15 Classic Movie Recommendations

When I was a kid, Dad always put on classic movies. We groaned and hemmed and hawed, but then eventually learned to appreciate the proper tap-dancing or the real stunts or the expert storytelling.

So here I am to share 15 of my favorite classic movies with you. Pull out your notepad, I expect your to-watch list will be growing significantly. (Or, at least I hope so.) 😉

In no particular order:

1. The Court Jester

You’ll soon learn from this list of recommendations that I have a weakness for the actor Danny Kaye. He’s brilliant and hilarious! He often wrote his own riddles and tongue twisters for his roles and this one has some of the best. You’ll be trying to say “The flagon with the dragon has the pellet with the poison, and the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true” five times fast. Just wait until they throw in the “vessel with the pestle.”


2. High Noon

My dad just introduced me to this movie last month and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s old, there’s some cheesiness, and it’s a Western…but the storytelling and the tension. People. The tension.

It’s about a gang that is arriving on the train in town in one hour. And the sheriff is trying to wrangle some men to stand up and fight…but the clock’s a tickin’ and no one’s volunteering.


3. The Great Race

Requirement: You must watch this one at least 5 times to catch all the little things and the awesomeness. If you don’t love this movie…I judge you.

It’s you’re typical hero versus villain. White versus black. Clean versus grimy. Now just throw in a car race around the world, a ridiculous woman reporter, and the best acting of Jack Lemmon you’ve ever seen.


4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Did you know there’s an old Secret Life of Walter Mitty prior to the Ben Stiller one? It’s totally different–this one is old and it’s a huge comedy. I love it and can quote pretty much every line to you. Now you just need to watch it so you understand my quotes. 😉

Also, it’s about a daydreamer who works at a comic book company and mixes imaginary murders with real ones. That’s all.


5. 12 Angry Men

This is another one–like High Noon. The storytelling is brilliant. But, you have to go into this movie with the right mindset. It’s a movie based solely on dialogue. In fact, all but one scene are filmed in the same room. You have to be ready to enter the conversation, to sit and think and form your opinion and become a jury in the courtroom. It’s SO good. In fact, I might just go rewatch it right now. 😉


6. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Musical, dancing, western-ish, comedy. How can you say no? This movie is best watched at Christmas when it’s snowing and you have tea/hot cocoa/coffee/eggnog.


7. Singing in the Rain

Musicals! If you like musicals at all, you MUST watch this. It’s one of the originals. In fact, if you like musicals I’m shocked and appalled that you haven’t seen this one. 😉

I haven’t seen it in ages, but I can still sing the entire “Moses supposes his toeses are roses” sequence. 😉 Oh, and did I mention that I wanted to be Donald O’Connor when I grew up? The humor and singing and tap dancing and plot…just….*happy sigh*


8. The Magnificent Seven

Any western-lovers out there? Well then, let’s get all the big name actors of the 1960s and put them together in a save-the-town, fight-the-badguys story. This is NOT the recent remake with Denzel Washington or Chris Pratt (which I refuse to see because #loyaltyissues). THIS was made in the 60s and it’s brilliant. Tragic. Forever burned on your heart whether you want it to be or not. Also…Steve McQueen. Need I say more?



9. Swiss Family Robinson

Adventure! Tree-houses! Battles! This is like Home Alone meets Robinson Crusoe. Only better. 😛 You’ll learn how to ride ostriches and catch lions and defend yourself from pirates and open coconuts. Even though it’s a story about a family of five (all sons), my sister and I watched it on repeat. Ironically enough, my parents had recorded it on VHS but the ending got cut off so I never knew how it ended until I was an adult! (Fun fact: if hubby were a movie, he would be this one.)


10. Fiddler on the Roof

This is my favorite musical and one of my favorite movies of all time. If I try to go into details it will turn into a whole other blog post. Quick, stop me before I begin–

*singing* “TRADITIOOOOOOON!” *da dada da da da, da, da* “Tradition!”

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I could watch this movie a hundred times a year. (Okay, that might be an exaggeration. But, like, a lot.)


