Take a look back at 10 great films from 1966 and discover a new favorite that you’ve never seen before.
The Endless Summer dir. Bruce Brown
The Endless Summer was the definitive surf film of the decade. In the documentary, director Bruce Brown follows the lives of two surfers named Mike Hynson and Robert August. The title suggests the “endless” quality of traveling around the world during the summer, as the film was shot in multiple locations including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tahiti, and, yes, California. Roger Ebert once said of the film, “The beautiful photography he [Brown] brought back home makes you wonder if Hollywood hasn’t been trying too hard.” Let’s go surfing!
Available to stream on: Vimeo, Amazon Prime
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? dir. Mike Nichols
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Our late Mike Nichols adapted Edward Albee’s 1962 play and garnered 13 Academy Award nominations. The sweltering and sultry (Oscar-winning) Elizabeth Taylor stars as Martha and aggressive Richard Burton stars as George, an alcoholic couple that uses a second couple named Nick (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis) to relinquish their anger and inner demons. The tumultuous relationship between both Burton and Taylor comes alive onscreen. This film is of only two films (the other is Cimmaron) that have ever been nominated for all categories at the Oscars. The film is memorable and a classic. It will stay with you for a long time…Or you’ll be quoting it. A dynamic piece of work.
Available to stream on: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon
A Man and a Woman dir. Claude Lelouch
Winner of the Palm d’Or and Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and Writing, A Man and a Woman is the romantic tale of a widower and widow that fall in love upon a chance encounter at their children’s boarding school. Their relationship is composed of a remembrance for their deceased partners. The swooning score composed by Frances Lai was recorded before the film went into production. It remains one of the finest soundtracks to date. Lelouch played the soundtrack for lead actors Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant to encourage the actors before even filming.
Available to stream on: Google Play, iTunes
Alfie dir. Lewis Gilbert
Michael Cain’s portrayal of swinging playboy named Alfie , whose self-serving acts become increasingly alarming in his own life, is one for the books. Alfie is a womanizing playboy, always looking for his next “fix” in women, sleeping around, and living his life as a complete hedonist. That is- until Alfie begins to question his actions and the unbearable loneliness that strikes him as the women in his life return the following years. The film is highly noted for Caine’s unflinching performance (often breaking the fourth wall) and resulted in many iconic performances later in his career.
Available to stream on: iTunes, Amazon
Persona dir. Ingmar Bergman
Persona is a deeply tense exploration into the lives of a female nurse (Bibi Andersson) and her patient, a stage actress patient (Liv Ullman) whose spoken words become diminished. It’s been labeled as “modernist horror” and even considered a “psychological drama”, which doesn’t even begin to describe the cerebral experience one has upon the first viewing. Critics still argue and revise their interpretations of the film. Words cannot describe this cinematic experience. You’ll just have to see it for yourself….Again and again and again.
Available to stream on: Amazon, iTunes
Fahrenheit 451 dir. Francois Truffaut
The 1953 Ray Bradbury novel hits the big screen in this visually stimulating adaptation that became the first (and only) English speaking film Truffaut would direct. For the first time, Universal Pictures would also have their first European production. If you’re not already familiar with the book, the setting is a dystopian future where society is controlled, its citizens are extremely oppressed, and a fireman named Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is demanded to burn all literature. The catch? He becomes a convict for reading the literature. Bradbury was “pleased” with the film but his one qualm was the casting of Julie Christie as the lead wife.
Available to stream on: Google Play, iTunes, Amazon
Andrei Rublev dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
Tarkovsky’s masterpiece centers on the life of famed Russian painter Andrei Rublev and remains one of the best films on many film critics’ lists. Set in 15th century Russia, the epic film remains a restless ode to the artistic freedoms, rebellion, and ultimate defiance against a governed regime that the title character faces. Thus, the film had been censored in the Soviet Union until 1971. Because of the Soviet regime, Andrei Rublev wasn’t eligible for the Palm d’Or but was still screened out-of-competition. In later years, Tarkovsky had written in his diary that even though the theaters had been sold out upon his final 186 minute version there were no posters to be seen.
Available to stream on: YouTube
Cul-de-sac dir. Roman Polanski
Following the critically acclaimed Repulsion, Roman Polanski returns with his second installment for the “apartment trilogy” with Cul-de-sac. Its story follows a wounded criminal and his dying partner that seek refuge in a countryside castle owned by a seemingly bizarre couple. When the criminal’s partner dies, an unexpected relationship ensues between the three and complex emotions are aroused. The film’s tone has been compared to the works of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Just like other Polanski works, this deliciously moody film explores themes of humanistic horrors, including alienation and sexual frustration. Cul-de-sac won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
Available to stream on: Amazon
Blow-Up dir. Michelangelo Antonioni
The most fashionable of all films on this list, Blow-up is a major staple of British cinema during the 60s, offering a glimpse into the transitioning times of modernity and “Swinging London”. A fashion photographer (David Hemmings) believes he has witnessed a murder via a photograph he took and decides to search for answers and begins to questions himself. A saucy Vanessa Redgrave stars as the femme fatale. It’s quite easily the most distinguished stylistic film of this year and noted for its counter-cultural content that shook production codes worldwide. The film was nominated for several awards at Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prix.
Available to stream on: Amazon, iTunes, GooglePlay
Au Hasard Balthazar dir. Robert Bresson
Robert Bresson’s tale of a young rural farmer girl in Southern France and her beloved donkey named Balthazar has been considered Bresson’s finest work to date. Au Hasard Balthazar is inspired loosely by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and each “episode” of Balthazar’s life “represents one of the seven deadly sins.” The film premiered at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. 60s auteur Jean-Luc Godard once spoke of the film saying, “Everyone who sees this film will be truly astonished because this film is really the world in an hour and a half.”
Available to stream on: iTunes, Hulu, Amazon