History of the World According to the Movies: Part 82 – American Film and Music of the 1960s


Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose star in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls which tells the story of the Supremes though they’re known by different names in this. Still, it gets the story mostly right and shows the Motown intrigue behind the scenes. Though Diana Ross didn’t think this film was an accurate representation, fellow Supreme Mary Wilson said it was “closer to the truth than they’ll ever know.”

Music and film would change a lot in 1960s America. Sure many of the old stars would still be around yet, you would have plenty of new voices. In Greenwich Village, you have Bob Dylan who brought a new standard of songwriting as well as influence practically every genre of music as well as poetry and prose. In Detroit, you have the Motown sound that included artists like Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and plenty of other African American artists. In New Jersey, you have Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons whose story would later get made into a Broadway musical Jersey Boys. On the West Coast, you have the Beach Boys and surf music and Creedence Clearwater Revivial which would help define the Southern Rock genre. Yet, the 1960s would soon give way to psychedelic rock music and folk protest songs. Let’s just say, rock music by the end of the decade won’t just consist of a bunch of dance songs anymore. As with Hollywood, while many of the old movie stars are still alive, the studio system won’t be (since all the old moguls would be either retired or dead by this point) and nor would the Hays Code. Thus, the old Hollywood days would end as we know it and would give rise to what we know as New Hollywood with a new generation of stars as well as movies that have more, violence, gore, sex, and controversy. Some of these new movies would be inspired by foreign films. By the end of the decade, you will have the MPAA ratings system though it won’t yet include a PG-13 rating and the NC-17 equivalent would be X. Still, while there are plenty of movies on the 1960s culture in the US, they do get plenty of things wrong, which I shall point out.


Leonard Chess died in 1967. (He died two years later.)

“American Pie” was a popular song in 1969. (It was recorded in 1971.)

Santana’s Abraxas was a popular album in 1967. (It was released in 1970.)

Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was a popular song in 1964. (It was released in 1967.)

CCR’s Cosmo’s Factory was on sale in 1967. (It was released in 1970.)

Blues artist Little Walter died in the arms of Muddy Waters’ wife in 1967. (He died at his girlfriend’s house in 1968 contrary to Cadillac Records.)

Waylon Jennings sported his trademark long hair and beard in the mid-1960s. (In the 1960s, he was clean shaven with short black hair. He didn’t get his trademark look until the mid-1970s “outlaw” era.)

Berry Gordy was a villainous character dealing in payola and other activities. (Contrary to his Eddie Murphy expy in Dreamgirls, Smokey Robinson had Paramount and Dreamworks apologize to Gordy and other Motown alumni. However, to be fair, it’s alleged that Gordy was involved in illegal activities.)

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” was a hit in 1967. (It was released in 1969.)

Janis Joplin died in 1969. (She died in 1970.)

Johnny Cash:

Johnny Cash was willing to kick his habit out of his love for June. (His love for June Carter certainly helped as well as her insistence that she wouldn’t marry him until he was clean and sober. However, by 1968, Cash was at the lowest point in his life in which his only choices were to either kick drugs or die.)

Johnny Cash collapsed on stage in Las Vegas during a 1965 performance. (Contrary to Walk the Line, he did not.)

Johnny Cash’s marriage with his first wife ended after his arrest in El Paso. (Contrary to Walk the Line, it ended after a bizarre cave incident in Nickajack Cave in Tennessee. As he told MTV, “In 1967 … I was on amphetamines really, really bad, and I was totally insane. I got in my Jeep and I drove down to Chattanooga, and there was a cave there … a monstrous cave, it went for miles back up onto Lookout Mountain. I went into that cave with my pills, just exploring, you know. I had all these wild ideas about finding gold, Civil War [memorabilia] or something in this cave. I’d keep going and I kept taking the pills, kept taking the amphetamines, and after a certain point, after I’d been in there about three hours … I tried to close my eyes, but you can’t close your eyes for long on amphetamines. I laid down and I said, ‘God, I can’t take it anymore; I can’t make it any further, you’ll have to take me now, I want to go, I want to die.’ ” Vivian would say that if Johnny wouldn’t have gotten involved with drugs, they would’ve remained together. However, I tend to disagree with that since he already knew June Carter by then.)