11. Modern Times

Raise your hand if you even know who Charlie Chaplin is. If not. Watch this. If so. Watch this. (You probably already have.) It’s a silent black-and-white film that’s a comedy. And the music is lovely–[insert humming here].

12. Roman Holiday

Because Audrey Hepburn is adorable. And Gregory Peck is Gregory Peck. And Rome.

think this was Audrey’s first movie. (*is too lazy to actually google it*) At least that’s what my sister said (and she knows all.) I know that she’s really young in this movie and it completely swept the movie-going world away. She captured our hearts and never let go. Oh Audrey….


13. Pollyanna

Even though the ending of this movie was a little, well, let’s say too memorable for me as a kid, this is the movie that taught me what optimism was. It made me want to look on the bright side of everything (which, I guess, means the movie did its job.) I also adored Hayley Mills (though she looks kind of creepy on this cover. Just sayin’…)



14. The Quiet Man

Did you know that John Wayne played in a movie that wasn’t a Western? Here you have it…Irish John Wayne. I remember when I watched it as a kid I thought it was kind of weird. But when I watched it again as an adult (and actually knew what was going on) I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s so cheesy and weird and funny and random. I baked hubby a roasted chicken that very night because #wifeystuff. So you never know, this movie might result in an awesome dinner. Watch it and tell me what you think. 😛


15. Mary Poppins

Who doesn’t like Mary Poppins? Who hasn’t seen it? Anyone? Hubby hadn’t seen Mary Poppins until we were married!! Can you believe it? It’s the ultimate movie for imagination (even though the bank part always really scared me. Which is probably because they talked about math.)

This movie made me want to be a chimney sweep when I grew up. I’m also pretty sure it is the cause of all the times my big sis and I snuck out onto the roof of our house in search of smoke stairs. Yup.

So…how many of these have you seen?

And of the 15, which one (or twenty) have just made your to-watch list?




About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Out of these 15 movies I’ve only watched 2. I’d actually forgotten there was a pollyanna movie. I’m curious, have you read the book? And Mary Poppins of course. It looks like I have plenty of movies to add to my to watch list.

  2. I’ve seen 3: Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, and Swiss Family Robinson. All classic Disney movies…my family had (well, has) a thing for those!

    With three brothers growing up, we spent more time watching classic John Wayne westerns and Lone Ranger and other 1/2 hour westerns. Any wonder we ended up with a “western” fort in our barn? 😉

    Guess now that I’m adult and out of the house, I’d better catch up on all those other classics I missed. 🙂

  3. Loved this post!! I’ve seen about half of these movies, and now you’ve got me interested in the rest. (no Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Or Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid??)

  4. I had parents just like yours! And now I do the same thing to my daughter! The three currently on my list to watch with her and my nieces soon are: Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Sound of Music, & Bye-Bye Birdie.

    I adore The Court Jester – one of the most hilarious movies ever. And Angela Landsbury is sooo gorgeous! “Don’t snap at me!” “I’ll snap if I choose.” “You won’t snap!” “I will snap!” lol I love Danny Kaye’s movies (especially A Song is Born & The Five Pennies) but my favorite is Wonder Man where he keeps getting possessed by the ghost of his twin.

    The Great Race!! Too many people have never seen this one and it is sheer comedic perfection. “Push the button, Max!!” “Brandy! Brandy! Rum? I never mix my pies!” Now I want to see this one again – the bar fight, the pie fight, the snow storm. 😀

    And 12 Angry Men is excellent. 7 Brides for 7 Brothers is my favorite musical. I got to see a live performance by a Catholic school last year and they did an excellent job. And yes, Singin’ in the Rain is definitely a classic (but is it heresy that I usually FF Gene Kelly’s long dance sequences?) – Donald O’Connor is great – I like his Francis series, too.

    I liked the Pollyanna movie enough to read the book – and several sequels.
    I think The Quiet Man is the only one I haven’t seen. I just watched the trailer – looks interesting though he seems to drag her around an awful lot…

    • Oh – they aren’t as old but I would add It’s a Mad, Mad World and The Russians are Coming. Oh – and they are lesser known but Darling, How Could You? and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek are hilarious. (I also love the old Martin & Lewis movies.)

