Computers in Film: 1960s

The 1960s marked a significant era for cinema, as filmmakers delved into futuristic concepts, technological advancements, and the ever-evolving relationship between humans and machines. During this transformative decade, films captured the imagination of audiences with their narratives and visual effects. In this list, we will delve briefly into the films of the 1960s, focusing on their portrayal of computers and the technological landscape of the time, a decade that laid the foundation for the genre’s future and left an enduring legacy in both cinematic storytelling and our own understanding of the intricate relationship between humans and machines.

From the early years of the decade to its conclusion, a diverse range of films emerged, each offering unique perspectives on the role of computers within their narratives. These films reflected the cultural, social, and technological climate of the time, exploring themes such as space exploration, artificial intelligence, and the potential consequences of scientific advancements.

These films captured the essence of the era, reflecting the hopes, fears, and fascination surrounding the rapidly evolving field of computing and its potential impact on humanity.

  1. The Honeymoon Machine
  2. Alphaville
  3. The 10th Victim
  4. Seconds
  5. Fantastic Voyage
  6. Billion Dollar Brain
  7. Marooned
  8. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
  9. The Italian Job

The Honeymoon Machine

“The Honeymoon Machine” is a comedy film released in 1961, directed by Richard Thorpe. The film combines elements of romance, espionage, and humor, with a touch of technological intrigue.

The story follows three brilliant young scientists: Lieutenant Fergie Howard (played by Steve McQueen), Lieutenant J.G. Beau Gilliam (played by Jim Hutton), and Lieutenant Julie Fitch (played by Paula Prentiss). The trio serves in the United States Navy and is stationed on a Pacific island.

Fergie, Beau, and Julie come up with an audacious plan to use a supercomputer called “Max” to predict the outcome of roulette spins. They intend to use this knowledge to win big at the casinos in Venice. Along the way, they involve Fergie’s love interest, Cathy (played by Brigid Bazlen), who also happens to be the daughter of a high-ranking naval officer.

As the group executes their plan, they encounter various obstacles and comedic mishaps. They must navigate the complexities of their personal relationships, outsmart suspicious casino owners, and avoid raising suspicion from the Navy.

“The Honeymoon Machine” capitalizes on the excitement and allure of Las Vegas and its casinos, combining it with the intrigue of military intelligence and the possibilities of advanced computing technology. The film showcases the characters’ witty banter, ingenuity, and resourcefulness as they utilize Max’s calculations to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

While the film’s portrayal of the supercomputer Max may be a bit simplistic by today’s standards, it represents the fascination with computers and their potential applications during the early 1960s. “The Honeymoon Machine” offers a lighthearted exploration of the intersection of technology and gambling, highlighting the characters’ clever use of computational power to gain an advantage.

With its charismatic cast, humorous moments, and an entertaining blend of romance and comedy, “The Honeymoon Machine” provides an enjoyable cinematic experience that captures the spirit of the era and showcases the charm of 1960s romantic comedies with a technological twist.


“Alphaville” is a science fiction film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and released in 1965. The film presents a dystopian vision of a futuristic city named Alphaville, where a powerful supercomputer called Alpha 60 governs every aspect of society.

The city of Alphaville is depicted as a cold and oppressive metropolis, devoid of emotions, individuality, and free will. The citizens live under strict control, and any form of self-expression or independent thought is suppressed. The dominant ideology is one of efficiency and logic, where human emotions are considered irrational and undesirable.

The film follows the protagonist, Lemmy Caution, a secret agent from “the Outlands,” who arrives in Alphaville with a mission to find and destroy Alpha 60. Lemmy Caution navigates the city, encountering its controlled inhabitants and the enigmatic character of Natacha von Braun, who becomes his romantic interest.

The portrayal of technology in “Alphaville” is both fascinating and unsettling. Alpha 60, the supercomputer that governs Alphaville, is omnipresent and possesses immense power. It controls the city’s infrastructure, monitors the behavior of its citizens, and enforces its totalitarian regime. The computer is not portrayed as a physical entity but rather as a disembodied voice, conveying its commands and issuing its strict directives.

