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The 1960s Movies & TV

Berkeley in the 60s (1990)

This documentary explores the evolution of student activism at UC Berkeley from the late 1950s through the People’s Park protest. Filmmaker Mark Kitchell’s sympathies are clear, but his interviews with participants include a great deal of reflection on the errors and excesses of the movement.

The Graduate (1967)

This classic offers a memorable but ultimately conservative expression of youth’s alienation during the 1960s. Mrs. Robinson continues to serve as an iconic image of the jaded culture confronting young Americans coming of age. But Benjamin’s rebellion ultimately follows a fairly conventional path.

Joe (1970)

Released in 1970, this film offers a dreary look at American society torn apart by change. No one comes off particularly well in this dark film; the hypocritical executive, the racist hard-hat, and the drug-dealing hippie are all on a violent and self-destructive collision course. It may seem over the top, but its release was surrounded by the Manson murders, the Altamont murder, the shootings at Kent State, and the hard-hat riots in New York.

America’s War on Poverty (1995)

This five-hour documentary traces the war on poverty from its beginnings in the early 1960s through the Nixon administration. Made by Henry Hampton, better known for his epic Eyes on the Prize series, this documentary drew some criticism from conservatives for its idealistic assessment of the 1960s campaign to build the “Great Society.” Regardless of its politics, the series provides the most comprehensive review of this monumental legislative project.

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