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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 1965 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:

  • Woody Allen – What’s New Pussycat
  • Ed Asner – The Satan Bug
  • Sonny & Cher – Wild on the Beach
  • Michael Gambon – Othello
  • Derek Jacobi – Othello
  • Philip Kaufman – director – Goldstein
  • George Lucas – director – Look at Life
  • Robert De Niro – Encounter and Three Rooms in Manhattan
  • Katharine RossShenandoah 
  • Sam Waterston – The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean


Top-grossing Films

1.The Sound of Music20th Century Fox$138,700,000
2.Doctor ZhivagoMetro-Goldwyn-MayerUnknown
3.ThunderballUnited Artists$63,595,658
4.Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines20th Century Fox$31,111,111
5.That Darn Cat!Walt Disney Productions$28,068,222
6.The Great RaceWarner Bros.$25,333,333
7.Cat BallouColumbia Pictures$20,666,667
8.What’s New Pussycat?United Artists$18,820,000
9.ShenandoahUniversal Pictures$17,268,889
10.Von Ryan’s Express20th Century Fox$17,111,111

The first-run gross of Doctor Zhivago is unknown. However, in terms of gross rental (the distributor’s cut of the gross) it earned $43 million, second only to The Sound of Musics $72 million and over fifty percent more than the $27 million earned by Thunderball in third-place. Its lifetime box-office gross—including revenue from re-releases—totals $111.7 million.


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: The Sound of Music – Argyle Enterprises, Twentieth Century-Fox

Best Director: Robert Wise – The Sound of Music

Best Actor: Lee MarvinCat Ballou

Best Actress: Julie Christie – Darling

Best Supporting Actor: Martin BalsamA Thousand Clowns

Best Supporting Actress: Shelley WintersA Patch of Blue


Among Those Who Died In 1965:

  • January 14 – Jeanette MacDonald, 61, American actress, singer, San Francisco, One Hour with You
  • February 10 – Arnold Manoff, 50, American screenwriter, No Minor Vices, Casbah
  • February 15 – Nat King Cole, 45, American singer and actor, St. Louis Blues, Istanbul
  • February 23 – Stan Laurel, 74, British actor, The Flying Deuces, Sons of the Desert
  • March 1 – Fred Immler, 84, German actor, Madame Du Barry, Zapata’s Gang
  • March 6 – Margaret Dumont, 82, American actress, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera
  • March 23 – Mae Murray, 75, American actress, The Merry Widow, The Delicious Little Devil
  • March 28
    • Clemence Dane, 77, British screenwriter, Anna Karenina, Perfect Strangers
    • Jack Hoxie, 80, American Western actor, The Last Frontier, Gold
  • April 1 – Edna Tichenor, 64, American actress, London After Midnight, The Show
  • April 3 – Ray Enright, 69, American director, Alibi Ike, The Spoilers
  • April 8 – Lars Hanson, 78, Swedish actor, The Wind, Flesh and the Devil
  • April 10 – Linda Darnell, 41, American actress, My Darling Clementine, The Mark of Zorro
  • April 24 – Louise Dresser, 85, American actress, A Ship Comes In, The Scarlet Empress
  • April 30 – Helen Chandler, 59, American actress, Dracula, The Last Flight
  • May 5 – John Waters, 71, screenwriter and director, The Big Country, The Desperate Hours
  • June 6 – Lech Owron, 71, Polish actor, Vampires of Warsaw, The Little Eagle
  • June 7 – Judy Holliday, 43, American actress, Born Yesterday, Bells Are Ringing
  • June 8 – Florence Ryerson, 72, American screenwriter, The Wizard of Oz, The Ice Follies of 1939
  • June 15 – Steve Cochran, 48, American actor, The Best Years of Our Lives, White Heat
  • June 22 – David O. Selznick, 63, American producer, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca
  • June 23 – Mary Boland, 85, American stage and film actress, The Women, Ruggles of Red Gap
  • June 27 – Anthony Veiller, 62, American screenwriter, The Stranger, The Killers
  • July 11 – Ray Collins, 78, American actor, Citizen Kane, The Kid from Left Field
  • July 19 – Clyde Beatty, 62, American actor and animal trainer, Africa Screams, Ring of Fear
  • July 24 – Constance Bennett, 60, American actress, Topper, Merrily We Live
  • July 28 – Minor Watson, 75, American actor, Woman of the Year, The Jackie Robinson Story
  • August 6
  • August 30 – Pauline Garon, 64, Canadian actress, The Heart of Broadway, The College Hero
  • September 2 – Felix E. Feist, 55, American director, This Woman Is Dangerous, The Big Trees
  • September 4 – Isabel Jeans, 93, British actress, Suspicion, Gigi
  • September 7 Catherine Dale Owen, 70, American actress, Such Men Are Dangerous, Born Reckless
  • September 8 – Dorothy Dandridge, 42, American actress, singer, Carmen Jones, Porgy and Bess
  • September 27 – Clara Bow, 60, American actress, Wings, It
  • October 3 – Zachary Scott, 51, American actor, Mildred Pierce, The Southerner
  • October 18 – Henry Travers, 91, British actor, It’s a Wonderful Life, Shadow of a Doubt
  • October 21 – Marie McDonald, 42, American actress, The Geisha Boy, Living in a Big Way
  • October 23 – Janice Logan, 50, American actress, Dr. Cyclops, Opened by Mistake
  • October 31 – Rita Johnson, 52, American actress, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, The Major and the Minor
  • November 14 – Russell Collins, 68, American actor, Miss Sadie Thompson, Bad Day at Black Rock
  • November 26 – Wild Bill Elliott, 61, American actor, The San Antonio Kid, Sudden Danger
  • December 5 – Joseph I. Breen, 77, chief administrator of the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code) from 1934 to 1954
  • December 22 – Albert Ritz, 64, American entertainer of the Ritz Brothers, Sing, Baby, Sing, Life Begins in College
  • December 29 – Frank S. Nugent, 57, American screenwriter, The Searchers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

