Most Influential Movies of the Boomer Generation

Movies of the Boomer Generation
The baby boom generation - 80 million strong - is a powerful force in the economy, and it pays to know some of their biggest cultural influences, one of the most important being the movies they grew up watching., nationally known film/theater critic and author of Jeffrey Lyons’ 101 Great Movies for Kids, identified the films which he considers to be the most influential, most popular and best among those that boomers grew up watching. He also offered his personal take on why these films, in part

The baby boom generation - 80 million strong - is a powerful force in the economy, and it pays to know some of their biggest cultural influences, one of the most important being the movies they grew up watching.

Jeffrey Lyons, nationally known film/theater critic and author of Jeffrey Lyons’ 101 Great Movies for Kids, identified the films which he considers to be the most influential, most popular and best among those that boomers grew up watching. He also offered his personal take on why these films, in particular, were so influential for their time.

Click ahead to see his choices and read his comments!

Produced by Paul Toscano
Posted 12 Feb 2010

The Graduate (1967)
Box Office Gross: $104.64 millionThe film which has had the greatest influence on my life. I saw it at a crossroads, when I didn't know what to do, where to turn, what path in life to take. It dealt with cynicism and with finding a self-identity as no other film before or after. People who list it as a "comedy" miss its point.
Photo: AP

Box Office Gross: $104.64 million

The film which has had the greatest influence on my life. I saw it at a crossroads, when I didn't know what to do, where to turn, what path in life to take. It dealt with cynicism and with finding a self-identity as no other film before or after. People who list it as a "comedy" miss its point.

Field of Dreams (1989)
Box Office Gross: $64.43 millionMy favorite film of the '80's, it reaffirms familial relationships, deals with father-son and father-daughter bonding, seeing the unimaginable come true, and as non-baseball fan James Earl Jones, who co-starred, told me when we sat together at the screening: "It's really about Zen."
Photo: Universal Studios

Box Office Gross: $64.43 million

My favorite film of the '80's, it reaffirms familial relationships, deals with father-son and father-daughter bonding, seeing the unimaginable come true, and as non-baseball fan James Earl Jones, who co-starred, told me when we sat together at the screening: "It's really about Zen."

Dr. No (1962)
Box Office Gross: $16.07 millionThe arrival of the coolest, suavest character of postwar cinema has endured for decades influencing millions of young men in dress, style and by projection, self-esteem. It also raised the bar for espionage thrillers to a new level.
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $16.07 million

The arrival of the coolest, suavest character of postwar cinema has endured for decades influencing millions of young men in dress, style and by projection, self-esteem. It also raised the bar for espionage thrillers to a new level.

Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
Box Office Gross: N/AIn my mind, the film which completes the feeling I got with "The Graduate." It deals with superficial values, rejection of conspicuous consumption, and finding the real values in life.
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Box Office Gross: N/A

In my mind, the film which completes the feeling I got with "The Graduate." It deals with superficial values, rejection of conspicuous consumption, and finding the real values in life.

Easy Rider (1969)
Box Office Gross: N/ATHE iconic film of its decade, it spoke to a disaffected anti-establishment "turn on, tune in, drop out" generation of hippies and non-hippies alike It also launched the starring career of Jack Nicholson.
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Box Office Gross: N/A

THE iconic film of its decade, it spoke to a disaffected anti-establishment "turn on, tune in, drop out" generation of hippies and non-hippies alike It also launched the starring career of Jack Nicholson.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Box Office Gross: $56.95 millionThe dawn of the modern “Sci-Fi” thriller, it was the forerunner of "Star Wars".
Photo: AP/MGM Pictures

Box Office Gross: $56.95 million

The dawn of the modern “Sci-Fi” thriller, it was the forerunner of "Star Wars".

Wall Street (1987)
Box Office Gross: $43.85 millionThe film spoke to the greed of that era, long before the current climate which led to the financial meltdown. "Greed is good" spoke for that time and the way business was done.
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Box Office Gross: $43.85 million

The film spoke to the greed of that era, long before the current climate which led to the financial meltdown. "Greed is good" spoke for that time and the way business was done.

Bullitt (1968)
Box Office Gross: N/AOne of the best thrillers of its time. Steve McQueen was the coolest American male star of the 'Sixties. He was a role model.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A

One of the best thrillers of its time. Steve McQueen was the coolest American male star of the 'Sixties. He was a role model.

