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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Not only was 1962 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.

Making Their Film Debuts:

  • Jackie Chan – Big and Little Wong Tin Bar
  • Julie Christie – Crooks Anonymous
  • Tom Courtenay – Private Potter
  • Robert DuvallTo Kill a Mockingbird
  • Sally Field – Moon Pilot
  • John Hurt – The Wild and the Willing
  • Ian McShane – The Wild and the Willing
  • Sarah Miles – Term of Trial
  • Sydney Pollack (actor) – War Hunt
  • George A. Romero (director) – Expostulations
  • Tom Skerritt – War Hunt
  • Terence Stamp – Term of Trial
  • Lesley Ann Warren – The Chapman Report


Top-grossing Films

1.Lawrence of Arabia*Columbia$44,824,144
2.The Longest Day20th Century Fox$39,100,000
3.In Search of the CastawaysDisney$21,745,500
4.That Touch of MinkUniversal International$17,648,927
5.The Music ManWarner Bros.$14,953,846
6.Mutiny on the BountyMGM$13,680,000
7.To Kill a MockingbirdUniversal International$13,129,846
9.GypsyWarner Bros.$11,076,923
10.Bon Voyage!Disney$11,000,000
11.The Manchurian Candidate*United Artists$10,474,179
13.The InternsColumbia$9,230,769
14.What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?Warner Bros.$9,000,000
15.The Wonderful World of the Brothers GrimmMGM$8,920,615
16.Days of Wine and RosesWarner Bros.$8,123,077
17.The Man Who Shot Liberty ValanceParamount$8,000,000
18.State Fair20th Century Fox$7,000,000
19.Taras BulbaUnited Artists$6,800,000
20.The Miracle WorkerUnited Artists$5,000,000
21.Girls! Girls! Girls!Paramount$4,775,000
22.David and LisaContinental$4,600,000

(*) After theatrical re-issue(s)


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Lawrence of Arabia – Horizon-Spiegel-Lean, Columbia

Best Director: David Lean – Lawrence of Arabia

Best Actor: Gregory PeckTo Kill a Mockingbird

Best Actress: Anne BancroftThe Miracle Worker

Best Supporting Actor: Ed BegleySweet Bird of Youth

Best Supporting Actress: Patty Duke – The Miracle Worker


Among Those Who Died In 1962:

  • January 13 – Ernie Kovacs, 42, American comedian, actor, North to Alaska, Bell, Book and Candle
  • January 28 – Hermann Wlach, 77, Austrian actor, The Pearl Maker of Madrid
  • February 1 – Carey Wilson, American screenwriter, Mutiny on the Bounty
  • February 19 – James Barton, American actor, Here Comes the Groom, Yellow Sky
  • February 20 – Halliwell Hobbes, 84, British actor, Gaslight, That Hamilton Woman
  • February 28 – Chic Johnson, 70, American comedian, actor, Hellzapoppin’
  • March 17 – Frank Orth, 82, American actor, Nancy Drew… Detective, Here Come the Girls
  • April 10 – Michael Curtiz, 75, Hungarian-born director, Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • April 15 – Clara Blandick, 85, American actress, The Wizard of Oz, Tom Sawyer
  • April 17 – Louise Fazenda, 66, American actress, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, Alice in Wonderland
  • April 22
    • Angus MacPhail, 59, British screenwriter, Spellbound, The Wrong Man
    • Vera Reynolds, 62, American actress, The Night Club, Feet of Clay
  • May 14 – Florence Auer, 82, American actress, The Bishop’s Wife, State of the Union
  • June 2 – Aeneas MacKenzie, 72, Scottish screenwriter, The Ten Commandments, Ivanhoe
  • June 19 – Frank Borzage, 69, American director, actor, A Farewell to Arms, 7th Heaven
  • June 24 – Lucile Watson, 83, Canadian actress, Waterloo Bridge, Made for Each Other
  • July 2 – Valeska Suratt, 80, American stage and screen actress, The Immigrant
  • July 4 – Rex Bell, 58, American actor, Broadway to Cheyenne, Law and Lead
  • July 23 – Victor Moore, 86, American actor, It Happened on Fifth Avenue, Louisiana Purchase
  • July 30 – Myron McCormick, 54, American actor, The Hustler, No Time for Sergeants
  • August 5 – Marilyn Monroe, 36, American actress, Hollywood icon, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot
  • August 23 – Hoot Gibson, 70, American actor, Action, The Horse Soldiers
  • September 7 – Louis King, 64, American director, Typhoon, Green Grass of Wyoming
  • October 2 – Frank Lovejoy, 50, American actor, The Hitch-Hiker, Goodbye, My Fancy
  • October 6 – Tod Browning, 82, American director, Dracula, Freaks
  • October 26 – Louise Beavers, 60, American actress, Holiday Inn, The Jackie Robinson Story
  • November 15 – Irene, American costume designer, Shall We Dance, Midnight Lace
  • December 15 – Charles Laughton, 63, British actor, Spartacus, Witness for the Prosecution
  • December 17 – Thomas Mitchell, 70, American actor, It’s a Wonderful Life, Gone with the Wind
  • December 28 – Kathleen Clifford, 75, American actress, When the Clouds Roll By, Richard the Lion-Hearted
  • December 29 – Hugh Sinclair, 59, British actor, The Saint’s Vacation, Judgment Deferred