The Greatest Films of 1965




Poster for the movie "Cat Ballou"

© − All right reserved.

Cat Ballou

D: Elliott Silverstein

Stars:  Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Stubby Kaye

The sleeper hit of 1965, CAT BALLOU was declared an instant classic when its sly blend of Western parody and rapid-fire action hit the screen. Lee Marvin won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor in his dual role as both Tim Strawn, a noseless (“it got bit off in a fight”) gunslinger, and as Kid Shelleen, the woozy, boozy, has-been who goes up against Strawn at high noon. In accepting the award, Marvin said”I think half of this belongs to a horse somewhere in the Valley” referring to the hilarious scene where Marvin and the horse both lean against a shed in a drunken stupor (certainly one of the most famous sight gags ever). Jane Fonda, at the height of her sex-kitten period, stars as Catherine “Cat” Ballou, the schoolmarm-turned-outlaw who teams with Kid to protect her father’s ranch from a greedy railroad tycoon. Filmed in just 32 days, CAT BALLOU went on to become one of the biggest box office hits of 1965, proving the popularity of the Western spoof. Singer Nat King Cole and comedian Stubby Kaye also appear in this wild and wooly Western comedy classic, singing the title song”The Ballad of Cat Ballou.”

Learn more and watch the preview here.



© – All right reserved.

Darling (UK)

D: John Schlesinger

Stars:  Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey

A beautiful but amoral model sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties.


Poster for the movie "Doctor Zhivago"

© 1965 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Doctor Zhivago (UK)

D: David Lean

Stars:  Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger

Doctor Zhivago is the filmed adaptation of the Russian novel by Boris Pasternak from director David Lean that was an international success and today deemed a classic. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie play two protagonists who in fact love each other yet because of their current situation cannot find a way be together.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Faster, Pussycat

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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

D: Russ Meyer

Stars: Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams

Russ Meyer’s cult favorite follows sadistic go-go dancers Varla (Tura Satana), Rosie (Haji) and Billie (Lori Williams) as they break free from the nightclub where they perform and race out to the desert to stir up a little mayhem. After karate expert Varla kills an innocent man, the voluptuous trio takes his girlfriend (Susan Bernard) hostage as they attempt to wheedle a hidden fortune from a misogynistic old man (Paul Trinka) and his muscle-bound, brain-damaged son (Dennis Busch).

Poster for the movie "Help!"

© 1965 Subafilms − All right reserved.

Help! (UK)

D: Richard Lester

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

This Beatles film has an obscure Asian cult, that believes in human sacrifice, chasing Ringo after he accidentally put on their victim’s ceremonial ring. He is pursued by the cult, a pair of mad scientists, a member of a side cult that no longer believes in human sacrifice, and the London police who are trying to help.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


The Ipcress File

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The Ipcress File (UK)

D: Sidney J. Furie

Stars: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman

Tasked with investigating the kidnappings and brainwashed reappearances of top scientists, including Dr. Radcliffe, the insubordinate British spy Harry Palmer navigates his way through criminals, secret agents, and his superiors While attempting to bring in. the suspect Bluejay, Palmer discovers a mysterious audiotape labeled “IPCRESS,” an inconspicuous, but ominous, piece of evidence.


