The Way We Were — 10 Must-See Classic American Films

3 minutes

You don't have to be a film buff to enjoy these 10 cinematic classics. The following is a list we've put together of movies considered to be "classic" American films. Chances are you've heard of some already!

1. Gone With the Wind (1939)

A story that takes place in the crumbling American South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction period, Gone With the Wind is a passionate love story with unforgettable characters. Some of the most famous movie lines are from this movie as well and are still used today!

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

A beloved tale that follows a young girl on her journey to the land of Oz, in search of the all-powerful wizard who can help send her home. Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, makes some interesting friends and enemies along the way. 

3. Casablanca (1942)

Probably the most classic American love story out there, this movie is set during World War II in the exotic town of Casablanca. Political intrigue, romance and conspiracy abound in this classic American film, which stars the delightful pair — Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Here's lookin' at you, kid.

4. Singin' in the Rain (1952)

This musical comedy starring Gene Kelly is one of the most entertaining American classics and will have you laughing and singing over 60 years after the movie was released. The plot surrounds Hollywood stars and a production company that is transitioning to the use of sound from their previously silent movies. The movie has been called "a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical."

5. The Searchers (1956)

This classic Western is set during the wars that took place between Texas settlers and the Plains Indians during the mid 19th century. The story is about a civil war veteran, played by John Wayne, who is looking for his kidnapped niece. The American Film Institute calls The Searchers the greatest American Western of all time.

6. Psycho (1960)

Psycho is a classic American horror film directed by the influential Alfred Hitchcock. It details the interactions between a secretary and the suspicious owner of the motel where she is staying. The film has been called the first "psychoanalytical thriller," as well as the first of the "slasher" genre.

7. West Side Story (1961)

A modern take on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, this classic musical takes place in the tenements of New York City and tells the story of two young lovers from different backgrounds caught between two rival gangs. It has won more Academy Awards than any other musical and is one of the most-loved movies here in the InterExchange office! We promise you will be singing the famous songs from this movie long after it ends.

8. The Godfather (1972)

This film follows the head of a powerful mafia family from Italy and the rise of a crime boss in the United States. The plot surrounds an Italian-American family as they try to make the "American Dream" a reality, and the price at which it can come.

9. The Goonies (1985)

A group of kids set out to save their neighborhood as an expanding country club threatens to buy it out and build over their properties. The movie follows the very funny and loveable group of friends on their adventure to find a hidden treasure.

10. Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me is a drama about a group of childhood friends based on a Stephen King novella. Set in a fictional small town in Oregon, the movie follows the boys as they embark on an adventure over the course of Labor Day weekend. It's narrated by the adult version of the protagonist decades later, as he reflects on his childhood.


Works Referenced:

Career Training USA
Career Training USA

Experience American culture and add international skills to your resume.

Sign Up Learn More Call Us
U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation