The Rocking Chronicles
by Tim Van Schmidt
In 1960, at four years old, pop music had not yet managed to make a big impression on me. But if I were to peer far into my earliest memories of a catchy song of the time, it would be Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Polka Dot Bikini.” I know the tune stuck in my head early on and I merrily sang along even if I didn’t really know what a bikini was.
My clearest first memory of pop music, however, comes from our town’s hamburger joint. Baird’s was the place to go in Harvard for a quick dinner for the whole family. Besides the soda counter and grill, the place featured pin ball machines and a juke box and I always associate Ray Peterson’s 1960 hit “Tell Laura I Love Her” with that juke box. There’s an image in my head of being at Baird’s, some high school lettermen playing the pin ball machine with “Laura” playing on the box.
My earliest memories of records, however, come from whatever was lying around the house. That included Mitch Miller records as well as some comedy by Homer and Jethro. But the one that really sparked my imagination was a recording of Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” on some kind of classics for kids release. The music communicated its primal meaning to me as it revved up to a dramatic climax.
Beyond those memories, however, it is back to my dusty stack of records to find out about the music of 1960. To be honest, when I was able to sift out some 1960 recordings, I was a little disappointed with the results. Sure, there are plenty of good records from 1960, but the vibe I get from the general batch of records is a kind of “growing up” of pop music, a “maturing.” Gone were the obvious references to teenage culture- rock and roll or otherwise- and it was all replaced by romance, a universal enough topic, but lacking in the same kind of excitement. Romance wasn’t a social movement, just bankable stuffing.
Let’s start with Elvis Presley. Presley emerged from the Army in 1960, having dutifully served his hitch, to release his biggest selling single ever- “It’s Now or Never.” But the so-called King of Rock and Roll had become a crooner. “It’s Now or Never” is a dramatic triumph, but it’s not rock and roll. Actually it sounds like a movie soundtrack song- its own little fantasy with mandolin, claves and back ground voices smoothly supporting Presley’s swooping, wavering vocal style. It’s all about burning love and a passionate impatience.
It’s the same thing with Presley’s other 1960 crooner hit “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Unfortunately, this record also includes an ill-advised spoken word section- using a stiff acting motif to wrap up the story- again, like a little movie. If you ignore the quality of the material, when Presley is singing, his voice is dramatic, powerful and even sweet at times- a far cry away from the rough and ready rocker who tore his way through “Hound Dog” just a few years earlier.
Still, there was a little energy left in the King in 1960. “Stuck On You” features a steady rocking piano part that helps propel it all and Presley also reaches a peak of passion in the bridge section. All the pieces are there- a faster tempo, a better recording, a strong vocalist- but there is also the sense that all the spit and polish doesn’t necessarily make a record percolate.
You can also see the 1960 pop music “maturing” process going on with Brenda Lee’s slow dance hit “I’m Sorry.” The spunky Lee is held back to singing a ballad of regret. This recording also features a spoken word section that sounds equally as stiff as Presley’s in “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Lee approaches it a little more artfully- like a singer would- but the goofy words betray weak songwriting. Listening to “I’m Sorry,” however, I have come to appreciate the effort Lee puts into trying to put a distinct stamp on some of the parts. Just the way she sings “oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” is still precious, but far away from the R & Bish sassiness of her previous hits.
Still strong in the pop music game in 1960 was the Everly Brothers. Their 1960 release “Cathy’s Clown” is one of the year’s most distinctive productions. The drums play a big part in the motion here, counterpointing the plaintive singing of the brothers. It is also a song of regret- and of shame. The singer knows he’s in the wrong relationship and has reached the point of no return for doing something about it.
However, the Everly Brothers were not immune to the great “maturing” going on in 1960 either. Two of their other 1960 hits- “Let It Be Me” and “Always It’s You”- are very, very carefully made ballads. The emphasis here is on the sweetness of the voices and the performance underscores the simple sincerity of the lyrics. Both tunes are carefully measured and exactingly produced- a far cry away from the sounds of a young teenager waking up in fright because he and his girlfriend fell asleep at the drive-in.
For me, the best of the 1960 music I found in the record stack is the rawer stuff that includes the brightest record of 1960, Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man.” It’s just a hoot from start to finish as Jones goes through his fun vocal gymnastics. There’s just a little bit of chaos in this recording too- reflected by the undecidedly artless whistling that weaves throughout the tune- but nothing overshadows the vocal freedom Jones takes with this tune.
The flip side to “Handy Man” is “The Search is Over” and it demonstrates that Jones was a capable vocalist in a more serious format as well. But that is the point about “Handy Man,” there’s something not as serious about it and that sets Jones free to have some fun.
Joe Jones’ “You Talk Too Much” is also a hoot- but not for the same reasons Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man.” In “You Talk Too Much,” Jones expresses something many men would like to say, but don’t. His casual everyman presentation only emphasizes the jamming band playing the tune.
Jessie Hill’s “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” also features a jamming band. Part 1 starts with a rousing call and response intro that falls back into a chugging backline rhythm. Hill leads the proceedings with his raw, gutsy vocals, while the band gently pumps along underneath. Part 2 is an instrumental that helps support the feeling that this is the result of a rocking jam session.
If you were to look for some teenage rebellion in the sea of all this romance music, Jimmy Charles’ “A Million to One” may be the only place to look. The song laments that a loving couple’s elders don’t give their love much of a chance. There’s some defiance here, even if the youngsters are willing to “forgive them, because we love them.”
There’s also plenty of attitude in the Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop,” one of 1960s most enduring- and fun- hits. I have a theory after listening to “Alley Oop” several times that the sarcastic, even snide, vocalist is attacking the beatnik culture of the day. I imagine when the whole bunch of singers remark “Look at that caveman go…” they are pointing at a bearded guy walking down the street with a set of bongo drums under his arm. The mocking of “hip” language at the end of “Alley Oop” seems to support this.
Or “Alley Oop” is just a cockeyed view of pop culture- an ode to a character in the funny papers. In any case, it’s hard to resist the pumping rhythm of the record or its irreverent tone.
The infectious energy of vocal group music continued to hold sway in 1960 with the most exciting release being “Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. The shouted refrain, “stay,” is very effective, giving it a crowded, party feel and helping make it a great dance record. The interweaving of vocal parts also becomes a little crowded, but to great effective.
The Drifters’ 1960 release “Save the Last Dance for Me” is also effective, but in a smoother, more understated way. It’s a dance tune too, but cleaner, more intimate and the lyrics betray a “mature” sense. That is, the guy in the song puts up with all the attention his object of desire receives as long he is the last guy in line at the end of the night. The thump of the stand-up bass and the sensuous, exotic rhythm helps move things along nicely while the lead vocalist explains his case.