Poster for the movie "A Patch of Blue"

© − All right reserved.

A Patch of Blue

D: Guy Green

Stars:  Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman

Blind Selina D’Arcy  lives a life of servitude with her mother, Rose-Ann D’Arcy, who’s a prostitute and grandfather who’s an alcoholic until the day she goes to the park to string beads for extra cash. There she meets the first kind person she has ever known, Gordon Ralfe. The two quickly develop a deep bond, but Rose-Ann–who can see only bad in any man–tries to separate her daughter from the black Gordon, believing that a life of prostitution would be better for Selina than happiness with a Black man.

Learn more and watch the preview here.  

Poster for the movie "Repulsion"

© 1965 Compton Films − All right reserved.

Repulsion (UK)

D: Roman Polanski

Stars:  Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser

A disturbing, tense, frightening psychological horror thriller and one of Roman Polanski’s best films – his second feature film (after Knife in the Water (1962)) and his first in English. A macabre tale about a beautiful, timid, young blonde manicurist named Carol Ledoux (21 year-old Catherine Deneuve) from Belgium. The film basically takes place in a single location — Carol’s tiny London (Kensington) apartment — which she shares with her older, sexually-liberated sister Hélène (Yvonne Furneaux), who is involved with a married boyfriend, a salesman named Michael (Ian Hendry). While they are away on holiday in Italy for two weeks, Carol suffers a several mental breakdown with hallucinations and nightmares, one after the other. She imagines such harrowing images as a phantom night-time rapist, and giant cracks appearing from the walls with hands emerging from them to grope her (borrowed from Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946)). The film revolves around the deterioration of the sexually-repressed, claustrophobic, and paranoid Carol (brilliantly acted by Deneuve), and leads to two brutal murders. The film borrows many elements from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960, UK), such as sexual voyeurism and subtle auditory hints, and derives much of the suspense and dread from the use of everyday sounds (such as dripping water, the ticking of an alarm clock, a ringing telephone and doorbell, etc.).

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Ship of Fools"

© 1965 Stanley Kramer Productions − All right reserved.

Ship of Fools

D: Stanley Kramer

Stars:  Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer, Lee Marvin

Passengers on a ship traveling from Mexico to Europe in the 1930s represent society at large in that era. The crew is German, including the ship’s Dr. Schumann, who falls in love with one of the passengers, La Condesa. A young American woman, Jenny, is traveling with the man she loves, David. Jenny is fascinated and puzzled by just who some of the other passengers are.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "The Sound of Music"

© 1965 Robert Wise Productions − All right reserved.

The Sound of Music

D: Robert Wise

Stars:  Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical and the true story of the von Trapp family – a lovely Best Picture-winning film with a mixture of comedy, romance, and suspense – and a wonderful collection of musical tunes. Restless novice postulant Maria (Julie Andrews) at the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, first pictured daydreaming on the hillside surrounded by the beautiful Alps, is persuaded by the Reverend Mother (Peggy Wood) to take a governess position for the motherless, singing family of stern widower Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), who is engaged to Baroness Schroeder (Eleanor Parker). The seven children include: 16 year-old Liesl (Charmain Carr), 14 year-old Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond), 13 year-old Louisa (Heather Menzies), 11 year-old Kurt (Duane Chase), 10 year-old Brigitta (Angela Cartwright), almost 7 year-old Marta (Debbie Turner), and 5 year-old Gretl (Kym Karath). The children have a well-deserved reputation for scaring off caretakers, but Maria wins them over, and falls in love with her employer, amidst the ominous Nazi occupation. Includes the songs: “Maria,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “You Are Sixteen, Going On Seventeen,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Edelweiss.”

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "A Thousand Clowns"

© − All right reserved.

A Thousand Clowns

D: Fred Coe

Stars:  Jason Robards, Barbara Harris, Martin Balsam

Twelve-year-old Nick lives with his Uncle Murray, a Mr.Micawber-like Dickensian character who keeps hoping something won’t turn up. What turns up is a social worker, who falls in love with Murray and a bit in love with Nick. As the child welfare people try to force Murray to become a conventional man (as the price they demand for allowing him to keep Nick), the nephew, who until now has gloried in his Uncle’s iconoclastic approach to life, tries to play mediator. But when he succeeds, he is alarmed by the uncle’s willingness to cave in to society in order to save the relationship.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1965?

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