Alpha 60 communicates through a monotone voice and engages in philosophical discussions with Lemmy Caution. It represents a rational, logical, and unfeeling force that devalues human emotion and seeks to eliminate individuality and love from society.

Godard’s direction in “Alphaville” employs a minimalist aesthetic, utilizing stark black-and-white cinematography and a somber tone to accentuate the film’s dystopian atmosphere. The film’s dialogues and visual imagery often carry a philosophical undertone, exploring themes of alienation, the dehumanizing effects of technology, and the struggle for personal freedom and individuality.

“Alphaville” is not just a science fiction film, but also a critique of modern society and its increasing reliance on technology and bureaucracy. It serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the potential dangers of an overly rational and controlled society where human emotions and individuality are suppressed.

In its exploration of the relationship between humanity and technology, “Alphaville” raises profound questions about the nature of existence, the importance of human connection, and the implications of surrendering personal freedom in the pursuit of efficiency and order.

The 10th Victim

“The 10th Victim” is a science fiction film released in 1965, directed by Elio Petri. Set in a future society, the film presents a satirical take on violence and entertainment.

The story revolves around a game show called “The Big Hunt,” where individuals participate as either hunters or victims. The objective is to hunt down and kill your designated target or survive if you are the target. The tenth kill grants the participant a substantial financial reward and fame.

The film follows the journey of Caroline Meredith (played by Ursula Andress), a renowned huntress who is approaching her tenth kill. On the other side, we have Marcello Polletti (played by Marcello Mastroianni), a struggling hunter who becomes Caroline’s target.

Amidst the thrilling game show premise, the film explores the themes of media manipulation, fame, and the desensitization of violence. Computers play a role in organizing and monitoring the game show, overseeing the selection of targets and hunters, and calculating the results.

While “The 10th Victim” does not delve deeply into the intricacies of computer technology, it reflects the increasing role of computers in entertainment and the potential for their influence in shaping society. The game show is an embodiment of a society where violence is commercialized and turned into a form of mass entertainment, with computers facilitating its organization and operation.

The film offers a satirical critique of the way violence is packaged and consumed by the masses, raising questions about the ethical implications of such media spectacles. It also explores the human desire for fame and the lengths people are willing to go for recognition and financial gain.

Through its stylized visuals, sharp dialogue, and biting social commentary, “The 10th Victim” reflects the cultural and societal concerns of the 1960s, touching on the influence of media, the commodification of violence, and the potential consequences of an increasingly technologically driven entertainment industry.

“The 10th Victim” presents a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection of violence, entertainment, and technology, offering a satirical commentary on the role of computers in shaping our society’s values and obsessions.


“Seconds” is a science fiction thriller released in 1966, directed by John Frankenheimer. The film delves into themes of identity, personal freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.

The story centers around a middle-aged banker named Arthur Hamilton (played by John Randolph) who feels trapped and dissatisfied with his life. He is approached by a secret organization that offers him the opportunity to start a new life through a radical procedure known as “The Company.”

Through the process, Arthur undergoes a complete physical transformation, assuming a new identity as Tony Wilson (played by Rock Hudson). As Tony, he enters a luxurious and seemingly idyllic existence. However, he soon realizes that there are dark secrets and hidden costs to his new life.

While computers do not feature prominently in the narrative, they play a significant role in the operation of “The Company” and the process of transforming individuals into new identities. The organization utilizes advanced computer technology to create meticulously crafted personas and erase any trace of the person’s former life.

“Seconds” explores themes of alienation, the loss of individuality, and the human desire to escape the constraints of societal expectations. The film delves into the psychological toll of pursuing an idealized existence and questions the true nature of happiness and personal fulfillment.