Johnny Cash had to fight to do his Folsom prison concert. (Contrary to Walk the Line, he did not since he had been performing in prisons since the 1950s.)

Johnny Cash found his new house after passing out in the nearby woods. (There’s no evidence of this unlike what you see in Walk the Line.)

Patsy Cline:

Patsy Cline recorded “Crazy” before her famous auto accident. (Contrary to Coal Miner’s Daughter, she recorded the song a few weeks after the accident.)

Patsy Cline and her brother were on their way to pick up beer when she nearly lost her life in a 1961 winter car crash. (Contrary to Sweet Dreams, the crash happened in June and she and her brother were en route to pick up material for her seamstress mother to use for Patsy’s stage clothes. Oh, and the crash was a head on collision with another car which caused Patsy to be thrown through the windshield, not a broadside from a truck and pulled from the wreck by her brother.)

Charlie Dick was an abusive husband to Patsy Cline who beat her up in front of their kids. (Contrary to Sweet Dreams, both Charlie and daughter Julie deny this. Relatives and friends dispute how whether their marriage was abusive and to what extent, yet values dissonance may come into play. Still, they did have a son named Randy Dick, which is pretty bad if you ask me. I mean that’s more of a name for a male porn star.)

Patsy Cline’s airplane crashed into a mountain cliff due to difficulties restarting the engine after switching from an empty fuel tank to a full one en route from Nashville to Kansas City. (Contrary to the 1985 Sweet Dreams, Cline’s plane crashed in a forest in Camden, Tennessee {there are no mountains in the western part of the state} while en route from Kansas City to Nashville. Also, the crash was caused by bad weather and the fact that Cline’s manager was piloting the plane who became disoriented and lost control.)

Ike and Tina Turner:

Ike Turner was the front man for the Kings of Rhythm when he met Tina. (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Ike was front man in the way he was a band leader and organizer. However, he had other singers and performers fronting the band because he had stage fright. Also, the original vocalist behind “Rocket 88” was Jackie Brentson, not Ike.)

Ike Turner pushed a cake in Tina’s face which led to a food fight in the club. (Contrary to the film, though Tina was given a cake she didn’t order while waiting for food, Ike just told her to eat it.)

Tina Turner’s first performance with Ike and the Kings of Rhythm with Ike playing guitar. (Both said that Tina started singing when she was given a microphone by the band’s drummer while Ike was playing piano during an intermission. Yet, she did front the band the night she began singing with him. Also, her first recording was singing background vocals to Ike’s “Box Top” as Little Anne, contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It.)

Ike and Tina Turner opened for the Rolling Stones in 1968 with “Proud Mary.” (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Ike and Tina would open for the Stones twice in 1966 and 1969. However, they didn’t perform “Proud Mary” at either tour because the song was released in 1969 performed by its original artists Creedence Clearwater Revival {lead singer John Fogerty wrote the song}. The Turner version wasn’t recorded until 1970.)

Ike and Tina Turner had no hits between “A Fool in Love” and “River Deep – Mountain High.” (Contrary to the movie about them, they had several. However, it was during “River Deep – Mountain High” they worked for Phil Spector {yes, that guy who wore dreadful wigs and killed someone}.)

Ike Turner raped and beat up Tina in the recording studio. (Both Turners denied this contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It. However, it’s fairly well known that Ike would physically abuse her {which even he has admitted}. Yet, Tina would say that Ike would ask for sex after he beat her up. At that point, she would be too afraid to refuse so the sex probably wasn’t 100% consensual. Nevertheless, Ike Turner complained that Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of him was inaccurate, but I find that many of the things he said about the film are unreliable. I mean Ike said that he and Tina weren’t legally married though Tina was able to divorce him in 1978.)

Tina Turner once headed to her mother’s house in St. Louis to hide from Ike Turner. (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Tina said that Ike knew where to seek her out. Also, Tina didn’t have a good relationship with her mother.)

