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BCB After Dark: The Swingin’ Sixties

The heaviest jam for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks you to join us for sixties night and tell us your favorite player of the decade.

Chicago Cubs Billy Williams During Training

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the outta sight spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s so righteous that you came here to dig the scene. Tune in and tune on out with us. There’s no cover charge tonight, but be sure to slip some bread to your waitstaff before you bug out. Bring your own beverage or be square.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

It’s sixties night here at After Dark, which is a problem as no one was allowed to be in Wrigley Field after dark in the sixties, dig? But we hope you’ll get in the spirit anyway.

I think this is going to be the final entry in my trip back in time through the decades. The majority of us (including me) probably don’t remember the Cubs of the sixties, although I’m sure that all of us are familiar with the Wrigley legends who played in that decade. But if we get back to the 1950s, I think there will just be Ernie Banks and maybe Ralph Kiner that people have first-hand experience with, and even those two Hall of Famers we are familiar with from their post-playing careers.

Last night I asked you about your favorite Cubs home caps. By a wide margin, but not a majority, you preferred the classic Cubs major league cap with 43 percent of the vote. The rest of the vote was pretty evenly divided between the minor league teams, although the new Iowa Cubs caps finished a clear second with 20 percent. The Smokies got 11 percent, the South Bend Cubs got 13 percent and the Pelicans took 12 percent.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I couldn’t think of anyone to better represent the spirit of jazz in the 1960s that John Coltrane. Sure, there were still a lot of great performers around in that decade and Miles was turning out some of his best stuff, but I’m giving it to Trane. If you want to share some other musician from the 1960s, be my guest. I’ve certainly featured enough of them around here in the year I’ve been writing this column.

Here’s a colorized performance from 1963 on Ralph J. Gleason’s Jazz Casual, an NET show hosted by the music critic Ralph Gleason. The quartet of Coltrane on sax (both soprano and tenor), McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums play three numbers: “Afro Blue”; “Alabama” and “Impressions.”

So enjoy. I know I did.

The 1960s were a really weird time in the history of cinema and 1960 sure looked a lot different than 1969 did in cinema. Hollywood and American cinema was probably at its lowest point. If the 1970s were the “American renaissance” in film, it was the 1960s that it was recovering from.

The Hollywood studio system, where actors, writers and directors were signed by studios to long-term contracts and were treated like assembly line workers more than artists, collapsed in the early-1960s. American film professionals won the right of free agency during this time, so to speak. On top of that, the Production Code office, the people who enforced the “Hays Code” that supposedly upheld the morality of American movies, fell apart by the mid-sixties. Primarily, studios started just ignoring it and nothing bad really happened. If some local town or state banned the picture that was unapproved by the Code office, that only meant the film got a huge boost in sales elsewhere as people flocked to see a “banned” flick.

I hate to say this because a lot of very good movies were made during the 1960s, but it was definitely the worst decade for American filmmaking in my mind. Television had taken a huge cut out of the box office by 1960 and studios just didn’t know how to handle it. They made a lot of big spectacle movies, hoping that would draw people out of their homes. Some, like Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, were terrific. Others, like Joseph Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra, were not.

However, the 1960s may have been the best decade for world cinema. The French, German and Italian “New Wave” movements were sweeping Europe, and they weren’t the only ones. (There was a Czech New Wave too, which featured future Amadeus director Milos Forman.) Great movies were coming out of Japan as well. I’m sure there are some great Latin American movies from that decade, I’m just not familiar with them.

The film that changed everything for American filmmaking was Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. Finally free of the Production Code, director Arthur Penn turned in a film that was both violent and sexual. Many older critics ripped the film as not much better than pornography, but Bonnie and Clyde was championed by New Yorker critic Pauline Kael and a young critic in his first year writing for the Chicago Tribune named Roger Ebert. Time would prove Kael and Ebert correct: Bonnie and Clyde was a masterpiece that would revolutionize the way American movies were made.

