DISCOVER--the best of the 1960s spy-fi films

It's difficult to get across to those who weren't there just how all-encompassing the spy fad of the mid-'60's was... It wasn't just Bond, or even Bond and UNCLE, and neither did it involve just one medium, like most trends. The spy fad enveloped film, TV, paperback fiction, comics, advertising, and even music and fashion. Spoofs, rip-offs, and spin-offs abounded.

This list of the major movies--just the tip of an iceberg--is in alphabetical order. If you like these, check out the superb secret agent TV shows of the era, including The Avengers, The Man from UNCLE, The Girl from UNCLE, Get Smart, I Spy, Amos Burke--Secret Agent (erroneously listed on the IMDB as the third season of Burke's Law, another fine '60's series), and Honey West. Some of them are better than these movies!
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1.
The Ambushers (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
A government space saucer is hijacked mid-flight by a powerful laser beam under the control of Jose Ortega... (102 mins.)
Director: Henry Levin
“ Third of the four Matt Helm films, with Janice Rule excellent. Senta Berger of The Spy With My Face is the bad girl again. ” - jonabbott56
 
2.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
Dr. Goldfoot has invented an army of bikini-clad robots who are programmed to seek out wealthy men and charm them into signing over their assets. Craig Gamble and Todd Armstrong set out to foil the fiendish plot. (88 mins.)
Director: Norman Taurog
“ Better known as Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. ” - jonabbott56
 
3.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
Nefarious mad scientist Dr. Goldfoot once again plots to take over the world by creating female robot... (82 mins.)
Director: Mario Bava
“ Better known as Doctor Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. ” - jonabbott56
 
4.
Dr. No (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A resourceful British government agent seeks answers in a case involving the disappearance of a colleague and the disruption of the American space program. (110 mins.)
Director: Terence Young
“ The first James Bond film. ” - jonabbott56
 
5.
Fathom (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In Southern Spain with a U.S. team, skydiver Fathom Harvill is approached by a Scottish colonel working for a top-secret Western agency... (99 mins.)
“ Wouldn't be a Bond girl, decided to do her own thing. Good for her, it's not too bad. ” - jonabbott56
 
6.
From Russia with Love (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by SPECTRE. (115 mins.)
Director: Terence Young
“ The second James Bond film. ” - jonabbott56
 
7.
The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
After a series of misunderstandings, the head of an aerospace research laboratory begins to suspect his new girlfriend is a Russian spy. (110 mins.)
Director: Frank Tashlin
“ Marvellous supporting cast of '60s character actors and a blink-and-miss cameo of Robert Vaughn as The Man from UNCLE. ” - jonabbott56
 
8.
Goldfinger (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Investigating a gold magnate's smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve. (110 mins.)
Director: Guy Hamilton
“ Third and best of the Sean Connery Bond films. ” - jonabbott56
 
9.
The Helicopter Spies (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
An African village is nearly exterminated by a deadly weapon - The Thermal Prism. Napoleon and Ilya must find it first before it can be used again for the conquest of the world. (90 mins.)
Director: Boris Sagal
“ Quintessential '60s spy stuff. Great fun. Carol Lynley never looked better and John Dehner's villain is a hoot. Watch for Sid Haig as an ill-fated minion. ” - jonabbott56
 
10.
How to Steal the World (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
The agents of U.N.C.L.E. must stop mad general Harmon and his Seven Intellectual Wonders of the World, as well as THRUSH agents, from taking over the world. (90 mins.)
Director: Sutton Roley
“ The last of the UNCLE films and the last two episodes of the TV series. ” - jonabbott56
 
11.
In Like Flint (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Super-spy Flint takes on a cabal of women plotting to rule the world. (114 mins.)
Director: Gordon Douglas
“ The second of two ridiculous cash-ins. A small army of 1960s starlets are present for Fembot-style lunacy. When it was all over, Irwin Allen moved in and nicked all the props for Lost in Space. ” - jonabbott56
 
12.
The Karate Killers (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin travel around the globe in an effort to track down... (89 mins.)
Director: Barry Shear
“ 1960s time capsule with loads of recurring UNCLE babes. Herbert Lom as the bad guy leads a superb cast from top to bottom. Watch for Terry Thomas as a London police constable, and get a load of Gerald Fried's wonderful music. All this and Danielle De Metz too. Heaven in a TV screen. ” - jonabbott56
 