Ike was Craig Turner’s father. (Sorry, but Craig was actually Tina’s son with another man named Raymond Hill {who was one of the reasons why Ike pressured Tina to change her name from Anna Mae Bullock}. Their only child together would be Ronnie Turner who was born in 1960. Yet, they did raise Ike’s two sons from a previous marriage together. Still, they didn’t become a couple until 1959 when Ike separated from his then wife, Lorraine Taylor.)

Ike and Tina Turner performed a concert at the Apollo Theater with Otis Redding and Martha and the Vandellas in 1960. (Contrary to the biopic about them, Martha and the Vandellas hadn’t formed yet by this point and several of them were performing in a different group called the Del-Phis. Redding was fronting several bands and had yet to record his first single by this time.)

Ray Charles:

Ray Charles was banned from playing in Georgia in 1962. (He never was but he did refuse to play for a segregated audience in Augusta, Georgia, after a plea by young civil rights activists by telegram {not protest as in Ray}. Yet, he did pay the promoter for compensation.)

Ray Charles’ wife Bea stayed with him regardless of her husband’s faults. (Though this is implied in Ray, she actually got fed up with his long absences, his drugs, and most especially his affairs that she divorced him in 1977.)

Jim Morrison:

Jim Morrison’s film school project had him reading his terrible poetry over Neo-Nazi rallies and disembodied women’s legs in black stockings. (Contrary to The Doors, this didn’t happen, though his film did include a German actress.)

Jim Morrison was arrested in New Haven in 1968. (He was arrested in 1967.)

Jim Morrison’s “Young Lion” photo was taken by a female photographer who asked him to take off his shirt in a sexy voice. (The photographer’s name was Joel Brodsky who was a man, so a historically accurate rendition of the shoot probably wouldn’t go too well.)

Jim Morrison was a talentless, spoiled egomaniac who was unable to stagger through a scene without whiskey, pills, or powder. (Jim Morrison’s former bandmates said that Oliver Stone exaggerated his problems with drugs in The Doors. Still, as bad as Jim Morrison was at poetry, you have to agree that most of his songs with The Doors are far better than any kind of crap Justin Bieber produced. Not to mention, Morrison’s word salad verses went perfect with the band’s trippy style. Still, aside from lead vocals, he’s said to have played harmonica, percussion, synthesizer, maracas, tambourine, and piano.)

Jim Morrison put an emphasis on “higher” during the Doors’ performance of “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show. (Contrary to the 1991 film, he performed the song more or less as he originally recorded it, yet he did ignore Ed Sullivan’s request to change the lyric {which had practically nothing to do with drugs}. However, there was no way that the Doors were going to comply with Ed Sullivan’s request. I mean Ed Sullivan was tempting fate on this one.)

Jim Morrison locked Pam Courson in the closet before setting it on fire. (Contrary to the Oliver Stone film, this never happened.)

Jim Morrison was an out of control sociopath. (His former bandmates contested to the Val Kilmer’s portrayal of him in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. Morrison was a self-centered hedonist which can’t be disputed but he probably wasn’t a sociopath.)

Jim Morrison attended the University of Florida. (He attended Florida State.)

Jim Morrison was 21 in 1966. (He was 23.)

Jim Morrison’s long-suffering girlfriend Pam Courson was a two dimensional bitch. (Meg Ryan’s portrayal in the Jim Morrison biopic offended the surviving Doors who said she had personality and everything.)

Jim Morrison committed indecent exposure during the Doors 1969 Miami concert. (Contrary to The Doors, though Morrison would be arrested and convicted of indecent exposure whether he flashed his audience has been disputed by witnesses, even former bandmates. As John Densmore said, “If Jim had revealed the golden shaft, I would have known.”)

Bob Dylan:

Bob Dylan was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. (Contrary to I’m Not There, the accident wasn’t as serious as reported at the time.)