Less successful, perhaps, are 1960 vocal group records like “Where or When” by Dion and the Belmonts. It’s a formal presentation and you don’t get the sense the singers are as comfortable with their material as the Drifters and the Zodiacs are.
What happened to the crooners? They got younger in 1960. Bobby Rydell, for example, has plenty of that crooner style in his delivery. However, despite the show bizzy stuff, “Wild One” may be the closest thing to rock and roll in 1960. There’s a basic rock and roll rhythm in there, carried effectively by an electric guitar. “Wild One” also features some blasting saxophones and punky female backing vocals, all of which add a punch to the song.
The flip side to “Wild One” is “Little Bitty Girl,” a medium tempo ballad without much of a hook other than Rydell’s hurried delivery of “little bitty” in the chorus.
The king of the crooners in 1960, however, has to be Bobby Darin, whose “Beyond the Sea” is a big show piece. Darin gets to wail with a full orchestra and he maintains a stylish control throughout. But if anything else stands out in “Beyond the Sea,” it is the drum parts. Every drummer in the world must have been jealous about this guy’s opportunity to not only prominently propel the whole thing, but also bash away at a couple of solo moments with full abandonment. What a dream gig for the drummer.
But let’s not count out Nat King Cole. His 1960 hit “Wild is Love” is a big and ambitious production, starting with a big band flourish, complete with singers and a little bit of spoken word. But then, Cole starts to swing and its full steam ahead.
Maybe Johnny Burnette also belongs in the crooner category, but his hit, “You’re Sixteen” sounds more like a throwback to Tin Pan Alley-style songwriting than crooner show pieces. I was first introduced to this song via Ringo Starr in the 1970s. I recognize why Starr chose the song- it’s bouncy and positive even if it might be considered a little bit on the goofy side. Also, maybe the pedophile question has to be raised here.
More Mature Stuff
The best of the “mature” music of 1960 starts with Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind.” It’s a bluesy, wistful ballad, polished up with strings and backing vocals- but not polished too much. Charles’ allows a little rasp to enter into the vocals, giving it some earthy texture despite the big production. It’s the same with the flip side, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” a more traditional number that also gains its strength from Charles’ weathered vocal work.
Despite its ballroom glossiness, Percy Faith’s “Theme from a Summer Place” is the most relaxing records of 1960. The gentle sway of the melody and the buttery strings combine for a calm and collected few minutes away from the yelp of vocal music.
Lawrence Welk’s 1960 instrumental hit “Calcutta” is certainly more energetic than “Summer Place” but also smooth. It’s also kind of a ballroom tune, but this ballroom gets revved up a little bit more. Welk’s arrangement is snappy and he gets some handclapping going at one point which is hard to resist.
Also in the easy listening category is pianist Floyd Cramer’s easygoing instrumental hit, “Last Date.” It’s also a little wistful, maybe a little sad as it moves smoothly along. The flip side is an instrumental version of “San Antonio Rose.” It’s a very careful recording, just like “Last Date,” and both were produced by Chet Atkins.
A less successful “mature” record of 1960 is Anita Bryant’s “Paper Roses,” which sports a country clippity clop in the rhythm track and plenty of syrupy steel guitar to back up Bryant’s weak outrage. Singing about an “artificial love” does not necessarily make for an artful song- it’s strained and stiff.
In 1960, The Brothers Four carried on the relatively muted folk sound pioneered by the Kingston Trio by presenting hushed layers of serious voices over the simple strumming of the guitar in “Greenfields.” The sound is in direct opposition to the majority of pop music- quiet and purposeful. That quiet catches the ear and offers a refreshing pause, even if the lyrics contain some clinkers here and there.
The flip side to “Greenfields” was “Angelique-O” which sounds very much like the Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders’ “Marianne.” If anything, this is the Brothers Four’s sequel to Marianne- after the guy gets his honey in his beachside hut, what happens if she doesn’t know how to cook and sew? The repetitiveness of the lyrics gets tedious indicating maybe there was something more they could have done with the lyrics.
The lyrics aren’t a problem whatsoever for Johnny Horton in 1960. He followed up the rousing success of “The Battle of New Orleans” with several strong hits, including “Sink the Bismarck” and “North to Alaska,” which continue to illustrate Horton’s interest in historical perspectives.
The martial drumming on “Sink the Bismarck” is indeed stirring and Horton even gets a little bit of rockabilly roughness in his voice at points while describing the hunt and destruction of the Nazi super ship during World War II. “North to Alaska” turns the clock back further to the late 19th century and the pursuit of gold. Somehow Horton makes it work as the backing vocalists add choruses of “mush” to the lyrical action.
My favorite Horton tune from 1960, however, is “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me,” on the flip side of “Sink the Bismarck.” The tune has an infectious drum part with a deep stomp rhythm in its heart. On top of that, Horton and company get some sing-along jollies which are country, even hillbilly flavored. Whether telling the stories of great battles or of country shenanigans, Horton fulfills the role of the troubadour- a true folk figure.
There is also a distinct folk flavor to Ray Peterson’s “Corinne, Corinna.” Honestly, I didn’t know there was anything else by Peterson besides “Tell Laura I Love Her” and this production is pleasant indeed- an easy-going groove, some spunky female vocal backing and a well-worn country blues song.
One of the great pleasures of this search through the music of 1960 was getting familiar with Jim Reeves. His deep-voiced 1960 hit “He’ll Have to Go” makes its own time and space. Just like in the song, where the guy is talking to his errant sweetheart on the phone, Reeves’ voice is close and intimate. That makes those dramatic dips into the lower register all the more powerful. When he says he’ll ask the man in the bar to turn the juke box down “low,” he means what he says.
Added to that, however, is that “He’ll Have to Go” is a complicated song. The guy almost accepts the fact that he has competition while making his play for dominance in the relationship. It’s a brassy move especially if the other man is sitting right there with her. The phone call is a thin and desperate attempt to stay in the game. After all, what does he have to lose? That’s the root of the patent sadness in the tune- he knows he doesn’t have much of a chance.
With all of the above in the mix, it is no wonder that one of the biggest hits of 1960 would be about dancing- Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” After all, a song that gets people dancing wins the popularity contest, no matter how “mature” things get. “The Twist” became so popular that the record returned to the charts a couple of years later. Maybe at four years old, I was doing the twist- the dance is just that easy- but I was probably watching “Bozo the Clown” on television instead.