The Greatest Films of 1962




Poster for the movie "Billy Budd"

© 1962 Anglo Allied − All right reserved.


D: Peter Ustinov

Stars:  Terence Stamp, Robert Ryan, Peter Ustinov, Melvyn Douglas

In this film based on the Herman Melville novel, handsome, young Billy Budd (Terence Stamp) joins the British navy during wartime, where his skill quickly makes him a trusted crew member. However, sinister master-at-arms Claggart (Robert Ryan), secretly jealous of Billy, accuses him of treason. Billy strikes Claggart in anger, causing him to fall and die. Capt. Vere (Peter Ustinov) feels pity for Billy but believes that maritime law requires that Billy be executed for killing an officer.

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Poster for the movie "Cape Fear"

© 1962 Melville-Talbot Productions − All right reserved.

Cape Fear

D: J. Lee Thompson

Stars:  Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen,

Sam Bowden witnesses a rape committed by Max Cady and testifies against him. When released after 8 years in prison, Cady begins stalking Bowden and his family but is always clever enough not to violate the law.

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Poster for the movie "Days of Wine and Roses"

© 1962 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Days of Wine and Roses

D: Blake Edwards

Stars:  Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, Jack Klugman

An alcoholic falls in love with and gets married to a young woman, whom he systematically addicts to booze so they can share his “passion” together.

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Poster for the movie "Dr. No"

© 1962 United Artists − All right reserved.

Dr. No (UK)

D: Terence Young

Stars:  Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman,

In the film that launched the James Bond saga, Agent 007 battles mysterious Dr. No, a scientific genius bent on destroying the U.S. space program. As the countdown to disaster begins, Bond must go to Jamaica, where he encounters beautiful Honey Ryder, to confront a megalomaniacal villain in his massive island headquarters.

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Poster for the movie "Gypsy"

© 1962 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.


D: Mervyn LeRoy

Stars:  Natalie Wood, Rosalind Russell, Karl Malden,

Rose Hovick pushes her two young daughters into the entertainment industry, traveling and promoting them with minimal success. After years in the business, younger daughter June quits and elopes, leaving Rose searching for work for her other, less talented daughter, Louise. The only offer is at a burlesque house, but Louise takes to it and transforms herself into the popular Gypsy Rose Lee. As Louise gains notoriety, she grows tired of her mother’s influence.

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Poster for the movie "How the West Was Won"

© 1962 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

How the West Was Won

D: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall

Stars:  Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda

The epic tale of the development of the American West from the 1830s through the Civil War to the end of the century, as seen through the eyes of one pioneer family.

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Poster for the movie "Lawrence of Arabia"

© 1962 Horizon Pictures (II) − All right reserved.