13.
Maroc 7 (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  
The lady of a top fashion magazine doubles as a jewel thief and becomes involved in Moroccan intrigue. (91 mins.)
Director: Gerry O'Hara
“ Amos Burke himself, playing an amalgam of his two '60s personas, unconvincing cop and even more unconvincing babe magnet. All good. ” - jonabbott56
 
14.
Murderers' Row (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Handsome top-secret American agent Matt Helm must recover a laser-weapons inventor who has been kidnapped by arch-villain Julian Wall. (105 mins.)
Director: Henry Levin
“ Second Matt Helm film, and viva Las Vegas, it's Ann Margret. How groovy can you get? ” - jonabbott56
 
15.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
James Bond woos a mob boss's daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world. (142 mins.)
Director: Peter Hunt
“ The best Bond film, and Connery didn't do it. And we've all been kicking ourselves ever since. Bond with Emma Peel. And he didn't do it. He didn't do it. ” - jonabbott56
 
16.
One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Someone is using cats in experiments to develop a machine that can reverse the aging process, meanwhile... (100 mins.)
“ Classic UNCLE. Get a load of Maurice Evans as a pseudo-Churchill, Vera Miles as a proto-Thatcher, and see Leo G. Carroll's UNCLE boss humiliate Bernard Fox's THRUSH agent. He stands corrected...! ” - jonabbott56
 
17.
One Spy Too Many (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Megalomaniac Alexander wants to be like Alexander The Great. His plan is to commit the world's greatest crimes to expand his industrial empire... (102 mins.)
Director: Joseph Sargent
“ UNCLE at the top of its game. Wonderful. ” - jonabbott56
 
18.
Our Man Flint (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
When scientists use eco-terrorism to impose their will on the world by affecting extremes in the weather, Intelligence Chief Cramden calls in top agent Derek Flint. (108 mins.)
Director: Daniel Mann
“ First of two ridiculous copycat bandwagon jumpers. Fun, but stupid. ” - jonabbott56
 
19.
The Silencers (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
In this, the first Matt Helm movie, we see Matt Helm coaxed out of semi-retirement by an attractive ex-partner... (102 mins.)
Director: Phil Karlson
“ Austin Powers, eat your heart out. First of the Matt Helm films. Victor Buono is wasted but Stella Stevens is marvellous. Great supporting cast. ” - jonabbott56
 
20.
The Spy in the Green Hat (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
T.H.R.U.S.H. with the help of Doctor von Kronen, a Nazi scientist, has a plan to divert the Gulf Stream... (92 mins.)
Director: Joseph Sargent
“ Way over the top UNCLE shenanigans. Fun. ” - jonabbott56
 
21.
The Spy with My Face (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Thrush captures Napoleon Solo and replaces him with a look-alike to infiltrate U.N.C.L.E. and an operation called "The August Affair"... (88 mins.)
Director: John Newland
“ First season UNCLE, expanded and in colour. What's not to love? ” - jonabbott56
 
22.
Thunderball (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme. (130 mins.)
Director: Terence Young
“ Fourth Connery Bond, plenty to like. ” - jonabbott56
 
23.
To Trap a Spy (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
The pilot for the TV series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," re-edited and released to theaters as a feature. (92 mins.)
Director: Don Medford
“ Best version of the Man from UNCLE pilot. Start here for 104 episodes of magic. ” - jonabbott56
 
24.
The Wrecking Crew (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The count has stolen enough gold to cause a financial crisis in the world markets so I.C.E. sends in ace spy Matt Helm to stop him... (105 mins.)
Director: Phil Karlson
“ Last of the Matt Helm films. ” - jonabbott56
 
25.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Agent 007 and the Japanese secret service ninja force must find and stop the true culprit of a series of spacejackings before nuclear war is provoked. (117 mins.)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
“ By the time Bond got to Japan, all his imitators had beaten him to it. You can kind of see why Connery decided to call it a day, but what bad timing, it cost him (and us) On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This is good in parts, and Nancy Sinatra's theme song is superb, but you can see the rough edges.


Jon is not on Facebook, but can reply to comments here, at the base of this list.

Obsessed with the popular culture of the 1960s and surrounding decades, Jon Abbott has been writing about film and TV for over thirty years in around two dozen different publications, trade, populist, and specialist. He is the author of several books, including

Irwin Allen Television Productions 1964-1970,
Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots,
The Elvis Films,
Cool TV of the 1960s: Three Shows That Changed the World, and Strange New World: Sex Films of the 1970s.

See his Amazon author's page, and his other lists on the IMDB, all under the pre-fix DISCOVER. ” - jonabbott56 ” - jonabbott56