Other 1960 Record Releases
Connie Francis- Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool
Roy Orbison- Only The Lonely
Brook Benton and Dinah Washington- Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)
Freddy Cannon- Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
Sam Cooke- Chain Gang
Fats Domino- Walking to New Orleans
Ferrante & Teicher- Exodus
Brenda Lee- I Want To Be Wanted
The Miracles- Shop Around
Aaron Neville- Over You
The Ventures- Walk, Don’t Run
Larry Verne- Please, Mr. Custer
My first clear movie memory comes from the summer of 1960. My grandparents had a “cottage” on a lake near Rhinelander, Wisconsin- in the great north woods. Every summer we would spend a week or so there and, on occasion, go to the drive-in movie facility right on the road to the cottage. That’s where my memory starts- in the back end of the station wagon at the drive-in theater in Rhinelander. The movie was “Sink the Bismarck” and I can still see the jarring, climactic scene when the Nazi super ship is finally hit, the confidence of the Germans shaken apart into chaos.
Other than that, I was basically still too young to be going to movies. Harvard had one theater in its tiny downtown and there were theaters in neighboring towns, but if I was exposed to movies in 1960 it would mostly have been the result of seeing them on television. Once the movie had played out in the theaters, TV was the only way you could ever see those releases. Chances are, though, I didn’t have the attention span at four years old to follow movies much. “Bonanza” and “Bozo” were more my speed.
However, over the coming years, I would be exposed to a lot of the movies of 1960 thanks to television.
One of the most striking productions from 1960 would have to be “Spartacus,” truly a “sword-and-sandal” adventure classic. The scenes of brutal slavery, the rough life in the gladiator school and the eventual mass crucifixion all were powerful. That the defeated slaves all stood and claimed to be their leader, Spartacus, willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect a man who had given them hope, also was powerful. That the Romans slaughtered them all was indeed harrowing.
There is plenty to think about in “Spartacus” from military matters to social injustices, love and respect. Kirk Douglas plays Spartacus as a character with rare integrity and a boiling passion for freedom.
Another striking 1960 adventure from the sci-fi side is “The Time Machine,” featuring Rod Taylor. The whole sequence where the time traveler observes the changes in fashions on the mannequin across the street from his lab is amusing and clever. Also clever are the scenes in the abandoned library where the time traveler learns how humanity had stooped so low.
A fascinating design opportunity accompanied the making of “The Time Machine” in that, being a retelling of an HG Wells story, the production had to take an old-fashioned view of science fiction. The costuming, the language, even the design of the time machine all echo turn-of-the-20th-Century styling, then gets propelled far into an imagined future, also the product of an early 20th Century mind. The result is that the entire movie is a time trip, from beginning to end.
Other 1960 sci-fi adventures would not be of such epic quality as “The Time Machine.” “The Amazing Transparent Man,” for example, has sci-fi in its heart- a machine that emits a ray that renders whatever is exposed invisible- but it turns out to be just another crime caper in the end. OK, so the bad guy wants to build an army of invisible zombies to do his bidding, but the whole plot gets unraveled during a bank robbery. Well, what do you expect when you muscle a crook into doing your bidding?
A couple of other sci-fi turkeys from 1960 include “Beyond the Time Barrier” and “Dinosaurus.” Both movies include intriguing elements, but the production values are unquestionably lame.
“Beyond the Time Barrier” transcends the really clumsy plane flight sequences with a pretty cool setting in the future city. The outfits recall Flash Gordon and the diamond shaped doorways recall those in “Forbidden Planet.” But everything is on slow boat to China here- the acting in general is catatonic- and it’s lucky that most of the people in the future don’t talk.
“Dinosaurus!” starts out promisingly enough with the discovery of some frozen dinosaurs- oddly enough in the tropical bay where a construction crew is building a harbor. Throw in a frozen Neanderthal cave man into the mix, reanimate them with lightning from a tropical squall and you’ve got panic on the entire island. That sounds exciting until you get to the scenes where an island kid starts riding around on the brontosaurus’ back as they become best friends. The cave man’s antics in a modern house also quickly wear thin.
Added to a glut of dog movies, sci-fi also just turned ridiculous in 1960 with Jerry Lewis’ “Visit to a Small Planet.” This is so far away from the creativity and gravity of 1956’s “Forbidden Planet.” Although there is a connection here- Lewis’ Earth side foil in “Visit to a Small Planet” is Earl Holliman, who appeared as the cook in “Forbidden Planet,” a role designed for comic relief. In Lewis’ movie, it’s all slapstick, dumbbell comedy.
But, despite that, I wouldn’t call Lewis’ movie lame. I rather enjoyed it, including special effects like Lewis walking on the ceiling and the gags around the invisible barrier between Lewis and others. My favorite scenes were in the beatnik cafe where Lewis’ curious character Kreton gets to mix with the natives a little. He even gets to dance with a beatnik princess while inspiring some immortal words: “Shave my beard and call me normal.” Even the scenes in the classroom in the clouds are mildly amusing. But what always works is Lewis’ over the top sight gags- his incredibly elastic face, his outsized movements and that wild sound he makes- like a frightened cartoon rabbit on the run. His comedy is dumb but plenty irreverent too.
In the horror field, 1960 saw the release of director Roger Corman’s first Edgar Allen Poe adaptation, “House of Usher.” Starring Vincent Price and also featuring Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey and Harry Ellerbe, “House of Usher” takes a slow dance to final destruction. The gloom hangs on every scene as prophesies of disaster mysteriously come true. Price’s formal acting style works extremely well here, as does the brilliant costuming.
It’s hard to believe that Corman also was responsible in 1960 for “The Last Woman on Earth,” an extremely low-budget sci-fi hack job focusing on the problems the last woman on earth has when there are two men left and they are both trying to claim her. Let’s just say that none of what happens is a surprise, if you get to the end.
The most shocking movie of 1960 would have to be horror classic, “Psycho.” There was no way I was watching this one at four years old and barely could at 14. Still, I would eventually experience “Psycho,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock and featuring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin. I’ll admit it- I was nervous in the shower after seeing “Psycho,” even though I don’t look anything like Janet Leigh.
But what unnerved me more about “Psycho” was Norman Bates’ incredibly bent mind. Perhaps what makes “Psycho” all the more frightening- and something that seems to inform all of Hitchcock’s work- is the chance that it could be true.
By 2011, technology has made it possible to search for and watch a wide variety of movies by “streaming” through the computer. This is a seismic shift for being able to research the movies from any year- rather than special ordering and waiting for a disk and the time to watch it. Now- click, click, click, in three minutes I can watch.
This opened up my research to a wide variety of material. Certainly only a small portion of the huge body of movies can be streamed, but that choice is plentiful anyway. For example, in researching 1960, I found foreign classics like Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless.” I also found two movies directed by Edward L Cahn, a crime caper titled “Cage of Evil” and “Gunfighters of Abilene,” featuring Buster Crabbe, as well as Elvis Presley’s “Flaming Star” with Barbara Eden.
