School in a Book: Classic Films

I am not a film buff. Still, I don’t want to miss out on the movies that even today, inform our shared cultural conversation. There’s a lot to learn here about love, hope and coming of age–and about writing an awesome screenplay, too.

Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults

  • A Face in the Crowd
  • Airplane!
  • An American In Paris
  • Annie
  • Annie Hall
  • Babes in Toyland
  • Babette’s Feast
  • Bandolero
  • Barcelona
  • Barton Fink
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Bright Eyes
  • Brother Sun, Sister Moon
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Cabaret
  • Casablanca
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Das Boot
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • East of Eden
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • Godspell
  • Frankenstein
  • Cries and Whispers
  • From Here to Eternity
  • How Green is My Valley
  • How the West Was Won
  • Igby Goes Down
  • Il Dulce Vita
  • It Happened One Night
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Lolita
  • Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • National Velvet
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • North by Northwest
  • Oklahoma!
  • Oliver!
  • On the Waterfront
  • Orchestra Rehearsal
  • Jesus Christ, Superstar
  • Les Miserables
  • Lil Abner
  • Radio Days
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Platoon
  • Pollyanna
  • Raise the Red Lantern
  • Rear Window
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Roman Holiday
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Sophie’s Choice
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Strangers on a Train
  • Suspicion!
  • Taxi Driver
  • The 39 Steps
  • The Absent-Minded Professor
  • The African Queen
  • The Apple Dumpling Gang
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • The Birds
  • The Exorcist
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • The Lady Vanishes
  • The Last Days of Disco
  • The Lives of Others
  • The Lord of the Flies
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance
  • The Music Man
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  • 8 ½
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps
  • The Three Faces of Eve
  • The Train
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown
  • Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Vertigo
  • West Side Story
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • White Christmas
  • Wild Strawberries
  • You Can’t Take It With You
  • Zelig

Modern Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults

  • American Beauty
  • American Psycho
  • American Splendour
  • Wild at Heart
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Being John Malcovich
  • Chinatown
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Clue
  • Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Fight Club
  • Four Rooms
  • Gili
  • Pleasantville
  • The Truman Show
  • Naked Lunch
  • Moonstruck
  • Gummo
  • High Art
  • Jackie Brown
  • Kill Bill Volume I & Kill Bill Volumee II
  • Little Women
  • M
  • Man on the Moon
  • March of the Penguins
  • Meet Joe Black
  • Memento
  • Metropolitan
  • Lost Highway
  • Parenthood
  • Parents
  • Pi
  • Primer
  • Psycho
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Summer of My German Soldier
  • Run Lola Run
  • Sabrina
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Secretary
  • Swimming Pool
  • The Following
  • The Gladiator
  • The Princess and the Warrior
  • The Princess Bride
  • To Live
  • True Romance
  • Adaptation
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight

Classic Children’s Films

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Return to Oz
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Labyrinth
  • The Neverending Story
  • Goonies
  • The Karate Kid
  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (original version)
  • Ghostbusters (original version)
  • The Muppet Movie (original version)
  • The Lord of the Rings series
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series
  • The Harry Potter series
  • The Anne of Green Gables series
  • The Anne of Avonlea series
  • Bambi
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Lion King
  • Cinderella
  • Aladdin
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Snow White
  • Pinocchio
  • Dumbo
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Parent Trap (original version)
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Benji
  • Old Yeller
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Hugo
  • The Red Balloon
  • The Jungle Book
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • The Adventures of Milo and Otis
  • Totoro
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • Spirited Away
  • Finding Nemo
  • Frozen
  • Moana
  • Babe
  • Freaky Friday
  • Big
  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone 2
  • Matilda
  • The Incredibles
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Wall-E
  • The Sandlot
  • Enchanted
  • The Iron Giant
  • Tangled
  • A Little Princess
  • Escape to Witch Mountain
  • Pete’s Dragon

Classic Christmas Films

  • A Christmas Carol
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • A Christmas Story
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol

