10 of my Favorite Classic Films

classic film

A list of my favorite classic films from the 20th century. No particular order here–just as they came to mind.

  1. Lilies of the Field (1963) You’ll notice pretty quickly that I’m a sucker for Sidney Poitier. This movie, though, is my favorite classic film. There’s religion, injustice, redemption, conflict, resolution, AND gospel music. Oh yeah. It’s that good.
  2. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) Sidney Poitier again, this time with Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn. Made just three years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this was a ground breaking film in its day. See it for that reason, or just see it because you get to see these three Hollywood phenoms on one screen. A real treat.
  3. Heat of the Night (1967) Sidney Poitier was busy in 1967. This film portrays him as Officer Virgil Tibbs who, after being wrongly accused, helps to solve a difficult murder investigation. (An African American man, arrested for no reason; the more things change . . ..) Plot twists and turns make this one a must see.
  4. 12 Angry Men (1957) Henry Fonda stars in this classic that follows the process of a jury deciding a murder case. With the budget of today’s movies being in the billions, it’s hard to imagine that this low-tech movie could hold a viewer’s attention. Give it a try. And prepare to be caught up in the drama of 12 people deciding the fate of one young man. I found it intriguing and compelling.
  5. Harvey (1950) James Stewart plays Elwood P. Dodd, a grown man whose best friend is a pooka in the form of a six-foot tall invisible rabbit. It’s fantastically clever and hilariously funny. Plus, Josephine Hull who plays Dodd’s sister Veta Louise, is magnificent, so much so that she won an Academy Award for Supporting Actress in 1951. I can watch it over and over again. And then watch it again.
  6. Classic FilmsBreakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) I love Audrey Hepburn’s quirky character Holly Golightly in this romantic comedy/drama. Familiar faces pop up throughout the film: Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, and John McGiver for example. This one is a real gem.
  7. Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews. “Do Re Mi.” Austria. If you don’t like this one, you should, so just keep watching it until you do.
  8. Wizard of Oz (1939) Seriously though: 1939! When you watch this classic, keep that in mind. Every special effect you see was done the old-fashioned way: slowly and deliberately with simple equipment and creative ingenuity. Be amazed.
  9. Mary Poppins (1964) This is another one you should see for the shear history of the thing. It received 13 Academy Award Nominations and won five. While it wasn’t the first in which Disney mixed live action and animation, it was early in the process. The technical precision is brilliant. Plus Dick Van Dyke dances with penguins. So there you go.
  10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) Another Dick Van Dyke musical, this movie opened to mixed reviews, but wound up 10th in earnings at the box office that year. Not sure what I’d think of it today, but as a child, I thought it was delightful.

What are your favorite classic films? Your favorite classic actors? Comment below to share your thoughts.

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.