The 75 movies below are great ones for parents to introduce to their teens. Many of these movies were introduced to me by my parents many years ago and I’ve passed them on to my teens. Not of all these movies would be considered “Classic” in the real sense of the term, but they are well-loved movies from over the years that teenagers should enjoy.
75 Classic Movies to Recommend to your Teens (in alphabetical order)
- 12 Angry Men (1957) 12 jurors get angry while trying to reach a unanimous verdict.
- 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke and HAL.
- A Star is Born (1954) The best of the 3, Judy Garland is fantastic, an extremely moving musical.
- Airport (1970) The 1st of the big all-star disaster movies and the basis for the airplane parodies.
- All of Me (1984) Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin share a body in one of Steve Martin’s best performances ever.
- American Graffiti (1973) Teenage life in the 60s directed by George Lucas.
- An Officer and A Gentleman (1982) Richard Gere, Debra Winger, and an “Up Where We Belong” ending.
- Animal House (1978) College frat boys, John Belushi and gross-out comedy.
- Back to the Future (1985) Teenage Michael J. Fox drives a DeLorean back in time and meets teenage parents.
- Beverly Hills Cop (1984) Detroit cop, Eddie Murphy, becomes a Beverly Hill Cop and Eddie Murphy becomes a super star.
- Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott science fiction film starring Harrison Ford.
- Body Heat (1981) Film Noir with William Hurt and a very young and sexy Kathleen Turner.
- Breaking Away (1979) Coming of age with bicycles in Indiana.
- Brian’s Song (1971) Baseball, cancer and a movie men will admit to crying during.
- Bull Durham (1988) Minor League Baseball, sex and comedy with Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the 1890s west, robbing banks, running from the law to Boliva and riding bikes to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”.
- Casablanca (1942) Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman always had Paris.
- Clockwork Orange (1971) Futuristic world with violence, teen slang and the Ludovico technique.
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Another blockbuster Steven Spielberg film of aliens coming to Earth, starring Richard Dreyfuss.
- Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) Sissy Spacek becomes Loretta Lynn and wins an Oscar.
- Dances with Wolves (1990) Avatar in the old west.
- Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) Madonna and Rosanna Arquette in a comedy adventure on mistaken identity in NYC. Lots of fun.
- Diner (1982) Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser and Ellen Barkin before we knew them, in their 20s in Baltimore.
- Dr. Strangelove (1964) Stanley Kubrick movie in which a crazy general orders a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union and every one else tries to stop it.
- Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers, Fredonia and a famous mirror scene.
- Field of Dreams (1989) Kevin Costner built it and we all came.
- Flashdance (1983) What a feeling it gave us watching Jennifer Beals trying to become a dancer.
- Funny Girl (1968) Barbara Streisand doesn’t let anyone rain on her parade.
- Ghostbusters (1984) Who you gonna call? Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.
- Gone With the Wind (1939) Clark Gable is Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh is Scarlett O’hara, Civil War, Tara and “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a Damn.”
- Good Morning Vietnam (1987) Robin Williams in comedy/drama as a DJ in Saigon during Vietnam War.
- Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murry repeats the same day over and over and over and over. Possibly his best comedy.
- Harvey (1950) James Stewart and a Giant Rabbit.
- Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg + shark = first blockbuster movie.
- Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Meryl Streep walks out on husband Dustin Hoffman and son. He fights for custody of the child. Great father/son bonding.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Spoof of the legends of King Arthur in a way only Monty Python could.
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart and the corruption of American government.
- My Fair Lady (1964) Audrey Hepburn lipsyncs as Eliza Doolittle but is fabulous anyway in this film based on Pygmalion.
- On the Waterfront (1954) Marlon Brando “coulda been a contender”.
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Jack Nicholson vs. Nurse Ratched in a mental institution.
- Planet of the Apes (1968) Charlton Heston is an astronaut in the future who lands on a strange planet where apes rule.
- Pretty Woman (1990) Julia Roberts goes shopping and becomes a megastar.
- Private Benjamin (1980) Goldie Hawn plays a spoiled young women who gets duped into joining the army.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Action adventure film, 1st of the franchise directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, searching for the Ark of the Covenant.
- Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart as a man confined to a wheelchair who witnesses a murder out of his window.
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955) James Dean in the iconic role of his short life.
- Rocky (1976) Sylvester Stallone is rags to riches film of boxer and his love Adrainn!
- Saturday Night Fever (1977) John Travolta dances his way to superstardom.
- Singing in the Rain (1952) Gene Kelly both sings and dances in the rain in a musical comedy about silent films transitioning to talkies.
- Sleeper (1973) Teens will enjoy Woody Allen’s pre Annie Hall films the most. This one, a look at the future, might be the best of the early, sillier Allen.
- Some Like It Hot (1959) Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, cross dressing and one great comedy.
- Splash (1984) Tom Hanks begins his movie career by falling in love with a mermaid.
- Splendor in the Grass (1961) Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty as teenagers in a film about sexual repression in 1920s Kansas.
- Terms of Endearment (1983) Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson – Mother, daughter story, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Many awards.
- The Big Chill (1983) College friends from the 60s reunite 15 years later. Great Music!
- The China Syndrome (1979) Thriller about a nuclear meltdown starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas.
- The Exorcist (1973) Horror film about the demonic possession of a young girl. One of the few, literary, award-winning horror films made.
- The Godfather (1972) Mario Puzo, Coppola, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino,The Corleones, a horse’s head, Luca Brasi, Fredo and many awards.
- The Graduate (1967) College grad Dustin Hoffman has an affair with older woman, Mrs. Robinson.
- The Producers (1968) The original movie with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder on which the musical was based.
- The Right Stuff (1983) The history of the U.S. space program fro 1947 – 1963. Fascinating.
- The Sting (1973) Paul Newman and Robert Redford reunited as con men in this academy award-winning film.
- The Ten Commandments (1956) Charlton Heston as Moses in this epic movie by Cecil B. DeMille which includes the parting of the red sea.
- The Terminator (1984) The first in the franchise directed by James Cameron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor.
- The Turning Point (1977) Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft star in this film about the world of ballet with Mikhail Baryshnikov in his first acting role.
- The Way We Were (1973) Romantic drama starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford as star crossed lovers and the song.
- Thelma and Louise (1991) Finally a buddy movie with women. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis on the run from their lives and the law, and a very young Brad Pitt.
- This is Spinal Tap (1984) Rob Reiner’s rock mockumentary about a heavy metal band.
- Tootsie (1982) Comedy starring Dustin Hoffman in which he must dress as a woman to get an acting job. All star cast, extremely funny!
- Trading Places (1983) Comedy with Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis in a modern take on The Prince and the Pauper.
- Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart as a police detective with acrophobia.
- War Games (1983) Matthew Broderick, a teenage hacker, accidentally hacks into a military super computer and causes a nuclear missile scare. Teens will get a kick out of the computers used back in the day.
- West Side Story (1961) Romeo and Juliet is now a musical with gangs in NYC.
- Working Girl (1988) Romantic comedy in which Melanie Griffith tries to move up in the world and falls in love with Harrison Ford while doing so.
- Young Frankenstein (1974) Mel Brooks at his best.
Which of these classic movies have you seen already? Which do you want to see? Have your teens seen any of the films yet?
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