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Movies for Grownups

21 Must-See Classic Movies

These quintessential films are required for ALL adults to watch (no exceptions)

En español | Are you a skim milk movie lover, or a whole cream movie lover? Do you treasure movies that confirm your view of the world, or ones that force you to look at life in ways you never expected? Do you insist on nodding in agreement with what the characters in a movie say and do, or do you occasionally want to feel the impulse to stand up and shake your fist at the screen?

See Also: The Greatest Movies Ever Made — According to You

Answer carefully, because your response reveals whether or not you are a true lover of Movies for Grownups.

Here, I’ll make it easy for you: If you really want to have your ticket punched as a bonafide grownup movie lover, you absolutely have to see the movies listed below. No excuses. Each one either pointed the direction in which movies would go, or assimilated the lessons of the past in a breathtakingly new way.

No Sound of Music here. No Gone With the Wind. No Titanic, Star Wars or Shrek. It’s time to put on your Big Boy Pants, erase your lame old Netflix queue, and rediscover what real movies are all about.

You got a problem with that? Then tell us what movies YOU think belong on the list of Required Movies for Grownups. Use the "tell us what you think" box below or join us on the message board we just started to discuss your movie favorites. I'll weigh in when I can.

Lawrence of Arabis is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

Egyptian actor Omar Sharif and Irish actor Peter O'Toole on the set of 'Lawrence of Arabia,' directed by David Lean, 1962 — Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
The Ultimate Epic

The endless desert, the sword-wielding armies, the sweep of history. Director David Lean jammed his wide screen with swirling action, placed blue-eyed newcomer Peter O'Toole at the center and created a sprawling masterpiece that defined the high-water mark for movie spectacle.

See also: More on Peter O'Toole and his other movies.

casablanca is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

Michael Curtiz directs Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filming 'Casablanca,' 1942 — Photo by Everett Collection

Casablanca, 1942 
Romance Grows Up

In this one, the boy (Humphrey Bogart) loses the girl (Ingrid Bergman) before the movie even starts. The question is, what is he willing to do to get her back? Casablanca's enraptured audiences learned that love stories can often find an unsteady resolution somewhere in an impenetrable fog.

The Producers is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and Zero Mostel star in the 'The Producers,' 1968 — Photo: Everett Collection

The Producers, 1968
Comedy as Catharsis

Determined to mount a flop Broadway musical for tax purposes, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder stage the sure-fire failure Springtime for Hitler. Every "shock" comedy since then owes a debt to writer/director Mel Brooks — but not one of them gets its laughs with such profound insight into the delicate balance between tragedy and hilarity.

Next: A war movie with little to no action?

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Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson seek a new life in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

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