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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.

Not only was 1964 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:

  • Jenny Agutter – East of Sudan
  • The BeatlesA Hard Day’s Night
  • Ellen Burstyn – For Those Who Think Young
  • David Carradine – Taggart
  • Dom DeLuise – Diary of a Bachelor
  • Judi Dench – The Third Secret
  • Olympia Dukakis – Twice a Man
  • Morgan FreemanThe Pawnbroker
  • James Earl JonesDr. Strangelove
  • Roy Scheider – The Curse of the Living Corpse
  • Raquel Welch – A House Is Not a Home

 

Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio Gross
1. My Fair Lady Warner Bros. $72,000,000
2. Goldfinger United Artists $51,081,062
3. Mary Poppins Disney $31,000,000
4. The Carpetbaggers Paramount $28,409,547
5. From Russia with Love United Artists $24,796,765
6. A Fistful of Dollars United Artists $14,500,000
7. Father Goose Universal International $12,500,000
8. A Shot in the Dark United Artists $12,368,234
9. A Hard Day’s Night United Artists $12,299,668
10. The Night of the Iguana MGM $12,000,000
11. What a Way to Go! Fox $11,180,531
12. The Unsinkable Molly Brown MGM $11,070,559
13. The Pink Panther United Artists $10,878,107
14. Viva Las Vegas MGM $9,442,967
15. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Columbia $9,440,272
16. Becket Paramount $9,164,370
17. Send Me No Flowers Universal International $9,129,247
18. Good Neighbor Sam Columbia $9,072,726
19. Zorba the Greek Fox $9,000,000
20. Sex and the Single Girl Warner Bros. $8,000,000
21. Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte Fox $8,000,000
22. Marnie Universal International $7,000,000
23. Topkapi United Artists $7,000,000
24. Man’s Favorite Sport? Universal International $6,000,000

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: My Fair Lady – Warner Bros.

Best Director: George Cukor – My Fair Lady

Best Actor: Rex Harrison – My Fair Lady

Best Actress: Julie AndrewsMary Poppins

Best Supporting Actor: Peter Ustinov – Topkapi

Best Supporting Actress: Lila KedrovaZorba the Greek

 

Among Those Who Died In 1964:

  • January 21 – Joseph Schildkraut, 67, Austrian actor, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Life of Emile Zola, Viva Villa!
  • January 22 – Lissy Arna, 63, German actress, Eva in Silk, The Dance Goes On
  • January 27 – Norman Z. McLeod, 65, American director, The Paleface, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • January 29 – Alan Ladd, 50, American actor, Shane, The Blue Dahlia
  • February 24 – Frank Conroy, 73, British actor, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Naked City
  • February 27 – Orry-Kelly, 66, Australian costume designer, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon
  • February 29 – Frank Albertson, 55, American actor, It’s a Wonderful Life, Psycho
  • March 10 – Arthur Hohl, 74, American actor, Cleopatra, Private Detective 62
  • March 23 – Peter Lorre, 59, Hungarian actor, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon
  • April 18 – Ben Hecht, 70, American playwright and screenwriter, Notorious, His Girl Friday
  • May 10 – Carol Haney, 39, American dancer, actress, The Pajama Game, Invitation to the Dance
  • May 13 – Diana Wynyard, 58, British actress, Cavalcade, Gaslight
  • June 27 – Mona Barrie, 54, British actress, Mystery Woman, Ladies Love Danger
  • July 15 – Myles Connolly, 66, American screenwriter, State of the Union, Hans Christian Andersen
  • July 26 – William A. Seiter, 73, American film director, The Beautiful and Damned, Sons of the Desert, Roberta
  • August 5 – Charles Quigley, 58, American actor, The Shadow, The Game That Kills
  • August 6
    • Cedric Hardwicke, 71, British actor, Rope, Suspicion
    • Reed Howes, 64, American model and actor, The Dawn Rider, Paradise Canyon
  • August 12 – Ian Fleming, 56, British author of James Bond novels, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • August 27 – Gracie Allen, 69, American comedy actress, A Damsel in Distress, The Big Broadcast of 1936
  • September 23 – Fred M. Wilcox, 56, American director, Forbidden Planet, Lassie Come Home
  • September 28
  • October 10 – Eddie Cantor, 72, American actor, singer, comedian, Whoopee!, Kid Millions
  • October 15 – Cole Porter, 73, American composer and songwriter, Night and Day, High Society
  • October 19 – Russ Brown, American actor, Damn Yankees, Anatomy of a Murder
  • October 22 – Whip Wilson, 53, American actor, Night Raiders
  • October 23 – Jo Swerling, 71, American screenwriter, It’s a Wonderful Life, Guys and Dolls
  • October 27 – Rudolph Maté, 66, Hungarian cinematographer and director, D.O.A., When Worlds Collide
  • November 10 – Sam Newfield, 64, American director, The Terror of Tiny Town, I Accuse My Parents
  • December 11 – Percy Kilbride, 76, American actor, The Southerner, State Fair
  • December 14 – William Bendix, 58, American actor, Lifeboat, Detective Story
  • December 31 – Gertrude Michael, 53, American actress, Murder at the Vanities, Women in Bondage

