The ’60s: Musical films Depicting a Momentous Decade

Oct 15, 2020 | Newsletter

“In the 1960s we were fighting to be recognized as equals in the marketplace, in marriage, in education and on the playing field. It was a very exciting and rebellious period”

Marlo Thomas

 

 
 

Many historians believe the sixties was the most transformative decade in American history.  Here are some events that happened in those ten short years: The decade began when a young and energetic John F. Kennedy became president. But the decade also saw the tragic assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King…Protests grew against the Vietnam War, the worst resulting in the shooting of students at Kent State…Aggressive Civil Rights protests and the super efforts of President Lyndon Johnson led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…American astronauts landed on moon…The world held its breath fearing World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis…The feminist movement gained momentum with the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan…The counterculture movement broke down existing taboos like inter-racial marriages, gays coming out, and sexual restrictions in movies and TV. The decade saw the emergence of a wide range of music: a revival of folk songs, the Beatles revolution, Elvis, and the introspective lyrics of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.  As the sixties came to a close, “free love” became a saying with a new group called  Hippies. The decade came to a rousing end with the huge and frenetic folk and rock  festival at Woodstock, an event that defined the decade’s counterculture generation. 

For most of us it was the music that set this decade apart from all others. Here are seven wonderful  musical films, each one as enjoyable today as they were back in the sixties: 

Woodstock​

Often referred to as “the weekend that defined a generation,” the Woodstock festival in 1969 became known as the beginning of the Hippie Generation…

 

Hair

Hair is a rock musical set against the hippie protest movements during the Vietnam War. Claude Hooper Bukowski, a native Oklahoman, sets off to New York for a fling after being drafted…

 

American Graffiti

As the summer of 1962 draws to a close, four recent high school graduates, Curt, Steve, Terry, and John, spend the night cruising the streets in Modesto, California…

 

A Hard Day’s Night​

The madcap events start when the Beatles escape a horde of fans at the train station in Liverpool before boarding the train to London. They display patience and good…

 

What’s Love Got To Do With It​

Born Anna Mae Bullock, Tina Turner was raised in the small town of Nutbush, Tennessee. At a young age, Tina was abandoned by her…

 

Bye Bye Birdie

As popular rock ‘n’ roll star Conrad Birdie prepares to go into the Army, Albert Peterson, an unsuccessful songwriter, and his girlfriend, Rosie DeLeon, are hoping Conrad will…

 

Grease

After a summer romance, Sandy Olsson, an Australian exchange student, and Danny Zuco, head of the T-Birds greaser gang, are now seniors at Rydell High School…

 

Coming Soon, Can’t Wait

Dec 2021: Platform TBD. West Side Story. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Broadway classic. 
Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. Diana: A Musical
Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. The Crown. Season 4, late 2020; Season 5, 2021. 

 

News Briefs & Commentary

“On February 6, 1964, THE BEATLES made their U.S. debut on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW kicking off  the American strain of BEATLEMANIA,  Elvis Presley returned to the U.S. after spending two years in the U.S. Army, and the Motown Record Corporation was founded.”– CNN NEWS

Seeing our recommended musical films is an exciting way to feel the spirit and vitality of the 1960s. Although it has been a few decades since Folk, Motown, and Rock were pinnacles of the music scene, the culture and music of that time shaped the present in ways that would not have been possible without them.

NOTE: This newsletter edition was conceived and written by Clare Haas.

 

My best,

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Jazz Greats In Films

Jazz Greats In Films

Defining “Jazz” has perplexed musicians for a long time. An oft quoted definition by Louis Armstrong is, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” There is one thread that defines most jazz: it’s improvisational. Classical music adheres to the written musical score; jazz musicians interpret and vary the melodies differently as they interact with each other. They are less focused on the contributions of the composer, if there is one, and more on the contributions of the performer. A jazz musician can interpret and improvise the melodies and harmonies different ways never repeating the composition twice.

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