Enter with caution: The most controversial movies of the 1960s don’t play gently.
Filled with sex scenes, sacrilege, shocking violence and all manner of foul language, these films have been banned by popes, parents and cultural watchdogs around the world. Then again, a few of them have actually won Academy Awards and can be named among the best movies of all time.
Most crucially, these infamous provocations open our eyes, ears and minds to the forward edge of cinema, taking the art form to places it wouldn’t have gone. So close the door, brace yourself and check out the 10 most controversial movies of the 60s…the decade of awakening.
10. The Wild Bunch
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine
An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the “traditional” American West is disappearing around them.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: James Mason
A middle-aged college professor becomes infatuated with a fourteen-year-old nymphet.
8. Peeping Tom
Director: Michael Powell
Starring: Karlheinz Böhm
A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.
Director: Basil Dearden
Starring: Dirk Bogarde
A prominent lawyer goes after a blackmailer who threatens gay men with exposure (homosexual acts still being illegal). But he’s gay himself…
6. Bonnie And Clyde
Director: Arthur Penn
Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway
Bonnie Parker, a bored waitress falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, robbing cars and banks.
5. Mondo Cane
Director: Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti
Starring: Rossano Brazzi, Yves Klein, Stefano Sibaldi
A “shockumentary” consisting of a collection of mostly real archive footage displaying mankind at its most depraved and perverse, displaying bizarre rites, cruel behavior and bestial violence.
4. Midnight Cowboy
Director: John Schlesinger
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles
A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend.
3. Rosemary’s Baby
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
2. Titicut Follies
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.