For me, however, the most eye-opening streamed movie experience I culled from 1960 would have to be finding Marilyn Monroe’s “Let’s Make Love.” Other than viewing Monroe’s last movie, “Misfits,” on late night television long ago, I can’t say I have ever seen a Marilyn Monroe movie. Her image is so familiar and her name among the most recognized of the period, but I had not seen why she was popular. You easily see the reason for her popularity, however, in “Let’s Make Love.”
The movie is custom-made to showcase talent- it’s a show business story, after all- and Monroe fits right in. Now by 21st Century standards, Monroe might be considered really big but she moves lithely in her sex kittenish production numbers, all curves and wiggles. But she sings too, and dances. So does everyone around her, but it seems to me she certainly holds her own.
But more than the curves and the performing, Monroe completely took me by surprise in one particular scene in “Let’s Make Love.” Her character goes to night school and her suitor asks her what she learned in geography class the previous night. In this moment, in the midst of all this show business foolery, Monroe talks about poverty in Haiti and how “someone should do something about that.” It’s a pretty serious statement in the middle of a pretty light movie. Could this be a hint of Monroe’s connections to powerful people outside the movie world, such as a senator who would be elected President in 1960?
There are other laudable qualities in the character Monroe plays in “Let’s Make Love.” She seems to genuinely care for the people around her- no matter who they are- no judging, no pretense. All of this adds up to a very positive impression of the actress herself.
The Last Man on Earth ***
A terrible air borne plague has infected the entire human race except one man, a scientist named Robert Morgan, who thinks a bat bite made him immune to a disease that has turned everyone else into weak, zombie-like vampires. Morgan has resigned himself to a solitary life of cleaning up corpses, hunting the vampires who hunt him at night and just simply surviving. Things change, though, when his grisly routine is interrupted. Price plays Morgan with maximum angst, throwing things down carelessly, meeting each day with dark heaviness, each night with a cynical pain. The scenes of the disposal pit are especially harrowing. Based on the novel “I Am Legend.”
Directed by Sidney Salkow…1960…86 min…featuring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia and Emma Daniel.
The Virgin Spring ****
Grave and serious, “The Virgin Spring” is not just a movie of the times- manufactured entertainment. It is an art piece in and of itself. It’s black and white and every single detail of each frame is controlled and manipulated to create an overall sense of tension and foreboding. Being set in another time and place- Sweden in the Middle Ages- and the clipped foreign soundtrack transcend beyond the normal, creating its own space.
“The Virgin Spring” is based on a folk song and it is presented with a stark, static otherworldly style. The images are as carefully rendered as a fine painter might and the action is as deliberate and choreographed as fine stage acting. But what begins as a happy story of a landowner and his precocious daughter takes a terrible turn and unleashes primal violence.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman…1960…89 min…featuring Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson.
Swiss Family Robinson
La Dolce Vita
Inherit the Wind
The Magnificent Seven
Night and Fog in Japan
The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
Too Hot to Handle
Where the Boys Are
Ratings and production info 1960 movies:
Let’s Make Love ****
Directed by George Cukor…1960…119 min…featuring Marilyn Monroe (as Amanda,) Yves Montand (as Jean-Marc Clement,) Tony Randall, Frankie Vaughan, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Milton Berle, Bing Crosby, Dick Dale, Gene Kelly.
Visit to a Small Planet ***
Directed by Norman Taurog…1960…85 min…featuring Jerry Lewis (as Kreton,) Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman, Fred Clark, Gale Gordon, Barbara Lawson (as Beatnik Dancer Desdemona.)
House of Usher ***
Directed by Roger Corman…1960…79 min…featuring Vincent Price (as Roderick Usher,) Mark Damon, Myrrna Fahey (as Madeline Usher,) Harry Ellerbe.
The Amazing Transparent Man **
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer…1960…57 min…featuring Marguerite Chapman, Douglas Kennedy (as Joey Faust,) James Griffith (as Major Paul Krenner,) Ivan Triesault, Boyd “Red” Morgan.)
Beyond the Time Barrier **
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer…1960…75 min…featuring Robert Clarke, Darlene Tompkins (as Princess Trirene,) Vladimir Sokoloff, Boyd “Red” Morgan, Arianne Ulmer.
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr…1960…85 min…featuring Ward Ramsey, Paul Lukather, Kristina Hanson, Alan Roberts, Fred Engelberg, Wayne C Treadway, Luci Blaine, Gregg Martell (as the Neanderthal.)
The Last Woman on Earth *
Directed by Roger Corman…1960…71 min…featuring Betsy Jones-Moreland, Antony Carbone, Robert Towne.
More Movie Reviews
Fiery and tempestuous, actress Sophia Loren makes for a lively movie figure in 1960. That fiery quality is evident in the characters she plays in both “Two Women” and “The Millionairess.” In the first, that quality ends up keeping herself and her daughter alive. In the other, the fiery stuff just seems silly coming from a spoiled rotten rich kid.
Thanks to this combustible nature, Loren’s characters utter some outspoken, memorable lines. I laughed out loud when Loren exclaims to her bloodsucking lawyer in “The Millionairess,” “You’re not a man, you’re an Englishman!” In “Two Women,” she calls a militiaman who is getting a little too close to her and her daughter a “miserable pig.” Her characters don’t pull any punches.
Ironically, the better of the two movies is the one with questionable production quality. Shot in black and white, “Two Women” has a fragile, ancient look to it. Still, its compelling story and horrible events wipe away such concerns.
In “Two Women,” Loren plays a Roman shopkeeper who flees the city with her daughter to her ancestral homeland in the country. It takes grit, nerve and perseverance to get out of Rome and even more of all of that to survive, half-starving with the rest of the folk living in the hills. Fear and wonder stand side by side in a tenuous life at best.
When change finally comes to Italy at the end of the war, all of the refugees are eager to get back to their homes- a natural enough impulse. However, the changes that have occurred have created new dangers that are just as horrific as the warfare itself.
Despite Loren’s bewitching, exotic image, there isn’t much that’s sexy about “Two Women.” Rather, this is serious stuff, focusing on the will to survive during terrible times.
In comparison, “The Millionairess” is a trifle, even if based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. The sexy stuff is what keeps Loren afloat here, enduring some full on butt shots in lingerie. The shrill, shrewish stuff coming out of her character’s mouth is not all that amusing but Loren sure looks good and they have her wrapped up in an ever changing, high fashion wardrobe throughout the production. She’s more or less just confection here- the show belongs more to Peter Sellers. Even good old Alastair Sim- beloved for his turn as Scrooge in a classic version of “A Christmas Carol”- has a livelier part than Loren.
