If there ever was a time when filmmaking was in its most diverse and most experimental stages, it was between the late 1950s and late 1960s. Directors Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock were largely responsible. Most of their movies are still broadcast on cable and satellite TV channels. Click here to learn more about the best ways to get all of the Hollywood movies from yesterday, and catch a glimpse of the works that made for one of the most memorable decades in American film history.
What was it about the styles of Kubrick and Hitchcock so unique, and what were some of their compelling works?
Kubrick was known for creating dazzling movie scenes using camera techniques and cinematography concepts in ways they’d never been used before. Kubrick’s forte was being a perfectionist who created realistic portrayals of sometimes abstract situations by working closely with his actors and focusing on the finer details of the movie set.
Famous Kubrick films of the period include:
Spartacus (1960): Although Kubrick had directed other films, this was his breakthrough directorial project. The movie, based on the true story of a historical character, had a cast of more than 10,000 people and was the most expensive film ever made in America at the time.
Dr. Strangelove (1964): A political satire based on the Cold War and the possibility of nuclear war. The film was known for its “black humor” and outrageous dialogue. Kubrick used classical and golden oldies music to add to the satirical effect of the movie.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): In directing one of the most well-known science fiction films, Kubrick broke new ground in cinematography. Stunning visual effects and a realistic portrayal of a then-unknown landscape made this movie one of Kubrick’s most memorable works.
Hitchcock enjoyed a long, successful career. He was known for making use of the camera to capture characters faces to portray specific emotions, and he was known for having exciting plots and often serving up unexpected and unconventional endings.
Famous Hitchcock films of the period include:
Vertigo (1958): A movie about a former police investigator who is afraid of heights and develops a romantic obsession. The film was noted for a tragic ending and the first use of a signature Hitchcock camera technique in which the camera moves away from the direction in which it zooms.
Psycho (1960): Touting one of the most popular music scores in cinematic history and boasting then-unprecedented violence, this horror film became an instant classic. The movie is Hitchcock’s most well-known work, and the original has a distinctive aura, perhaps because it was filmed on a highly-restricted budget of less than a million dollars.
The Birds (1963): A mysterious and strangely dark film about a bird infestation in California. Not only do the birds attack, but Hitchcock leaves the reason for why they are attacking left unanswered.
Although Kubrick and Hitchcock made many other films before and after this period, it is this series of works that helped define the diversity of Hollywood at the time. If you haven’t been introduced to the sometimes dark and always compelling worlds of Kubrick and Hitchcock, you are truly missing some of the most profound accomplishment and advancements in American filmmaking.