American film from the 1960’s to present time has undergone a complete makeover. Prior to this decade, the Golden Age of Hollywood reigned. Movies were a major source of entertainment for all generations. With the popularization of television in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the average movie-goer was more likely to stay home to get their entertainment than to venture out to the theater. Studios had to learn how to deal with lesser resources while still wanting to make big-budget films. This set the stage for many changes in the film industry.
Beginning in the 1960’s, Hollywood Studios showed declining production rates— falling from over 500 movies per year to, on average, 159 annually throughout the decade (221 Gianetti). The studios believed they needed to bring people back to the theaters. To do this they made movies they thought could compete with television. Big budget, extravagant movies were common in the early part of the decade, encouraged by the success of Ben Hur (1959). Cleopatra (1963) turned out to be a costly mistake for Twentieth Century Fox. It was originally budgeted at $1.2 million but eventually cost $40 million. The studio continued to make high budgeted movies including Sound of Music (1965), Doctor Doolittle (1967), and Star! (1968). Of these, only Sound of Music was a commercial success. Pauline Kael (1919-2001), an American film critic wrote “The success of a movie like the Sound of Music makes it even more difficult for anyone to try to do anything worth doing, anything relevant to the modern world, anything inventive or expressive.” (223, Gianetti)
The attempts by Hollywood to portray anything realistic were also over the top regarding budget and star power, Judgment at Nuremburg (1961) was an epic movie retelling the history of the war trials of Nazis following World War II. The importance of the story was overshadowed by the star-studded cast including Spencer Tracy and Judy Garland. Aside from star power, studios went on location to film, hoping to save money on production costs. This only backfired due to costs of housing and transporting actors and crew to and from locations. (224, Gianetti)
Movies in the 1960’s mirrored what was occurring at the time. The Kennedy era at the beginning of the decade was very idealistic and many of the movies of the time reflected that idealism. These included The Parent Trap (1961), The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and series of movies starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Elvis Presley. The Cold War also provided a basis for many movies including the start of the James Bond series, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964), Torn Curtain (1965) and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1965). Later in the decade, movies became more socially conscious. Movies dealt with interracial marriage in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967), racism in everyday situations in To Sir With Love (1967), In the Heat of the Night (1967), and the...