Some things go bad as they age: fruit, meat, my sense of humor, sweaty socks left in a gym locker, etc. Other things, however, only get better with age: wine, , Mozart’s Requiem. Some of the greatest movies ever made fall into that latter category. Over the years, we see most films lose the artistic magnificence that kept audiences coming back for more in favor of CGI-filled blockbusters bursting with explosions. Not to say that the movies we get today aren’t any fun, but the movies from 50 or more years ago are some of the greatest pieces of cinema ever constructed. Many of them are just as fun and exciting to watch today as they were when they were made (I’m assuming, because I am well under 50 years of age). Gathered below are five of the greatest movies made prior to 1966 that have managed to withstand the tests of time and can manage to please and excite a whole new generation of movie lovers. So without further ado, in order of release date, here are five films that have withstood the tests of time!
5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Over the decades, there have been so many spin-offs of the classic story. From the hit Broadway musical Wicked to the 2013 Oz the Great and the Powerful starring James Franco, there always seems to be some . However, none of those reimagined versions have managed to come anywhere close to the magical power that the Wizard of Oz has had on the world. It’s a movie that nearly everybody has seen; little girls the world over want to be Dorothy, teenagers can be heard singing some classic tunes from the movie, and adults everywhere can still recount the first time their parents ever showed them the Wizard of Oz. It’s an interesting story line that never seems to get old. Plus it has some stunning visuals (including that amazing transition from sepia-toned beginning to the Technicolor world of Oz), the wonderful music is always sure to excite, and the characters are so relatable that you almost forget that there are lions, tigers, and bears – Oh, my! – galore. It’s turning a whopping 77 years old next month, marking it as the oldest film on the list, and its truly managed to cement itself as one of the most enduring movies of all time.
4. Ben-Hur (1959)
Jump forward 20 years and you’ve got yourself another true classic. A classic which we will be seeing return to the big screen with . And believe it or not, the classic Ben-Hur we all know and love is also a remake! That’s right, the 1959 film was the first time the movie industry tried to tell the epic historical story that is Ben-Hur. All the way back in 1925 the original novel was adapted into a silent picture titled Ben-Hur. Then in 1959 Hollywood made the wise decision to remake the movie, and now, over 50 years later, we’ll be seeing the remake remade.
Ben-Hur undoubtedly owes its longevity to its own greatness. It was the second highest grossing film of all time at the time of its release. It won a record shattering 11 Academy Awards (a record that has only ever been equaled twice, never surpassed). It’s also been inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry for being a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film.” So be sure to add it to your watch list before the remake hits theaters mid-August!
3. Psycho (1960)
It was difficult for me to choose which Alfred Hitchcock film to include on this list as I love so many of them. From North by Northwest (1959) to Vertigo (1958), Hitchcock always managed to astound. However, there is no doubting the impact Psycho has had on filmmakers that followed. Psycho was truly the first suspense horror movie ever to receive critical acclaim.
At the time, Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white because he felt that the vivid red blood on screen would be too much for audiences to handle. Little did he know that by showing blood on screen, he would singlehandedly usher in a generation of slasher movies and label the famed director as a ‘horror’ director for the rest of his career. For many people, Psycho is the perfect first movie to introduce your children to the horror genre or the perfect film to rewatch on a rainy Saturday evening. It’s a movie filled with tremendous acting, edge of your seat suspense, and some of the greatest (and least expected) twists in cinematic history.
2. 101 Dalmatians (1961)
As with Hitchcock, it was incredibly difficult to choose which Disney classic I wanted to include on the list. Honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, and so many more. However, I finally landed on One Hundred and One Dalmatians because to me it always felt a little bit different than the other Disney classics. It had more heart. More charm. It doesn’t have as many memorable songs as other Disney classics, but the plot and the lovable puppies will always hold a place in the hearts of anybody that happens to see it on their screens.
Cruella de Vil is one of the most dastardly villains we’ve ever seen, thus making her unforgettable. Her venomous schemes will place you on the edge of your seat, waiting in eager anticipation to see if your favorite puppy will make it out of the movie alive (even though you’ve already seen the movie a 101 times and know the answer).
And perhaps a little unknown fact, 101 Dalmatians saved the animation department at Walt Disney Studios. After Sleeping Beauty failed at the box office, Walt considered closing down the animation department but wanted to give it one more shot since animation was what he had built his company on. So they made 101 Dalmatians as a last push effort and, well, the rest is history.
1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a true cinematic masterpiece. The acting is phenomenal, the set design is wonderful, the screenplay is original and engaging, the directing is outstanding, and the music is one of the greatest film scores of all time. Film scoring has really become a lost art; few movies being made today bother hiring a great composer who can make the music impact the moviegoer in such a way that the movies of the past have done. With the same handful of composers covering most of the big movies, movie scores tend to all blend together these days.
But Maurice Jarre, Lawrence of Arabia‘s composer, really understood what it meant to make a film score that not only added to the movie, but helped mark the movie as one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history. Jarre’s film score is up there with the greatest, unmatched but by a few special composers that have managed to achieve the same feat at Jarre. Add the amazing music to the all the other outstanding parts of the film, which all come together in glorious bliss, and you get yourself a movie that will never get old. A film that will stand the test of time for at least another 50 years.
Every generation has those films that will be remembered for decades to come. As it stands right now, these are the films from over 50 years ago that I feel we will continue to remember. All of these films are great watches, so if by some chance you haven’t seen one or more of them yet, you should definitely check them out!
What is you favorite classic film? What other movies would you like to see on this list? Let me know in the comments below!
What’s better than Superheroes? Not much. So I’m bringing you Everything Super. Member of the Rogues Gallery.