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The Best Movies of 1961 

Ranker Film
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Updated August 12, 2019 3k votes 189 voters 6.6k views 112 items

List of the best movies of 1961, with movie trailers when available. 1961 saw the debut of many historic actors, including Gene Hackman and Joe Pecsi. These top movies of 1961 are listed by popularity, so the movies with the most votes are at the top. This list consists of all different movie genres - from Breakfast at Tiffany's to Judgment at Nuremberg - but each film was released in 1961. You can filter this list of films that came out in 1961 for various bits of information, such as who directed the movie and what genre it is. Think the best 1961 movie isn't as high as it should be? Vote up your favorite so it will rise to the top.

Examples of movies on this list include West Side Story and Babes in Toyland.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best movies from 1961?" and "What are the most popular movies of 1961?"

1961 was a great year for movies, since a lot of classic films were released in 1961. This is a crowd sourced list that has been voted on by many people, so these top films of 1961 aren't just one persons opinion.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
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1
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Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc

Released: 1961

Directed by: Blake Edwards

Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more

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#501 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #174 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn

Released: 1961

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson, Alexander Mackendrick

The Guns of Navarone is a 1961 British-American action/adventure film directed by J. Lee Thompson. The screenplay by producer Carl Foreman was based on Alistair MacLean's 1957 novel The Guns of ...more

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#33 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #31 of 222 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Rod Taylor, Paul Frees, J. Pat O'Malley

Released: 1961

Directed by: Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, Wolfgang Reitherman

One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often written 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and adapted from Dodie Smith's 1956 novel of the same ...more

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#7 of 601 The Best Animated Films Ever #294 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #699 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

4
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Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich

Released: 1961

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust and with the post-WWII geo-political complexity of the Nuremberg Trials. The picture was written by Abby Mann and ...more

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#40 of 222 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #785 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
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Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, John Astin

Released: 1961

Directed by: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn ...more

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The Behind-The-Scenes Of 'West Side Story' Was Plagued With More Hatred Than The Movie Itself #10 of 377 The Best Musical Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
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Orson Welles, Rip Torn, Robert Ryan

Released: 1961

Directed by: Nicholas Ray

King of Kings is a 1961 American biblical epic film made by Samuel Bronston Productions and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Nicholas Ray, the film is a dramatization of the story ...more
7
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Maureen O'Hara, John Mills, Hayley Mills

Released: 1961

Directed by: David Swift

The Parent Trap is a 1961 Walt Disney film. It stars Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith in a story about teenage twins on a quest to reunite their divorced parents. The screenplay by ...more

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#26 of 82 The Best Film Adaptations of Young Adult Novels #978 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #43 of 321 The Best Movies for Kids

8
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Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott

Released: 1961

Directed by: Robert Rossen

The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from the Walter Tevis's 1959 novel of the same name Rossen and Sidney Carroll adapted for the screen. It tells the story of ...more

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#18 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60s #66 of 182 The Best Sports Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle

Released: 1961

Directed by: Elia Kazan

Splendor in the Grass is a 1961 Technicolor romantic drama film that tells a story of sexual repression, love, and heartbreak, from which the character Deanie suffers. Written by William Inge, ...more

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#470 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #96 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60slisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
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Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach

Released: 1961

Directed by: John Huston

The Misfits is a 1961 American drama film with a screenplay by Arthur Miller which was directed by John Huston. It stars Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach ...more

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#159 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #60 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60s #10 of 16 The Greatest Westerns That Don't Take Place In The Old West

11
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Fred MacMurray, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees

Released: 1961

Directed by: Robert Stevenson

The Absent-Minded Professor is a 1961 American film distributed by Walt Disney Productions based on the short story "A Situation of Gravity" by Samuel W. Taylor. The title character ...more

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#225 of 321 The Best Movies for Kids #61 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies #18 of 33 The Greatest Classic Films the Whole Family Will Love

12
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John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Elam

