In honor of ‘Last Night in Soho’: Let’s revisit the Swinging 60s on film

Country singer Roger Moore proclaimed in his 1965 blockbuster hit that “England Swings.” And swing it did in the 1960s. First was the British Invasion which saw the domination of such English performers as The Beatles , The Rolling Stones , The Who , The Animals , The Dave Clark 5 and Petula Clark on American pop charts.

Music wasn’t the only cultural influence of swinging London. Everyone wanted to look like they had bought their clothes on the trendy and mod London Carnaby Street. Miniskirts, Courreges boots, Mary Quant cosmetics, newsboy caps and granny glasses became just as popular in the U.S. as they were in England.

And the British film industry went through a Renaissance with the rise of such directors as Tony Richardson , John Boorman , Peter Yates , John Schlesinger and Richard Lester, who was actually from the U.S., exciting new talent such as Julie Christie , Rita Tushingham , Terence Stamp , Michael Caine , Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave and Diana Rigg who embodied the free-spiritedness and smashingly good time of the era.

Three of those icons of British cinema — the late Rigg, Tushingham and Stamp — appear in Edgar Wright ’s psychological horror flick “ Last Night in Soho ,” starring Thomasin McKenzie as a young fashion designer studying in England who is obsessed with the swinging London of the 1960. One night, she dreams of traveling back to the era where she encounters a young woman ( Anya Taylor-Joy ) who wants to become a singer.

There are many classic films from that era including Lester’s Beatles films — 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night” and 1965’s “Help! — and Schlesinger’s 1965 “Darling!,” for which Christie won the Oscar; some of the most influential and daring productions were released in 1966. In fact, Stamp starred in the kitschy comic book film from that year “Modesty Blaise,” Tushingham appeared in “The Trap” and Rigg was become fashion and coolness icon as secret agent Emma Peel in the hit TV series, “The Avengers.”

Here are four of the top Brit hits of 1966:

What’s it all about, Alfie? The Swinging ‘60s may have been rad, but the era also had a dark, self-centered side as embodied by Caine in this classic comedy-drama adapted by Bill Naughton from his play. Caine had been in movies, theater and TV since the late 1950s, but didn’t start to gain international attention until the 1964 war action-adventure “Zulu” and as well as the superb 1965 spy flick, ‘The Ipcress File.” But it was “Alfie” that put him on the cinematic mat. He was perfectly cast as a self-centered young cad, who seduces many women while casting them aside like yesterday’s trash. (Stamp had starred on Broadway in Naughton’s play in 1964-65 where it only ran 21 performances.)

“Alfie” was one of several films of the year that challenged the production code and in fact was the first film in the U.S. to be released with the “suggested for mature audiences” rating. The box […]

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