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The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated June 24, 2020 31.7k votes 2k voters 46.8k views 51 items

List Rules Vote up the best science fiction movies that were released before 1960.

Terrifying monsters and unwelcome visitors from space frightened movie-goers in classic sci-fi movies. The best old sci fi movies are often based on famous novels, although some original stories dreamt up by modern masters thrilled on the big screen as well. This is a list of the top early sci fi movies including everything from King Kong to The Day the Earth Stood Still to Metropolis.

What films will you find on this list of the best classic science fiction films? In 1931, Boris Karloff took the title role in Frankenstein, a film based on Mary Shelley's novel of the same name. The movie went on to be included in the National Film Registry for its significance. Creature From the Black Lagoon is another scary sci fi film released before 1960. It's hard to discuss classic sci fi without mentioning Ed Wood's low-budget masterpiece, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Other top movies featured on this list include The Thing from Another World and The Blob.

It's up to you to decide with silver screen favorite deserves the top spot on the list. Give your picks a thumbs up to move them towards number one, and add any classics that are missing.

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list ordered by
1
The Day the Earth Stood ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie, Frances Bavier

Released: 1951

Directed by: Robert Wise

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2
H. G. Wells' War of the ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
3
Invasion of the Body Sna... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Dana Wynter, Sam Peckinpah, Carolyn Jones

Released: 1956

Directed by: Don Siegel

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4
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Boris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive

Released: 1931

Directed by: James Whale

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5
Them! is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Leonard Nimoy, James Arness, Fess Parker

Released: 1954

Directed by: Gordon Douglas

6
The Thing from Another W... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
James Arness, Paul Frees, George Fenneman

Released: 1951

Directed by: Howard Hawks, Christian Nyby

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7
Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon

Released: 1956

Directed by: Fred M. Wilcox

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8
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot

Released: 1933

Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

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9
The Blob is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Lee Payton

Released: 1958

Directed by: Irvin Yeaworth

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10
Creature from the Black ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Julie Adams

Released: 1954

Directed by: Jack Arnold

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11
The Time Machine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Yvette Mimieux, Rod Taylor, Alan Young

Released: 1960

Directed by: George Pal

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12
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Vincent Price, David Hedison, Herbert Marshall

Released: 1958

Directed by: Kurt Neumann

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13
The Incredible Shrinking... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
William Schallert, Paul Langton, Billy Curtis

Released: 1957

Directed by: Jack Arnold

14
Journey to the Center of... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Pat Boone, Bernard Herrmann, Arlene Dahl

Released: 1959

Directed by: Henry Levin

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15
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Theodor Loos

Released: 1927

Directed by: Fritz Lang

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16
This Island Earth is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Russell Johnson, Faith Domergue, Coleman Francis

Released: 1955

Directed by: Jack Arnold, Joseph M. Newman

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17
Earth vs. the Flying Sau... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Paul Frees, Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor

Released: 1956

Directed by: Fred F. Sears

18
It Came from Outer Space... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Russell Johnson, Richard Carlson, Dave Willock

Released: 1953

Directed by: Jack Arnold

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19
When Worlds Collide is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Paul Frees, Stuart Whitman, John Hoyt

Released: 1951

Directed by: Rudolph Maté

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20
On the Beach is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
21
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Una O'Connor

Released: 1933

Directed by: James Whale

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22
Village of the Damned is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Michael Gwynn

Released: 1960

Directed by: Wolf Rilla

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23
20 Million Miles to Eart... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Ray Harryhausen, William Hopper, Joan Taylor

Released: 1957

Directed by: Nathan H. Juran

24
Bride of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
Valdave added Boris Karloff, Walter Brennan, Billy Barty

Released: 1935

Directed by: James Whale

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25
A Trip to the Moon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies