Theater admission numbers had dropped dramatically to below 1 billion. The trend started to reverse itself with the arrival of blockbusters and multi-plexes, but Hollywood would never get back to its glory days in the 1940s and 1950s.

Sony began marketing the first reel-to-reel video tape recorder designed specifically for home use in 1964 — however, widescale consumer use of video tape recorders didn’t really take off until the mid-1970s.

Alan Ladd died at the age of 50, due to a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs. Peter Lorre died of a heart attack/stroke at the age of 59.  Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton for the first time.

Ronald Reagan’s last feature film appearance before his retiring from the screen was in director Don Siegel’s The Killers (1964) in which he played a ‘heavy’ for the first time. Two years later, he would be elected governor of California.

After three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights act of 1964 but this did not stop the violence as it continued to increase in many American cities.  The Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. Resistance to the public accommodation clause continued for years on the ground, especially in the South. Resistance by school boards continued into the next decade, with the most significant declines in black-white school segregation only occurring at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s.  Lyndon Johnson was returned to office in a landslide victory over  Barry Goldwater.

A parent wrote to the US Attorney General complaining that the lyrics to “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen were obscene. After 2 years of investigation, the FBI dismissed the complaint because the lyrics of that recording were “unintelligible at any speed”.

The great soul singer Sam Cooke was shot dead at a motel under disputed circumstances.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand “spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Charts, making it the number one single of the year.  At one point, songs by The Beatles occupied the top 5 places on the Billboard Top Ten.  Both Beatlemania and the British Invasion took Amereica by storm. Other  British groups also found success including The Rolling Stones and The Animals and together with the American talent of The Supremes and Bob Dylan many say this was one of the greatest years for music in the last century. Also one young loud talented boxer by the name of Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston. Time Magazine’s Man of the Year was Lyndon B. Johnson.   No Pulitzer Prize was awarded for either literature or drama in 1964.

Although the U.S. denied that it had combat soldiers in South Vietnam, U.S. soldiers routinely participated in combat operations against the Viet Cong. The number of U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam rose to more than 16,000 by year’s end with 122 combat deaths in just that year.

The President of South Vietnam Ngô Đình Diệm initiated a brutal crack-down on protests by Buddhists against his (largely Roman Catholic) government that caused consternation in the U.S. and concern that the Diệm government was failing. In November, Diệm was overthrown and killed in a coup d’état by his military, with the tacit acquiescence of the United States. A military junta headed by General Dương Văn Minh replaced Diệm.


The movies I will choose from can be found here.

Montage of stills from 1964 Oscar Winners

Montage of stills from major 1964 Oscar Nominees