Released: 1961

Directed by: John Wayne, Michael Curtiz

The Comancheros is a 1961 Western Deluxe CinemaScope color film directed by Michael Curtiz, based on a 1952 novel of the same name by Paul Wellman, and starring John Wayne and Stuart Whitman. ...more

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#60 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #22 of 47 The Greatest Western Movies of the 1960s #27 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked

13
The Innocents is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies of 1961
Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin

Released: 1961

Directed by: Jack Clayton

The Innocents is a 1961 British supernatural gothic horror film directed and produced by Jack Clayton, and starring Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave and Megs Jenkins. Based on the novella The Turn ...more

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#374 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #19 of 20 20 Shocking Horror Movie Endings That Took You by Surprise #77 of 147 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

14
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Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, George Raft

Released: 1961

Directed by: Jerry Lewis

The Ladies Man is a 1961 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. It was released on June 28, 1961 by Paramount.
15
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Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr.

Released: 1961

Directed by: Daniel Petrie

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett, and adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine ...more

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#112 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #12 of 85 The Best Movies Based on Plays #17 of 36 The Most Inspirational Black Movies

16
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Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Charles Victor

Released: 1961

Directed by: Roger Corman

The Pit and the Pendulum is a 1961 horror film directed by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, and Luana Anders. The screenplay by Richard Matheson was based on ...more

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#300 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #7 of 26 The Best Horror Movies That Take Place in Castles #53 of 207 The Best Classic Horror Movies

17
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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Tatsuya Nakadai

Released: 1961

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Yojimbo is a 1961 jidaigeki film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a rōnin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, who arrives in a small town where competing lords vie for supremacy. The ...more

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#91 of 92 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies #56 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60s #73 of 311 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

18
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Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Strother Martin

Released: 1961

Directed by: Sam Peckinpah

The Deadly Companions is a 1961 Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, and Chill Wills. Based on the novel of the same name by A. S. ...more
19
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Sophia Loren, Charlton Heston, Herbert Lom

Released: 1961

Directed by: Anthony Mann

El Cid is a 1961 historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid", who, in the 11th century, ...more

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#139 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #308 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #123 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60s

20
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Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre

Released: 1961

Directed by: Irwin Allen

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is an American science fiction film, produced and directed by Irwin Allen, released by 20th Century Fox in 1961. The story was written by Irwin Allen and Charles ...more

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#59 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #25 of 50 The Best Submarine Movies Of All Time #253 of 572 The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

21
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Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Tommy Kirk

Released: 1961

Directed by: Jack Donohue

Babes in Toyland is a 1961 Walt Disney Christmas musical film in Technicolor, directed by Jack Donohue, and distributed to theatres by Buena Vista Distribution. It stars Ray Bolger as Barnaby, ...more

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#91 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies #305 of 588 The Best Fantasy Movies #110 of 142 The Best Classic Fantasy Movies, Ranked

22
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James Stewart, Shirley Jones, Richard Widmark

Released: 1961

Directed by: John Ford

Two Rode Together is a western film directed by John Ford, and starring James Stewart, Richard Widmark, and Shirley Jones. The supporting cast includes Linda Cristal, Andy Devine, and John ...more

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#123 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #28 of 85 Every James Stewart Movie, Ranked Best to Worst

23
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Max von Sydow, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand

Released: 1961

Directed by: Ingmar Bergman

Through a Glass Darkly is a 1961 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, and produced by Allan Ekelund. The film is a three-act "chamber film," in which four family ...more
24
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Elvis Presley, Angela Lansbury, George Halas

Released: 1961

Directed by: Norman Taurog, Mickey Moore

Blue Hawaii is a 1961 American musical romantic comedy film set in the state of Hawaii and starring Elvis Presley. The screenplay by Hal Kanter was nominated by the Writers Guild of America in ...more

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#262 of 377 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #74 of 195 The Best Movies of the '60s #14 of 21 What's the Greatest Hawaii Movie of All Time?

25
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Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti

Released: 1961

Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni

La Notte is a 1961 Italian drama film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, and Monica Vitti. Filmed on location in Milan, the film is about a day ...more