12 best classic movies of all time

Check out our list of the 12 best classic movies of all time. From Psycho to The Godfather, see if your favourites made the list.

Updated on Apr 13, 2022  |  12:51 AM IST |  818.9K
Best Classic Movies
Here's our list of 12 best classic movies of all time.

Attention all classic movie buffs, we are here to give our list of the twelve best classics of all time. Whether you are a novice in need of guidance or a master looking to relive all the best stories once again, we have got you covered. From rom-coms to gangster mob tales, our list will take you through it all.

When it comes to classics, there are some movies that have stood the test of time and come out victorious every take as many movie enthusiasts come back to these greatest of all time films that have made a mark not only on the industry but also on culture. In search of the simplicity and nostalgia, classic films offer, all cinema buffs turn their heads to these films. Given that now the industry caters to the chaotic and utterly complicated lifestyle of modern living, the essence of living can be vicariously lived through classic movies.

All movies in our list are sure to give you a healthy dose of entertainment, nostalgia and satisfaction. However, it is not to say that these films lack depth, it is in fact quite the opposite. Movies on the list below range from the feel-good romantic comedies to contemplative commentaries on the life of that time when the cinema screens lacked a flare of colour on them yet these complex tales are still relevant and that is why they are branded as the G.O.A.T.

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Check out our list of the 12 best classic movies below:

Citizen Kane

This 1941 drama was directed and produced by Orson Welles who also starred as Charles Foster Kane in the film. Welles' first feature film, the tale is still considered by the critics the greatest of all time and the movie has upheld its prestigious title, to say the least. The story revolves around the investigation of the death of Welles' character who is a newspaper mogul. The publishing tycoon's dying words unravel conflicting stories and his scandalous life. The story follows the truth behind the mysterious word he whispered on his deathbed, "Rosebud." Though the movie was a home run with critics and experts, it failed to make much at the box office at the time yet the movie did score nine nominations at the Oscars of which it won one, the Best Writing (Original Screenplay) Award. The movie casts Welles alongside Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, William Alland, Everett Sloane and more.

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Casablanca

A World War II tale, Casablanca follows the life of two lovers, Rick and Ilsa, who are ripped apart by war and years later cross paths in a bar. Rick who is a nightclub owner helps his lost love and her husband. Soon enough, Ilsa's feelings come back to the surface as she finds herself falling in love with her past flame once again. Directed by Michael Curtiz the film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson. The movie though at first did not stand out from the crowd of Hollywood films of 1942, it grew in popularity with time and went on to win the Best Picture honour at the Oscars with two other awards for the director and the screenplay. It still remains one of the most quoted films of all time.

Roman Holiday 

A swoon-worthy 1953 romantic comedy, starring Audrey Hepburn as Ann beside Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley. Peck portrays an American news reporter in Rome who meets Hepburn, a princess, who flees her boring opulent surroundings for a breath of fresh air and freedom. Directed and produced by William Wyler, the movie has remained an all-time favourite for the romance-nuts. Hepburn was lauded for her portrayal of the incognito princess and even awarded the Best Actress award by the Academy. The movie was nominated for ten Oscars that year and took home three including Hepburn's win.

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The Invisible Man

Though most of you would remember this film from school, this classic cannot be left out of this list. Unlike most movies on this list, The Invisible Man is not centred around love or even remotely close to it. This sci-fi horror film from 1933 is based on H.G Wells' novel of the same name. Directed by James Whale, the movie captures the life of Dr Jack Griffin who because of an error in his scientific research renders himself invisible and drives himself to insanity after getting discovered. The film revolves around a very important dilemma of the character which is his dedication to research and the moral compass that strays him further from insanity. Starring Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, and William Harrigan, the film received great commercial success and eventually caught the eye of many critics who lauded the making of the film. 

The Godfather

The initial marvel of Francis Ford Coppola's epic mafia trilogy, this 1972 crime film has been crowned the G.O.A.T many times. Starring now-industry giants, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. The plot follows the Corleone family from 1945 to 1955, focusing on the transition of Vito Corleone's (Brando) youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from a reticent family outsider to a deadly mafia leader. The film launched Al Pacino's stardom to newer heights. In addition to seven other Academy nominations, the film won Best Picture, Best Actor for Brando, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.

