Cinema has often held up a mirror to society, and the 1960s was no exception. As the decade went on, the industry transitioned from Hitchcockian-horror in The Birds to films like Easy Rider and The Graduate, which depicted the disenchantment of the youth as they dealt with rising social unrest and changing societal attitudes. And with the rise of the civil rights movement, movies like In the Heat of the Night brought racial discrimination straight to Hollywood through the stunning performance of Sidney Poitier, who earlier that decade became the first black performer to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Western cowboy dramas also continued to dominate the era in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Wild Bunch. But even sci-fi flicks were transformed in this turbulent decade through the lens of director Stanley Kubrick, whose films are now undergoing a global renaissance. And of course, you can’t talk about the ‘60s without mentioning the one and only James Bond. Sean Connery played the iconic 007 in films like From Russia with Love, capturing the spy heists of the Cold War on the big screen. Lastly, who could forget Audrey Hepburn’s sublime performance as a struggling socialite in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
In honor of the rollicking ‘60s, Shore Scripts has compiled a list of the some of the top 40 screenplays of the decade that are available for free use online. Most are traditional feature scripts, but we’ve also included plays like The Odd Couple, which were later adapted into film. Happy reading!
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A space-opera spanning the dawn of man to humanity reaching the stars, 2001: A Space Odyssey tells the story of the Black Monolith, humanity’s evolution and the rise of A.I.’s ultimate supercomputer HAL 9000.
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
A “typical” day in the life of The Beatles, including many of their famous songs.
A mod London photographer finds something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Bonnie Parker, a bored waitress falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building, but her past threatens to get in the way.
An all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Wyoming early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heals. Their solution – escape to Bolivia.
Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
A laid-back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison but refuses to conform.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist’s wife and experiences hardship during World War I and then the October Revolution.
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.
Easy Rider (1969)
Through the open country and desert lands, two bikers head from L.A to New Orleans, and along the way, meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap they are unaware of.
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
A scientist is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his bloodstream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream.
From Russia With Love (1963)
James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by SPECTRE.
While investigating a gold magnate’s smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
An African-American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune, finding a new friend in the process.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
Peeping Tom (1960)
A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.
A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
A young couple moves to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
The Apartment (1960)
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.
The Birds (1963)
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
An up-and-coming poker player tries to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game.
The Graduate (1967)
A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.
The Hustler (1961)
An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.
The Lion in Winter (1968)
1183 A.D.: King Henry II’s three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won’t commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.
The Miracle Worker (1962)
The story of Anne Sullivan’s struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.
The Odd Couple (1968)
Two friends try sharing an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day.
The Producers (1967)
Producers Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom make money by producing a sure-fire flop.
The Swimmer (1968)
A man spends a summer day swimming as many pools as he can all over a quiet suburban town.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
A group of aging outlaws looks for one last big score as the “traditional” American West is disappearing around them.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.
Article by Tara Yarlagadda