Visually, “Seconds” employs stark cinematography and a sense of unease, reflecting the character’s sense of disorientation and the film’s underlying tension. It also features innovative camera techniques, such as fisheye lenses, to convey a distorted and surreal atmosphere.

The film offers a critique of conformity and the pressures to conform to societal norms. It questions the extent to which one can truly escape their past and reinvent themselves. The role of technology, including computers, serves as a catalyst for the transformation process, amplifying the film’s exploration of the human desire for a fresh start and the potential consequences of such radical interventions.

“Seconds” is a thought-provoking and haunting film that delves into the existential struggles of its protagonist and the price one might pay for pursuing an elusive idea of happiness. It showcases the capabilities of technology, specifically in the realm of identity alteration, to shape and control individuals’ lives, ultimately raising profound questions about personal agency and the nature of authenticity.

Fantastic Voyage

“Fantastic Voyage” is a science fiction film released in 1966, directed by Richard Fleischer. The film follows a team of scientists who are miniaturized and injected into the body of a diplomat to perform a life-saving surgical procedure. Within the diplomat’s body, the scientists navigate through the bloodstream to reach the location of a life-threatening blood clot.

While the primary focus of “Fantastic Voyage” is on the adventure and peril faced by the miniaturized crew, computer technology plays a significant role in enabling their mission and ensuring their survival within the human body.

In the film, a highly advanced submarine-like vessel called the Proteus is miniaturized along with the crew and injected into the diplomat’s bloodstream. The Proteus is equipped with sophisticated computer systems that monitor vital signs, control navigation, and provide information on the body’s physiology.

The computer systems in the Proteus assist the crew in navigating the complex vascular system, avoiding obstacles, and analyzing the biological environment within the body. They provide real-time feedback and vital data to the crew, allowing them to make informed decisions during their journey.

Furthermore, the computer systems enable communication between the miniaturized crew and the team outside the body. They relay information about the crew’s progress, medical readings, and analysis of potential dangers. This communication is vital for the crew’s safety and coordination with the external team.

While “Fantastic Voyage” explores the intricacies of miniaturization and the dangers within the human body, it also underscores the importance of computer technology in facilitating the mission’s success. The computers in the film represent the interface between the human scientists and the advanced technological systems, aiding in their navigation, decision-making, and communication.

The film’s portrayal of computers reflects the technological optimism of the era, showcasing the potential of advanced computer systems to enhance medical procedures and exploration. It emphasizes the role of computers as indispensable tools in scientific endeavors, highlighting their ability to process complex data, provide analysis, and enable communication in extraordinary circumstances.

“Fantastic Voyage” serves as an entertaining and imaginative exploration of the human body and the integration of advanced technology within it. Through the depiction of sophisticated computer systems within the Proteus, the film captures the fascination with both the human body and the possibilities of computer-assisted exploration and medical advancements during the 1960s.

Billion Dollar Brain

“Billion Dollar Brain” is a spy thriller film released in 1967, directed by Ken Russell. It is based on the novel of the same name by Len Deighton and is part of the Harry Palmer film series. The film stars Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, a British secret agent.

In “Billion Dollar Brain,” Harry Palmer is reluctantly drawn back into the world of espionage. He is hired by an American billionaire named General Midwinter, played by Ed Begley, who claims to have developed a supercomputer called “The Brain” that can analyze and predict global events with incredible accuracy.

The Brain is intended to be a tool to bring about a global revolution and create chaos in the Soviet Union. However, Palmer soon discovers that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. He becomes entangled in a complex plot involving double-crosses, espionage, and political maneuvering.

As Palmer delves deeper into the mystery, he finds himself targeted by various factions, including the British intelligence agency and the Soviet Union. He must navigate a treacherous landscape of international espionage to uncover the truth and thwart the dangerous plans set in motion by General Midwinter and The Brain.

“Billion Dollar Brain” touches on themes of Cold War politics, technological advancements, and the manipulation of information for political gain. The film explores the notion of a powerful computer as a tool of control and the potential dangers of relying too heavily on artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms.