One element that intrigued me in “The Millionairess” was the use of electronic sliding doors in the millionairess’s house, doors that opened automatically when a person approached and closed again once they had passed through. I’ll bet George Bernard Shaw couldn’t have thought of that one, indicating some futuristic thinking on the part of this production in an attempt to update the material.
Two Women ****
Directed by Vittorio De Sica…1960…100 min…featuring Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Raf Vallone.
The Millionairess **
Directed by Anthony Asquith…1960…90 min…featuring Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Alastair Sim, Vittorio De Sica.
Since I’m comparing two movies by Sophia Loren in 1960, I may as well compare two Peter Sellers movies from the same year. Of course, Sellers plays opposite Loren in “The Millionairess.” He is also in the 1960 heist caper “Two-Way Stretch.” In both, Sellers lets a calm, composed exterior restrain a goofy and sarcastic side.
Actually, the goofy stuff is right up front in “The Millionairess.” That is, Sellers’s take on an Indian accent and mannerisms. He keeps a straight face throughout, playing a most sincere and serious Indian doctor who actually says some kind and laudable things. But ultimately I’m not sure I buy it- I know it’s Peter Sellers the whole time mimicking an ethnic type. How he over exaggerates those traits become some of his biggest laughs.
In “Two-Way Stretch,” Sellers plays the ringleader of a motley little gang of thieves. With only a little time left on their sentence, the three make a plan to escape from jail, make a score and return to jail as their perfect alibi.
The Sellers comic twist to his character here is that he plays a sickly pleasant “trustie” when in the presence of authorities, but is a cunning rascal the rest of the time.
“Two-Way Stretch” produces some chuckles- like when a pursuing police officer nabs a vicar in a whole gaggle of vicars. But it’s mostly grimey scheming, Sellers eventually shedding the “trustie” stuff to reveal his character as just another wisecracking petty thug. His gang’s plan carries through with a combination of clever planning and dumb luck.
Sellers comes across much better in the more civilized “The Millionairess.” Despite existing in such an atmosphere of movie fluff, his character has integrity and shows humility. In “Two-Way Stretch,” Sellers’s character has none of those qualities and he’s not particularly likeable because of it. The entire production maintains a kind of disgust for authority figures- cops and soldiers all portrayed as puffed up numbskulls.
Personal reaction: Watching Peter Sellers made me think of John Lennon and the Beatles quite a bit, suggesting Lennon had been influenced by Sellers in crafting his initial public image.
Two-Way Stretch ***
Directed by Robert Day…1960…78 min…featuring Peter Sellers, David Lodge, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Lionel Jeffries
The Story of Ruth ****
A Biblical era production starring another exotic female screen figure, Elana Eden. After witnessing Gina Lollabrigida’s slinky Queen of Sheba in 1959’s “Solomon and Sheba,” and Sophia Loren’s 1960 movie appearances, certainly voluptuous and alluring in both, Eden also looks really good in various body hugging outfits, but her character in “The Story of Ruth” is not a temptress. Eden plays a virtuous figure, grave and serious while selflessly caring for and helping those around her.
Though trained as a priestess for a god in her homeland of Moab, Ruth falls in love with a Judean who tells her of a different way of life- and a different god.
In Moab, human sacrifice is the part of the native religious practice that makes Ruth search for something different – especially the sacrifice of little girls in a ceremony of “honor.” Ruth had been one of those girls destined to be skewered by a big fat, wide knife, but was spared by a mysterious blemish that appeared on her arm. Things fall apart for her when she must escort another little girl to the altar.
The sacrificial ceremony scene, at the top of a pyramid-like structure in front of the assembled subjects of a gold-festooned king, recalled similar movie images of Mayan ceremonies in Central America.
When Ruth renounces her position, marries her dying lover and steals away with her widowed mother-in-law to Judea, danger comes from a different direction than the vengeful pursuit of Moab agents. The people in Bethlehem not only do not trust the woman from Moab, calling her an “idolatress,” they rally against her as a mob. Truth and true love must stand firm to sustain these many tests, and Ruth- destined to become the mother of a family line that would one day produce a King of Israel- does so with determined strength.
There’s particularly great costuming in “Ruth,” if not too clean and freshly pressed. Granted, the dialogue is a little stiff here, but the pacing is fairly brisk because there’s plenty to the story. There are some fine group dance scenes during various celebrations- including a dance featuring women whirling around with grain in wide, flat baskets.
Despite some old-fashioned awkwardness as a piece of entertainment, the story here remains compelling. It’s about life, death, God, the law, love, loyalty, greed, hate and desire- all elemental concerns for humans of any era.
Directed by Henry Koster…1960…132 min…featuring Elana Eden (as Ruth), Stuart Whitman (as Boaz), Tom Tryon, Peggy Wood (as Naomi), Jeff Morrow.
Sons and Lovers ***
Based on the DH Lawrence novel, “Sons and Lovers” details a young man’s exploration into romantic relationships, despite the hard emotional pull of his domineering mother. He attracts some sweet women too, but the man finds it hard to commit thanks to his constant dotage on his mother’s situation as the long suffering wife of a violent alcoholic.
The emotional upset caused by the intense relationships between mother and son and husband and wife is further strained by other forces at work in this working class household. The father and brother are rough hewn miners, working daily under literally mortal danger. The young man in question however is an artist and wants to study in London.
Instead of taking off to forge his career, the loyal son cancels his own plans to stay near his mother, just as he derails his plans with his girlfriends. The conflict between what is fine and beautiful and what is necessary and practical informs everything that happens to this unhappy family. It’s a slow, painful and unfulfilling look at family dynamics and personal growth.
Directed by Jack Cardiff…1960…103 min…featuring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller, Mary Ure, Heather Sears, Donald Pleasence.
The Savage Innocents **
The scenery is just magnificent in parts of this Arctic polar adventure.
Anthony Quinn plays an Eskimo who ends up accidentally killing a missionary. Let’s just say the fellow doesn’t know his own strength. But that just seems to go with the territory with this Native character and his associates. They are always giggling in this production and you would swear they were as dumb as dirt- if there was any.
Instead, these people live out in the frozen, white wasteland, hunting walrus and bear, living their lives according to a loose set of customs completely disassociated with the world of the white man and his laws. In the Arctic, the law is survival and this is what one policeman discovers while attempting to arrest Quinn’s goofy, guileless and practical character.
Directed by Nicholas Ray…1960…110 min…featuring Anthony Quinn, Yoko Tani, Carlo Giustini, Peter O’Toole, Anna May Wong.
The Facts of Life **
Circumstances combine to allow two middle-aged, married suburbanites to spend a romantic vacation together without their spouses in Mexico. The experiences there can’t help but have their effect and the pair stumble through their feelings while trying to do what’s considered right.
