Media history theory

1960s context.

What do we know about movies made in the 1960s?


Resources to deepen our understanding of the 1960s.

Look through the video links below.

Note the issues that happened during this period. Note the characters that emerged during the sixties.

Then, to place your understanding of 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' 1967, Kramer in context, look at 6 other movies made in 1967.

Finally, to get a firmer understanding of what racial tensions really look like, take a look at the clips at the bottom of the page.

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Explore our movies.

Two movies referencing the clash of cultures.

Before we watch these two movies in full, let's get an idea about the context for them. Where do they sit in relation to other movies of their times? Where do they sit within their genres? The answers to these questions will help us understand the big question...How did audiences receive the films?

We will study

1967, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Kramer
2017, Hidden Figures, Melfi

Top movies from the 1960s.

What did audiences pay to see during the 1960s?

The 1960s

1966, Blow Up, Michelangelo Antonioni
1968, Bullit, Peter Yates
1964, Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton
1966, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Sergio Leone
1969, Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper
1968, 2001 A Space Odyssy, Stanley Kubrick


Familiarise yourself

View the trailers above and answer these questions:

  • Make a list of 10 things you see depicted?
  • What stories, themes or ideas are depicted?
  • How are males and females depicted? What are their roles or occupations?
  • What do you think people of the 60s were scared of?
  • What kind of experience were people of the 60s searching for?
  • What kind of hero was a hero of the 60s?


1967, The Graduate, Mike Nichols
1967, In the Heat of the Night, Norman Jewison
1967, Cool Hand Luke, Stuart Rosenberg
1967, The Dirt Dozen, Robert Aldrich
1967, Casino Royale, John Huston, et al.
1967, To Sir, with Love, James Clavell


What about Sidney Poitier?

View the trailers above. Answer the following questions:

  • What themes or heroes seem to endure through the 60s?
  • What difference does Poitier bring to the screen?
  • Why might audiences have been engaged by his performances when compared with Newman, Borgnine, Clint Eastwood and other male stars of 1967?

Top movies about racial tensions in America

We can learn more about the 1960s by watching movies made about them more recently.

We can understand the issues that affected people by seeing them represented in contemporary stories.

Watch these three clips depicting American racial tensions in 'The South'.

Racial tensions movies

1992, Malcom X, Spike Lee
2014, Selma, Ava DuVernay
1988, Mississippi Burning, Alan Parker


Is it real?

View the trailers above. These movies depict the climate of racial tension in America pretty realistically and dramatically. They given an indication of the social climate of the times and the sorts of heroes it would take to beat apartheid and oppression for African Americana. Answer the following questions:

  • What things do you see, or see happening?
  • What sort of heroes are in the clips?
  • How are white people and black people depicted?
  • How do the depictions of black heroes align or depart from the depictions shown in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' 1967, Kramer and 'Hidden Figures' 2017, Melfi?

Top feminist genre movies

Before we make a judgement about the genre for 'Hidden Figures', let's explore some of the major feminist pictures.

Racial tensions movies

1991, Thelma and Louise, Ridley Scott
2015, Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven
2015, Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller



View the trailers above. What does it mean to be a feminist character? What are feminist characters in movies? Answer the following questions:

  • Do you know any feminist people in real life? What are they like? How do they differ from non feminist people?
  • How are females represented in non feminist mainstream moves? What roles are they shown in?
  • How is a feminist female character different in a feminist movie?
  • What agency does a feminist character have over others?
  • What would you expect from a feminist character?
  • Is Wonder Woman feminist or not?