The 1960s Film Industry: A Decade of Change

Moviemaking remained in a slump at the start of the 1960s. Moviemakers struggled to come up with successful strategies to combat the rising popularity of television, which kept former movie viewers at home. One strategy was to make big-budget spectacles that TV producers simply could not make. Historical drama films continued to include epic films, in the style of Ben-Hur from 1959, with Spartacus (1960) and Cleopatra (1963), but also evolving with 20th-century settings, such as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).

In the mid-to-late 60s, there was a buying/selling frenzy of the major conglomerates who invested and traded in studios and networks. Increasingly in the 60s, the major studios financed and distributed independently-produced domestic pictures. And made-for-TV movies became a regular feature of network programming by the mid-decade. Many “runaway” film productions were being made abroad to save money.

Films made in the 1960s in the USA reflected the decade. They consisted of fun, fashion, and rock n’ roll, social changes (civil rights era), and transitional cultural values. It was “the era of independent, underground cinema”.

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