Bob Dylan’s performance was booed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival because he used electric guitar on his songs. (Witnesses actually complained more about the amplification quality than and length of the performance than whether Dylan used his electric guitar on “Maggie’s Farm.” According to Al Kooper, Dylan’s organist, “Some had travelled thousands of miles and paid a lot of money for tickets and what did they get? Three songs, and one of those was a mess. They didn’t give a shit about us being electric. They just wanted more.” In short, Dylan was booed simply because he was performing with lousy speakers not for upsetting folk purists by going electric.)

Bob Dylan was responsible for Edie Sedgewick’s drug abuse and death. (Dylan wanted to sue Factory Girl over such insinuation. Yet, they were close friends but probably not lovers. Still, Dylan was probably not responsible for her death for Edie was anorexic as a kid and had experimented with drugs before she met the singer-songwriter.)

Bobby Darin:

Bobby Darin acknowledged Nina Cassotto Maffia as his mother in public. (Actually contrary to Beyond the Sea, he never acknowledged Nina as his mother in public and didn’t know that she was his mom until he was 33 years old {and before then, he thought that she was his much older sister since his mother had him at 16}. Unsurprisingly, he barely tolerated that knowledge in private.)

Bobby Darin believed that Charlie Maffia was his father. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he didn’t, nor did he ever appreciate anything his stepfather did for him. Also, Darin was much better looking than Kevin Spacey.)

Bobby Darin was in his trailer at Big Sur when he heard of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he was with RFK on the campaign trail when the presidential candidate got shot. He actually witnessed it in that very hotel.)

Bobby Darin’s popularity was in decline near the end of his life. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he had a successful weekly variety show for the last two years so it wasn’t just those who attended clubs or went to Vegas who saw him. He was also even loved as a comic and impressionist alongside his music. He was also said to be a good actor, too, and even was nominated for an Oscar.)

Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee were married to the end of his life. (They divorced in 1967 and Bobby remarried someone else though him an Dee did remain friends.)

The Supremes:

Florence Ballard was able to survive on a solo career. (Though her expy Effie White does in Dreamgirls, Florence Ballard died of a coronary thrombosis as she was poised to launch a solo career.)

Florence Ballard and Diana Ross eventually reconciled after Ross took over as Supremes lead singer while Ballard was passed over. (Contrary to Dreamgirls, Ballard and Ross would remain estranged until Ballard’s death. Yet, Ross would establish a trust fund for Ballard’s children after Ballard died so she probably felt some guilt. Still, Ballard being pushed to the background wasn’t really Ross’s fault as implied in the film.)

The Doors:

The Doors’ New Haven concert was a beautiful sell-out show in a beautiful theater with a balcony. (Contrary to The Doors, it took place in a broken down hockey rink with no balcony. It was also half empty.)

“Roadhouse Blues” was popular in 1968. (The Doors released this song in 1970.)


“Comin’ into Los Angeles” and “Beautiful People” were both played during the daytime. (Contrary to Taking Woodstock, they were played at night. Arlo Guthrie’s performance of the former is seen in the 4-hour documentary which I saw.)

“Maggie M’Gill” was played at Woodstock. (Woodstock took place in 1969 while The Doors recorded this song in 1970. Seriously, the filmmakers of Taking Woodstock could’ve seen the documentary to check themselves.)

Woodstock was wonderful. (Yeah, a three day music festival that had drug addled hippies waiting in line to use a port a potty. Not only that, but it rained at some time. Not my idea of fun. The documentary doesn’t seem to make it much of a great party either. Of course, best get the best performances on iTunes. Oh, I forgot they didn’t have iTunes then. I bet the Woodstock cleaning crew didn’t have much fun.)

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons:

Tommy DeVito was an uncleanly roommate who peed in the sink. (Contrary to Jersey Boys, according to the real Tommy DeVito, “Some of it is bullsh*t — where I pee in the sink, and the dirty underwear. I was probably the cleanest guy there. I don’t even know how they come up with this kinda stuff.” Yet, he and his fellow band members were friends with a young Joe Pesci.)

