Pictures $11,170,588
19. Hud Paramount Pictures $10,000,000
20. 55 Days at Peking Allied Artists $10,000,000
21. Captain Newman, M.D. Universal Pictures $8,500,000
22. Love with the Proper Stranger Paramount Pictures $7,200,000
23. Columbia Pictures / Embassy Pictures $7,000,000
24. Donovan’s Reef Paramount Pictures $6,600,000
25. Lilies of the Field United Artists $6,000,000
26. Promises! Promises! Independent film $3,775,000
27. The Haunting MGM $2,616,000

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Tom Jones — Woodfall, United Artists-Lopert (British)

Best Director: Tony RichardsonTom Jones

Best Actor: Sidney PoitierLilies of the Field

Best Actress: Patricia NealHud

Best Supporting Actor: Melvyn DouglasHud

Best Supporting Actress: Margaret RutherfordThe V.I.P.s

 

Among Those Who Died In 1963:

  • January 2
  • January 6 – Frank Tuttle, 70, American director, This Gun for Hire, Waikiki Wedding
  • January 26 – Ole Olsen, 70, American actor and comedian, Hellzapoppin’
  • January 28 – John Farrow, 58, Australian director, Hondo, The Big Clock
  • February 2 – William Gaxton, 69, American actor and singer, Diamond Horseshoe, The Heat’s On
  • February 8 – George Dolenz, 55, Hungarian actor, Vendetta, My Cousin Rachel
  • February 18 – Monte Blue, 76, American actor, Key Largo, White Shadows in the South Seas
  • March 18 – Wanda Hawley, 67, American actress, The Young Rajah, The Midnight Message
  • April 4 – Jason Robards, Sr., 70, American actor, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Isle of the Dead
  • May 6 – Monty Woolley, 74, American actor, The Bishop’s Wife, The Man Who Came to Dinner
  • May 19 – Luana Walters, 50, American actress, Mexicali Rose, The Corpse Vanishes
  • June 7 – ZaSu Pitts, 69, American actress, Greed, Life with Father
  • June 18 – Pedro Armendáriz, 51, Mexican actor, The Fugitive, Fort Apache
  • July 10 – John Sutton, 54, Pakistani actor, The Three Musketeers, Captain from Castile
  • July 25 – Leota Lane, 59, American singer, actress, Three Hollywood Girls
  • August 4 – Tom Keene, 66, American actor, Our Daily Bread, Ghost Valley
  • August 14 – Clifford Odets, 57, American playwright and screenwriter, Sweet Smell of Success, None but the Lonely Heart
  • August 17 – Richard Barthelmess, 68, American actor, Broken Blossoms, Only Angels Have Wings
  • August 25 – Edward L. Cahn, 64, American director, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Girls in Prison
  • October 8 – Grace Darmond, 68, Canadian actress, What Every Woman Wants, The Hope Diamond Mystery
  • October 11 – Jean Cocteau, 74, French director and screenwriter, Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus
  • October 18 – Constance Worth, 52, Australian actress, China Passage, Meet Boston Blackie
  • October 29 – Adolphe Menjou, 73, American actor, Paths of Glory, A Star is Born
  • October 31
    • Henry Daniell, 69, British actor, Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, The Great Dictator
    • Hans Jacoby, 59, German screenwriter, Reunion in Reno, Champagne for Caesar
  • November 1 – Elsa Maxwell, 82, American gossip columnist, Rhapsody in Blue, Stage Door Canteen
  • November 15 – Paul Sloane, 70, American director, The Woman Accused, Down to Their Last Yacht
  • November 25
    • Jean Brooks, 47, American actress, The Leopard Man, The Seventh Victim
    • Joseph Sweeney, 79, American actor, 12 Angry Men, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit
  • November 29 – Charles Schnee, 47, American screenwriter, The Bad and the Beautiful, Red River
  • November 30
    • Phil Baker, 67, American comedian and actor, The Gang’s All Here, Take It or Leave It
    • Gina Malo, 54, American actress, The Gang Show, All In
  • December 2
    • Sabu, 39, Indian actor, Jungle Book, The Thief of Bagdad
    • Mario Zampi, 60, Italian director, The Naked Truth, Five Golden Hours
  • December 4 – Robert Hamer, 52, British director, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dead of Night
  • December 5 – Tom London, 74, American actor, Calamity Jane, High Noon
  • December 12
    • Yasujirō Ozu, 60, Japanese director and screenwriter, Tokyo Story, Late Spring
    • Barbara Read, 45, Canadian actress, Three Smart Girls, The Shadow Returns

The Greatest Films of 1963

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "America America"

© 1963 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

America America

D: Elia Kazan

Stars:  Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Elena Karam

Stavros Topouzoglou is a young Greek man living in an area under Turkish oppression, who wants nothing more than to go to America. Stavros travels to Constantinople, enduring difficulties along the way that lead to the loss of all his family’s funds. Rejecting any possibility for money, work or marriage that doesn’t involve sailing to America, he defiantly hangs on to the dream, but his extreme determination may cost him his life.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Birds"

© 1963 Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions − All right reserved.