The problem here is that the lead actors are just too old for the part. Sure, Hope and Ball are the king and queen of comedy of the time, but honestly they look more like grandparents. But then again, so do their peers. The ladies, including Ball, are carefully made up and covered up. We’re spared a close-up of Ball in a swim suit when she and Hope go out for a moonlit dip- the director knew what he was doing trying to minimize the awkwardness of aging stars trying to act like younger folks.
Still, I guess it’s kind of cute that these otherwise bored sophisticates can get worked up over each other like teenagers. It’s also kind of cute how their standards of integrity keep getting in the way of consummating their feelings. Standards of integrity and unexpected circumstances, that is.
Hope and Ball both have a distinctive presence here, though relatively low key. He’s a wisecracker and he gets to fire off some jokes in the very beginning as the perennial master of ceremonies, but mostly he just maintains a crooked grin. She’s kind of rough around the edges, despite the puffy gowns they dress her in, and Ball’s wide, wide eyes fill in for weak dialogue.
An interesting moment occurs in “The Facts of Life” when Hope discusses trying to communicate with his kid in the “electronic age”- he can only talk to him during commercials. In 1960, he’s only talking about television, but already is recognizing the hypnotizing power of mass media that would explode in the future with digital technology.
Directed by Melvin Frank…1960…103 min…featuring Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Ruth Hussey, Don DeFore.
Vice Raid **
Wow- Mamie Van Doren in a swim suit and various other revealing clothing and wispy gowns. That’s the main attraction in this otherwise sullen crime yarn. She’s a glamour girl in white, but her intentions are all bad as she first frames a pesky vice cop, then works towards ruining her Mob boss boyfriend who can’t control his thugs. The super tight, all-white clothes make Van Doren’s character stand out- way out- but she’s just as dirty and conniving as the rest of them, the cops and the gangsters.
Directed by Edward L Cahn…1960…71 min…featuring Mamie Van Doren, Richard Coogan, Brad Dexter, Barry Atwater, Carol Nugent.
The Music Box Kid **
Another gangster work out, but without the benefit of Mamie Van Doren, making this much less enjoyable than director Edward Cahn’s other 1960 release, “Vice Raid.” All that’s left here is the brutality, the cold-blooded killing, the back stabbing, the anger, the arrogance and greed that spells a tragic end for everybody involved. Cahn presses the point by including a wearisome moralistic element- a priest trying his hand at salvaging the young gangster and his wife.
I’ll admit that actor Ron Foster does a great job as the ambitious gangster, not so much when he tips his nasty hand to everybody, but in the beginning when he fools his young wife, her family and everybody around his home life with a friendly, squeaky clean manner. It’s truly cold when he ducks out of his own housewarming party to kill a guy and dump his body off, then returns to the party to promise the priest he and his honey will be in church on Sunday.
This is the fourth Cahn movie I have seen recently, also including “Vice Raid” and 1959’s “Invisible Invaders” and 1958’s “It! The Terror From Beyond Space.” None of the productions are what you would call top quality. Van Doren sparks up “Vice Raid,” but in general Cahn’s gangster movies are pretty grim. The Sci-Fi movies, especially “It!,” show more imagination with limited resources. All the movies have a kind of annoying tendency to spell everything out verbally, either with stiff dialogue or through voice-overs.
Directed by Edward L Cahn…1960…75 min…featuring Ron Foster, Luana Patten, Grant Richards, Dayton Lummis, Johnny Seven, Carl Milletaire.
A successful British engineer’s crooked past catches up to him and he finds himself ensnared in an ambitious jewelry heist. Even at 56 minutes, this seems stretched thin, like a TV movie, but still, Ronald Howard and Richard Shaw are strong characters as the beleaguered engineer and the slimy ringleader.
Directed by Ramsey Herrington…1960…56 min…featuring Ronald Howard, Beth Rogan, John Gabriel, Richard Shaw, Jack Melford.
I was just three and a half when 1960 struck. My world was a safe and wonderful place at that time. Our family lived in Harvard, a small town in northern Illinois, residing in an old farm house with my parents’ greenhouses just a stone’s throw away. On one side of the property were alfalfa fields and on the other a woods that provided my two older brothers and me with hours of entertainment every day. We played army, built forts and lolled away the days looking up through the trees. The next years would be precious indeed.
Inevitably, however, the lure of the woods would give way to the lure of the television- at least when evening’s darkness settled around our house. Extra handy as a kind of babysitter for three boys, the television was pretty much in free use in my house. We had a bed time, of course, and on occasion we might get in trouble for watching Saturday morning cartoons too late in the day, but I do not remember much restriction.
What I do strongly remember is that one television show brought our family together on Sunday nights- “Bonanza.” It is the earliest memory I have of television- the getting ready for bed so that we could all sit down and watch the show that had premiered in 1959. Everybody in my family watched and it was the only show that made that happen.
I was able to stream a 1960 episode of Bonanza, “Dark Star,” and it was eye-opening just how crude the production was. In particular, the settings of the Ponderosa were rough-cut at best. Granted, there were plenty of outdoor scenes, but the scenes in the Ponderosa front room, in the guest bedroom and outside by the fence were kind of cheap-looking. But then again, you weren’t really supposed to be looking at the background because it was all about the cast of characters- Pa Cartwright and his three sons Little Joe, Hoss and Adam- and their interactions with the good and bad people of the rough-and-tumble West.
However, despite the clunky production, “Dark Star” indicated some key ingredients of the show. The focus here was on Little Joe but everybody makes an appearance, maintaining that family feel to it- apparently the Cartwrights have nothing better to do than hang out together. There’s a fight scene. There’s a romance scene. And there’s plenty of opportunity for Pa Cartwright to dispense some of his regal wisdom to his boys and the visitors to his spread.
In this case, the Ponderosa is visited by a band of gypsies. One of their number has gone wacky just as they’re crossing Ponderosa land- and she happens to be a mysterious and attractive young woman who catches Little Joe’s eye. The acting is broad and deliberate, similar to stage acting.
Watching the “Dark Star” episode of Bonanza was in stark contrast to my other viewing on the same evening. I had just finished the final episodes of the 2008 debut season of “Breaking Bad” and the two shows could not have been much different.
In the 21st century- more than fifty years after Bonanza- shows like “Breaking Bad” follow the experiences of heroes of way different stripes than the Cartwrights, righteous defenders of pioneer justice. In “Breaking Bad,” the protagonist cooks meth and kills people.
I was also able to stream several 1960 episodes of “Have Gun, Will Travel.” In black and white, I was struck by the general quality of this production. It is more sophisticated than Bonanza in look and in tone. Paladin, the featured gunman for hire, dispenses wisdom, but with considerably more angst. He’s world-weary and well-schooled in the selfish ways of humanity, but just as loyal to whatever cause he takes up.
