Top 10 Animated Movies: 1920s-1970s

Script written by Sean Harris. Because a classic can be cartoon too! Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 animated movies from the 1920s to the 1970s. For this list, we've looked at all animated films within the era, and have selected those that have achieved the most success, achieved the most originality, and advanced the animation industry furthest! We're only looking at feature length films however, so no shorts! Special thanks to our users Liam Murphy, Andrew A. Dennison, MrKlatez, Mikey Webb, mason carr, weird4productions, MichaelMaikeru64, lenvallairdjr, Mitch Deans and Willtheman for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 Animated Movies from the 1920s to the 1970s

Because a classic can be cartoon too! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 animated movies from the 1920s to the 1970s.

For this list, we’ve looked at all animated films released between 1920 and 1979, and have selected those that achieved the most success, were the most original, and advanced the animation industry furthest! We’re only looking at feature length films however, so no shorts! This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of animated movies from the 1920s to the 2000s.

#10: “Sleeping Beauty” (1959)

An adaptation of the traditional fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty” remains one of the most significant movies to be made by the Californian company! In Aurora, they created one of the traditional Disney princesses, and with Maleficent, they unleashed one of cinema’s greatest villains! This is a tale of true love that is never likely to be forgotten - especially after an Angelina Jolie reboot! As magical as animation has ever been, it’s a movie that has us ironically wide-awake and watching!

#9: “Peter Pan” (1953)

Based on the much-loved work of J. M. Barrie, “Peter Pan” proved a favorite in the ‘50s! Bringing to life some unforgettable characters, Never Land was always fun for the viewer! Pan was a ‘protagonist for the people’, while even Captain Hook had a certain scary charm about him! We were always glad to find the Lost Boys, and Tinker Bell is still an animated icon! What’s more, we never looked at our shadow in the same way! ‘The boy who wouldn’t grow up’, his story will never get old!

#8: “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961)

‘Famous villains’ has been a theme of the opening to this countdown, and our next movie serves up another! Crazy Cruella De Vil is trying to steal the puppies, but she very nearly steals this entire show! The demonic dog-napper is materialistic to the point of being sadistic, and she has fur on the brain. When Perdita gives birth to 15 Dalmatians, De Vil simply cannot see the creature for the coat! What follows is far from black and white, as Disney’s Dalmatians make for some classic characters!

#7: “Charlotte’s Web” (1973)

Based upon E. B. White’s 1952 children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web” is another anthropomorphic work of art! It didn’t strike immediate success, but has gradually garnered a fierce fan-base, achieving an almost cult status! The plot follows Wilbur the pig who is destined for the slaughterhouse, and Charlotte the spider who is trying to help him avoid it. Billed as ‘humble, radiant and terrific’, it doesn’t disappoint! White himself is said to have disliked the adaptation - but we’re gonna have to politely disagree on that one!

#6: “Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

Back with Disney for our next movie, and more classic children’s literature! When Lewis Carroll penned “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865, he could hardly have foreseen the rise of Walt - though he may as well have been writing with the great man in mind! Everything about Wonderland lends itself to animation! This movie is the middle ground between imagination and insanity, between make-believe and madness! It’s what Disney read as a youngster, and it stuck with him as an adult. This picture was his realization of the wackiest of worlds!

#5: “Fantasia” (1940)

Cartoons and classical music are usually paired together, but rarely as dynamically or as directly as this! “Fantasia” is, without any need of over-exaggeration, spectacular! From Bach to Beethoven, from Stravinsky to Tchaikovsky... this production pulls absolutely no punches! Serving as a Mickey Mouse re-launch, the bucket-wielding broomsticks and the blue apprentice hat are among the film’s most memorable images, but perhaps Chernabog and the “Night on Bald Mountain” stand out the most! As chilling now as it was in 1940!

#4: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)

Considered one of the most significant milestones in 20th century cinema, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was the very first feature-length movie made by Walt Disney! A feat for which the animator was awarded an honorary Oscar at the 11th Academy Awards, he was presented a standard-sized statuette, along with 7 mini reproductions! The story is truly timeless, as it encompasses the very essence of a fairy tale... A princess, an evil queen, and true love’s first kiss - “Snow White” didn’t follow the rules, it made them!

#3: “Bambi” (1942)

In the ‘30s and ‘40s, Disney could do absolutely nothing wrong! “Bambi” was another beautifully brilliant production - providing an emotional concoction of the incredibly uplifting, and the absolutely heart-breaking! A film for those adults who passed animation off as ‘child’s play’, it had anyone and everyone crying over cartoon animals! An establishment of what would become a very fruitful formula, the title character was backed up by some cute, comedic sidekicks, and a journey was made in the name of hope! It worked then, and it still works now!

#2: “Cinderella” (1950)

An animated classic if ever there was one, “Cinderella” was actually a crucial creation for Disney! The company had not fared well during World War II, and by 1950 they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Then, along came Cindy to breathe new life into everything! A damsel in the utmost distress, Cinderella lives out her lonely existence, dreaming of ‘happily ever after...’ Once more, this is the movie that created the cliché! Often copied but never bettered, its place on the podium is beyond doubt!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Lady and the Tramp” (1955)
- “Dumbo” (1941)
- “The Sword in the Stone” (1963)
- “The Jungle Book” (1967)
- “Robin Hood” (1973)

#1: “Pinocchio” (1940)

If we said this wasn’t the best animated movie of its era, then we’d be lying... And then of course our nose would grow... And we don’t want that! A puppet’s dream to be a real boy is this film’s drive, but there’s more than simple hope here! It’s a coming-of-age tale, and an epic adventure as well! Alerting everyone to the Jiminy Cricket inside us all, and scaring everyone away from temptation, this is Disney’s defining moment! “Snow White” was good, but could Walt do it again? Too right he could!

Do you agree with our list? Which animated classic did we miss? For more timeless Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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