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American Experience: 1964

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product Description

It was the year of the Beatles and the Civil Rights Act; of the Gulf of Tonkin and Barry Goldwater s campaign for the presidency; the year that Americans learned smoking was bad for their health and Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali; the year that cities across the country erupted in violence and Americans tried to make sense of the assassination of their president. American Experience: 1964 follows some of the most prominent figures of the time Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barry Goldwater, Betty Freidan and brings out from the shadows the actions of ordinary Americans whose frustrations, ambitions, and anxieties began to turn the country onto a different course.


Authoritative and convincing...1964
shows us there we are still feeling the impact of those events 50 years later. --San Fransico Chronical

You don t have to have lived through the time to appreciate 1964 and its
thoughtful look at ideas that echo to this day. --Sacromento Bee

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: February 18, 2014
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00GMM19KA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,323 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

We caught this documentary on PBS streaming video, and according to the PBS website, the DVD, to be released on February 4, is the two hour documentary with English subtitles available and no other content.

As for the documentary itself, we had low expectations. In recent years, previously excellent shows like NOVA and Frontline have turned into infotainment that skims the surface. Breathless commentary and gee-whiz special effects replace information and science.

However, American Experience: 1964 was just great. There's plenty of film from the time, and lots of people who have vivid memories of the year are interviewed. In this show, we hear from Hodding Carter, Todd Gitlin, Stephanie Coontz, Phyllis Schlafly, Jann Wenner, Jon Margolis, Rick Perlstein, Robert Dallek, Robert Caro, Mark Kurlansky, and more. Presented in a roughly chronological sequence, it starts with New Year in Times Square, only weeks after JFK was assassinated. Weeks later, the Beatles would appear on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. From tragedy to giddiness, to tragedy again, as the Civil Rights debate, simmering all along, starts boiling over when Lyndon Johnson makes it his priority.

Hearing from historians and biographers helps put things in perspective, but the testimony from some who were there is what makes you realize how people felt at the time. One civil rights organizer, Dave Dennis, recalls the moment when he moved from calling for peaceful change to calling for change at any price. It's powerful, and the fact that there is film to document his moment of evolution is riveting.
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As usual, I enjoyed this latest PBS American Experience installment. This one seemed especially valuable, though, because it turns out 1964 was a watershed year in American history.

I did think that on the whole it tilted a bit to the left. I support many liberal causes, but I was disappointed that this show wasn't more objective. The documentary made it seem like the only people doing anything significant in 1964 were heroic freedom-fighting liberals and right-wing reactionary racist extremists. This could give the viewer a distorted view of history. Were there any moderates or non-extreme conservatives doing anything worthwhile then? How about a-political people? Artists, writers, scholars, scientists, engineers, others?

Most of the people interviewed seemed to look back to the 1960s with fond nostalgia. That's certainly the note the documentary closed on. I am sympathetic to the many gains we made with civil rights, etc. But personally I think the 60s also started some lamentable trends with terrible consequences - working moms, sexual immorality, individualism at the expense of community, etc. I admire the hippies for seeking something better, but in my opinion in many cases they threw the baby out with the bathwater. Not everything about the 1950s was bad.

Overall, I highly recommend this show. I will show it to my kids.

If you liked this documentary, then American Experience: LBJ is a nice compliment. It tells more about Johnson and how things went later in the decade.


I didn't know this before, but another reviewer pointed out that the Republicans overwhelmingly supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
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For anyone in their late 50's and older this DVD of the "American Experience: 1964" with bring back a lot of memories and probably a wave of nostalgia. For those younger this DVD should prove riveting to watch as an important year in the history of the United States is told. The PBS series "American Experience" has a well known reputation for quality programs and "1964" rates as one of the very best I think. It starts by looking back to that fateful day in Dallas in November when President Kennedy was assassinated and how that event would launch what would occur in the year to come.

It would start of course with Vice President Lyndon Johnson suddenly now the new President and inherits all the important issues that President Kennedy has had to deal with. The biggest domestic issue would be civil rights that would come to the fore front in the country in 1964. With resistance in the south among the politicians to even bring a vote for equal rights to the senate. The documentary does a very good job of showing just how Johnson would go about getting the votes he needed to get the bill passed. He was able to get the votes in a way that Kennedy could never have and it would certainly show the greatest moment in President Johnson's term as he got the 1964 Equal Rights Act passed. Of course the documentary also looks at the early beginnings of what would become Lyndon Johnson's downfall as President as he would draw the country into the Vietnam war beginning with the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

As for the civil rights movement itself "1964" looks at the freedom riders and what they would face as they came in buses from the north to the south and how they would prepare for it.
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