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The 1960s was a turbulent time in history and the movies being made reflected those changes.

Historical drama films continued to include epics, in the style of Ben-Hur from 1959, with Cleopatra (1963), but also evolving with 20th-century settings, such as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).

Psychological horror films extended, beyond the stereotypical monster films of Dracula/Frankenstein or Wolfman, to include more twisted films, such as Psycho (1960).

Comedy films became more elaborate, such as The Pink Panther (1963), The President’s Analyst (1967), or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) elevated the concept of a comedy-drama, where the subtle comedy conceals the harsher elements of the drama beneath, and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) set a new standard for satire by turning a story about nuclear holocaust into a sophisticated black comedy.

Beyond the trench coat and film noir, spy films expanded with worldly settings and hi-tech gadgets, such as the James Bond films Dr. No (1962) or Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965).

Similar to spy films, the heist or caper film included worldly settings and hi-tech gadgets, as in the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960), Topkapi (1964) or The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

The spaghetti westerns (made in Italy and Spain), were typified by Clint Eastwood films, such as For a Few Dollars More (1965) or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Several other American and Italian actors were also prominent in such westerns including Lee Van Cleef and Franco Nero.

Science-fiction or fantasy films employed a wider range of special effects, as in the original of The Time Machine (1960) and Mysterious Island (1961), or with animated aliens or mythical creatures, as in the Harryhausen animation for Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and One Million Years B.C. (1966). Some extensive sets were built to simulate alien worlds or zero-gravity chambers, as in space-station and spaceship sets for the epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the psychedelic, space settings for the erotic Barbarella (1968), and with ape-city in the original Planet of the Apes (1968).

Beginning in the middle of the decade due to the start of the cultural revolution and the abolition of the Hays Code, films became increasingly experimental and daring and were taking shape of what was to define the 1970s.

The Apartment


33rd Academy Awards

The 33rd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 1960, were held on April 17, 1961, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. They were hosted by Bob Hope. This was the first ceremony to be aired on ABC television, which has aired the Academy Awards ever since (save for the period between 1971 and 1975, when they were aired on NBC for the first time since the previous year.)

The Apartment marked the last black and white film to win Best Picture during the era when use of black and white film was still common, as well as the last until 1993 when Schindler’s List won.

Gary Cooper was selected by the Academy Board of Governors to be the year’s recipient of the Academy Honorary Award “for his many memorable screen performances and the international recognition he, as an individual, has gained for the motion picture industry.” Cooper was too ill to attend the ceremony, though his condition was not publicly disclosed, save for his family and close friends. Naturally, Cooper chose his close friend James Stewart to accept the Honorary Oscar on his behalf. Stewart’s emotional speech hinted that something was seriously wrong, and the next day newspapers ran the headline, “Gary Cooper has cancer.” One month later, on May 13, 1961, six days after his 60th birthday, Cooper died.

Young and rising star Hayley Mills was selected by the Academy Board of Governors to be the year’s recipient of the Academy Juvenile Award for her breakthrough performance in Walt Disney’s production of Pollyanna. Mills became the very last recipient of the award, as the Academy retired the award afterwards. From 1963 onward, juvenile actors can officially compete in competitive acting awards with their adult counterparts.

Despite receiving mixed-to-negative critical reception and poor box office receipts, The Alamo was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Its successful bid for Oscar nominations over such films like Psycho and Spartacus was largely due to intense lobbying by the film’s lead actor, producer, and director John Wayne. The film was also thought to have been denied awards because Academy voters were alienated by an overblown publicity campaign by Wayne, particularly one Variety ad claiming that the film’s cast was praying harder for Chill Wills to win his award than the defenders of the Alamo prayed for their lives before the battle. The ad, placed by Wills, reportedly angered Wayne, who took out an ad of his own deploring Wills’ tastelessness. In response to Wills’ ad, claiming that all the voters were his “Alamo Cousins,” Groucho Marx took out a small ad which simply said, “Dear Mr. Wills, I am delighted to be your cousin, but I voted for Sal Mineo,” (Wills’ rival nominee for Exodus).


ACTOR Burt LancasterElmer Gantry {“Elmer Gantry”}

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Peter UstinovSpartacus {“Batiatus”}

ACTRESS Elizabeth TaylorButterfield 8 {“Gloria Wandrous”}

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Shirley JonesElmer Gantry {“Lulu Bains”}

ART DIRECTION (Black-and-White) The Apartment — Art Direction: Alexander Trauner; Set Decoration: Edward G. Boyle

ART DIRECTION (Color) Spartacus — Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Eric Orbom; Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman, Julia Heron

CINEMATOGRAPHY (Black-and-White) Sons and Lovers — Freddie Francis

CINEMATOGRAPHY (Color) Spartacus — Russell Metty

COSTUME DESIGN (Black-and-White) The Facts of Life — Edith Head, Edward Stevenson

COSTUME DESIGN (Color) Spartacus — Valles, Bill Thomas

DIRECTING The Apartment — Billy Wilder

DOCUMENTARY (Feature) The Horse with the Flying Tail — Larry Lansburgh, Producer

DOCUMENTARY (Short Subject) Giuseppina — James Hill, Producer

FILM EDITING The Apartment