The Greatest Films of 1964

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "The Americanization of Emily"

© − All right reserved.

The Americanization of Emily

D: Arthur Hiller

Stars:  James Garner, Julie Andrews, Melvyn Douglas, James Coburn

This entertaining and daring satirical black comedy, with a screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, was about the absurdities of war. It was set in 1944 during WWII – the main character was charming, callow, larcenous, scheming American Navy officer, Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison. His main job, residing in a swanky London hotel, was to be a “dog-robber” – to make sure his superior general, commanding officer Rear Adm. William Jessup, was comfortable and supplied (with everything from Hershey bars, to liquor, food, and Cokes). He was despised and called a womanizer (“a complete rascal”) by his prim British war-widow motor-pool chauffeur and ambulance driver Miss Emily Barham, who had strong anti-American prejudices (what he termed: “sentimental contempt”). She hated his loud and brash ways, wastefulness, and avowed cowardice – although they did have romantic feelings for each other. Their situation drastically changed when the commanding admirals decided that they want the first American casualty of an upcoming dangerous mission (the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach) to be a sailor – to be filmed for PR’s sake, and Madison is ordered to arrange it when Admiral Jessup suffers a nervous breakdown.

 Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Becket"

© 1964 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Becket (UK)

D: Peter Glenville

Stars:  Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud

King Henry II of England has trouble with the Church. When the Archbishop of Canterbury dies, he has a brilliant idea. Rather than appoint another pious cleric loyal to Rome and the Church, he will appoint his old drinking and wenching buddy, Thomas Becket, technically a deacon of the church, to the post. Unfortunately, Becket takes the job seriously and provides abler opposition to Henry.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Dear Heart"

© 1964 Out of Towners Productions − All right reserved.

Dear Heart

D: Delbert Mann

Stars:  Geraldine Page, Glenn Ford, Angela Lansbury

This offbeat, sensitive black and white romantic comedy told about a “most unconventional love affair” that occurred over two and a half days between two middle-aged out-of-town conventioneers – they were total opposites. It also was taglined as: “‘Dear Heart’ Evie Jackson…tonight, she’d get herself a man and they’d never call her that again.” Arriving in New York City for an annual Postmasters’ Convention, single, lonely and dowdy spinster Evie Jackson, a post-mistress from small-town Ohio, met bachelor Harry Mork, a greeting cards traveling salesman. He was engaged and about to marry shallow widow Phyllis from Altoona, PA (the “tomato from Altoona”). Due to circumstances involving his soon-to-be stepson – Phyllis’ 18-year-old, college student-son Patrick and his crazy girlfriend Zola, Harry was invited to share a room with Evie. Inevitably, their destinies would converge further.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

© 1964 Hawk Films − All right reserved.

