Professional / Visual Arts & Film Studies Essay


History of Film: 1960 - 1988

The 1960s saw the decline of Hollywood. After what seemed like a golden age, the popularity of theatre started reducing as more people embraced television. It was within this period that the idea of broadcasting movies on television became a trend, especially since the movie audiences now spent more time on television. To cope with this change, Hollywood production companies had to diversify with many of them producing TV movies and television series. This period also witnessed the worst year for Hollywood film production in more than fifty years with only 121 feature releases in 1963. In the golden era of Hollywood, US film production had spread its tentacles across other continents. However, the influx of foreign movies into Hollywood increased in the 1960s with 361 foreign releases in 1964 as compared with 141 US releases.

One of the factors that led to the decline of the movie industry within this period was its financial difficulties. To save money, many movies were produced abroad. The average cost of a movie ticket also fell within this period to below a dollar. These financial difficulties started as far back as the Second World War and the restrictions imposed on film production spending as part of wartime efforts, but it didn't reach an all-time low until the 1960s. The concept of stars and directors entering long-term contracts with film studios gradually faded, and many of the top directors that produced the classic during the golden age were either dead or retired.

In order to cope with the hard times during this period, many film studios sold part of their backlots, like real estate, some like MGM sold part of their props, and some offered public tours of their backlots or established theme parks. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was created in 1960 as parts of the efforts to improve the public attractions and tourism for Hollywood. Joanne Woodward was the first person to have a star in the walk on February 2, 1960.

The End of Theatre Palaces and Arrival of Multiplex

Another development in the 1960s was the growth of multiplex movie theatres. Stanley Durwood was the first person to construct one in 1963 in Kansas City. He later developed a four-plex in 1966 and built another six-plex in 1969. The big movie palaces of the 1920s started going into extinction as many studios withdrew their investment in movie theatres as the audience base shifted to television. Many of the iconic movie palaces of the time were later demolished or converted into something else.

Studio Takeovers

The financial difficulties of that period meant many studios were at risk of going under. Multinational companies took over most of these studios, especially as the movie moguls that dominated the prewar Hollywood either died or were ousted from the company. The idea of traditional studios soon became a thing of the past as many multinational companies with no interest in movie production acquired the movie studios—major business conglomerates invested in movie studios in the 1960s. Universal International Studios, Paramount, United Artists, MGM, and Embassy Films were either bought or absorbed by another company within this period.

British Influence

The high cost of producing movies in America led most studios to shift most of its production to foreign territories. Britain turned out to be a perfect place for this, and the 1960s saw many big pictures and budget films produced here. Perhaps because of this, many classic movies produced during this period were a retelling of aspects of British history. Major film studios became distributors of foreign-made movies. The Angry Young Men film movement was another characteristic of this period - it was a British cinema new wave with nonfictional, grim movies that depicted the social reality of average British male. This movement was dubbed the Kitchen Sink Cinema.

The New Hollywood of the 1970s

The 1970s was a creative decade for Hollywood as the influence of creative cinema movements such as the French New Wave, Italian Neorealism, New German Cinema, etc. had huge impacting on Hollywood. The age-long restrictions on adult content, language, violence, and sexuality loosened greatly during this era. Different movements such as the Hippie movement, civil rights, free love, the changing gender roles, drug use, and rise of rock and roll had a significant impact on the film industry during this period. Many filmmakers were influenced by foreign cinema movements such as the French new wave, and they began to make movies adopting experimental techniques. These filmmakers started what could be described as the Hollywood New Wave.

The 70s era was a period of counterculture where young, independent, alternative filmmakers replaced the old traditional Hollywood moguls. Many of the surprises hit movies of this era were produced by young and inexperienced filmmakers, directors, actors, and producers. The development of this era was aided by a younger audience who will not settle for mediocre filmmaking, thereby forcing filmmakers to break conventional standards and stretch the boundaries of traditional film. Movies in this period focused on memorable and creative subject matters that were in line with the liberal and questioning spirit of that time. Movies with similar themes to the box office hits of the previous decades had little success in comparison with the ones that dealt with sociocultural and political issues of that age in a creative manner that sometimes require deep reflection on the part of the audience to decipher. Directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Bob Rafelson made their mark in this decade.

This trend extended into the 1980s as the decade focused on consolidating the 70s achievement rather than creating new concepts. The 80s era saw the introduction of high concept films or the modern Hollywood blockbuster. These films had straightforward plots with a focus on understanding and easy marketability. By the end of this eraHistory of Film, most movies were no longer produced for the reflective adults but dumbed down for solely entertainment purposes.


The period between the 60s and 80s saw the resurrection of Hollywood with what can be termed as a Renaissance. It was also a period where all previous foreign influence reflected in movie making and new techniques were created with developing technologies.


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