    • Oooh, I need to rewatch The Sound of Music. It’s been so long!

      YES! THE COURT JESTER AND THE GREAT RACE! I’m always a loner with The Great Race. You and I are now best friends. xD

      The Quiet Man is…interesting. I think the main reason I enjoy it is simply because I grew up on it. If you watch it, tell me what you think. 😛

  5. I’ve seen 10! We are definitely a classic movie family. 🙂 I’ve heard of The Quiet Man and The Magnificent Seven, but haven’t ever watched them. Modern Times, The Great Race, and 12 Angry Men are all new to me. I’m familiar with actors from all of them 🙂

    I’m going to admit that I’m not a huge western fan 😛 High Noon about put me to sleep and I love Gary Cooper! Big Country with Gregory Peck is literally about the only western I like. I guess I should try more 😉 I love allll the other ones you listed so so much!!

    Have you seen Arsenic and Old Lace or Rear Window?

    • I’m not a huge western fan either, but my dad was so excited to show me High Noon I couldn’t help but love it! xD

      Yes, Arsenic and Old Lace is HILARIOUS! That one’s a classic in our household. I haven’t seen Rear Window, though. But I’ve heard a lot about it.

  6. I’ve seen Mary Poppins, Swiss Family Robinson, and Pollyanna. I reaaaally want to see Fiddler on the Roof! My dad loves that movie. And some of these others look good, too. I haven’t heard of most of them.

    I’m wondering, do The Parent Trap (with Hayley Mills or however you spell her name) and The Sound of Music count as classics? I adore both of those!

  7. I LOVE THE COURT JESTER!!!! And of course, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Marry Poppins are old favourites, too. 🙂

    I might’ve heard or once seen all the rest. I’ll have to look them up! 🙂


  8. I have seen twelve of these and I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. Mag7 is my favorite movie of all time and I haven’t seen the remake either…the original is PERFECTION and how on earth could anyone improve on that???

    This post made me so happy. 🙂 And it’s wonderful to meet a fellow lover-of-Westerns.


  9. Have you ever seen On Borrowed Time? A black and white movie. An old man traps death and keeps him prisoner in a tree. A very cool movie.

  10. Aha. I’ve watched seven of these. And Danny Kaye is one of my favorites, too. It’s why I like White Christmas so much. Bing Crosby AND Danny Kaye? Um, yes.

    Singin’ in the Rain is probably my favorite classic movie. *has had a silly grin since seeing it on the list*

  11. I’ve seen six of these, The court Jester was so good! I may have also seen seven brides for seven brothers but I can’t remember.

  12. The bank part of Mary Poppins really terrified me, too!!! I still don’t like it! XD

    Pollyanna is another one of my favorites. (and yes, she does look creepy on the cover). Funny thing…I’ve been called the “glad girl” for the majority of my life! Hopefully I’m not as annoying as Pollyanna is. 😉

    I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof and Swiss Family Robinson. Both of which I NEED to watch again. And I absolutely have to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

    So…I’ve seen 4 of the 15. 😉

    • What a huge compliment to be known as the “glad girl!” Hubby and I just rewatched Pollyanna last night and I didn’t find her annoying at all!


  13. I’ve only seen one–Mary Poppins. 😛 but I’ve seen a snippet of Singing in the Rain and would love to see the whole movie. Other than old Disney animated movies, I haven’t seen a lot of older movies. I think that needs to change!
    Have you seen Hello Dolly? I love the music and dancing in that movie, especially cause a couple songs from it were used in Wall-E. 🙂

  14. What a fun list! I think I’ve seen most of these, but I found a few to look for next time I’m in the mood for a classic.

  15. I’ve seen 8/15!! Wow! I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, it made me laugh! Have you seen My Fair Lady with Audrey hepburn?

  16. its.eliza.noel

    Like almost all of these are my favorite movies!!! Especially Walter Mitty, 7 Brides and Court Jester ( I love Danny Kaye!).

  17. I absolutely loved “Mary Poppins!” Just added “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” to my wishlist (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw9uYIgMno9AfZk807HPKVM0MkoGQmv7l). Thanks for the suggestion!


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