Special Report

The 30 Most Inspirational Movies of the Last 100 Years

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

25. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
> RT critics score: 100% (35 votes)
> RT audience score: 89% (8,614 votes)
> IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (25,353 votes)
> Directed by: Preston Sturges
> Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick

The movie follows a Hollywood director who goes on to live as a homeless person in order to gain real life experience for a movie, but lands himself in a lot of trouble. Screenwriter and director Preston Sturges said he wrote the film in response to the preachy tone of other comedies, “which seemed to have abandoned the fun in favor of the message.” It’s been said that Sturges was influenced by actor John Garfield’s adventures as a hobo, hitchhiking and riding freight trains across the country for a short spell in the 1930s.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

24. National Velvet (1944)
> RT critics score: 100% (27 votes)
> RT audience score: 78% (9,941 votes)
> IMDb rating: 7.3/10 (6,789 votes)
> Directed by: Clarence Brown
> Starring: Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Crisp

“National Velvet” is the story of a 12-year-old British girl named Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor) who tries to tame her firebrand horse and enter it into one of the major horse races of the year, with help from her family and a former jockey. Rotten Tomatoes hailed the film as “a timeless family-friendly tearjerker,” with each critic that reviewed the film giving it positive marks.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

23. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
> RT critics score: 91% (77 votes)
> RT audience score: 98% (887,061 votes)
> IMDb rating: 9.3/10 (2,465,993 votes)
> Directed by: Frank Darabont
> Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

“The Shawshank Redemption” tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne who is given two life sentences for murder in the oppressive Shawshank State Penitentiary. The drama was a hit upon its release and received seven Oscar nominations in 1995, including one for Best Picture. The movie — much of which takes place within a prison — was primarily filmed in Ohio, specifically in the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

22. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
> RT critics score: 94% (32 votes)
> RT audience score: 89% (6,847 votes)
> IMDb rating: 7.7/10 (10,495 votes)
> Directed by: Sam Wood
> Starring: Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Babe Ruth

Gary Cooper starred as Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankees Hall of Fame first baseman whose career was cut short by the neuromuscular disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Oscar-winning movie is a tribute to the courage Gehrig displayed in the face of the crippling disease.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

21. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
> RT critics score: 95% (55 votes)
> RT audience score: 92% (23,226 votes)
> IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (70,935 votes)
> Directed by: Norman Jewison
> Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

This crime drama stars Sidney Poitier as a black police detective assigned to investigate the murder of a Northern industrialist who planned to bring factory employment to a Southern town. The film won five Oscars, including Best Picture.

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