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (UK)

 D: Stanley Kubrick

Stars:  Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens

Kubrick’s classic, cynical Cold War, satirical black comedy, with scathing humor and timeless performances, was based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George and a script by Terry Southern. It was the first commercially-successful political satire about nuclear war, doomsday and Cold War politics. A crazed, anti-Communist psychotic US general Jack D. Ripper, paranoid about his own sexual potency, sparked a nuclear crisis with a pre-emptive strike against “the Russkies.” The American President Muffley must deal with gung ho military brass Gen. Buck Turgidson, bureaucratic bumbling, an incompetent Soviet ambassador, and a twisted, black-gloved German rocket scientist, Dr. Strangelove himself. It ended with the memorable bucking bronco image of Major Kong riding the fatal bomb and howling wildly toward oblivion: “YAHOO!! YAHOO!!”

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Fail-Safe"

© 1964 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

Fail Safe

D: Sidney Lumet

Stars:  Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver, Larry Hagman

Because of a technical defect an American bomber team mistakenly orders the destruction of Moscow. The President of the United States has but little time to prevent an atomic catastrophe from occurring. Director Sidney Lumet gives an atmospheric vision of the future with a Cold War backdrop.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Goldfinger"

© 1964 United Artists − All right reserved.

Goldfinger (UK)

D: Guy Hamilton

Stars:  Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Fröbe

Special agent 007 (Sean Connery) comes face to face with one of the most notorious villains of all time, and now he must outwit and outgun the powerful tycoon to prevent him from cashing in on a devious scheme to raid Fort Knox — and obliterate the world’s economy.                                                             

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "A Hard Day's Night"

© 1964 Proscenium Films − All right reserved.

A Hard Day’s Night (UK)

D: Richard Lester

Stars:  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

The Beatles’ first charming, wacky, original and impish movie was released not long after the Fab Four’s landmark debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. At first thought to be a cross-promotional exploitation of their phenomenal ‘Beatlemania’, even critics agreed that it was an inventive, funny and ingenious musical comedy that later helped to inspire the music video craze. Innovative American director Richard Lester used the same type of goofy humor and imaginative visuals from his earlier experimental, grainy, hand-held short film, The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959) starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, along with black-and-white film stock and a semi-documentary style. Screenwriter Alun Owen based his Oscar-nominated script on the group’s frenzied popularity, supplemented by musical interludes of concert footage. The frantic film documents thirty-six hours of the group’s life as they are on their way from Liverpool to London for a TV performance, marked by the memorable opening intercut to the title song – as the singing group is chased by screaming, hysterical and obsessed teenage girls while they board a train. The rock-and-roll stars express their charming, laid-back, and saucy personalities in this slice-of-life film that fictionalized their lives — best exemplified during their interview scenes with their dry, playful one-liner responses (Reporter: “Are you a mod, or a rocker?” Ringo: “Um, no. I’m a mocker”). Wilfrid Brambell also plays Ringo’s “very clean,” eccentric grandfather who serves as the film’s trouble-maker.

The Academy’s membership unjustly overlooked the now-classic songs in the film’s un-nominated soundtrack in favor of those from Mary Poppins (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”), Dear Heart, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Robin and the 7 Hoods (“My Kind of Town”), and Where Love Has Gone. However, George Martin, the Beatles’ producer often recognized as the “Fifth Beatle,” was nominated for Best Adapted Score.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Marnie

© – All right reserved.

Marnie

D: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars:  Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Bruce Dern

Hitchcock creates a masterful psychological thriller about a compulsive liar and thief, who winds up marrying the very man she attempts to rob. When a terrible accident pushes her over the edge, her husband struggles to help her face her demons as the plot races to an inescapable conclusion.

 

Poster for the movie "Mary Poppins"

© 1964 Walt Disney Productions − All right reserved.