Lawrence of Arabia (UK)

D: David Lean

Stars:  Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif

One of the greatest epic films of all time, and a Best Picture winner, with rich cinematography of the immense desert. Lawrence of Arabia was one of the earliest films to showcase the enormity and stark beauty of the Saharan desert. Its magnificent Super Panavision 70 mm scope and poetic desert imagery were captured within a spectacular story of a larger-than-life, idealistic adventurer. A sweeping, breath-taking, cinematic biographical epic that follows the true-life exploits of a famed British officer, T. E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole in his first major film), and his transformation from an enigmatic eccentric to a hero in WWI Arabia. Assigned there, he courageously unites the warring Arab fractions into a guerrilla front to battle the Turks, Germany’s allies.

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Poster for the movie "Lolita"

© 1962 Seven Arts Productions − All right reserved.

Lolita (UK)

D: Stanley Kubrick

Stars:  James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellers

Director Stanley Kubrick’s sixth film – a brilliant, sly adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s celebrated yet controversially-infamous and banned 1955 novel about a middle-aged man’s unusual, doomed sexual passion/obsession for a precocious, seductive “nymphet” girl. Academic professor Humbert Humbert lusted after under-age fourteen-year-old Dolores “Lolita” Haze (Sue Lyon), daughter of frumpy Charlotte, although the film began with the conclusion – the aftermath of an orgy and Humbert’s murderous confrontation with rival pedophile Clare Quilty.

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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (UK)

D: Tony Richardson

Stars:  Michael Redgrave, Tom Courtenay

Based on the short story of the same name. The screenplay, like the story, was written by Alan Sillitoe. The film was directed by Tony Richardson, one of the new young directors emerging from documentary films, a series of 1950s filmmakers known as the Free Cinema movement.

It tells the story of a rebellious youth, sentenced to a borstal (‘Approved School’) for burgling a bakery, who gains privileges in the institution through his prowess as a long-distance runner. During his solitary runs reveries of important events before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his status as the Governor’s prize athlete, eventually undertaking a rebellious act of personal autonomy notwithstanding an immediate loss in privileges. The film poster’s byline is “you can play by the rules…or you can play it by ear – WHAT COUNTS is you play it right by YOU…”.. The notion is echoed by other contemporary films such as a rapid series of three contemporary Lone Ranger films.


Poster for the movie "Long Day's Journey Into Night"

© 1962 Embassy Pictures − All right reserved.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

D: Sidney Lumet

Stars:  Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards

The film concerns a fateful, heart-rending day in August 1912 at the seaside Connecticut home of the Tyrone family.

One theme is addiction and the resulting dysfunction of the family: All three males are alcoholics, and Mary is addicted to morphine. They all constantly conceal, blame, resent, regret, accuse, and deny in an escalating cycle of conflict with occasional desperate and half-sincere attempts at affection, encouragement, and consolation.

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Poster for the movie "The Longest Day"

© 1962 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

The Longest Day

D: Andrew Marton, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki

Stars:  Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault

The retelling of June 6, 1944, from the perspectives of the Germans, the US, Britain, and the Free French. Marshall Erwin Rommel, touring the defenses being established as part of the Reich’s Atlantic Wall, notes to his officers that when the Allied invasion comes they must be stopped on the beach. “For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day”

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Poster for the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

© − All right reserved.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

D: John Ford

Stars:  John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin

Another B/W Ford film about the passing of the Old West, one of the master’s last westerns. In 1910, respected but timid Senator Ransom Stoddard from the East journeys westward by train with his wife Hallie and returns to the city of Shinbone to attend the funeral of his old friend Tom Doniphon. Told in flashback to a local newspaper editor, he remembers his life and career in the wild town and how he was reputedly known as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” As an eastern law school graduate, he set up a law practice and had to contend with outlaw Liberty Valance. Idealistic Ransom (called “Pilgrim”) is contrasted to the rugged cowboy frontiersman Doniphon, and accorded fame and credit for taming the West and civilizing the town, but it was Doniphon who killed tyrannical outlaw Liberty Valance.

