For American families, 1964 was filled with G.I. Joes, Easy Bake Ovens, Mr. Potato Heads, and Mary Poppins—but it was also filled with people watching the horrors of Vietnam happen on TV. Many music programs that chronicling the growing rock-and-roll mania were televised, and families saw as an escape or way to be transported from the reality and severity of the news. In terms of international cinema, The French New Wave was in full swing, and box offices were filled with movies that ranged from political commentary to musical epics and experimental gems. Here are 10 films from 1964 that left a mark and remain vital today. Check out more about them and where to stream them below.
I Am Cuba, dir. Mikhail Kalatozov
Almost lost until it was rediscovered by American filmmakers, this Soviet-Cuban movie is a filmmaker’s hidden treasure. Before Kickstarter even existed, renowned filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Francois Ford Coppola campaigned to get this movie seen, and now the highly-influential work is recognized by more audiences than ever. The film consists of four stories about the the suffering of the Cuban people and their diverse reactions to life’s everyday sturggles. The film is lauded for its black-and-white experimental visuals, mostly shot in wide-angle. (PT Anderson’s underwater pool shot in Boogie Nights was directly influenced by I Am Cuba.)
Available to stream on: YouTube
Dr. Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, dir. Stanley Kubrick
When it comes to darkly-witted political satire, it doesn’t get better than this nasty piece of work. Working with collaborator Peter Sellers, Stanley Kubrick crafted the beloved black comedy, which explores the conflict between the USSR and the US. Sellers notoriously stars in three different roles (originally meant to be four), so just watch the film and witness how incredibly multi-faceted Peter Sellers is in this beautifully crafted comedy.
Available to stream on: iTunes, Google Play, VUDU
A Hard Day’s Night, dir. Richard Lester
Amidst the Beatle Mania and worldwide tours of the 1960s, it was inevitable that the four-part mega group would go on to stars in multiple films. With a Hard Day’s Night we see one of the artifacts of music on film, perfectly encapsulating the 60s—this is quintessential ’64 at its most hip and stylish rocker volume. The film follows several days in the lives of the band and inspired the multiple films of this particular decade, including music videos, The Monkees television show, and spy films.
Available to stream on: iTunes, Amazon, Hulu
Band of Outsiders, dir. Jean-Luc Godard
Godard himself described his 1964 Nouvelle vague film as “Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka.”. The original title Bande à part is taken from the phrase “faire bane à part,” translated as “to do something apart from the group.” Starring Anna Karina, the film’s story regards two cinephiles who convince a student to help them carry out a robbery. It remains one of the most recognized and beloved Godard films, and holds a spot on TIME’s All-Time 100 movies. The Louvre scene is completely enchanting and was later referenced in Bernado Bertolucci’s steamy 2003 film The Dreamers.
Available on: Criterion
The Killers, dir. Don Siegel
Another crime film from the year of 1964 was The Killers, a remake of the original 1946 film starring Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin, John Cassavettes, Angie Dickinson, and (yes) Ronald Reagan star in this hit men on-the-run tale. It was intended to be the first made-for-TV movie but NBC insisted that the film was “too violent” for television. Ronald Reagan plays the villain of the film, and it would be his last film before he entered the world of politics and later becoming president.
Available to stream on: Hulu +
Diary of a Chambermaid, dir. Luis Buñuel
Diary of a Chambermaid was the first of a screenwriting collaboration between Buñuel and legendary writer Jean-Claude Carrière. Together, they would later go on the create some of his best and most classic films, including That Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Belle du Jour. French actress Jeanne Moreau shines as the lead character Célestine, a chambermaid “who uses her feminine charms to control and advance her situation, in a social setting of corruption, violence, sexual obsession and perversion.” The film received attention from the New York Film Festival as well as Venice Film Festival.
Available to stream on: Amazon, YouTube
The Naked Kiss, dir. Samuel Fuller
For its time, Samuel Fuller’s The Naked Kiss, covered a number of taboo subject, but received great praise from the critics. They recognized his sensible direction and approach to the topics of prostitution, handicapped children, and deviancy. Actress Constance Towers steals the show as Kelly, a small-town prostitute chased out of town by her former pimp.
Available to stream on: iTunes, Amazon, YouTube
The Visit, dir. Bernhard Wicki
Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn star in 1964’s The Visit, a film that delves into darker sides of human nature (greed, wealth, and power). Bergman stars as Karla, a woman whose world is pretty fabulous and filled with plentiful amounts of money until she hits a crossroad regarding a child she had with Serge Miller (Anthony Quinn) and the visit she must make to settle the ordeal with the town’s inhabitants. Murder awaits…
Available to watch on: VUDU, Amazon, Google Play
My Fair Lady, dir. George Cukor
My Fair Lady won a whooping eight Oscars in 1964, including Best Picture. Audrey Hepburn is magic. The American Film Institute has recognized the film, featuring it on the lists for Laughs, Passions, Songs, and Top 100 Movies. Trivia: Audrey Hepburn was judged as “inadequate” for his singing and was dubbed by Marni Nixon. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the original Hepburn recordings were released for those to make a decision for themselves.
Available to watch on: YouTube
Marriage Italian Style, dir. Vittorio de Sica
Italian superstars Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren star in this romantic WWII tale. Set in Naple, the film follows a business man named Domenico Soriano (Mastroianni) who falls for a seventeen-year-old Filumena (Loren) when she begins working for him. She becomes his mistress, later having three children, one of which is Soriano’s. Their on-and-off relationship continues over the span of twenty years. Marriage Italian Style is a joy to watch, mainly due to the two lead performances that garnered much praise. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, as well as Sophia Loren’s performance for Best Actress.
Available to watch on: Hulu, Amazon