So what are your favorite movies of the 1960s? I’d certainly have to put Bonnie and Clyde on my list. Then there are the films of Stanley Kubrick, who made Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although truth be told, 2001 is more than a bit weird. He also made Lolita in that decade, which truth be told, is more than a bit problematic. It’s especially problematic as Lolita was made in 1962 while the Production Code was still in effect, which severely limited how that story could be told.

Certainly A Hard Day’s Night is one of the better films of the decade, starring four kids from Liverpool who were big at the time but whom everyone has pretty much forgotten about these days.

The Night of the Living Dead revolutionized American film almost as much as Bonnie and Clyde did. It showed that you could make a classic on a small budget and independently. And in Pittsburgh, no less. It also created the “zombie” genre, even if the word “zombie” is never mentioned in the film.

Charade is the best Alfred Hitchcock film that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t make. Stanley Donen directed that one.

As far as Hitchcock goes, I think his best work was in the 1950s. Of course there is Psycho and The Birds, which are both rightly considered classics but neither one is among my favorites by Hitchcock.

I can’t forget Lawrence of Arabia. Problematic as history, but a great piece of filmmaking from David Lean.

George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the last great Western of the era of the classic Western in my mind. It is also pretty heavily influenced by the revolution started by Bonnie and Clyde.

Everyone always lists The Graduate among sixties films, but while I liked The Graduate, I think Mike Nichols first work Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is better.

Of course, you can’t talk about the sixties in cinema without talking about non-American films. I know it sounds like I watch a lot of foreign movies from what I write about here, but that’s mostly because I did not watch a ton of them earlier in my life. (A few.) But I’ve made it clear that I love French films like Breathless, Jules and Jim and Vivre sa vie. Just on Monday night, I showed my love for Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. But I’m just getting started on all of the great cinema that came out of Europe in that decade. I still haven’t seen Frederico Fellini’s 8 12 yet, for example. Don’t worry, I will eventually.

I have seen the “Man With No Name” trilogy several times, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly would certainly end up on my list of the greatest films of the decade. (Also, Clint Eastwood has a name in all three of those movies. And it’s a different name each time. “The Man With No Name” moniker was something a publicist came up with.)

So tell us your favorite films of the 1960s. I found two good lists of the best films of the decade in case you need a reminder.

Goldfinger? Yeah, maybe Goldfinger.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

Tonight we’re asking you to name your favorite Cub of the 1960s. We’re not asking who the best was, just who is your personal favorite.

Now I understand that probably most of you can’t remember the 1960s. I certainly can’t. But you know the players from the 1969 team. You’ve heard them interviewed. You might have seen them at a Cubs convention. Maybe you got their autograph. You probably listened to one of them call games on the radio. All that counts. Whatever reason you have for picking one as your favorite, that’s fine here. And yes, I know it’s like I’m asking you to pick your favorite child. Just do your best.

The Cubs of the 1960s were a pretty steady group. Without free agency, Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks played for the team from 1960 to 1969. The entire 1969 team was pretty much set by 1966.

Everyone on this list was on the 1969 team with two exceptions. I included George Altman, because there may be a chance that someone here is a huge Japanese baseball fan and Altman was a legend over there. I also included Dick Ellsworth, who was the Cubs’ best pitcher for most of the first half of the decade. But if someone else is your favorite, just vote “other” and tell us about them.

So who is your favorite Cub of the 1960s?


Who is your favorite Cub of the 1960s?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    George Altman
    (1 vote)
  • 32%
    Ernie Banks
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Glenn Beckert
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Dick Ellsworth
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Bill Hands
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Ken Holtzman
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Randy Hundley
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    Fergie Jenkins
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Don Kessinger
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    Ron Santo
    (13 votes)
  • 28%
    Billy Williams
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (leave in comments)
    (1 vote)
97 votes total Vote Now

So groovy that you could jam with us tonight. As you split, slip the man some bread. Get home safely. And join us again next week for another edition of BCB After Dark.