On TV: 1964

american-experience-1964Coming to PBS’s American Experience tomorrow, Tuesday, January 14: 1964

Stephen Ives and Callie T Wiser’s chronicle of the year that changed America makes its world premiere on the venerable PBS program, fifty years after the events depicted.

The documentary convincingly argues that a confluence of factors singles out 1964 as a pivotal year in modern American history, laying the groundwork for the social and political upheaval that would follow for the remainder of the decade. Still in shock from the assassination of JFK in November of the previous year, Americans began to see cracks in the foundations of conventional, post-WWII society, offering the potential for something new and different. Using a wealth of archival material, Ives and Wiser tell the story of that year, highlighting major events in a chronological fashion, and weaving together several engaging strands showcasing the eruption of change across a wide spectrum of American culture: the emergence of a new, Conservative-driven Republican party, led by Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful, but catalyzing, presidential bid; President Lyndon B Johnson’s call for the Great Society and the actions taken to advance civil rights; SNCC’s Freedom Summer (also the subject of Stanley Nelson’s eponymous upcoming Sundance film), and the nationwide attention placed on the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi; the dawning of women’s liberation following the reception of Betty Friedan’s THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE; the arrival of Beatlemania, and its impact on teenage culture (and specifically teenage girls); boxer Cassius Clay’s public adoption of Islam, signalled by his new name, Muhammad Ali; and the birth of the Free Speech Movement on the campus of Berkeley.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

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