The Top Ten Movies of 1967
This month we continue our ongoing tribute to films hitting decade anniversaries with a set of films celebrating the big 5-0! That’s right, 1967 was a half-century ago, and these ten films (plus blogger’s choices) have maintained their cultural cachet since they first blazed on the screen.
1967 was a watershed year in the history of Hollywood cinema. Immortalized by critic and historian Mark Harris in his book Pictures at a Revolution, the year represents the tipping point between old studio Hollywood and the youth-driven New Hollywood of the ’70s. Many of the most popular films of 1967 were edgier, bloodier, more irreverent and explicit, and less compliant with the long-standing Production Code than ever. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s those films, like Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, that continue to resonate today, while “socially conscious” films like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner seem quite dated. (At the same time, more aggressive civil rights-evoking films like In the Heat of the Night have remained powerful.)
Meanwhile, as Hollywood films were finally starting to catch up with the alienated youth culture that had burst on the European scene in the early 1960s, the Europeans (especially the French) certainly weren’t slacking off, and the Flickchart Top Ten has three French films, each representing wildly different themes and styles, from gentle satire to sexual transgression to ultimate cool.
10. In Cold Blood
Usually with film noir, its base, bleak, gritty world is enjoyable to us because it represents a fantasy world, a distilled version of crime and punishment reduced to some simple set of core allegories about morality, masculinity, and the dark side of human nature. We experience the awful events on the screen as melodrama and metaphor, and at that arm’s-reach distance we can experience the beauty and artistry in the storytelling. But In Cold Blood is not a fantasy, and it is not intended to be kept at arm’s reach. It may play fast-and-loose with certain facts and details, but every terrible event on that screen happened to a real human being. The film reminds us, almost shames us into remembering, that those of us who grin maliciously at the brutality of Mike Hammer or relish the soul-tragedy of Detour, we are choosing to pretend that bad stuff happens only on the screen and has no real-world complement. The murder of the Clutters and the subsequent deaths of Smith and Wilson are told using the language of film noir in an attempt to trick us into a sense of audience-comfort, to try to coax that same schadenfreude-sucks-to-be-you reflex out of us. And the fact that it does, that all it takes for us to “enjoy” the lowest, evilest extremes of human experience are some flickers of light and some fucking actors for God’s sake… well, it’s the best evidence that Capote could ever have hoped for that those tragic events and world-destroying choices could only be inevitable in a world like ours. – Doug Van Hollen
- Global Rank: #642
- Ranked 17,497 times by 897 users
- Wins 49% of its matchups
Some of the greatest thrillers of all time take place in a single room, building on the audience’s sense of claustrophobia to heighten the tension. Wait Until Dark takes this one step further. It tells the story of a blind woman (played by Audrey Hepburn) who inadvertently ends up in possession of a drug-concealing doll, and now the owners want it back. A young Alan Arkin plays the murderous criminal most intent on recovering the doll. Fortunately, Hepburn’s character is in no way as vulnerable as she first appears, and she begins to figure out quickly that something is amiss. This movie plays heavily on the concept of suspense, especially as defined by Alfred Hitchcock — we can see nearly every bad thing on its way, but our protagonist cannot. This was one of the first movies where I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the final scenes, and every time I’ve rewatched it since then, it holds up. It’s a smart, tense thriller that has more than earned its spot in this list. – Hannah Keefer
- Global Rank: #429
- Ranked 19,968 times by 1240 users
- Wins 54% of its matchups
Playtime was not quite the swan song for French comedic master Jacques Tati, but it was both the film that broke him (spiritually and financially) and quite probably his masterpiece. Tati had always poked gentle fun at the industrializing world (especially with the house of the future in Mon Oncle), but his critique in Playtime is particularly trenchant, as people work in seas of identical cubicles, walk down interminable hallways, tourists shop for gadget after ridiculous gadget, and forget to actually see any of the REAL Paris in their haste after the modern. Ironically, Tati wasn’t allowed to film in Paris, so he built an enormous set just outside the city at a staggering personal cost. Even the real is a facsimile. The film was a box office failure, so Tati was bankrupted by the film. He’d make only two more films, 1970’s Trafic and 1974’s Parade. – Jandy Hardesty