The Birds

D: Alfred Hitchcock

Another modern Hitchcock masterpiece – his first film with Universal Studios. Loosely based upon a short story by Daphne Du Maurier, it is the apocalyptic story of a northern California coastal town (Bodega Bay) filled with an onslaught of seemingly unexplained, arbitrary, and chaotic attacks of ordinary birds – not birds of prey. The dark film hinted that the bird attacks were punishment for the failings of the relationships between the main characters. The film’s technical wizardry was extraordinary, especially in the film’s closing scene (a complex, trick composite shot) – the special visual effects of Ub Iwerks were nominated for an Academy Award (the film’s sole nomination), but the Oscar was lost to Cleopatra (1963).

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Bye Bye Birdie"

© 1963 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

Bye Bye Birdie

D: George Sidney

Stars:  Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret

The Broadway hit show of 1960, Bye Bye Birdie, was adapted for the screen by Irving Brecher and directed by George Sidney – it was the first Broadway musical to include rock songs. In its lampooning or parody of hip-gyrating rock-and-roll idol Elvis “The King” Presley (who was drafted into the Army in 1958), it told about an Elvis Presley-styled pop star named Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson). Conrad was a beer-drinking hillbilly who caused swooning chaos among teens upon his arrival in the midwestern town of Sweet Apple, Ohio. In the star-making opening credits sequence, Ann-Margret (as high-schooler Kim, in her film debut) flipped her skirt and tossed her hair as she sang the title. Dick Van Dyke reprised his role in the film as a talented chemist and struggling song-writer Albert Peterson (he sang the memorable “Put on a Happy Face” to his secretary-fiancée Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh)), who had a manipulative and domineering mother, Mama Mae Peterson (Maureen Stapleton). 22 year-old Ann-Margret appeared as nubile 16 year-old vibrant Ohio high-schooler Kim McAfee – as a member of Birdie’s fan club, she was the lucky one chosen to receive a farewell kiss (“One Last Kiss”) from the rock idol (just before he was drafted into the military) on the popular weekly TV variety program, The Ed Sullivan Show (although fictitious in the film), to be partly aired live from Ohio. Throughout the film, Albert had to manipulate his way around Kim’s protective father Harry McAfee (Paul Lynde), and restrictions imposed by the TV show. In the conclusion, Albert and Rosie were able to slip an amphetamine into the milk glass of an Russian ballet conductor (to speed up the next-to-last ballet performance on the show), to allow them time for their Birdie finale. However, Kim’s jealous boyfriend Hugo Peabody (singing idol Bobby Rydell) wrecked the scene by punching Birdie in the face, before the singer was able to plant “one last kiss” on Kim before singing Albert’s song. Also memorable were these two numbers: the split-screen, gossipy musical telephone sequence (with live action and animation) titled “The Telephone Hour,” and Kim’s father Harry singing “Kids” in the family kitchen with the familiar lyric: “What’s the matter with kids today?”

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Charade"

© 1963 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

Charade

D: Stanley Donen

Stars:  Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy

Regina Lambert returns to Paris from a ski holiday in Switzerland to find that her husband has been murdered. She is later told by CIA agent Hamilton Bartholemew that Charles Lambert was one of five men who stole $250,000 in gold from the U.S. government during World War II, and the government wants it back. The money was not found among his possessions, and Regina can shed no light on its whereabouts. Later that day she is visited by Peter Joshua, whom she had met briefly while on holiday. When her husband’s former partners in crime, who were double-crossed by Charles, start calling her looking for the money, Peter offers to help find it. Thus begins an elaborate charade in which nothing is what it seems to be.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Cleopatra"

© 1963 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

Cleopatra

D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Stars:  Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall

Historical epic. The triumphs and tragedy of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra.The winner of four Oscars, this epic saga of love, greed and betrayal stars Elizabeth Taylor as the passionate and ambitious Egyptian queen who’s determined to hold on to the throne and seduces the Roman emperor Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison). When Caesar is murdered, she redirects her attentions to his general, Marc Antony (Richard Burton), who vows to take power — but Caesar’s successor (Roddy McDowall) has other plans.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

  

Poster for the movie "From Russia with Love"

© 1963 United Artists − All right reserved.

From Russia With Love (UK)

D: Terence Young

Stars:  Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendáriz,

Agent 007 is back in the second installment of the James Bond series, this time battling a secret crime organization known as SPECTRE. Russians Rosa Klebb and Kronsteen are out to snatch a decoding device known as the Lektor, using the ravishing Tatiana to lure Bond into helping them. Bond willingly travels to meet Tatiana in Istanbul, where he must rely on his wits to escape with his life in a series of deadly encounters with the enemy

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Great Escape"

© 1963 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Great Escape

D: John Sturges

Stars:  Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough

The Nazis, exasperated at the number of escapes from their prison camps by a relatively small number of Allied prisoners, relocates them to a high-security ‘escape-proof’ camp to sit out the remainder of the war. Undaunted, the prisoners plan one of the most ambitious escape attempts of World War II. Based on a true story.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Haunting"

© 1963 Argyle Enterprises − All right reserved.