The French Connection (1971)
Box Office Gross: $51.7 millionA timeless police thriller. A snapshot of New York in the early '70's, it was filmed in a documentary style with judicious use of music, and, along with "Bullitt", had the most thrilling chase sequence ever filmed.
Photo: AP/20th Century Fox

Box Office Gross: $51.7 million

A timeless police thriller. A snapshot of New York in the early '70's, it was filmed in a documentary style with judicious use of music, and, along with "Bullitt", had the most thrilling chase sequence ever filmed.

Jaws (1975)
Box Office Gross: $260 millionAs I told Steven Spielberg, I have not ventured into the Ocean since that movie opened. If your hotel has a pool, stay put!  Long before computers, it used the viewers' imagination in a brilliant way to play to our fears.
Photo: Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $260 million

As I told Steven Spielberg, I have not ventured into the ocean since that movie opened. If your hotel has a pool, stay put!  Long before computers, it used the viewers' imagination in a brilliant way to play to our fears.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Box Office Gross: $209.56 millionArguably the most thrilling thriller of all time. It combined the action of an old time serial with a stoic star who was the best action hero since John Wayne.
Photo: Lucasarts

Box Office Gross: $209.56 million

Arguably the most thrilling thriller of all time. It combined the action of an old time serial with a stoic star who was the best action hero since John Wayne.

Godfather Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
Box Office Gross: $181.23 million (Combined)These movies set the standards for all gangster movies which followed. Iconic performances abound; perfect use of flashbacks; a non-glorification of that lifestyle, they were works of art.
Photo: Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $181.23 million (Combined)

These movies set the standards for all gangster movies which followed. Iconic performances abound; perfect use of flashbacks; a non-glorification of that lifestyle, they were works of art.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Box Office Gross: N/AIt made a star of James Dean, who might've become the greatest American actor since Brando, and was one of the first great films about teen angst.
Photo: Keystone | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A

It made a star of James Dean, who might've become the greatest American actor since Brando, and was one of the first great films about teen angst.

A Star is Born (1954)
Box Office Gross: N/AOne of the greatest movie musicals, it showed what a consummate performer Judy Garland was, and how, with wonderful music, the movie musical was a unique American art form.
Photo: Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A

One of the greatest movie musicals, it showed what a consummate performer Judy Garland was, and how, with wonderful music, the movie musical was a unique American art form.

Fail-Safe (1964)
Box Office Gross: N/AThe most sobering cold war drama of them all. Eugene Burdick's novel transformed to the screen was frighteningly-plausible.
Photo: imdb.com

Box Office Gross: N/A

The most sobering cold war drama of them all. Eugene Burdick's novel transformed to the screen was frighteningly-plausible.

Dr.Strangelove (1964)
Box Office Gross: $9.16 millionIt spoofed the very real Cold War in which we grew up, but even now, with Stanley Kubric's brilliant direction, it's still timely. Those of us who in grade school hid under our desks in those silly nuclear holocaust drills saw here the inescapable advent of nuclear Armageddon.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $9.16 million

It spoofed the very real Cold War in which we grew up, but even now, with Stanley Kubric's brilliant direction, it's still timely. Those of us who in grade school hid under our desks in those silly nuclear holocaust drills saw here the inescapable advent of nuclear Armageddon.

The Searchers (1957)
Box Office Gross: N/AJohn Wayne's finest Western, he was the embodiment of the American cowboy legend, larger than life, yet here showing that the price for being revered can be loneliness. 
Photo: Warner Brothers

Box Office Gross: N/A

John Wayne's finest Western, he was the embodiment of the American cowboy legend, larger than life, yet here showing that the price for being revered can be loneliness. 

Spartacus (1963)
Box Office Gross: $1.83 millionThe film with which the blacklist, one of the most shameful episodes in American history, it remains the finest sword and sandal epic of all time, for my money.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $1.83 million

The film remains the finest sword and sandal epic of all time, for my money.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Box Office Gross: $120,420The most upbeat, razzle dazzle musical of them all, the dancing hasn't been matched in any film since. Growing up, with an older brother who became a theatrical producer, this film introduced me to the genre and perfectly meshed the visions of stage and screen the way no other film had done nor has done since.
Photo: MGM Pictures

Box Office Gross: $120,420

The most upbeat, razzle dazzle musical of them all, the dancing hasn't been matched in any film since. Growing up, with an older brother who became a theatrical producer, this film introduced me to the genre and perfectly meshed the visions of stage and screen the way no other film had done nor has done since.

