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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 1960 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 Bates – The Entertainer
  • Bruce Dern – Wild River
  • Albert Finney – The Entertainer
  • Jane Fonda – Tall Story
  • Peter O’Toole – Kidnapped
  • Robert Redford – Tall Story
  • Gian Maria Volontè – Under Ten Flags
  • Susannah York – Tunes of Glory

 

Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio Gross 
1. Spartacus Universal $14,000,000
2. Psycho Paramount $9,100,000
3. Exodus United Artists $8,500,000
4. Swiss Family Robinson Walt Disney Productions $7,900,000
5. The Alamo United Artists $7,900,000
6. The Apartment United Artists $6,700,000
7. BUtterfield 8 MGM $6,000,000
8. Ocean’s 11 Warner Bros. $5,500,000
9. Please Don’t Eat the Daisies MGM $5,300,000
10. From the Terrace 20th Century Fox $5,200,000

(*) After theatrical re-issue(s)

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: The Apartment – Mirisch, United Artists

Best Director: Billy Wilder – The Apartment

Best Actor: Burt LancasterElmer Gantry

Best Actress: Elizabeth TaylorBUtterfield 8

Best Supporting Actor: Peter Ustinov – Spartacus

Best Supporting Actress: Shirley JonesElmer Gantry

 

Among Those Who Died In 1960:

  • January 1 – Margaret Sullavan, 50, American actress, The Shop Around the Corner, The Mortal Storm
  • January 3 – Victor Sjöström, 80, Swedish film actor and director, The Phantom Carriage, Wild Strawberries
  • January 4 – Dudley Nichols, 64, American screenwriter, Bringing Up Baby, Stagecoach
  • January 21 – Matt Moore, 72, Irish-American actor, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Coquette
  • January 24 – John Miljan, 67, American actor, The Plainsman, Mississippi
  • February 3
    • Fred Buscaglione, 38, Italian actor and singer
    • Pierre Watkin, 70, American actor, Pride of the Yankees, The Hunted
  • March 19 – Sonya Levien, 71, Russian screenwriter, Oklahoma!, Quo Vadis, Interrupted Melody
  • April 5 – Alma Kruger, 90, American actress, His Girl Friday, Saboteur
  • April 25 – Hope Emerson, 62, American actress, Caged, Adam’s Rib
  • May 27 – George Zucco, 74, British actor, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, My Favorite Blonde
  • July 15 – Lawrence Tibbett, 63, American singer and actor, The Rogue Song, Under Your Spell
  • July 26 – Cedric Gibbons, 67, Irish production designer and art director, An American in Paris, The Bad and the Beautiful
  • July 29 – Leonora Corbett, 52, British actress, Love on Wheels, Living Dangerously
  • August 10 – Frank Lloyd, 74, Scottish director, Mutiny on the Bounty, Cavalcade
  • September 4 – Alfred E. Green, 71, American director, Baby Face, Top Banana
  • September 11 – Edwin Justus Mayer, 63, American screenwriter, To Be or Not to Be, A Royal Scandal
  • October 11 – Richard Cromwell, 50, American actor, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Jezebel
  • October 15 – Clara Kimball Young, 70, American actress, My Official Wife, Kept Husbands
  • November 3 – Paul Willis, 59, American silent-film actor, The Fall of a Nation
  • November 5
  • November 16 – Clark Gable, 59, American actor, It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, Gone with the Wind
  • November 19 – Phyllis Haver, 61, American actress, Chicago, Sal of Singapore
  • November 20 – Betty Lawford, 48, British actress, Criminal Lawyer, The Devil Thumbs a Ride
  • December 14 – Gregory Ratoff, 67, Russian actor and director, All About Eve, Intermezzo

The Greatest Films of 1960

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "The Apartment"

© 1960 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Apartment

D: Billy Wilder

A Best Picture-winner – a caustically-witty, satirically cynical, melodramatic comedy about corporate politics – and a bitter-sweet romance. In a bid to get ahead, an ambitious, lowly, misguided, and young insurance clerk C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) generously lent out the keys to his NYC apartment to his company’s higher-up, philandering executives for romantic, adulterous, extra-marital trysts, including to his callous married boss J. D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Baxter’s own budding crush toward his building’s elevator operator – melancholy, and vulnerable Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) turned ugly when he discovered he had been outsmarted – she was the latest conquest of his boss – and had attempted suicide in his apartment. Baxter’s next-door, philosophizing doctor/neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen) convinced Baxter to confront the craven ethics of his superiors – and he won the affections of Fran.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "BUtterfield 8"

© − All right reserved.

BUtterfield 8

D: Daniel Mann

Gloria Wondrous awakens in a luxurious bedroom that’s not hers. She swallows a jolt of distilled courage, tosses aside $250 left by an admirer, leaves a scornful reply in lipstick on the mirror, dials her service for messages and slips into a mink coat she finds in the closet. The day and the movie are off to a roaring start. Moviegoers and Hollywood left a message of “Hurrah!” for Elizabeth Taylor and Butterfield 8. Audiences made the film, co-starring Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher as a married lover and platonic friend who matter to Gloria, a box-office hit. And Taylor won her first Best Actress Academy Award as the call girl whose life comes with a complete set of emotional baggage. For a glossy, good time, don’t call. Watch.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Elmer Gantry

© – All right reserved.

Elmer Gantry

D: Richard Brooks

When hedonistic but charming con man Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) meets the beautiful Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons), a roadside revivalist, he feigns piousness to join her act as a passionate preacher. The two make a successful onstage pair, and their chemistry extends to romance. Both the show and their relationship are threatened, however, when one of Gantry’s ex-lovers (Shirley Jones) decides that she has a score to settle with the charismatic performer.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Inherit the Wind"

© 1960 Stanley Kramer Productions − All right reserved.

