AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time by American Film Institute

"The very first edition of AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies is a list of the 100 greatest American films of all time. In 1998, AFI invited more than 1,500 leaders from across the American film community – screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, film historians and critics among them – to choose from a list of 400 nominated films compiled by AFI and select the 100 greatest American movies. The AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies CBS television special originally aired on June 16, 1998."

American Film Institute


Weight: 65


Detractions

  1. Limited to single country or region (-25)
  2. Limited to ~75 years or less (-10)

Films (100)

1. Citizen Kane

Directed by Orson Welles | 119 min | 1941|

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

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2. Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curtiz | PG | 102 min | 1942|

In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

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3. The Godfather

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | R | 175 min | 1972|

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

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4. Gone with the Wind

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | G | 238 min | 1939|

A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War.

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5. Lawrence of Arabia

Directed by David Lean | PG | 216 min | 1962|

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

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6. The Wizard of Oz

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor | 102 min | 1939|

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

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7. The Graduate

Directed by Mike Nichols | 106 min | 1967|

A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

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8. On the Waterfront

Directed by Elia Kazan | 108 min | 1954|

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

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9. Schindler's List

Directed by Steven Spielberg | R | 195 min | 1993|

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

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10. Singin' in the Rain

Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly | 103 min | 1952|

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

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11. It's a Wonderful Life

Directed by Frank Capra | PG | 130 min | 1946|

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

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12. Sunset Boulevard

Directed by Billy Wilder | 110 min | 1950|

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

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13. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Directed by David Lean | PG | 161 min | 1957|

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.

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14. Some Like It Hot

Directed by Billy Wilder | 120 min | 1959|

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

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15. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Directed by George Lucas | PG | 121 min | 1977|

Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.

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16. All About Eve

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz | 138 min | 1950|

An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

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17. The African Queen

Directed by John Huston | PG | 105 min | 1951|

In Africa during WWI, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

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18. Psycho

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | R | 109 min | 1960|

A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

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19. Chinatown

Directed by Roman Polanski | R | 130 min | 1974|

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.

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20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Directed by Milos Forman | R | 133 min | 1975|

A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

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21. The Grapes of Wrath

Directed by John Ford | 129 min | 1940|

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

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22. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | G | 149 min | 1968|

Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

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23. The Maltese Falcon

Directed by John Huston | 100 min | 1941|

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

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24. Raging Bull

Directed by Martin Scorsese | R | 129 min | 1980|

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

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25. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Directed by Steven Spielberg | PG | 115 min | 1982|

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.

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26. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | PG | 95 min | 1964|

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

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27. Bonnie and Clyde

Directed by Arthur Penn | 111 min | 1967|

A somewhat romanticized account of the career of the notoriously violent bank robbing couple and their gang.

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28. Apocalypse Now

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | R | 153 min | 1979|

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

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29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Directed by Frank Capra | 129 min | 1939|

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.

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30. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Directed by John Huston | 126 min | 1948|

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.

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31. Annie Hall

Directed by Woody Allen | PG | 93 min | 1977|

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall.

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32. The Godfather: Part II

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | R | 202 min | 1974|

The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.

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33. High Noon

Directed by Fred Zinnemann | PG | 85 min | 1952|

A marshall, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

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34. To Kill a Mockingbird

Directed by Robert Mulligan | 129 min | 1962|

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

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35. It Happened One Night

Directed by Frank Capra | 105 min | 1934|

A spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

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36. Midnight Cowboy

Directed by John Schlesinger | X | 113 min | 1969|

A naive hustler goes to New York to seek personal fortune but in the process finds himself a new friend.

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37. The Best Years of Our Lives

Directed by William Wyler | 172 min | 1946|

Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

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38. Double Indemnity

Directed by Billy Wilder | 107 min | 1944|

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

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39. Doctor Zhivago

Directed by David Lean | PG-13 | 197 min | 1965|

The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.

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40. North by Northwest

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 136 min | 1959|

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

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41. West Side Story

Directed by Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise | 152 min | 1961|

Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

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42. Rear Window

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 112 min | 1954|

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

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43. King Kong

Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | 100 min | 1933|

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. Then he's captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.

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44. The Birth of a Nation

Directed by D.W. Griffith | 165 min | 1915|

The American Civil War divides friends and destroys families, but that's nothing compared to the anarchy in the black-ruled South after the war.

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45. A Streetcar Named Desire

Directed by Elia Kazan | PG | 122 min | 1951|

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.

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46. A Clockwork Orange

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | X | 136 min | 1971|

In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan.

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47. Taxi Driver

Directed by Martin Scorsese | R | 113 min | 1976|

A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

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48. Jaws

Directed by Steven Spielberg | PG | 124 min | 1975|

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

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49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Directed by William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen | 83 min | 1937|

Snow White, pursued by a jealous queen, hides with the Dwarfs; the queen soon learns of this and prepares to feed her a poison apple.

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50. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Directed by George Roy Hill | M | 110 min | 1969|

Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.