- Global Rank: #412
- Ranked 11,693 times by 584 users
- Wins 57% of its matchups
The sixties are the decade of Catherine Deneuve. Between one of our Bloggers’ Picks and Belle de Jour, she rightfully dominates in 1967, aloof, beautiful, and exerting her emotional strength and independence. Luis Buñuel‘s Belle de Jour offers the more psychologically nuanced role for her, in which she plays a housewife who explores her sexual intimacy outside her marriage through prostitution. Deneuve’s Severine is a character with a great emotional range, and the film does not seem to seek to punish Severine for her desire, only explores the real consequences it might carry. Buñuel’s film is a remarkable erotic drama, and it remains relevant today. – Alex Lovendahl
- Global Rank: #351
- Ranked 21,481 times by 1150 users
- Wins 49% of its matchups
The Dirty Dozen wasn’t the first ensemble action movie, but it was surely the meanest, nastiest, grittiest one to hit screens in the nascent years of New Hollywood. The movie opens with an execution of an American soldier, by his superiors who had tried and convicted him of a capital crime, during WWII — already we are a far cry from the sentimental patriotism of studio-system war flicks. Yet The Dirty Dozen is not a somber, sober movie. It does not grimly set its jaw, Lee Marvin style, in paternal disapproval of the harsh reality that criminals sometimes wear uniforms. No; in fact, the worse the criminal, the more the movie revels in the liberation of badness. It’s not that we approve of what Telly Savalas’s insane zealot character did to a woman that got him landed on the Army’s death row. It’s that we do want to see him turned loose on the Nazi enemy and find out how much havoc he and eleven other G.I. monsters can wreak. If a few stuffed-shirt generals get embarrassed along the way, M*A*S*H-style (Altman‘s M*A*S*H came out two years later, and Donald Sutherland appears in both), so much the better! Audiences in 1967 were prepared to root for bad people doing good things, for mischievous sprees, for shootouts as big, bloody, and explosive as, well, a war. The Dirty Dozen is, therefore, a hard-edged war movie, but it’s also fun and colorful like a football game, and even features the NFL’s James Brown as one of the titular convicts. Quentin Tarantino, the DC Comics movies, and others have tried to bottle lightning in a similar way, but haven’t always walked the line as deftly as Dirty Dozen director Robert Aldrich. – David Conrad
- Global Rank: #335
- Ranked 45,594 times by 3948 users
- Wins 51% of its matchups
Most know the line even if they don’t know where it comes from. But if you haven’t seen the film, the context makes it all the more powerful. The fancy big city detective, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), who is black, has just punched a few holes in small town Mississippi police chief Bill Gillespie’s (Rod Steiger) tidy solution to a murder investigation with some basic observational detecting; what’s more, he even has the podunk officer squad backing his assertions. Chief Gillespie can’t just stand there with egg on his face as some slick out-of-towner tells him what’s what, so he gets primal, and racial:
Gillespie: “You’re pretty sure of yourself, ain’t ya, Virgil. Virgil, that’s a funny name for a n***** boy that comes from Philadelphia, what do they call you up there?!”
Virgil: “They call me Mister Tibbs!”
That isn’t even the most racially significant moment in the film. Later, when wealthy white plantation owner Eric Endicott realizes he is being interrogated as a murder suspect by Virgil, he slaps Virgil across the face — no way is an upstanding white citizen going to take such belligerence from a black man. Without losing a beat, Tibbs slaps him right back, reducing him to tears. A black man, striking a white man, on film. It’s a slap felt across the decades, and it is one of the most significant movie moments of the Civil Rights era. (Major props to actor Larry Gates as Endicott, who sells the scene by taking the brunt of Poitier’s backhand.) The film’s further thematic brilliance is on display in the very next scene, when the bigoted Gillespie shows Tibbs, in ten words, that Tibbs carries with him no less a deep-seated prejudice than any white Mississippian. Tibbs and Gillespie are both well-written, well-acted, complicated men, and their hostile relationship, ultimately leading to mutual respect, is one of cinema’s most indelible.
In the Heat of the Night is a film that ought to be seen by every American. I showed this movie to a friend a couple years ago (my third viewing). Her response when it was over? “That was bad-ass!” I lit up like Christmas. Spreading the gospel of Tibbs is the Lord’s work, and I’m happy to do it. – Tom Kapr
- Global Rank: #310
- Ranked 44,243 times by 3214 users
- Wins 49% of its matchups
The Hollywood New Wave is often marked as starting with Bonnie & Clyde‘s epic finale, a hailstorm of orgiastic bullets pummeling through slow-motion forms. Yet it’s the film’s American virtues that impress me regarding Bonnie & Clyde more so than its debt to the French New Wave. Its sensuality and physical warmth (both depicted through glowing sun-drenched yellows) are as American as the Coca-Cola Ms. Bonnie Parker drinks as she attempts to seduce Clyde Barrow. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway play the titular duo with a charm that transgressed the contemporary sensibility against siding with real-world outlaws. Bonnie & Clyde also helped to define the New Hollywood tradition of ending low after a great romance. The film deserves its place in our historical film canon. – Alex
- Global Rank: #212
- Ranked 118,335 times by 9451 users
- Wins 51% of its matchups
3. The Graduate
Why is The Graduate one of the funniest comedies of all time, fifty years after its release? Mike Nichols’ film isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious, and the film’s most memorable scene, coming after a moment of pure happiness, suggests life-altering regret. What makes The Graduate such a classic, the essential comedy of the New Hollywood, is its ability to elicit knowing chuckles, regardless of generation. The Graduate taps into the uncertainty of life, the awareness that every choice could be one that we might stew over for decades to come, so maybe it’s better to stay indifferent, unmoving, becoming a plastic to be shaped by the world around us. It’s telling that the aforementioned iconic ending sees sad sack Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) making his first big decision, then almost immediately wishing he hadn’t. In a world that feels foreign to Ben, a world whose the inhabitants follow their brains, Ben makes a decision with his heart and fails because of it. The Graduate remains a great comedy and one of the best films of the 60s because it hits upon the universal recognition that we must move forward, but the choices we make in doing so could prove disastrous. Sometimes when we make huge mistakes, there’s nothing you can do but laugh. – Ross Bonaime
- Global Rank: #149
- Ranked 358396 times by 34,762 users
- Wins 55% of its matchups
While director Stuart Rosenberg may lay on the Christian iconography a little thick, Cool Hand Luke remains a powerful anti-establishment film that communicates a man’s struggle against the structures of society as well as his dedication to his principles in the face of adversity. Paul Newman delivers one of his best performances in the form of the titular Luke balancing a wry sarcastic attitude with a deep inner pain as the strong arm of the authoritarian world threatens to crush him into the dust. The camera lives in the dirt with Newman as he endures the trials and tribulations of prison. The stellar script sets up Luke’s dire resistance with subtle touches, and Newman’s performance breathes the character to life perfectly. The leering attitude of the prison warden as he talks about a “failure to communicate” speaks to the arrogance we all despise in the authority figures that control us. Complemented by a very blue-collar evoking score, Cool Hand Luke’s attitude and character remain relevant today and will continue to remain relevant far into the future. – Connor Ryan Adamson
- Global Rank: #96
- Ranked 124,528 times by 10,319 users
- Wins 57% of its matchups
1. Le samouraï
In writing about this film, it is difficult to avoid film criticism cliches like “noirish,” “continental,” or “existential” because it seems to so fully illustrate all of those concepts at a time before they became cliches. Le Samouraï‘s stylistic impact on post-Kennedy crime films was so great that its key features became part of the new accepted vernacular of the genre’s cinematic language. Chief among these features is the trope of the mercenary criminal whose “civilian” lifestyle is one of stark yet somehow breathtakingly-elegant simplicity. In this film we are shown that while crime does often pay, to be really good at it requires such a personal austerity and commitment to its “craft” that few would find it a worthwhile trade. Whether this bargain adds to the romance or strips it away depends on your emotional makeup, but its reverberations can be felt in films like Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Spartan (well, really all of David Mamet‘s crime stories), and Heat. And don’t forget about Ronin which carries forward Le Samouraï‘s central metaphor into a post-modern world so devoid of structure and loyalty and beauty that we find ourselves pining for a simpler European underworld where the molls are all chanteuses and the killers take the time to adjust their hats before leaving to take a life. Le Samouraï is the best kind of classic film because it evokes a nostalgia for a past that was better than the one that happened. – Doug
- Global Rank: #92
- Ranked 26,278 times by 1221 users
- Wins 63% of its matchups
The Top Ten above is the result of thousands of rankings by thousands of Flickchart users, but we bloggers have some favorites that didn’t make the global Top Ten.
Jandy – The Young Girls of Rochefort
It there’s a way to distill pure joy onto celluloid, then Jacques Demy has certainly come the closest with this pastel confection. Real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac play the titular twin sisters, music teachers in the coastal town of Rochefort who long for love and success in Paris. But first there’s a carnival in town, a young artist seeking his romantic ideal, an older music store owner still recovering from lost love, an American stranger, and even a mysterious rash of murders. This is my rainy day movie, my sick at home movie, and my cheer-me-up movie. The Michel Legrand music is jazzy, pervasive, and eminently hummable, even if you don’t speak French, and even though Deneuve has more impressive roles in other films (even this same year), she’s never been more luminous or delightful than here.