Rear Window (1954)
Box Office Gross: $26.11 millionOne of Hitchcock's finest films, it showed how suspense can be built without action, but psychologically. And along with Catherine Deneuve, Grace Kelly's was the most beautiful face ever to adorn a screen.
Photo: Paramount Pictures/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $26.11 million

One of Hitchcock's finest films, it showed how suspense can be built without action, but psychologically. And along with Catherine Deneuve, Grace Kelly's was the most beautiful face ever to adorn a screen.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Box Office Gross: $2.76 millionProbably the greatest cold war thriller ever made. It still resonates today. Every time I see it, I seem to find something new. Released 13 short months before the Kennedy assassination, it was later suppressed for years because of that.
Photo: AP/United Artists

Box Office Gross: $2.76 million

Probably the greatest cold war thriller ever made. It still resonates today. Every time I see it, I seem to find something new. Released 13 short months before the Kennedy assassination, it was later suppressed for years because of that.

Rififi (1955)
Box Office Gross: $460,226Director Jules Dassin, Brooklyn-born, was blacklisted, so moved to France where he directed the greatest caper film of all time. The 32 minutes of silence was unprecedented in talking pictures. Real life thieves used the same method in several Mexican jewel heists. It won the Best Picture at the Cannes film festival, where the nearly-destitute Dassin, when told shooting had begun on the 18th day of the month, bet that number at roulette, and won big.
Photo: Picture Post | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: $460,226

Director Jules Dassin, Brooklyn-born, was blacklisted, so moved to France where he directed the greatest caper film of all time. The 32 minutes of silence was unprecedented in talking pictures. Real life thieves used the same method in several Mexican jewel heists. It won the Best Picture at the Cannes film festival, where the nearly-destitute Dassin, when told shooting had begun on the 18th day of the month, bet that number at roulette, and won big.

Seven Days in May (1964)
Box Office Gross: N/AAnother Frankenheimer Cold War classic. Any teaming of parallel stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas was always an event for me. They were never better than here, along with debuting John Houseman as a treasonous admiral. The Oval Office where Frederick March portrayed the POTUS was indeed the real McCoy, ie the real office. JFK was in Hyannis port and gave permission to his friend Frankenheimer to shoot there.
Photo: Embassy Pictures/United Artists

Box Office Gross: N/A

Another Frankenheimer Cold War classic. Any teaming of parallel stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas was always an event for me. They were never better than here, along with debuting John Houseman as a treasonous admiral. The Oval Office where Frederick March portrayed the POTUS was indeed the real McCoy, ie the real office. JFK was in Hyannis port and gave permission to his friend Frankenheimer to shoot there.

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Box Office Gross: $27.2 millionBased on a true story, this is one of the greatest World War II epics ever filmed. Shot in what was then Ceylon for just $7 million, it brought to the fore a little-known incident of heroism. My father visited the set and his friend, Sam Speigel, let him push the plunger. Just before that, director Sir David Lean ordered a halt, fearing he'd placed insufficient amounts of dynamite. So that bridge (not a miniature) was blown to smithereens. It was filmed where the e
Photo: AP

Box Office Gross: $27.2 million

Based on a true story, this is one of the greatest World War II epics ever filmed. Shot in what was then Ceylon for just $7 million, it brought to the fore a little-known incident of heroism. My father visited the set and his friend, Sam Speigel, let him push the plunger. Just before that, director Sir David Lean ordered a halt, fearing he'd placed insufficient amounts of dynamite. So that bridge (not a miniature) was blown to smithereens. It was filmed where the events happened.

Tom Jones (1963)
Box Office Gross: N/AThis one defined "ribald" and "raunchy" and "irreverent." The eating scene is the sexiest ever filmed!
Photo: Chris Ware | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A

This one defined "ribald" and "raunchy" and "irreverent." The eating scene is the sexiest ever filmed!

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Box Office Gross: N/AIt made a star of James Coburn, brought to the project by his friend Robert Vaughn, ironically the only member of the title players who survives. Based on the Japanese classic "The Seven Samurai," it also made stars of Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. They were to work with Coburn later, again for director John Sturges in "The Great Escape." Eli Wallach gives the greatest portrayal of a Mexican bandido by a Jewish New York actor in history!
Photo: Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A

It made a star of James Coburn, brought to the project by his friend Robert Vaughn, ironically the only member of the title players who survives. Based on the Japanese classic "The Seven Samurai," it also made stars of Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. They were to work with Coburn later, again for director John Sturges in "The Great Escape." Eli Wallach gives the greatest portrayal of a Mexican bandido by a Jewish New York actor in history!

The Big Country (1958) and Shane (1953)
Box Office Gross: N/APictured: A screen shot from "The Big Country"Two classic Westerns which allowed my generation to play "cowboy" just a little past childhood, if only in our minds.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Box Office Gross: N/A
Pictured: A screen shot from "The Big Country"

Two classic Westerns which allowed my generation to play "cowboy" just a little past childhood, if only in our minds.

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