[symple_heading style=”” title=”By Megan Bianco” type=”h3″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]
In 1967, Western society experienced the most extreme counter-culture movement that the world may have ever seen.
The two previous years had already loosened up the public a bit with marijuana becoming popular in the United States and film censorship becoming less strict. Both had a big effect on experimentation and edginess in music recordings and films. But it was in 1967, when conservative, clean-cut, family friendly culture was officially replaced with psychedelic, rebellious, political, sexual youth during the famous “Summer of Love.”
The hippies had taken over the squares. Girls were throwing away their hair products and stockings for long hair and jeans. Guys were letting their beards grow and trading the three-piece suit for T-shirts and denim. Psychedelic rock music was at its peak thanks to LSD becoming a party drug, especially in northern California. And on top of all that, Hollywood was pushing the envelope with themes relevant to current events and taboo subjects.
The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Are You Experienced?,” The Doors self-titled debut, The Velvet Underground’s debut LP, Cream’s “Disraeli Gears,” Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow,” “The Who Sell Out” and “Something Else” by the Kinks. These are just some of the many brilliant, now classic, hit albums all released in 1967. The Beach Boys’ ultra-influential “Pet Sounds,” released the previous year, motivated Paul McCartney to create his own band’s magnum opus in between smoking weed and dropping acid.
The “Summer of Love” refers to a three month period in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco where young people gathered for free love, drugs, art, strikes and no responsibility. Mid-June of that summer, John and Michelle Phillips would also organize the first major hip music festival, Monterey Pop, featuring acts like Otis Redding, the Grateful Dead, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Simon & Garfunkel, the Animals, the Byrds and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. If you were between ages 15-25 in ’67, this was the soundtrack of your life, along with Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Pink Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “Buffalo Springfield Again,” the Byrds’ “Younger Than Yesterday” and Love’s “Forever Changes.”
In film, audiences were seeing “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Graduate,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Point Blank,” “Wait Until Dark” and “In the Heat of the Night,” which would win Best Picture at the Oscars. “Bonnie & Clyde” would be Warren Beatty’s first big feature as a producer and movie star, introduce the world to Faye Dunaway and Gene Wilder, and be the first Hollywood film to portray gratuitous violence in slow-motion, plus showing people shot and bleeding without an inter cut.
The Graduate would pen the older woman/younger man trope with Anne Bancroft as the first on-screen cougar, and be the mega breakthrough for then newcomer Dustin Hoffman—both ultimately nominated the Best Actress and Best Actor. Europe would deliver the arthouse essentials “Le Samouraï, “Weekend” and “Belle de jour,” traditional romcoms “Barefoot in the Park” and “Two for the Road” would still sell well, and the campy, cult classic “Valley of the Dolls” quickly found a following on release. For families, the big-budget fantasy musical “Dr. Dolittle” and Walt Disney’s final animated film before his death, “The Jungle Book,” would do fine.
The 1960s have become a over-saturated in exposure and notoriety over the years, but the decade still has all the talent and success to warrant that overexposure. Who knows, maybe in 50 years, people will be praising and reminiscing about this generation’s pop culture just as much. Until then, put on the record player and heat up the popcorn for some “Summer of Love” nostalgia.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.