We’ve all been there: you hear that a classic movie is meant to be a masterpiece, but when you put it on, you just can’t get into it. The dialogue almost feels like it’s in a different language, the effects are dated, and the performances seem contrived. Some movies, while great in their time, are just not very accessible to modern audiences.
However, Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which classic movies are the most enjoyable for people who don’t usually like old films. These movies have aged well and are great entry points for those interested in what classic cinema has to offer.
10. ‘Casablanca’ (1942)
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a cynical American expatriate who runs a nightclub in the Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II. His life changes after he crosses paths with Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the woman who broke his heart. Among the most famous films of all time, Casablanca is particularly well-known for its iconic quotes, such as “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and “We’ll always have Paris.”
Redditor MartsonD said many viewers might feel familiar with the film even if they haven’t watched it because it’s had such a big influence on cinema. “‘As Time Goes By’ has been used in the WB logo for years now. People should recognize the importance of that movie to the studio,” they said. “Nazi bad guys, the Marseillaise scene, Rick and Elsa’s goodbye, all of that should be recognizable to a modern moviegoer.”
9. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ (1962)
This drama, based on the novel by Harper Lee, stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the 1930s American South who defends Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a Black man falsely accused of rape. The film is told through the eyes of Atticus’ young daughter, Scout (Mary Badham). It deals with important themes of racism, prejudice, and injustice, and Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch has become a symbol of integrity and courage in the face of adversity.
” I was happy to introduce my daughter to To Kill a Mockingbird at a young age because I wanted to take every opportunity to show her that a brave little girl is something special, and Scout was just perfect,” said user freedomhighway. “And I admit, getting a life lesson on how to deal with racism from Gregory Peck was too good to pass up in my daughter’s education too.”
8. ’12 Angry Men’ (1957)
Another classic courtroom drama, Sidney Lumet‘s 12 Angry Men revolves around a group of 12 jurors who are tasked with deciding the fate of a young man accused of murder. The film takes place almost entirely in one room, as the jurors engage in intense and often heated discussions about the case. The ensemble cast includes big names of the ’50s, like Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and Jack Warden.
“It’s been parodied or just copied enough in TV shows that they may be similar enough and just never seen the original,” said user wildadragon. “Yeah, can confirm this movie totally captivated my high school government class full of seniors ready to be out of there, so I think that speaks to its power,” said Redditor Technicalhotdog.
7. ‘Bringing Up Baby’ (1938)
Bringing Up Baby is a screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn as Susan Vance, a flighty socialite who becomes entangled with paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant). The plot centers around a leopard named Baby, which Susan is trying to take care of and which David needs for his research.
The film is known for its witty banter, physical comedy, and zany plot twists. “Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant were wonderful together. It has so many classic lines and hilarious scenes,” said user Relative_Mulberry_71.
6. ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954)
This masterpiece from Akira Kurosawa centers on a group of samurai warriors in 16th-century Japan who are hired by a village to protect them from a band of marauding bandits. It stars Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchiyo, a wild and unpredictable samurai, and Takashi Shimura as Kambei Shimada, the leader of the group.
The movie is known for its action sequences, stunning cinematography, and compelling characters, inspiring countless movies. “It’s a super epic movie with a sensibility taken by more modern movies,” said Redditor clayphish.
5. ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957)
In this war film directed by David Lean, Alec Guinness plays Colonel Nicholson, a British officer captured by the Japanese during World War II and forced to work on a bridge over the River Kwai. Nicholson becomes increasingly obsessed with completing the bridge, despite its potential use by the enemy.
Most modern viewers will know Guinness primarily for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, so seeing him in such a different story might be interesting. “A younger Sir Alec Guinness will help bridge the time gap (pun totally intended) by being a recognizable actor,” said Redditor yax51.
4. ‘The Third Man’ (1949)
The Third Man is a noir film directed by Carol Reed, featuring Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, an American writer who travels to post-World War II Vienna to visit his friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). When Martins discovers that Lime has been killed in a mysterious accident, he begins to investigate and soon finds himself caught up in a web of deceit and corruption.
“Some of the best atmospheric cinematography ever put to screen. Plus, Orson Welles just being awesome,” said user aurum_jrg. “This film is a masterpiece in every respect. Special mention to the music by Anton Karas” added Redditor hairycareyweary. “The Ferris wheel scene is one of my favorite pieces of cinema of all time. It’s so tense and so beautifully shot, and the dialog is natural and packed with nuance,” said user awrinkleinsprlinker.
3. ‘Bullitt’ (1968)
This crime thriller follows Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen), a San Francisco police detective who is tasked with protecting a witness in a high-profile case. When the witness is assassinated, Bullitt sets out to uncover the conspiracy behind the murder and soon finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the perpetrators.
McQueen delivers a charismatic and understated performance, and the film also features strong supporting turns by Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn, and Robert Duvall. “Bullitt is one of the all-time action/crime movies with one of the best chase scenes of all time,” said user winkman. “Steve McQueen is cold as ice.”
2. ‘Paths of Glory’ (1957)
This minor masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, a French army officer who leads his troops in a doomed and senseless attack on a heavily fortified German position during World War I. When the attack fails, three soldiers are chosen at random to face a court-martial and be executed for cowardice. Dax, who knows that the soldiers were not at fault, must fight against a corrupt and ruthless military system to save their lives.
“Paths of Glory is amazing,” said Redditor this-is-very. “It accomplishes a lot in a short runtime. It includes a massive action scene, an angering antagonist, a fun courtroom drama part with an outcome impossible to predict, and there are unusual elements of cinematography. Very dynamic and engaging.”
1. ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954)
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a former boxer turned longshoreman who becomes embroiled in a corrupt union led by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). When Terry witnesses the murder of a fellow dockworker, he is torn between his loyalty to the union and his conscience. With the help of Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), Terry sets out to bring the corruption to light and take down the powerful union boss,
“It’s moving, it’s cool, it’s perfectly paced, written, acted, and shot. And it’s thrilling and intense as well as heartfelt and powerful. A perfect movie, in my opinion, and an incredibly entertaining/engaging one to boot,” said user Get_Jiggy41. “That was my gateway to enjoying old black & white movies,” agreed Redditor TheDawg359.