Mary Poppins

D: Robert Stevenson

Stars:  Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley

Join the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins for a “Jolly Holiday” as she magically turns every chore into a game and every day into a whimsical adventure. Along the way, you’ll be enchanted by unforgettable characters such as the multitalented chimney sweep Bert. You won’t need a “Spoonful Of Sugar” to love every moment of this timeless Disney classic!

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "My Fair Lady"

© 1964 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

My Fair Lady

D: George Cukor

Stars:  Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White

One of the best and most popular musicals of all-time, a Best Picture-winner from Lerner and Loewe – based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. Arrogant, fastidious, linguistics Professor Henry Higgins wagers fellow linguist Colonel Hugh Pickering that he can transform Cockney flower-selling, street urchin Eliza Doolittle – a ‘guttersnipe’ – into a proper lady with prescribed diction/elocution lessons. The irrepressible ‘guttersnipe’ is scrubbed, dressed, and tutored, in time to attend the Ascot races and a society ball. Included songs “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Night of the Iguana, The"

© − All right reserved.

The Night of the Iguana

D: John Huston

Stars:  Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon

Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr star in Academy Award-winning director John Huston’s adaptation of playwright Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana. Defrocked, alcoholic former priest T. Lawrence Shannon has fallen far in his quest to sate his base, libidinous urges. Now working as a tour guide in Mexico for a group of female American schoolteachers, Shannon is caught with one of the women at the start of a night of alcohol and tropical heat that rips away the façades of repression that cover the perversions and personal demons of all members of the tour group.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Pawnbroker"

© 1965 Allied Artists − All right reserved.

The Pawnbroker

D: Sidney Lumet

Stars:  Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters, Jaime Sánchez

Based on the novel by Edward Lewis Wallant, this drama focuses on former professor Sol Nazerman, the survivor of a German concentration camp who now runs a pawn shop in East Harlem. Having witnessed his family’s death at the hands of the Nazis, he is embittered toward humanity and pushes away anyone around him, including his young Puerto Rican employee, Jesus. As Nazerman contends with his internal conflicts, the harsh realities of the city affect his life as well.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "A Shot in the Dark"

© 1964 United Artists − All right reserved.

A Shot in the Dark

D: Blake Edwards

Stars:  Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, George Sanders, Herbert Lom

A Shot in the Dark is the second and more successful film from the Pink Panther film series where both animated and real life sequences are mixed. A cult classic from Blake Edwards based on the play L’Idiot by Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Topkapi

© – All right reserved.

Topkapi

D: Jules Dassin

Stars:  Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximilian Schel,l Robert Morley

Beautiful thief Elizabeth Lipp and criminal genius Walter Harper put together a plan to steal an emerald-encrusted dagger from Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace. As part of their crew, they hire small-time hustler Arthur Simon Simpson to act as their fall guy. When the Turkish secret police capture Simpson at the border, they persuade him to spy on his partners in crime, mistakenly believing that they’re Communist agents plotting an assassination.

 

Poster for the movie "Zorba the Greek"

© − All right reserved.

Zorba the Greek (UK)

D: Michael Cacoyannis

Stars:  Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Papas

On the Greek isle of Crete, Basil, a shy inhibited writer from England is befriended by Zorba a boisterous peasant with an astonishing love for life. When Zorba agrees to work at Basil’s abandoned mine, it is the beginning of a lesson for the young man as he gradually moves from an observer of the world to a participant.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Zulu

© – All right reserved.

Zulu (UK)

D: Cy Endfield

Stars: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, Michael Caine

In 1879, the Zulu nation hands colonial British forces a resounding defeat in battle. A nearby regiment of the British Army takes over a station run by a missionary and his daughter as a supply depot and hospital under the command of Lieutenant John Chard and his subordinate Gonville Bromhead. Unable to abandon their wounded soldiers even in dire circumstances, the regiment defend their station against the Zulu warriors.

 

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest movies of 1964?

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