With its gritty atmosphere, intricate plot, and Michael Caine’s charismatic performance as Harry Palmer, “Billion Dollar Brain” offers an engaging spy thriller experience. The film blends elements of espionage, action, and political intrigue, reflecting the tense and complex geopolitical landscape of the 1960s.

Overall, “Billion Dollar Brain” presents an intriguing narrative that combines the world of espionage with the emergence of advanced computing technology, raising questions about the ethical implications and potential misuse of such powerful tools in the pursuit of political and ideological goals.


“Marooned” is a science fiction film released in 1969, directed by John Sturges. The film tells the story of three American astronauts who become stranded in their space capsule in Earth’s orbit. As they face dwindling resources and impending disaster, they must rely on computer systems for survival and communication.

The primary focus of “Marooned” is on the psychological and emotional struggles of the stranded astronauts rather than the computer technology itself. However, the role of computers is crucial in facilitating communication between the stranded crew and mission control on Earth.

In the film, the astronauts’ spacecraft is equipped with advanced computer systems that assist in monitoring vital signs, managing life support systems, and providing crucial information for the crew’s decision-making processes. The computer systems are depicted as essential tools for calculating trajectories, monitoring fuel consumption, and overall spacecraft operations.

As the situation intensifies and the astronauts face the threat of oxygen depletion, the computer systems play a vital role in establishing communication channels with mission control. They relay important data and facilitate exchanges between the crew and the ground team, as they work together to find a solution for the stranded astronauts’ rescue.

While “Marooned” does not delve deeply into the intricacies of the computer systems or explore AI-related themes, it highlights the significance of advanced technology in the context of a life-or-death situation. The computers in the film represent the bridge between the stranded astronauts and their only lifeline, mission control. They underscore the reliance on technological systems in space exploration and the critical role they play in facilitating communication, decision-making, and ultimately, the potential for rescue.

“Marooned” reflects the era’s fascination with space exploration and the rapidly advancing capabilities of computer technology during the 1960s. It showcases the filmmakers’ interest in depicting realistic and plausible scenarios of space travel, drawing upon the advancements of the time to create an immersive and tense narrative.

“Marooned” demonstrates the essential role that computers played in facilitating communication and decision-making processes during critical moments in space exploration, offering a glimpse into the evolving relationship between humans and technology in the context of space travel.

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

“The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” is a family comedy film released in 1969, directed by Robert Butler. The film is part of Disney’s “Dexter Riley” series, featuring the adventures of a young college student named Dexter Riley, played by Kurt Russell.

In the film, Dexter Riley is an ordinary student at Medfield College who inadvertently becomes the recipient of a unique experiment. Due to a mishap involving an electrical surge, Dexter’s brain becomes infused with the entire contents of a computer’s memory.

As a result of this unexpected integration of technology, Dexter gains extraordinary knowledge and abilities. He becomes a walking computer, able to recall vast amounts of information instantaneously and perform complex calculations effortlessly. His newfound abilities attract attention, and he becomes the focus of both admiration and interest from various parties.

“The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” explores the comedic situations that arise from Dexter’s transformation into a human computer. He uses his extraordinary abilities to solve problems, impress his professors, and even aid a group of fellow students in a scheme to raise funds for the financially struggling college.

The film showcases the contrast between Dexter’s newfound intellectual prowess and his humble, unassuming personality. It touches on themes of intelligence, the value of knowledge, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of blending human capabilities with advanced technology.

As a family-oriented comedy, “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” presents an entertaining and light-hearted take on the integration of computers and human intelligence. It emphasizes the positive aspects of knowledge and intellect while also highlighting the importance of human qualities such as humility, friendship, and teamwork.

While the film’s portrayal of computers may not delve deeply into the technical aspects, it serves as a playful exploration of the intersection between human potential and technology. Through Dexter’s character, the film suggests that even with access to vast amounts of information and computational abilities, it is ultimately the human qualities and values that make a difference in the world.

