Entertainment

The Best Movies of 1961 

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2.5k votes 176 voters 6.2k 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.

list ordered by
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Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, John Astin
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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#5 of 371 The Best Musical Movies of All Timefeaturing The Behind-The-Scenes Of 'West Side Story' Was Plagued With More Hatred Than The Movie Itselflisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott
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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#24 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #63 of 179 The Best Sports Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich
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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#38 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #51 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Rod Taylor, Paul Frees, J. Pat O'Malley
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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#33 of 589 The Best Animated Films Ever #605 of 1,198 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

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Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn
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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#19 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #35 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60slisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc
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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#996 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #38 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle
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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#549 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #82 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60slisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
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Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach
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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#236 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #65 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #7 of 17 17 Movies That Totally Shattered Celebrity Marriages

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Maureen O'Hara, John Mills, Hayley Mills
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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#975 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #53 of 314 The Best Movies for Kids

10
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John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Elam
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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#59 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #28 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked #12 of 47 The Best Lee Marvin Movies

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Fred MacMurray, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees
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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#81 of 140 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies #15 of 23 Great Movies About Inventors & Innovators

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Orson Welles, Rip Torn, Robert Ryan
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

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#172 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #227 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

13
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Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Charles Victor
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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#400 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #10 of 15 The 15 Most Horrifying Moments In Edgar Allan Poe's Stories #21 of 115 The Best Old Horror Movies

14
The Innocents is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies of 1961
Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin
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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#326 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #83 of 146 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time #16 of 20 20 Of The Most Entertaining Haunted House Movies Ever Made

15
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Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr.
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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#68 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #27 of 43 The 25+ Best Movies for Black Women

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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Tatsuya Nakadai
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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#49 of 51 The Most Rewatchable Action Movies #90 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #77 of 135 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

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Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti
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
18
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Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre
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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#152 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #25 of 50 The Best Submarine Movies Of All Time #252 of 565 The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

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Sophia Loren, Charlton Heston, Herbert Lom
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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#336 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #107 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #58 of 212 The Best Historical Drama Movies of All Time, Ranked

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Roman Polanski, Beata Tyszkiewicz, Władysław Kowalski
Samson is a 1961 film made by Academy Award-winning Polish director Andrzej Wajda that uses art house aesthetics to tell a story about the Holocaust. Wajda's World War II film alludes to the Old ...more
21
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Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, George Raft
The Ladies Man is a 1961 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. It was released on June 28, 1961 by Paramount.
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Elvis Presley, Angela Lansbury, George Halas
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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#14 of 21 What's the Greatest Hawaii Movie of All Time? #119 of 202 The Best Romantic Comedies Rated PG

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Max von Sydow, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand
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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Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner
The Children's Hour is a 1961 American drama film directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on the 1934 play of the same title by Lillian Hellman. The film stars ...more
25
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Takashi Shimura, Kyōko Kagawa, Akihiko Hirata
Mothra is a 1961 kaiju/tokusatsu film from Toho Studios, directed by genre regular Ishirō Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. It is the genre film debut of screenwriter Shinichi ...more