From black-and- white musicals to war epics and everything in between, the classic movies of the past century have stood the test of time and remain some of the most beloved movies of all time. Over time, the meaning of classic movies has changed, with the term now commonly associated with films from the 50s through the 80s. With strong storylines and unforgettable characters, these classic movies have entertained viewers throughout the years.

In this article, we’ll explore the best classic movies of all time. We’ll look at timeless classics from different genres, as well as the common movie techniques that made each of these movies memorable. As many of these movies are still considered today to be classic among fans and experts alike, we’ll also look at how they remain relevant in today’s cinema.

Definition of a Classic Movie 

What exactly constitutes a classic movie? The common definition is a film that has themes, characters and stories relevant to viewers in any generation. Classic movies can be drama, comedy, musicals or action-packed epics. A hallmark of a classic movie is its appeal to movie fans of any age.

In addition to being timeless and relevant, classic movies often include a unique technique or style, what film scholars have coined an auteur—French for “author.” An auteur style may be defined as a director’s way of uniquely telling stories, often through certain themes, costume, props and acting styles. Classic movies often feature an auteur style throughout their entire film.

The Top War Movies of All Time 

The war-film genre has produced some of the most culturally significant classic movies, from Saving Private Ryan to A Bridge Too Far. These films, along with many lesser-known ones, have kept a strong sense of relevance with their realistic portrayal of the bravery and resilience of war heroes. Classic war-movies typically depict the horrors of war and its impact on those involved in the conflict.

Here are some of the best war movies of all time:

  1. The Longest Day (1962).
  2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
  3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
  4. Patton (1970).
  5. Platoon (1986).
  6. The Great Escape (1963).
  7. The Guns of Navarone (1961).
  8. The Thin Red Line (1998).
  9. Full Metal Jacket (1987).
  10. Saving Private Ryan (1998).

These classic war movies feature auteur styles and techniques such as wide-angle shots, panoramic scenes, slow motion, and motifs like the ever present close up of a soldier. Characters portrayed range from courageous heroes and fearless leaders, to fallen heroes and ruthless villains. These movies are filled with intriguing and emotional stories that explore the fear, loyalty and tragedies of war.

The Most Iconic Musicals of All Time

Musicals are an important part of the classic movie tradition, providing entertainment with stellar musical performances, dance routines, and choreography. From The Sound of Music to Mary Poppins, these musicals have become memorable classics for all generations to enjoy.

Here are some of the most iconic musicals of all time:

  1. The Sound of Music (1965).
  2. West Side Story (1961).
  3. Cabaret (1972).
  4. Mary Poppins (1964).
  5. Hair (1979).
  6. Grease (1978).
  7. Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
  8. My Fair Lady (1964).
  9. Fiddler on the Roof (1971).
  10. The King and I (1956).

These classic musicals feature unique auteur styles and techniques that evoke emotion, such as close-up shots of eyes and hands, wide angle views of dance sequences and vibrant, technicolor backgrounds. From their memorable song and dance performances to the intense drama and romance in their stories, these classic musicals remain timeless.

The Best Classic Comedies of All Time

We can all appreciate a good laugh, and the classic comedy genre has provided plenty of those moments over the years. From horror spoofs to slapsticks and rom coms, these classic comedies have explored different styles of comedy and often become unforgettable classics.

Here are some of the best classic comedies of all time:

  1. The Producers (1967).
  2. Some Like It Hot (1959).
  3. Young Frankenstein (1974).
  4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
  5. Airplane! (1980).
  6. Blazing Saddles (1974).
  7. Groundhog Day (1993).
  8. Caddyshack (1980).
  9. The Naked Gun (1988).
  10. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978).

These classic comedies feature auteur styles with clever dialogue, physical comedy, satire, and witty self-awareness. With iconic characteristics that are still quoted in today’s era, these comedies remain relevant among generations.

Classic Movies Today 

Classic movies remain relevant with film fans today, often thanks to the auteur styles that made these titles memorable over the decades. Streaming services, special editions and even remakes have ensured these classic movies maintain a place in today’s cinema culture.

From horror remakes to blockbuster superhero adventures, classic movies have evolved with the times. But in many respects, the same themes, characters and stories have endured, making classic movies of today just as memorable as those of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Classic movies span many genres and eras, with some having stood the test of time by remaining relevant after decades. With masterful storylines, colorful characters, and auteur techniques, these best classic movies of all time have entertained generations. Through remakes and streaming services, these classic movies continue to provide the same entertainment and nostalgia as they do when they first launched. With hundreds of classic movies spanning many genres, these timeless titles will remain infamous and beloved into the future.