The Haunting (UK/US)

D: Robert Wise

Stars:  Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson

In an old New England house believed to be haunted, an ESP researcher enlists the help of two mediums to join the skeptical owner in the hopes they can learn more about the source of the house’s evil reputation. From the moment they walk through the door, things take a turn for the worse. Make sure your seat is comfortable because you’ll be spending most of this nail-biting movie seated on its edge.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Hud"

© 1963 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Hud

D: Martin Ritt

Stars:  Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal

Hud Bannon is a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches. Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth, out for kicks with no regard for the consequences. There is bitter conflict between the callous Hud and his stern and highly principled father, Homer. Hud’s nephew Lon admires Hud’s cheating ways, though he soon becomes too aware of Hud’s reckless amorality to bear him anymore. In the world of the takers and the taken, Hud is a winner. He’s a cheat, but, he explains, “I always say the law was meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner.”

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

© 1963 United Artists − All right reserved.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

D: Stanley Kramer

Stars:  Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney and an all star cast

A group of strangers come across a man dying after a car crash who proceeds to tell them about the $350,000 he buried in California. What follows is the madcap adventures of those strangers as each attempts to claim the prize for himself.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Lilies of the Field"

© 1963 Rainbow Productions − All right reserved.

Lilies of the Field

D: Ralph Nelson

Stars:  Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Isa Crino

An unemployed construction worker (Homer Smith) heading out west stops at a remote farm in the desert to get water when his car overheats. The farm is being worked by a group of East European Catholic nuns, headed by the strict mother superior (Mother Maria), who believes that Homer has been sent by God to build a much-needed church in the desert.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

The Nutty ProfessorThe Nutty Professor

D: Jerry Lewis

Stars: Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens, Del Moore

Jerry Lewis directed, co-wrote and starred in this riotously funny movie that set a new standard for screen comedy and inspired the hit remake. Lewis plays a timid, nearsighted chemistry teacher who discovers a magical potion that can transform him into a suave and handsome Romeo. The Jekyll and Hyde game works well enough until the concoction starts to wear off at the most embarrassing times, and the professor begins to suffer hilarious symptoms of his personality split.

 

Poster for the movie "The Pink Panther"

© 1963 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Pink Panther

D: Blake Edwards

Stars:  David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner, Capucine

The trademark of The Phantom, a renowned jewel thief, is a glove left at the scene of the crime. Inspector Clouseau, an expert on The Phantom’s exploits, feels sure that he knows where The Phantom will strike next and leaves Paris for Switzerland, where the famous Lugashi jewel ‘The Pink Panther’ is going to be. However, he does not know who The Phantom really is, or for that matter who anyone else really is.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

The ServantThe Servant (UK)

D: Joseph Losey

Starring: Dirk Bogarde, James Fox, Sarah Miles

Tony (James Fox), a British aristocrat, hires the mysterious Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) as his household servant. The new employee soon begins to cause unrest in the household, and Tony is forced to send him away. But Barrett’s influence extends further than Tony realizes, and he finds himself entangled in an intense psychological war with his former valet. Servant and master square off in a battle that redefines each man’s understanding of fear, desire, and class.

 

Poster for the movie "Shock Corridor"

© − All right reserved.

Shock Corridor

D: Samuel Fuller

Stars:  Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans

Determined to pull in the Pulitzer Prize, reporter Johnny Barrett will go to any length necessary to win the coveted award. When he learns of an unsolved murder committed at a mental institution, Barrett devises a scheme to solve it and earn himself recognition. With the assistance of a psychiatrist and his girlfriend, Barrett convinces the doctors at the institution to commit him. Once inside, he begins his investigation — and gradually loses his mind.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

This Sporting LifeThis Sporting Life (UK)

D: Lindsay Anderson

Starring: Richard Harris Rachel Roberts Alan Badel

Yorkshire coal miner Frank Machin (Richard Harris) picks a fight in a club and subsequently finds himself being recruited for a rugby team. He’s an unpolished player, but his aggressiveness, brutality and indifference to the rules of fair play impress the team owners. Suddenly a rising star, Frank despairs that his success on the playing field isn’t equaled in his personal life. He loves a widowed, emotionally challenged landlady (Rachel Roberts) who’s too damaged to return his feelings.

 

Poster for the movie "Tom Jones"

© 1963 Woodfall Film Productions − All right reserved.

Tom Jones (UK)

 D: Tony Richardson

Stars:  Albert Finney, Susannah York, Hugh Griffith

Tom Jones (Albert Finney), a bastard foundling raised by the kindly Squire Allworthy (George Devine), loves the beautiful Sophie Western (Susannah York), but cannot marry her due to the difference in their stations. When the villainous Blifil (David Warner) tricks the squire into casting Tom out of his household, the young man goes forth into the world on a series of high-spirited adventures, including heroic sword fights, mistaken identities, good deeds and lusty women.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest movies of 1963?

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