The Most Well-Made Motion Pictures of All Time

by zubidoo | created - 26 May 2011 | updated - 23 Jan 2013 | Public

This is a list of the most well-made motion pictures (short film, feature length and TV) of all time from the beginning of film up to the present. There are still a few "classics" that I haven't seen so this list could potentially grow. Right now, though, these are masterpieces of film that are absolute must-sees.

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1. The General (1926)

Not Rated | 67 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton | Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley

Votes: 66,621

2. Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

98 Metascore

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Votes: 133,661 | Gross: $0.03M

3. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Not Rated | 136 min | Drama, War

A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy

Votes: 51,343 | Gross: $3.27M

4. Modern Times (1936)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

96 Metascore

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford

Votes: 174,964 | Gross: $0.16M

5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

G | 83 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

Exiled into the dangerous forest by her wicked stepmother, a princess is rescued by seven dwarf miners who make her part of their household.

Directors: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, Lucille La Verne, Roy Atwell

Votes: 153,505 | Gross: $184.93M

6. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

PG | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

97 Metascore

When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley | Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains

Votes: 42,095 | Gross: $3.98M

7. You Can't Take It with You (1938)

Not Rated | 126 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold

Votes: 20,002

8. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | 129 min | Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold

Votes: 92,476 | Gross: $9.60M

9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

100 Metascore

Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home in Kansas and help her friends as well.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor | Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr

Votes: 333,343 | Gross: $22.20M

10. Fantasia (1940)

G | 125 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.

Directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, David Hand, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, Corey Burton, Walt Disney

Votes: 78,535 | Gross: $76.41M

11. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama, History

95 Metascore

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin

Votes: 76,580

12. The Great Dictator (1940)

G | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner

Votes: 167,065

13. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Not Rated | 112 min | Comedy, Romance

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey

Votes: 55,577

14. Pinocchio (1940)

G | 88 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.

Directors: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Don Brodie

Votes: 106,839 | Gross: $84.25M

15. Rebecca (1940)

Not Rated | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson

Votes: 104,302

16. Dumbo (1941)

G | 64 min | Animation, Drama, Family

Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

Directors: Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen, John Elliotte | Stars: Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, James Baskett, Herman Bing

Votes: 99,310 | Gross: $1.60M

17. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 343,590 | Gross: $1.59M

18. Bambi (1942)

G | 70 min | Animation, Drama, Family

The story of a young deer growing up in the forest.

Directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Norman Wright | Stars: Hardie Albright, Stan Alexander, Bobette Audrey, Peter Behn

Votes: 109,229 | Gross: $102.80M

19. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical nightclub owner protects an old flame and her husband from Nazis in Morocco.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Votes: 447,586 | Gross: $1.02M

20. Double Indemnity (1944)

Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

95 Metascore

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr

Votes: 118,465 | Gross: $5.72M

21. Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Not Rated | 89 min | Drama

In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

Director: Vittorio De Sica | Stars: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Elena Altieri

Votes: 116,415 | Gross: $0.33M

22. Brief Encounter (1945)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama, Romance

Meeting a stranger in a railway station, a woman is tempted to cheat on her husband.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey

Votes: 29,861

23. The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Film-Noir

The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva

Votes: 28,748 | Gross: $9.46M

24. The Big Sleep (1946)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers

Votes: 70,654

25. Out of the Past (1947)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming

Votes: 27,056

26. The Red Shoes (1948)

Not Rated | 134 min | Drama, Music, Romance

A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Stars: Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Moira Shearer, Jean Short

Votes: 23,027 | Gross: $10.90M

27. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Not Rated | 126 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

99 Metascore

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett

Votes: 95,467 | Gross: $5.01M

28. White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly

Votes: 23,180

29. Night and the City (1950)

Not Rated | 96 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

A small-time grifter and nightclub tout takes advantage of some fortuitous circumstances and tries to become a big-time player as a wrestling promoter.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe

Votes: 9,718 | Gross: $3.60M

30. Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir

A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script, only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson

Votes: 167,130

31. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

PG | 122 min | Drama

Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Votes: 87,154 | Gross: $8.00M

32. An American in Paris (1951)

Not Rated | 114 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

Three friends struggle to find work in Paris. Things become more complicated when two of them fall in love with the same woman.

Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guétary

Votes: 25,606 | Gross: $4.50M

33. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

G | 92 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe

Votes: 69,651

34. The Thing from Another World (1951)

Not Rated | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks | Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness, Robert Cornthwaite

Votes: 21,490

35. High Noon (1952)

PG | 85 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

89 Metascore

A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges

Votes: 86,789 | Gross: $9.45M

36. The Big Heat (1953)

Not Rated | 89 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby

Votes: 19,113

37. On the Waterfront (1954)

Not Rated | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

88 Metascore

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger

Votes: 120,865 | Gross: $9.60M

38. Rear Window (1954)

PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller

100 Metascore

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter

Votes: 371,520 | Gross: $36.76M

39. Seven Samurai (1954)

Not Rated | 207 min | Adventure, Drama

98 Metascore

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki

Votes: 265,601 | Gross: $0.27M

40. East of Eden (1955)

PG | 118 min | Drama

A wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: James Dean, Raymond Massey, Julie Harris, Burl Ives

Votes: 34,412

41. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit".

Director: Robert Aldrich | Stars: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Juano Hernandez

Votes: 15,718

42. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

99 Metascore

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Director: Charles Laughton | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason

Votes: 71,579

43. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

PG-13 | 111 min | Drama

87 Metascore

A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies.

Director: Nicholas Ray | Stars: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus

Votes: 72,012

44. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Not Rated | 80 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan

Votes: 38,525

45. The Searchers (1956)

Passed | 119 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond

Votes: 69,483

46. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War

87 Metascore

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean | Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa

Votes: 175,811 | Gross: $44.91M

47. The Seventh Seal (1957)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe

Votes: 133,218

48. Vertigo (1958)

PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller

8.3