The “Have Gun Will Travel” episodes that I sampled were “Shadow of a Man” and “Long Way Home” from the fourth season of the show. The first puzzled over the strange behavior of a gentleman who refuses to fight local toughs. The second matches Paladin with a former slave turned outlaw. Each show begins in San Francisco where Paladin resides and waits for new jobs to come in. There he seems to enjoy the finer things in life, from clothes to fancy women. But on the trail, Paladin is ready for action, a kind of cowboy version of Batman- he’s even dressed in black. He’s a playboy as well as an adventurer, darker and more complex than any of the Cartwrights in “Bonanza.”
Though “Gunsmoke” didn’t get much play in our house, other westerns were popular, such as “Bat Masterson,” featuring Gene Barry and “Maverick,” featuring James Garner, Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, Robert Colbert as the Mavericks Bret, Bart, Beau and Brent.
Shows that premiered on television in 1960 included “My Three Sons,” “The Flintstones” and the “Andy Griffith Show.” These productions would become some of the bedrock viewing I was doing during the following years and not necessarily as first-run episodes. These shows would also be popular as reruns, filling in the daytime schedule. The years and the episodes from various seasons all ended up smearing together in one big stream of entertainment.
An example of this “smearing” is a show that was in the middle of its brief first run in 1960, “The Rebel.” The show featured Nick Adams as a former Confederate soldier roaming the Wild West after the Civil War with a sawed-off shot gun. Adams made for a distinctive figure and I clearly remember watching the show- but was that later, after it had been cancelled and they were showing reruns? Probably.
Meanwhile, there were a variety of other shows on the air in 1960. The oldest ones were “Candid Camera,” “Bozo the Clown” and “The Ed Sullivan Show,” all going on the air in the late 1940s. Although I caught glimpses of “Candid Camera” and the occasional Ed Sullivan show over the coming years, I specifically remember watching “Bozo” and it would have been appropriate for my age group in 1960. What was thrilling about the show wasn’t as much the clown antics, but the live audience. As a little kid, it sure looked like fun to be at Bozo’s circus.
Chances are my viewing in 1960 was dominated by the many other kiddie shows that were on at the time. That certainly included “Captain Kangaroo,” whose demeanor was always warm and friendly, and the animated “Huckleberry Hound,” full of a sophisticated droll humor. Also on the air in 1960 was “Romper Room.” But perhaps the most revered “kids’ show” we watched was “Walt Disney Presents,” which acted as a kind of variety show swinging from nature subjects to animation to live action adventures
Way on the other end of things was “The Lawrence Welk Show.” This was always approved watching at our grandparents’ house and there was a sense very early on that Welk’s sunny musical variety show was for old people. Still, enduring memories include the bubbles in the intro, Welk leading the band with his baton and his broad grin and appearances by the Lennon Sisters.
The coolest show on television in 1960, however, had to have been “The Twilight Zone,” the popular sci-fi series presenting mind twisting tales- with a sense of humor. Some of the episodes were out-and-out comedy plays while others had a sardonic twist meant to inspire a wicked smile. Often host Rod Serling had a kind of crooked half- smile on his face as he calmly and matter-of-factly drew the audience into the latest story.
The two 1960 episodes I found on DVD were “The Trouble With Templeman” and “The Last Flight.” Both episodes had to do with a bend in time. The first followed the experiences of an aged stage actor who gets mysteriously transported back in time to his glory days. The second had to do with the mystery of a World War I British fighter pilot landing at an American Air Force base in France more than forty years after taking off.
But then again, “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t the only show with scary, mind-teasing stuff on television in 1960. Alfred Hitchcock was still on the air, presenting his television “plays” steeped in murder and madness.
Further, “One Step Beyond,” hosted by John Newland, went one step further than either Serling or Hitchcock by claiming each creepy story of the paranormal and the unexplained was true. That was as chilling as Newland’s icy demeanor on the screen.
Perhaps as an antidote to the scary stuff, the television landscape in 1960 also included plenty of family situation comedies including longtime favorites “Ozzie and Harriet” and the newer “The Donna Reed Show.” The most popular in our house, though, was “Leave It to Beaver.” Being a bunch of three boys in our family, we could relate to the boyish antics of Beaver, his brother Wally and his nasty buddy Eddie Haskell.
Ending in 1960 would be “I Love Lucy” which would become a lynchpin of daytime rerun programming. It seems whenever I was sick and home from school, I would always run into “I Love Lucy” when watching TV. I couldn’t have understood her and Ricky’s hijinks much, but the show was lively and Lucille Ball had the gift of plenty of sight gags.
Other daytime shows included various “reality” game shows including “What’s My Line,” focusing on people’s professions, and “Truth or Consequences.” Another “reality” style show was “This is Your Life,” featuring biographies of regular people who are surprised on air by appearances by the significant people of their lives.
The single most popular 1960 adventure show in our house was “Sea Hunt.” Star Lloyd Bridges played a suave character and the danger in the show- fights with bad guys and various crises- seemed all the more intense because they were underwater. We lived far away from any kind of big water in northern Illinois, which also made the adventure in “Sea Hunt” more exotic.
More Twilight Zone Episodes
There’s a reason why I continued to follow the episode list of “Twilight Zone” into 1960. That’s because, minute for minute, first season “Twilight Zone” episodes are better watching than most of the movies from the same year, or many contemporary movies for that matter.
The little bit of dark poetry that inhabits Rod Serling’s writing mixes with moody photography and intense, dramatic performances from the actors to create a high quality product. There’s a guarantee that there will be a twist somewhere in the show and there is also some attempt to ponder the human condition, sometimes with melancholy results.
Even after viewing more than 27 episodes, I have not yet gotten tired of the dramatic introduction to the show, where Serling describes that “fifth dimension” called imagination. “It lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge”- that’s dynamic writing.
I also continue to shudder just a little bit to the theme music at the beginning and particularly at the end. This is not the familiar “doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo” stuff from later seasons, this is fully arranged symphonic music with a purpose- to make a statement that this show is like no other. Those last deep, dark chords that sign the show off are grave and serious indeed.
I’m glad I stuck it out through Episode 32- “A Passage for Trumpet.” By this time, some of the episodes wore thinner than others, especially “The Chaser,” which I notice was not written by Rod Serling himself. But, while watching “A Passage,” I had to smile a little because part of what I liked about “Twilight Zone”- the nearly poetic narration and dialogue- was very strong indeed. Sure enough, Serling was credited with writing it.