Tommy DeVito was in debt to the mob for $150,000. (Actually unlike you see in Jersey Boys, the real Tommy DeVito claims he was never in the mob, yet he did perform for them. Yet, it was more likely the mob owed him money than vice versa.)

Tommy DeVito was kicked out of The Four Seasons and was forced to perform live in Las Vegas. (Contary to Jersey Boys, DeVito moved to Las Vegas in 1970 on his own free will since he had several siblings living there and actually quit the group because “I had had it up to here with the traveling and changing clothes three times a day, and taking two planes and then driving 100 miles to do a date. Getting on stage and doing the same stuff — I just had it.”)


Anthony Perkins did the shower scene in Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, Perkins wasn’t on the set that day and had a smaller female stand-in to take his place as well as others. This was intentional because Hitchcock didn’t want audiences to be tipped off of the murderer’s true identity at this point in the film. To have Perkins do the shower scene himself wouldn’t have added to the suspense for he was a tall man. The only scene where Perkins dressed up as Mrs. Bates was during the big-reveal climax in the cellar.)

Psycho was filmed on the Paramount studio lot. (It was filmed at Universal but it was released by Paramount.)

Vera Miles had a full head of hair during the filming of Psycho. (Before filming Psycho, she shaved her head for a role in 5 Branded Women. Then again, maybe her character’s wearing a wig in Psycho.)

Melvyn Douglas was dying when he won the Oscar in 1963. (He’d die in 1981.)

Bernard Hermann’s nickname was Bernie. (Contrary to Hitchcock, no one called him that. He was called “Benny.”)

Disney Winnie the Pooh toys appeared on shelves in 1961. (Though Disney did have the film rights to the A. A. Milne characters, they didn’t acquire the merchandising rights until a year later.)

Robert Sherman walked with a limp because he was shot. (This is alluded to in Saving Mr. Banks but he was actually wounded in World War II while during the liberation of Dachau.)

Joseph Stefano played an insignificant role in the making of Psycho. (For God’s sake, he wrote the screenplay.)

Alfred Hitchcock:

Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville had no children. (They had a daughter named Pat and she was involved in the making of Psycho playing one of Marion’s co-workers. Pat Hitchcock also played a significant role in Strangers on a Train as Farley Granger’s girlfriend’s sister who wore glasses and would have small roles in several of his productions {mostly because she wasn’t a gorgeous blonde}. Yet, you wouldn’t know it from Hitchcock where her existence doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Still, she would’ve definitely had been to the premiere of Psycho.)

Alfred Hitchcock took a mortgage on his house to finance Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, no director under studio contract did this. Also, the film greatly portrays the Hitchcocks as much poorer than they really were. Hitchcock actually had two houses and a vast savings so he could definitely afford to produce the film without him and Alma having to cut back on personal expenses. Financing Psycho wasn’t a big financial risk for him and he was already a legend in Hollywood by then anyway.)

Alfred Hitchcock’s marriage to Alma Reville was a creative partnership that was strained by jealously. (While their marriage was a creative partnership, it was one of the few happy marriages in Hollywood to last more than 50 years. But Reville’s contributions to Hitchcock’s films hadn’t gained much public recognition until recently. Still, she didn’t have to bail him out of every crisis he supposedly got himself in and wasn’t frustrated of her talents being overlooked or felt any need to be recognized on her own terms because she had been credited for her work on many of his films and others. Also, the alleged affair Alma may have had with Whitfield Cook might’ve taken place in 1949 during the writing of Stage Fright when Hitch was in England, not during the making of Psycho. Still, her friendship with Cook wasn’t close enough to make Hitch feel threatened or jealous and the affair was probably platonic. In fact, Cook was a long-time friend of the Hitchcocks,  wrote Strangers on a Train with Alma, and would distance himself from Alma when he thought things between the two were going too far {though Hitchcock does depict him as a villainous womanizer which is far from the truth. Not only that, but Cook’s journals suggest he may have been gay}. Still, much of the strife between Hitch and Alma in Hitchcock is mostly pure dramatic license.)