“The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” remains a charming film that reflects the optimistic and lighthearted spirit of its time, offering an entertaining adventure centered around the fusion of human intelligence and computer technology in a family-friendly context.

The Italian Job

“The Italian Job” is a heist film released in 1969, directed by Peter Collinson. While the film primarily focuses on an audacious gold robbery and the subsequent getaway, computers, hacking, and surveillance play a significant role in the execution of the heist.

In the film, a team of skilled criminals led by Charlie Croker (played by Michael Caine) plans to steal a shipment of gold in Italy. To aid them in their mission, they enlist the expertise of Professor Peach (played by Benny Hill), a computer specialist.

Professor Peach is responsible for creating a computerized traffic control system that will allow the thieves to manipulate the traffic lights in Turin, Italy, during their getaway. By hacking into the city’s surveillance network, they gain control over the traffic flow, enabling them to navigate the streets and evade pursuit.

The film showcases the team’s use of technology and computer systems to orchestrate their heist. They employ sophisticated hacking techniques and leverage surveillance cameras and traffic control systems to their advantage. The computerized element adds a modern and technologically advanced twist to the traditional heist narrative.

While the portrayal of computers and hacking in “The Italian Job” may be somewhat simplistic by today’s standards, it reflects the fascination and growing awareness of the role technology could play in criminal activities during the late 1960s. The film captures the popular perception of computers as powerful tools capable of manipulating systems and achieving extraordinary feats.

“The Italian Job” uses computers and hacking as a plot device to add suspense, intrigue, and a touch of sophistication to the heist narrative. It showcases the characters’ ingenuity and resourcefulness in using technology to outsmart their adversaries and execute a meticulously planned robbery.

Overall, “The Italian Job” offers an entertaining blend of action, comedy, and suspense, with computers, hacking, and surveillance playing a key supporting role in the characters’ high-stakes heist. The film reflects the cultural fascination with technology during the late 1960s and adds a contemporary twist to the classic heist genre.

2 thoughts on “Computers in Film: 1960s

  1. Pingback: Sci-Fi Cinema – Computers – 334 Digital

  2. Jim Brown

    Talking of the days before computers really grabbed the world do read Bill Fairclough’s fact based spy thriller, paradoxically called Beyond Enkription, the first stand-alone novel of six in The Burlington Files series. One day he may overtake Bond, Smiley and even Jackson Lamb!

    Beyond Enkription is a must read for espionage illuminati. It’s a raw noir matter of fact pacy novel. Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote it. Coincidentally, a few critics have nicknamed its protagonist “a posh Harry Palmer.”

    It is a true story about a maverick accountant, Bill Fairclough (MI6 codename JJ) aka Edward Burlington in Porter Williams International (in real life Coopers & Lybrand now PwC). In the 1970s in London he infiltrated organised crime gangs, unwittingly working for MI6. After some frenetic attempts on his life he was relocated to the Bahamas where, “eyes wide open” he was recruited by the CIA and headed for shark infested waters off Haiti.

    If you’re an espionage cognoscente you’ll love this monumental book. In real life Bill Fairclough was recruited by MI6’s unorthodox Colonel Alan Brooke Pemberton CVO MBE and thereafter they worked together on and off into the 1990s. You can find out more about Pemberton’s People (who even included Winston Churchill’s bodyguard) in an article dated 31 October 2022 on The Burlington Files website.

    This epic is so real it made us wonder why bother reading espionage fiction when facts are so much more exhilarating. Whether you’re a le Carré connoisseur, a Deighton disciple, a Fleming fanatic, a Herron hireling or a Macintyre marauder, odds on once you are immersed in it you’ll read this titanic production twice. For more detailed reviews visit the Reviews page on TheBurlingtonFiles website or see other independent reviews on your local Amazon website and check out Bill Fairclough’s background on the web.

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