“A Passage” succeeds on all of the before mentioned levels of production quality- plus you can add in two really fine performances- by Jack Klugman, as the fidgety, ex-drunk loser and John Anderson as the super cool musician he runs into. I mean it, the character “Gabe” in this episode is one of the coolest figures in the first season of “Twilight Zone”- very calm, collected, understanding and wise. That’s all good- and refreshing- to add in with the usual angst.
The first season continues in 1960:
Episode 13: “The Four of Us Are Dying” featuring Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin. A man can change his face and impersonate anyone, but does it once too often.
Episode 14: “Third from the Sun” featuring Fritz Weaver, Edward Andrews, Joe Maross. Men plot to steal a space ship to escape with their families from the destruction of an imminent world war. A classic “Twilight Zone” twist.
Episode 15: “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” featuring Dewey Martin, Edward Binns, Ted Otis. The crew of a stranded rocket ship fight viciously to survive when they believe they are marooned on a barren asteroid.
Episode 16: “The Hitch-Hiker” featuring Inger Stevens, Adam Williams, Lew Gallo, Leonard Strong. A mysterious hitchhiker quietly terrorizes a woman driving across the country- he shows up everywhere she goes.
Episode 17: “The Fever” featuring Everett Sloane, Vivi Janiss. A man transforms from a grouchy, moralistic naysayer into a gambling maniac thanks to the alluring power of a slot machine that keeps calling his name.
Episode 18: “The Last Flight” featuring Kenneth Haigh, Alexander Scourby, Simon Scott, Robert Warwick. A British airman lands at a US base in France- more than 40 years after he took off and got lost in a dogfight.
Episode 19: “The Purple Testament” featuring Dick York, William Reynolds, Michael Vandever, Paul Mazursky, Warren Oates, Ron Masak. A shell shocked lieutenant in World War II begins seeing death in the faces of the guys around him and doesn’t like what he sees in the mirror either.
Episode 20: “Elegy” featuring Cecil Kellaway, Jeff Morrow, Don Dubbins, Kevin Hagen. Three astronauts emergency land on an asteroid that looks a lot like Earth, but everything is frozen in place. That is, except for one pleasant old man who delivers one of the most powerful lines of dialogue in “The Twilight Zone” series: “…while there are men, there can be no peace.”
Episode 21: “Mirror Image” featuring Vera Miles, Martin Milner. Strange occurrences in a bus station in the middle of the night make a young woman frantic.
Episode 22: “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” featuring Claude Akins, Jack Weston. A mysterious power black-out sends the residents of a suburban street into a panic filled with paranoid accusations and monstrous deeds. This moralistic play proves a point about how weak the human race really is to observers from the outside.
Episode 23: “A World of Difference” featuring Howard Duff, David White, Eileen Ryan. A business man goes crazy when he finds he may really be an actor with a bad reputation playing the part of a business man.
Episode 24: “Long Live Walter Jameson” featuring Kevin McCarthy, Edgar Stehli, Estelle Winwood. A popular history professor seems to know a little too much detail about his subject and that worries a peer whose daughter is slated to marry the man. Note: Kevin McCarthy’s look here- a suave fellow with grey wings around the temples- recalls George Clooney’s image in later years.
Episode 25: “People Are Alike All Over” featuring Roddy McDowall, Susan Oliver, Paul Comi. A biologist survives a crash landing on Mars and finds the natives very friendly- and curious- indeed.
Episode 26: “Execution” featuring Albert Salmi, Russell Johnson, Than Wyenn, Jon Lormer. A nasty 1880s murderer is snatched from the noose by a professor’s time machine and brings his violent ways with him. An interesting sequence occurs when the bad man runs around on the city streets and is driven mad by the noise. The people around him don’t notice it- they’re used to it. But it boggles the mind of a man from a time before the spread of machines and the noise they create.
Episode 27: “The Big Tall Wish” featuring Ivan Dixon, Stephen Perry, Walter Burke. An aging fighter receives some help in a comeback bout from the wishes of a neighbor boy, but can’t believe in the results. The fight sequence here is very intense- and creatively filmed. There are a quick succession of scenes showing various people’s hands, grasping, clenching and acting out the punches as the fight progresses. Then, when the fighter is on the canvas, there are shots looking up through the floor, underneath the boxer, as the ref counts him down- a harrowing perspective.
Episode 28: “A Nice Place to Visit” featuring Larry Lyden, Sebastian Cabot. A thief shot in the act thinks he’s gone to Heaven because he gets everything he wants when introduced to a new life by a gregarious “guide.”
Episode 29: “Nightmare as a Child” featuring Janice Rule, Shepperd Strudwick, Terry Burnham. A woman’s horrible past, blocked out by the trauma, comes back to her in the form of a solemn little girl and a suspicious stranger. Psychosis is a favorite subject of “Twilight Zone.”
Episode 30: “A Stop at Willoughby” featuring James Daly, Howard Smith, Patricia Donahue. The only place a harried businessman can get some peace is in his dreams while commuting on a train- in a strange 1880s town that welcomes him home.
Episode 31: “The Chaser” featuring John McIntire, Patricia Barry, George Grizzard. A young lover gets more than he can handle when he seeks out a love potion to ensnare his object of desire.
Episode 32: “A Passage for Trumpet: featuring Jack Klugman, John Anderson. An alcoholic jazzman gets a second chance from the greatest trumpeter of them all.
In 1960, big change had arrived. In February, a sit-in at a lunch counter refusing to serve blacks sparked similar protests. In May, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act into law. By July, that same lunch counter had begun serving blacks, a small signal that something big was happening.
But that’s not all. Several successful television appearances helped John F Kennedy win the Presidential election in November, defeating Republican challenger Richard Nixon.
Also in 1960, it was announced that the United States would be sending troops to Viet Nam, OPEC was formed, the contraceptive pill was introduced and the Cold War raged- Nikita Khrushchev arrogantly pounded his shoe on a table at the United Nations while the Soviet Union held downed American flyer Gary Powers.
A US submarine circumnavigated the world underwater in 1960 and nasty Nazi Adolf Eichmann was captured in Brazil, destined to be transported to Israel to be tried for crimes against humanity during World War II. Eichmann was later executed.
Esteemed French writer Albert Camus died in an automobile accident in 1960, the same year Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published and won a Pulitzer Prize. Joanne Woodward was awarded the first star of the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Peter Pan,” featuring Mary Martin was broadcast on videotape as a two-hour special and “The Wizard of Oz” returned to television, establishing an annual tradition of broadcasting the fantasy classic.
In 1960 sports, Cassius Clay won a gold Medal in the Olympics and his first pro match. Wilt Chamberlain claimed 55 rebounds against the Celtics for the 76ers and Bill Mazeroski won the World Series for the Pirates over the Yankees with a home run.