Classic and Modern Classic Documentaries

  • 13th
  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • 306 Hollywood
  • 500 Nations (1995)
  • 500 Years Later (2005)
  • A Lego Brickumentary (2014)
  • Abacus
  • Amanda Knox
  • Being Elmo
  • Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
  • Bisbee ’17
  • Black Gold (2006)
  • Blackfish
  • Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (2004)
  • Bowling for Columbine (2002)
  • Breakthrough
  • Broken Rainbow (1985)
  • Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
  • Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
  • Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary (2008)
  • Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Chernobyl
  • Citizen Four
  • Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey
  • Crumb (1994)
  • Devil’s Playground (2002)
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun?
  • Earth (2007)
  • Empire (1964)
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Faces Places
  • Food Matters
  • Food, Inc.
  • Free Solo
  • GasLand (2010)
  • Gates of Heaven (1978)
  • Gaza Strip (2002)
  • Ghosts of Cité Soleil (2006)
  • Going Clear
  • Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)
  • Good Hair (2009)
  • Grey Gardens
  • Grizzly Man (2005)
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)
  • Hell House (2001)
  • Herb and Dorothy
  • Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977)
  • Hoop Dreams
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • Human Planet (2011)
  • I.O.U.S.A. (2008)
  • Icarus
  • In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914)
  • Inside Deep Throat (2005)
  • Invisible Children (2006)
  • Iris
  • Jaguar (1968)
  • Jesus Camp (2006)
  • Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • King Corn
  • Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
  • Lake of Fire (2006)
  • Las Hurdes (1933)
  • Life Itself
  • Life and Debt (2001)
  • Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
  • Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
  • March of the Penguins (2005)
  • McQueen
  • Microcosmos (1996)
  • Minding the Gap
  • Mojados: Through the Night (2004)
  • Momentum Generation
  • Murderball (2005)
  • Nanook of the North (1922)
  • Night Mail (1936)
  • Night and Fog (1956)
  • No End in Sight (2007)
  • Paper Clips (2004)
  • Paradise Lost
  • Paragraph 175 (2000)
  • Paris Is Burning (1990)
  • Planet Earth
  • Powaqqatsi (1988)
  • Primary (1960)
  • RBG
  • Restrepo (2010)
  • Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (2001)
  • Rize (2005)
  • Room 237
  • Salesman (1969)
  • Sans Soleil (1983)
  • Scared Straight! (1978)
  • Searching for Sugar Man
  • Shirkers
  • Shoah (1985)
  • Sicko
  • Sour Grapes
  • Spellbound
  • Stop Making Sense (1984)
  • Strong Island
  • The Act of Killing
  • The Arrival of a Train (1896)
  • The Atomic Cafe (1982)
  • The Barkley Marathons
  • The Celluloid Closet (1995)
  • The Cove
  • The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
  • The Future of Food
  • The Gleaners & I (2000)
  • The Hour of the Furnaces (1968)
  • The Keepers
  • The Last Race
  • The Look of Silence
  • The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936)
  • The Rachel Divide
  • The Silent World (1956)
  • The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)
  • The Staircase
  • The Thin Blue Line
  • The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
  • The War Game (1965 TV Movie)
  • The Wolfpack
  • This Is It (2009)
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman
  • Titicut Follies (1967)
  • Trekkies (1997)
  • Triumph of the Will (1935)
  • Undefeated
  • Waiting for ‘Superman’ (2010)
  • Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005)
  • War Dance (2007)
  • Wasteland (2010)
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?

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5 comments

  1. Some of those are a little ‘rough” perhaps for children in a recommended list.
    However, more than half in the children’s section I love to watch – “Princess Bride” and “Labyrinth” are great and one of my very favorite movies is “The Little Mermaid”.

  2. Mollie Great Movie list !!!! I also love Spirit. It is from Disney and tells the Story of the Old West. Cinema Paradiso it is an Italian movie. I love La la land and Green card with Gerad De pardiew. I am not sure how to write his last name.
    Pirates of Caribean . The Tourist with angelina Jolie and Johnny Deep.

    Great movie list !

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