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Classic Drama Movies: 5 Movies That Shaped the Genre

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By    |   Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 08:07 AM

Classic drama movies can explore many themes, such as historical events, biographical reviews, and class struggles. They also take on issues that relate to everyday life, including crime, addiction, family life, financial dilemmas, and tragedies.

Some of the greatest films ever made fall in the drama category and many of them have set the standard for similar films that followed them. Here are five classic drama movies that are among Hollywood's finest films.

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1. "Gone With the Wind" (1939)

The granddaddy of all epics, Margaret Mitchell's Southern saga, "Gone with the Wind" is about the O'Hara and Wilkes families caught in the throes of the Civil War. The film took home 10 Academy Awards, including honorary awards for use of color and production equipment use and the first-ever acting award won by an African-American, Hattie McDaniel. It is, according to IGN, "cinema's greatest historical epic," and set the stage for future grand-scale movies.

2. "Citizen Kane" (1941)

A fictional biography that may (or may not) be based on the real life of publication tycoon William Randolph Hearst, "Citizen Kane" often ranks at or near the top of most all-time greatest film lists at the American Film Institute. Directed by and starring Orson Welles, the film set the standard for biographical films. The Script Lab also noted that Welles's work behind the camera "pushed the boundaries and broke the rules with numerous landmark innovations." "Citizen Kane" took home nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

3. "Casablanca" (1942)

A film that used war as the backdrop for romance, "Casablanca" is a taut drama that stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and Paul Henreid. Although only mildly successful at the box office, the movie has gained a reputation for its gritty, film-noir style. The movie won three Academy Awards and is among the most quoted movies in Hollywood history.

4. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962)

Courtroom dramas became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the standard-bearers of this genre is "To Kill a Mockingbird," based on the Harper Lee book of the same name and starring Gregory Peck. The movie addressed many issues, including small-town racial prejudice. Peck earned an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as attorney Atticus Finch, giving what EcoSalon calls "one of the best film performances of all time."

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5. "The Godfather" (1972)


Based on Mario Puzo's fictional novel, "The Godfather" set the gold standard for gangster movies that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, such as "Mean Streets," Goodfellas," "Casino" and even the movie's own sequel (and prequel), "The Godfather Part II." Almost operatic in scope, The Godfather made stars of many performers in the film, such as Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Diane Keaton. It also starred Marlon Brando as the title character, and claimed three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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Classic drama movies can explore many themes, such as historical events, biographical reviews, and class struggles. They also take on issues that relate to everyday life, including crime, addiction, family life, financial dilemmas, and tragedies.
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