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Poster for the movie "The Manchurian Candidate"

© 1962 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Manchurian Candidate

D: John Frankenheimer

Stars:  Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

Based on Richard Condon’s novel, and adapted by George Axelrod. A complex, realistic depiction of brainwashing in a frightening, satirical psychological thriller. An American platoon fighting in the Korean War is captured and brainwashed by Communist North Koreans in Manchuria. Upon their return to the US, one of the veterans Major Bennett Marco is haunted by recurring nightmares about their frightening incarceration. He slowly realizes that fellow hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Raymond Shaw, controlled and manipulated by his spy-agent “Queen of Diamonds” ambitious mother (the wife of right-wing, McCarthyite demagogue Senator John Iselin), is behind the sinister plot to assassinate political enemies. The mind-controlled operative Shaw murders his own wife Jocie and his father-in-law, liberal Senator Thomas Jordon. In the tense climax, Marco uncovers the programmed killer’s fiendish plans to assassinate the presidential nominee.

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Poster for the movie "The Miracle Worker"

© 1962 Playfilm Productions − All right reserved.

The Miracle Worker

D: Arthur Penn

Stars:  Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke, Victor Jory, Inga Swenson

The true story of the frightening, lonely world of silence and darkness of 7-year-old Helen Keller who, since infancy, has never seen the sky, heard her mother’s voice or expressed her innermost feelings. Then Annie Sullivan, a 20-year-old teacher from Boston, arrives. Having just recently regained her own sight, the no-nonsense Annie reaches out to Helen through the power of touch, the only tool they have in common, and leads her bold pupil on a miraculous journey from fear and isolation to happiness and light.

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Poster for the movie "The Music Man"

© 1962 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

The Music Man

D: Morton Da Costa

Stars:  Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Ron Howard

A con man comes to an Iowa town with a scam using a boy’s marching band program, but things don’t go according to plan.

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Poster for the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird"

© 1962 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

To Kill a Mockingbird

D: Robert Mulligan

Stars:  Gregory Peck, Alice Ghostley, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham

A poignant adaptation of Harper Lee’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Horton Foot. Narrated by the adult voice of Kim Stanley as a coming-of-age, autobiographical story, whose innocence about racial bigotry and intolerance was changed forever. In a small Alabama town in the 1930s, scrupulously honest and highly respected lawyer, Atticus Finch puts his career on the line when he agrees to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape. The trial and the events surrounding it are seen through the eyes of Finch’s six-year-old daughter, Scout. While Robinson’s trial gives the movie its momentum, there are plenty of anecdotal occurrences before and after the court date: Scout’s ever-strengthening bond with older brother, Jem, her friendship with precocious young Dill Harris, her father’s no-nonsense reactions to such life-and-death crises as a rampaging mad dog, and especially Scout’s reactions to, and relationship with, Boo Radley, the reclusive ‘village idiot’ who turns out to be her salvation when she is attacked by a venomous bigot.

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Poster for the movie "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

© 1962 Seven Arts Productions − All right reserved.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

D: Robert Aldrich

Stars:  Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono

A great psychological thriller, black comedy, and over-the-top camp classic is this great trashy melodrama – with the bizarre (and sole) pairing of two legendary — and rival — screen legends in a gothic, macabre, horror film. The screenplay, by Lukas Heller, was based on Henry Farrell’s novel Baby Jane (who also authored the novel Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte). A grotesque Baby Jane Hudson, a former vaudeville child star, and paralyzed invalid sister Blanche from a mysterious, career-ending car accident (for which Jane was blamed but never charged), also a former movie star, live together in a gloomy, crumbling mansion in Los Angeles. Pasty white-faced Jane, whose career faded long ago, is now a deranged alcoholic, and vengefully bitter and jealous toward her wheelchair-bound sister secluded in an upstairs bedroom. Enmity worsens when a local TV network airs a marathon tribute to Blanche Hudson movies, and Jane learns that Blanche is planning to sell the mansion and put her in a sanitarium. There are many stunning scenes and excessive performances, particularly Jane’s relentless tormenting of Blanche by serving an ex-pet and roasted rat for “din-din,” Jane garishly dressed up as a little girl as impoverished pianist and musical director Edwin Flagg is coaching her, for an improbable comeback as she croaks, “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy.” And the concluding beach scene finale, when a past secret is revealed to Jane and she replies, “You mean, all this time we could’ve been friends?” The film’s ending echoes the beginning when Jane purchases two strawberry ice cream cones and then insanely spins, pirouettes and dances, drawing a curious circle of people around her to fulfill her craving desires.

Learn more and watch the preview here.



Did your favorite make our list of the greatest movies of 1962?

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