Inherit the Wind

D: Stanley Kramer

This absorbing “message” film portrayed the famous and dramatic courtroom Scopes “Monkey Trial” battle (in the sultry summer of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee) between two famous lawyers (Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan), who heatedly argued both sides of the case. The film stars two major Oscar-winning giants and veterans of the cinema with remarkable career-high performances – Spencer Tracy (as Darrow- Henry Drummond) and Fredric March (as Bryan – Matthew Harrison Brady) – who had never before acted together in a film. Film-maker Stanley Kramer both produced and directed this film that modified and slightly disguised the historical event by changing the names of the prototypical characters and making them fictional figures, and placing the action in fictional Hillsboro, Tennessee. Its story centered around the issue of evolution vs. creationism and the prosecution of 24 year-old Tennessee teacher John T. Scopes (in the film, Bert Cates played by Dick York) for violating state law by teaching Darwin’s theories of evolution in public schools. [In fact, Scopes deliberately agreed to challenge the Tennessee legislature’s statutes and become the test case for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) by teaching theories that denied the Biblical story of the divine creation of man.] The film’s title was taken from the Biblical book of Proverbs 11:29: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.” Kramer’s film was also designed as a protest against the repressive thinking of the 50s McCarthy era.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Magnificent Seven"

© 1960 The Mirisch Corporation − All right reserved.

The Magnificent Seven

D: John Sturges

An American remake of Akira Kurasawa’s Japanese classic, “The Seven Samurai.” A bandit terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with 7, each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to repulse an army of over 100 bandits who will arrive wanting all of their food.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Peeping TomPeeping Tom (UK)

D: Michael Powell

Loner Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) works at a film studio during the day and, at night, takes racy photographs of women. Also he’s making a documentary on fear, which involves recording the reactions of victims as he murders them. He befriends Helen (Anna Massey), the daughter of the family living in the apartment below his, and he tells her vaguely about the movie he is making. She sneaks into Mark’s apartment to watch it and is horrified by what she sees — especially when Mark catches her.

 

Poster for the movie "Psycho"

© 1960 Shamley Productions − All right reserved.

Psycho

D: Alfred Hitchcock

The greatest, most influential Hitchcock horror/thriller ever made and the progenitor of the modern Hollywood horror film, based on Robert Bloch’s novel. A classic, low budget, manipulative, black and white tale that includes the most celebrated shower sequence ever made. Worried about marital prospects after a lunch tryst with her divorced lover (John Gavin), blonde real estate office secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) embezzles $40,000 and flees, stopping at the secluded off-road Bates Motel, managed by a nervous, amateur taxidermist son named Norman (Anthony Perkins). The psychotic, disturbed “mother’s boy” is dominated by his jealous ‘mother’, rumored to be in the Gothic house on the hillside behind the dilapidated, remote motel. The story includes the untimely, violent murder of the main protagonist early in the film, a cross-dressing transvestite murderer, insanity, and a stuffed corpse.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (UK)

D: Karel Reisz

In a Nottingham factory, Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) works in a mindless haze, but his weekends are even more muddled due to his love affairs and his alcohol problem. One of the women Arthur is involved with, Brenda (Rachel Roberts), is married to his coworker, but pregnant with Arthur’s child. Meanwhile, Arthur is also pursuing Doreen (Shirley Anne Field). Soon enough, he is found out by Brenda, who wants money or an abortion, and Arthur finds himself at a crossroads.

 

Sons and LoversSons and Lovers (UK)

D: Jack Cardiff

In a small English coal town, aspiring artist Paul Morel (Dean Stockwell) sets out to break free of the difficult mining life that has hardened his father, Walter (Trevor Howard), and killed his brother. His wishes appear to come true when local art lover Henry Hadlock (Ernest Thesiger) offers to send him to art school in London. However, Paul’s deep love for his kind but possessive mother, Gertrude (Wendy Hiller), threatens to keep him from abandoning his old life.

 

Poster for the movie "Spartacus"

© 1960 Bryna Productions − All right reserved.

Spartacus

D: Stanley Kubrick

A somewhat dated, uneven historical costume (and sword and sandal) epic adapted by openly-credited, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (thereby breaking the abhorrent system) from Howard Fast’s 1952 fictionalized novel about a slave revolt in Rome between 73-71 BC. This is the story of Thracian Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), first introduced as a slave in the Libyan mines who is sold to slave trader Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), and becomes under his training a skilled gladiator. He is forced, for pure entertainment’s sake, to fight to the death and kill fellow gladiator/friend Draba (Woody Strode). Growing resentment forces Spartacus to kill his captor-owner and instigate a revolt among his fellow slaves.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Sundowners"

© 1960 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

The Sundowners

D: Fred Zinnemann

In the Australian Outback, the Carmody family–Paddy, Ida and their teenage son Sean–are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to keep moving. A sheep-shearing contest, the birth of a child, drinking, gambling and a race horse will all have a part in the final decision.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Time Machine"

© 1960 George Pal Productions − All right reserved.

The Time Machine

D: George Pal

Rod Taylor (“The Birds“) stars as a turn-of-the-century inventor whose time machine inadvertently transports him thousands of years into the future. When he falls in love with a beautiful woman, he fights to free her and her people from a tribe of underground mutants. Based upon the novel by H.G. Wells. Co-starring Yvette Mimieux (“Where the Boys Are”). Featuring Oscar-winning special effects.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1960?

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