If I had to pick one decade as my favorite for movies, I think I would have to go with the 1960s. Picking my six favorite movies from that decade? That’s a little more difficult. (It’s hard enough to limit myself to six favorites from a single year of the decade.) After much debate, I’ve decided on the following films (listed chronologically), though there are probably about two dozen other titles that could just as easily have made the cut.
During an early scene in Dino Risi’s 1962 film Il Sorpasso, Bruno Cortona (Vittorio Gassman) tells Roberto Mariani (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to put on a Domenico Modugno record. “This song drives me crazy,” Bruno says. “It seems so simple, but it’s got everything: loneliness, inability to communicate, and that stuff that’s all the rage now — alienation, like in Antonioni’s films. Did you see L’Eclisse? I fell asleep. Had a nice nap. Great director, Antonioni.” At least on the surface, Risi’s road trip comedy has little in common with Michelangelo Antonioni’s somber meditations on modern life, such as L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962). As the movie goes on, though, Bruno’s description of the Modugno song becomes more and more applicable to Il Sorpasso itself.
Countless movies, and stories in general, revolve around characters meeting new people who impact their lives in one way or another — or, in some instances, completely commandeer their lives. All it takes is a word, a polite gesture, an accident, and the passive protagonist finds himself or herself totally at the whim of an overpowering, eccentric stranger. The results may be hilarious, deadly or anything in between, but whatever the case, they frequently make for compelling cinema.