Alma Hitchcock took over directing a part of Psycho for her husband when he was ill. (Contrary to Hitchcock, she didn’t. When Hitch fell ill, it was the his assistant director who assumed the role. And no, his illness wasn’t self-induced over the unhappiness of his private life because his was one of the least unhappy in Hollywood.)

Film censors were up in arms over the thought that Alfred Hitchcock would include a flushing toilet scene in Psycho. (They were more concerned about him including the word, “transvestite.” The part about the toilet is just urban legend.)

Alfred Hitchcock terrified Janet Leigh into giving a more believable performance during the filming of the shower scene in Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, this may not have happened. Retaining an image of dignity and control. And no, he didn’t have violent impulses either. He was more of a perfectionist than anything and was completely professional with his female leads on the set and his flirtations with actresses never led to notable marital tension.)

Walt Disney:

Walt Disney didn’t smoke. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, he was a notorious chain smoker all his adult life which contributed to his death of lung cancer but Disney has an anti-smoking ban. Also, contrary to legend, Walt Disney wasn’t cryogenically frozen after his death. He was actually cremated. In short, he was fried, not frozen.)

Walt Disney had to convince P. L. Travers to hand over the film rights to Mary Poppins. (Though this is the premise of Saving Mr. Banks, Disney already secured the film rights {subject to Travers’ approval of the script} when Travers arrived to consult the Disney staff in Burbank. In fact, Walt Disney left Burbank for a vacation in Palm Springs a few days into Travers’ US visit hoping that the Sherman brothers would work something out with Travers. Yet, much of what is adapted into Saving Mr. Banks comes from their correspondence through letters, telegrams, and telephone calls. Oh, and the guy who first contacted Travers wasn’t Walt Disney but his brother Roy.)

Walt Disney took P. L. Travers on a tour of Disneyland where she rode a carousel. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, she probably didn’t ride a carousel in Disneyland. In fact, she hated Disneyland.)

Walt Disney had a loveable avuncular personality. (He was also a racist, anti-Semite, and misogynist {I mean how many mothers die in Disney movies, good God}. Also, he was one of those guys who named names during McCarthyism.)

P. L. Travers:

P. L. Travers was a lonely old spinster. (She adopted a boy named Camilus though he didn’t know about his twin brother until he met the guy in a bar. Sure he was pissed at Travers but they did reconcile. She also tried to adopt her 17-year-old maid, too. Not only that, but she had a long term relationship with a married man as well as a possible live-in girlfriend for over a decade. Oh, and she didn’t save her mother from drowning and she dedicated Mary Poppins to her mother, not her dad.)

P. L. Travers approved Disney’s changes to the script and story to the movie adaptation of Mary Poppins. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, she never approved of the dilution of the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins’ character, felt ambivalent about the music, and hated the use of animation. Walt Disney would overrule her objections to portions of the final film citing contract stipulations and final cut privileges. After the premiere, Travers is said to approach Disney and told him to remove the animated sequences. Disney dismissed her request saying, “Pamela, the ship has sailed.” Still, Ms. Travers should’ve known what to expect from a Disney adaptation of her work.)

P. L. Travers was emotionally moved during the premiere of Mary Poppins. (Yes, Travers did cry at the premiere of Mary Poppins but it wasn’t out of how good of job Walt Disney did in adapting her book. Rather she cried out of anger and frustration over the film which she felt betrayed the artistic integrity of her characters and work. In fact, she was so resentful of what she considered poor treatment on Disney’s hands that she vowed never to permit the Walt Disney Company to adapt any of her novels in any form of media. In fact, in her last will, Travers banned any Americans from adapting her works in any form of media.)

Bruce Lee:

Bruce Lee opened his own kung-fu school at his wife Linda’s suggestion. (Contrary to Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, he had opened his kung-fu school before he even met her.)

Bruce Lee got into a fight at the set of Big Boss. (Contrary to his biopic, he didn’t but he was challenged while doing Enter the Dragon. And no, he didn’t injure his back during a fight, but rather in 1970 when he was lifting weights.)