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Sunset Boulevard

Directed by Billy Wilder, this film is a 1950 black comedy. A cautionary tale of what might happen when an ageing Hollywood silent movie star's popularity fades. A young wannabe screenwriter is hired by an ageing starlet who wants him to script her comeback movie role in this Billy Wilder film. As he believes he has the upper hand in the relationship, chaos, mystery, and calamity ensue. This film is indeed a true Hollywood classic, starring William Holden as Joe Gillis, Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, Erich von Stroheim plays Max von Mayerling, alongside Nancy Olson, Jack Webb, Lloyd Gough, and Fred Clark in supporting roles. Another hit with the critics the movie earned 11 nominations from the Academy and won 3 of them.

Rebel Without a Cause 

A coming-of-age drama film from 1955 revolving around the lives of emotionally vulnerable and confused suburban, middle-class teenagers. Directed by Nicholas Ray, the movie has remained a must-watch still as it serves as a commentary on the problems of youth and also an alternative image to the urban delinquents. Starring James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood in lead roles, the film follows troubled teen Jim Stark who is meant to have a fresh start after relocating to a different town, but being the new boy in town comes with its own set of challenges. Stark forms a bond with a troubled classmate, Plato, and falls for the local girl Judy while looking for some stability. Judy, on the other hand, is Buzz's girlfriend, the tough guy from the neighbourhood. The new kid's true problems begin when Buzz meets him and dares him to a drag race. The film successfully portrayed the decay of youth and the importance of parenting as well as explored the generational gap between adults and teens of the time.

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Psycho

A 1960 psychological horror thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film is an adaptation of Robert Bloch's 1959 novel of the same name. The film casts Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam, as the plot revolves around an encounter between on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane and bashful motel operator Norman Bates, as well as the events that follow, wherein a private investigator, Marion's lover Sam Loomis, and Marion's sister Lila explore the cause of Marion's disappearance. The film at first did not perform well with the critics but its intense popularity with the audience led to a re-evaluation on the critics' part and the film was eventually nominated for four Academy Awards.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

A film exclusively remembered for Audrey Hepburn's outstanding performance cast her in the role of Holly Golightly. Directed by Blake Edwards, this 1961 film was based on Truman Capote's 1958 novella of the same name. The film starred Hepburn alongside George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam and more. Paul is a striving writer who has recently moved into a new New York apartment. He falls deeply in love with Holly, an eccentric but gorgeous socialite when he meets her. The film is still revered for its New York chic vibe and fashion choices, especially Hepburn's iconic black dress from the opening scene.

City Lights

A silent rom-com from 1931, this classic movie was written, produced, directed and starred by Charlie Chaplin. A movie that will make you fall in love with the quiet charms of Chaplin, this film is considered by critics today Chaplin's greatest work. The plot follows Chaplin's Tramp and his follies as he finds love with a blind girl and forms a tumultuous connection with an alcoholic millionaire. Though at the time of its production, sound movies were on the rise Chaplin decided to make the film in his style and it received rave reviews from the watchers and the critics alike.

It Happened One Night 

Directed by Frank Capra, this 1934 pre-Code romantic comedy stars Clark Gable as Peter Warne, Claudette Colbert as Ellen "Ellie" Andrews, Walter Connolly as Alexander Andrews alongside Roscoe Karns, Jameson Thomas, Alan Hale and more. The screenplay of the film is based on Samuel Hopkins Adams' 1933 short story Nightbus. The film was such a sensation that it won all five major Oscars at the Award ceremony including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The story follows a spoiled aristocrat (Claudette Colbert) who seeks to break free from her father's control while falling in love with a rogue reporter (Clark Gable).

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Some Like It Hot

When it comes to classics, it is impossible to leave out a Marilyn Monroe starrer. A 1959 romantic comedy, this film is directed and produced by Billy Wilder. Starring Monroe beside Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee, Grace Lee Whitney and Nehemiah Persoff. When two artists witness a mob hit, they disguise themselves as women in an all-female band and flee the state, but problems arise. The film was hot with the critics and got nominated for six Academy Awards. It was among the earliest films to include LGBTQ subject matter, keeping aside its impact on the community or the heterosexual reaction to the inclusion, the film suggested ideas of sodomy when at the time it was criminally banned.

Comment down some of your favourites from our compilation of the best classic movies of all time. 

ALSO READ: 12 best Will Smith movies of all time

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