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51. The Philadelphia Story

Directed by George Cukor | 112 min | 1940|

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.

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52. From Here to Eternity

Directed by Fred Zinnemann | 118 min | 1953|

In Hawaii in 1941, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second-in-command are falling in love.

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53. Amadeus

Directed by Milos Forman | R | 160 min | 1984|

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.

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54. All Quiet on the Western Front

Directed by Lewis Milestone | 136 min | 1930|

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

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55. The Sound of Music

Directed by Robert Wise | G | 174 min | 1965|

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

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56. MASH

Directed by Robert Altman | R | 116 min | 1970|

The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and hijinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.

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57. The Third Man

Directed by Carol Reed | 93 min | 1949|

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

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58. Fantasia

Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen | G | 125 min | 1940|

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

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59. Rebel Without a Cause

Directed by Nicholas Ray | PG-13 | 111 min | 1955|

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

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60. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Directed by Steven Spielberg | PG | 115 min | 1981|

Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

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61. Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | PG | 128 min | 1958|

A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

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62. Tootsie

Directed by Sydney Pollack | PG | 116 min | 1982|

Michael Dorsey, an unsuccessful actor, disguises himself as a woman in order to get a role on a trashy hospital soap.

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63. Stagecoach

Directed by John Ford | 96 min | 1939|

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.

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64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Directed by Steven Spielberg | PG | 137 min | 1977|

After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

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65. The Silence of the Lambs

Directed by Jonathan Demme | R | 118 min | 1991|

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

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66. Network

Directed by Sidney Lumet | R | 121 min | 1976|

A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.

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67. The Manchurian Candidate

Directed by John Frankenheimer | 126 min | 1962|

A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.

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68. An American in Paris

Directed by Vincente Minnelli | 113 min | 1951|

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

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69. Shane

Directed by George Stevens | 118 min | 1953|

A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.

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70. The French Connection

Directed by William Friedkin | R | 104 min | 1971|

A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

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71. Forrest Gump

Directed by Robert Zemeckis | PG-13 | 142 min | 1994|

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

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72. Ben-Hur

Directed by William Wyler | G | 212 min | 1959|

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

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73. Wuthering Heights

Directed by William Wyler | 104 min | 1939|

A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.

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74. The Gold Rush

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 95 min | 1925|

A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.

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75. Dances with Wolves

Directed by Kevin Costner | PG-13 | 181 min | 1990|

Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

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76. City Lights

Directed by Charles Chaplin | 87 min | 1931|

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.

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77. American Graffiti

Directed by George Lucas | PG | 110 min | 1973|

A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.

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78. Rocky

Directed by John G. Avildsen | PG | 120 min | 1976|

Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

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79. The Deer Hunter

Directed by Michael Cimino | R | 183 min | 1978|

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

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80. The Wild Bunch

Directed by Sam Peckinpah | R | 145 min | 1969|

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the "traditional" American West is disappearing around them.

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81. Modern Times

Directed by Charles Chaplin | G | 87 min | 1936|

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

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82. Giant

Directed by George Stevens | 201 min | 1956|

Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.

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83. Platoon

Directed by Oliver Stone | R | 120 min | 1986|

A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

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84. Fargo

Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | R | 98 min | 1996|

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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85. Duck Soup

Directed by Leo McCarey | 68 min | 1933|

Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

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86. Mutiny on the Bounty

Directed by Frank Lloyd | 132 min | 1935|

Midshipman Roger Byam joins Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian aboard the HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti. Bligh proves to be a brutal tyrant and, after six pleasant months on Tahiti, ...

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87. Frankenstein

Directed by James Whale | 70 min | 1931|

An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.

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88. Easy Rider

Directed by Dennis Hopper | R | 95 min | 1969|

Two counterculture bikers travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of America.

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89. Patton

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner | GP | 172 min | 1970|

The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton.

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90. The Jazz Singer

Directed by Alan Crosland | 88 min | 1927|

The son of a Jewish Cantor must defy the traditions of his religious father in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz singer.

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91. My Fair Lady

Directed by George Cukor | 170 min | 1964|

A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.


92. A Place in the Sun

Directed by George Stevens | 122 min | 1951|

A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women.

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93. The Apartment

Directed by Billy Wilder | 125 min | 1960|

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

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94. Goodfellas

Directed by Martin Scorsese | R | 146 min | 1990|

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

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95. Pulp Fiction

Directed by Quentin Tarantino | R | 154 min | 1994|

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

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96. The Searchers

Directed by John Ford | 119 min | 1956|

A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.

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97. Bringing Up Baby

Directed by Howard Hawks | 102 min | 1938|

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.

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98. Unforgiven

Directed by Clint Eastwood | R | 131 min | 1992|

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

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99. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Directed by Stanley Kramer | 108 min | 1967|

A couple's attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé.

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100. Yankee Doodle Dandy

Directed by Michael Curtiz | 126 min | 1942|

A film of the life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.

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