- Global Rank: #1629
- Ranked 3588 times by 171 users
- Wins 58% of its matchups
David – Camelot
In 2016 the film Jackie, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, used clips from the 1960 Tony-winning musical Camelot to underscore the tragedy and romance of the Kennedy White House. The Kennedys were said to have been fond of the original cast recording. The musical retains its appeal half a century later; not only did Jackie director Pablo Larrain see fit to highlight it, but Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda has repeatedly praised the song “Guenevere” as “the dopest beat… in the canon” and an “ACTION JAM.” It took 7 years for a film version of Camelot to appear, with a truncated list of songs and a plot more tightly focused on the shattering Arthur/Guenevere/Lancelot love triangle. Although the absence of Julie Andrews, who originated Guenevere on Broadway, is usually a thing to be lamented, in the film Lerner and Lowe’s jaunty numbers find enthusiastic expression through a trinity of powerful actors who really seem to understand the humor and tragedy of the Arthurian legend: Vanessa Redgrave as the coquettish Guenevere, Richard Harris as an earnest Arthur, and Franco Nero (now in John Wick Chapter 2 and married to Redgrave; pick your favorite fact) as the proud, anguished Lancelot. Director Joshua Logan, well versed in Broadway and movie musical directing, creates thick interior and exterior atmospheres that range from summery optimism to wintery discontent, romantic fascination to heartbroken angst. With a highly-saturated color palette tailor-made for the psychedelic era, and advertised by a gorgeous, organic Bob Peak poster reminiscent of Eyvind Earle (Sleeping Beauty) and hippie-era Lord of the Rings illustrations, Camelot outgrossed all but three of the movies on our Top 10 list and won three Oscars in technical and musical categories. With contemporary auteurs like Larrain and Miranda giving Camelot‘s music new exposure, this a good moment to revisit one of the most dramatic and distinctive cinematic depictions of King Arthur’s court.
- Global Rank: #2909
- Ranked 5792 times by 446 users
- Wins 41% of its matchups
Nigel – The Jungle Book
2016’s live-action remake served one important purpose: it reinforced just how good Disney’s classic, animated The Jungle Book really is. Yet, somehow, The Jungle Book is often left out of talk of the best of Disney’s golden era, and that’s perplexing. Look again, and you’ll see classic Disney animation that trumps any CGI visuals at any time. The songs are ridiculously catchy (as evidenced by the fact that Jon Favreau just couldn’t leave them out of the remake). “The Bare Necessities” is just as iconic as “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “The Circle of Life,” or even “Let It Go.” And the voice cast is one of the best Disney ever assembled. Sterling Holloway (the original Winnie-the-Pooh) brings slithering menace to Kaa that the sultry tones of Scarlett Johansson don’t really match, and Phil Harris out-chillaxes Bill Murray at every turn. To be fair, Sir Ben Kingsley is nearly as regal a Bagheera as Sebastian Cabot, but the true ace in the hole is George Sanders’ smooth-talking Shere Khan, even more menacing than the brute that is Idris Elba’s tiger in the remake.
The Jungle Book was the studio’s final animated classic that Walt Disney himself personally had a hand in. It shows. And there could be no better, swinging note to be the master’s coda.
- Global Rank: #922
- Ranked 199,039 times by 24,184 users
- Wins 44% of its matchups
There might not be a debut film that defines the interests of a director’s entire oeuvre quite as well as Martin Scorsese’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door. Scorsese’s first film is packed with the material that he is still compelled by fifty years later, from his love of his home, New York City, his Catholic upbringing and the weight that wears on the heart, and the duality of man. Who’s That Knocking at My Door, like other New Hollywood films such as The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde and plenty of others, plays off the idea of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Who’s That Knocking at My Door stars Harvey Keitel in his first film as J.R., an Italian Catholic who can’t handle the discovery that his new girlfriend has been raped. It’s a staggering film and performance, one that allows the audience to feel the stress this reveal places on the heart of J.R. If anything, Who’s That Knocking at My Door is just as much about spiritual angst as The Last Temptation of Christ or last year’s Silence, as the struggle here feels honest and realistic, understandable to the everyman. Scorsese’s first film deserves to be in the discussion of his masterpieces, a phenomenal feat that immediately showed the young filmmaker as one of the future greats.
- Global Rank: #3250
- Ranked 7409 times by 407 users
- Wins 34% of its matchups