It was fun growing up in the 1960s. A lot of things happened during that time, whether it be the civil rights movement, the second round of feminism, drug culture, assassinations and the first man on the moon. But I was just a kid, not even a teenager until 1969. And I had a pretty good but sheltered life growing up in small town Iowa.
Movies were a primary form of entertainment, even though we only had a one screen movie theater. I loved the popcorn, the milk duds and the Green River we could get out of the pop machine. For a small town, I thought our theater was really it!!
I recently posted about my favorite classic movies. Those were movies made before I was born. Now, I’m going to go down memory lane and talk about what I watched in the 1960s, when I could see movies in a theater.
Movies for kids
Of course, there were some big hit movies made for kids and since I was a kid, I had to see them. Mary Poppins is the first that comes to mind. I also loved 101 Dalmations. And who could forget The Absent Minded Professor or That Darn Cat?
Doris Day had quite a few hits in the 60s, but I’m not sure how many I actually saw in a theater and how many I’ve seen since then on TV. I do remember seeing two in the theater.
When we visited my grandparents, they took us to a lot of movies, both at the Plaza Theater at Merle Hay Plaza (this was before it was enclosed and became Merle Hay Mall) and the drive-in between Altoona and Des Moines.
The drive-in movies were particularly fun as we took our blankets for snuggling and trays for holding our food. I wonder why drive-ins aren’t around anymore. Sure, the sound wasn’t that great and some people could be annoying but generally, they were a lot of fun.
Anyway, back to Doris. The two movies I distinctly remember seeing at the theater were With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). After Doris died this past May, TCM had a Doris Day marathon and we taped some of the movies. It gave me a chance to watch The Glass Bottom Boat again. I don’t remember it being so little about the boat!!
Another huge favorite was Don Knotts. He clearly had a unique style and played similar types of roles in all his movies – the nervous, scared, and socially awkward type. But that’s what made his movies so fun.
My favorites were: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), and The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968).
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is probably my favorite and I try to watch it whenever it’s on TV. I know my sister has it on DVD. It’s one of those movies where certain lines have become a family joke. Do you have those in your family?
Not all kids like horror movies but I liked them, mostly. Maybe it’s because my grandparents and my mom took us to those kinds of movies!! Can you believe it?
Two of my favorite spooky movies star Bette Davis. They are Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965). We actually saw Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte at the drive-in!! I’ll never forget the hole in the floor and what she found there.
My mom took us to The Nanny in our small town theater. My sister loaned me the DVD for this a while back and I really need to watch it again as my memory is pretty fuzzy. I remember the bathtub scenes but I don’t remember how it turned out. Of course, these were all in black and white.
Then there were the Vincent Price movies, but I can’t recall which I saw in the theater. I think I saw most of them on TV later.
But there is one horror movie I’ll never forget. It showed as part of a Saturday afternoon matinee that my friend and I regularly attended. It’s called Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). I don’t know if I had nightmares after this one or if just couldn’t get the images out of my head for a while after I saw it, but it definitely left an impression on me.
The movie includes five different stories. The one that haunted me was about an artist who lost his hand, could no longer paint, and commits suicide. The hand then follows the man who maimed him. Kind of cheesy but when you’re 9 years old, it isn’t beyond belief!!
Of course, there were a few John Wayne movies. I remembered loving How the West Was Won (1962) but I wasn’t very old when it came out. Maybe it was one of the first movies I ever saw? I can’t even tell you now why I loved it. It’s a faded memory.
The Green Berets (1968) was good and of course, made everyone cry. And True Grit (1969) was John Wayne at his best.
I’ve seen many more John Wayne movies but I think mostly on TV. The Sons of Katie Elder is another one of my favorites.
What I didn’t see
There was one movie that my parents wouldn’t let me go to. Of course, I was the only one in town who wasn’t allowed to go to this movie. 🤨
It was Romeo and Juliet (1968). Evidently, it was considered kind of racy at the time. And you know what, even at this point in my life, I can’t say I’ve ever seen this movie. I guess my life wasn’t ruined after all. 😉
What about you? Has this trip down movie memory lane sparked any memories for you? Did you see any of these, either at the theater or on TV? It’s funny how certain movies leave such an impression whether they’re scary, funny, or happy.
I guess that’s why we keep going.