We continue our survey of the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1950s, click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1940s, click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1930s click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1920s click here.
8. Bye Bye Birdie, 1963
From the opening shot, as Ann-Margret (b. Ann-Margret Olsson) bops, bounces, and belts out the title song — on a treadmill, no less — this film belongs to the twenty-one-year-old Swedish-born beauty.
Bye Bye Birdie (originally a stage hit) is based on the national hysteria that hit when Elvis Presley was drafted into the army in 1957. But the film is also a commentary on the emerging youth culture that found its voice in rock and roll, whose deliciously wicked bad boys displaced the clean-cut romantic crooners who had dominated radio and film since the 1920s.
Leaning boards ( also called Slant boards) were invented for Hollywood players to relax between takes. Frequently, the costumes were cut on the bias, and tailored so snugly that the actor could not sit down without bursting a ladder of seams. In fact, most of the time, there were no zippers or buttons on the costumes. Actors were sewn into their garments.
So, when you see Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight, and marvel at the impeccable fit of the famous white silk gown, be aware that Harlow’s mobility was severely limited. In fact, just breathing was something of a chore.
These days, leaning boards are still in use, but they are the exception rather than the rule.