These pre-1975 films are the best of the best. Did you favorites make the cut?
Just the classics
Movies made today tend to be saturated with special effects and other expensive elements. Though this has produced some groundbreaking, expertly-crafted films, there are still certain older films that — despite lacking color or extravagant graphics — will continue to remain classics for years to come.
With this in mind, entertainment data site PrettyFamous found the 100 best classic films that have stood the test of time.
To determine which films are "classics," PrettyFamous considered movies that were released in or before 1975. The remaining movies were then ranked according to their Smart Rating. This is a score out of 100 that takes into account a movie's Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer and Audience Score, IMDb rating and votes, Metacritic Metascore and Gracenote rating. Only films with more than 25,000 IMDb votes were eligible for the list. In the case of a tie, the movie with more IMDb votes was favored.
It's important to note that PrettyFamous' Smart Rating typically weighs a movie's U.S. inflation-adjusted box office gross, but the box office data from the beginning of the 20th century is flawed or lacking. PrettyFamous thus decided to modify the Smart Rating to exclude box office numbers, thereby making the Smart Rating more consistent among all classic films.
Here are the top 20.
#20. Singin' in the Rain
Smart Rating: 96.15
Release date (U.S.): 04/10/52
Genre: Musical Comedy
Starring: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor
A silent-film star (Gene Kelly) loves a chorus girl (Debbie Reynolds) who dubs his squeaky-voiced co-star in a 1927 Hollywood talkie.
#19. The Kid
Smart Rating: 96.18
Release date (U.S.): 01/21/21
Genre: Comedy Drama
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance
The Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) raises the abandoned child (Jackie Coogan) of an unwed mother (Edna Purviance).
#18. The Night of the Hunter
Smart Rating: 96.19
Release date (U.S.): 09/29/55
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
The Rev. Harry Powell, a religious fanatic and serial killer, meets condemned murderer Ben Harper in prison, who tells him about hiding $10,000 in stolen loot. After he's released, Powell tracks down Harper's widow, Willa, and her two children.
#17. The Battle of Algiers
Smart Rating: 96.22
Release date (U.S.): 03/13/67
Genre: War, Historical Drama
Starring: Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Brahim Haggiag
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.
#16. City Lights
Smart Rating: 96.27
Release date (U.S.): 01/30/31
Genre: Comedy Drama
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers
A little tramp (Charlie Chaplin) gets money from a drunken millionaire (Harry Myers) for an operation to restore a flower girl's (Virginia Cherrill) sight.
#15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Smart Rating: 96.28
Release date (U.S.): 11/19/75
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif
Mental patients follow Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), the social-misfit hero of Ken Kesey's novel.
#14. North by Northwest
Smart Rating: 96.3
Release date (U.S.): 07/17/59
Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Mistaken identity spurs a foreign spy (James Mason) to pursue an innocent New Yorker (Cary Grant), all the way to Mount Rushmore.
Smart Rating: 96.4
Release date (U.S.): 06/16/60
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
A woman (Janet Leigh) on the run stops at a 12-cabin motel with showers, run by mother-fixated Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).
#12. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Smart Rating: 96.48
Release date (U.S.): 04/01/75
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
King Arthur (Graham Chapman) goes questing on a pretend horse, followed by his lackey clacking coconut shells.
Smart Rating: 96.63
Release date (U.S.): 03/13/27
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich
An industrialist (Alfred Abel) rules a 21st century city where the rich play above and slaves toil below.
Smart Rating: 96.67
Release date (U.S.): 11/26/42
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
A cynical nightclub owner (Humphrey Bogart) protects an old flame (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband (Paul Henreid) from Nazis in Morocco.
#9. The Wizard of Oz
Smart Rating: 96.68
Release date (U.S.): 08/25/39
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Musical
Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
After a tornado whisks Kansas farm girl Dorothy (Judy Garland) to a magic land, she must travel to the Emerald City for help in getting back home.
#8. Rear Window
Smart Rating: 96.73
Release date (U.S.): 09/01/54
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Sitting in a wheelchair, his leg in a cast, a photographer (James Stewart) spies on courtyard neighbors and sees a murder.
#7. Modern Times
Smart Rating: 97.13
Release date (U.S.): 02/05/36
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
In Chaplin's classic comedy of the Machine Age, a bolt tightener (Charlie Chaplin) fails at everything but falling in love.
#6. Lawrence of Arabia
Smart Rating: 97.13
Release date (U.S.): 12/16/62
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Starring: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Controversial British officer T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) learns the culture of Arabs (Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn) and unites their tribes against the Turks.
#5. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Smart Rating: 97.22
Release date (U.S.): 01/29/64
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn
President Muffley (Peter Sellers) and his advisers (George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn) man the Pentagon war room, as planes with bombs head toward Moscow.
#4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Smart Rating: 97.46
Release date (U.S.): 12/20/67
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
A drifter (Clint Eastwood), a bandit (Eli Wallach) and a bounty hunter (Lee Van Cleef) reach a standoff over buried gold.
#3. 12 Angry Men
Smart Rating: 97.67
Release date (U.S.): 04/20/57
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley
One (Henry Fonda) of 12 jurors holds out in the case of a boy from the slums who is accused of killing his father.
#2. Seven Samurai
Smart Rating: 97.82
Release date (U.S.): 11/19/56
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Inaba
A samurai answers a village's request for protection after he falls on hard times. The town needs protection from bandits, so the samurai gathers six others to help him teach the people how to defend themselves.
#1. The Godfather
Smart Rating: 100
Release date (U.S.): 03/15/72
Genre: Drama, Crime Drama
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Crime boss Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and his sons (Al Pacino, James Caan) rule their New York empire with Mafia justice.