Top 10 Old Adventure Movies That Were & Will Be Masterpieces

Top 10 Old Adventure Movies That Were & Will Be Masterpieces
Image credit: FilmDistrict, United Artists

The cinematic cure for your wanderlust.

As is known, everyday life is about putting one foot in front of the other, but there are just times when you need an escape from reality.

In the world of adventure movies, excitement is always around the corner. The most famous of them are high-profile box office favorites backed by word of mouth and strong promotion. However, the buzz means nothing as far as quality is concerned, and the less hyped films in the genre can be just as engaging as their mainstream brethren.

Let’s take a look at these hidden escapist gems.

The Pirate (1948)

This striking and rousing musical features Gene Kelly and Judy Garland in a sweeping romantic tale with a mix of flamboyance, gallantry and intrigue, told with verve and panache. Helmed by genre director Vincente Minelli, this vintage extravaganza is a fine outing for two of the biggest stars of Old Hollywood in their prime, with lovely musical segments throughout.

Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955)

This Disney Western film, compiled from 3 episodes of one of the company’s TV miniseries, explores one of the more notable chapters of American frontier history and depicts the titular folklore hero as he goes through the milestones of his biography, including his famous part in the battle of Alamo. Unlike his infamous quote, nobody really goes to Hell in this one, but Crockett sure does go to Texas.

Little Big Man (1970)

Another film rendition of a story from the formative period of American history, this horse opera tells the journey of an orphaned man who tries to fit into the society of the Wild West era after spending his youth with a tribe of Native Americans. It stands out due to the tongue-and-cheek trappings in its portrayal of the white settlers, sociocultural angle and great acting performances.

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

The third team-up between Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill gave us this uplifting and driven biopic that chronicles the life and times of the great ace pilot who fought in World War I, offering plenty of flashy and energetic moments. Redford exudes his usual charisma and provides levity between the more dramatic aerial dogfighting scenes, staged with great skill and effort.

Robin and Marian (1976)

The famed legend of the hero of Sherwood has become somewhat of a pulp story in modern days, with Robin Hood’s escapades being subject to media adaptations of variable quality that were often juvenile and simplistic.

However, this grounded and serious film takes strides to present a more nuanced take on the character, played by Sean Connery in an atypical role, and shows him as an older figure who tries to win back the heart of his lady love Maid Marian, performed by Audrey Hepburn. This is not a maudlin, soapy tale, but rather a candid deconstruction of the fabled characters and their adventures.

The Great Train Robbery (1978)

Yet another Connery vehicle, The Great Train Robbery is a fictionalized account of the real historical case of theft onboard a train in, set in Victorian England; authentic period set pieces and lavish scenery are included. With snappy dialogue courtesy of the author Michael Crichton, who also directed, this picaresque caper is a lively and enjoyable romp.

Time After Time (1979)

A time travel story with a romantic tint, this whimsical picture also begins in the Victorian epoch but quickly shifts its action to contemporary America, thanks to a fantastical plot which stars a fictional version of legendary writer H.G. Wells and a put-upon modern everywoman, played by Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen respectively.

As experimental as it is heartfelt and thrilling, Time After Time is stirring, funny, emotional and exhilarating at the same time, making for one fine rollercoaster.

White Fang (1991)

Another Disney film adaptation, this dramatization of Jack London’s iconic novel is a soulful and honest movie which depicts the touching friendship between young gold-finder Jack Conroy, played by a young Ethan Hawke, and the eponymous wolfhound.

More of a bildungsroman than a spectacle, this story is a lyrical yarn which ultimately ends on a downer. Well, at least it doesn’t have the Old Yeller levels of tragedy, if that’s any consolation.

The Missing (2003)

A gritty and revisionist cowboy picture, The Missing features Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in a dark-themed scenario as father and daughter who are frontier drifters searching for the Blanchett character’s missing children.

With its intense subject matter, the film is a visceral spin on the standard depiction of the Wild West realities, but has shades of sensitivity with its message about the value of family ties.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

This futuristic romantic dramedy follows a journalist who meets a mysterious inventor and entangles herself into a bizarre plot involving time traveling, subverted childhood dreams and romance.

While overtly weird and perhaps a bit too sentimental in its concept, this flick succeeds thanks to the chemistry between its principal stars Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass as well as an earnest if irreverent story. With this film, safety may not be guaranteed, but a good time at the movies is certain.