Disney has been bringing its feature films to life since 1937, and every movie drives the company closer to a new era.
You might have heard of the Disney Renaissance before, which refers to the animated films released between 1989 and 1999 including The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan. What you might not have realized is that this isn’t the only Disney age.
Before the Disney Renaissance struck there was The Golden Age, The Wartime Era, and then — The Silver Age.
Also referred to as the Silver Era or the Restoration Age, this timeframe of movies lasted from approximately 1950 to 1967. It came after The Wartime Era, in which Disney had to deal with lower budgets and fewer workers. A few years after World War II though, Disney returned to big-budget films and filled them with soft colors, gorgeous animations, and magical stories. Thus, the Silver Age was born.
The last film Walt Disney himself worked was The Jungle Book, which released in 1967 and brought to an end the Silver Age.
We’re here to dive into all the movies that were released during this period and see how they stack up. No, we don’t have any fancy ranking criteria. Critic opinion, lasting impact, and overall film quality are influencing our decisions.
Without further ado, here is a ranking of every film to be released during Disney’s Silver Age.
8 The Sword in the Stone
Arguably the least well-known of the Silver Era films, 1963’s The Sword in the Stone was a musical fantasy comedy in which a young King Arthur stumbles across Merlin, who convinces him that he is destined for greatness.
The film is based on the 1938 novel of the same name and was greeted by mixed reviews from critics. Some found the humor to be overdone and the story too thin. Others thought the movie’s laughs were balanced and its characters appealing. Either way, the film is getting a live-action remake that is headed straight to Disney+ streaming services.
7 Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp follows the romantic adventure between a male stray mutt and a Cocker Spaniel who lives with a wealthy family. The 1955 film was criticized upon release, with many pointing out the below-average animation style and the played up sentimentality. That being said, the film developed a strong legacy over time and nowadays is deemed a minor classic.
The scene in which Lady and Tramp eat spaghetti and accidentally kiss has been cemented as one of the most memorable animated scenes of all time. Yes, this too is getting a live-action Disney+ remake.
6 One Hundred and One Dalmatians
One Hundred and One Dalmatians tells the tale of Pongo and Perdita, who set out to stop the evil Cruella de Vil from kidnapping their puppies. Along the way, they run into an additional 84 puppies and end up with a family larger than they could have ever dreamed of.
Critics praised the 1961 film for returning to Disney’s roots, with strong themes of friendship and love upon its release. Modern viewers should still find it entertaining, despite the story being wildly convenient.
5 Alice in Wonderland
Disney’s 1951 film about a young Alice who descends into the magical world of Wonderland took a while to become a reality (early ideas for the film floated around in the ’30s), but it got there and remains an admired animated film. It’s colorful, wacky, and whimsical, which is likely half the reason it gained further attention during the psychedelic era of the ’60s and ’70s.
Though some critics thought it over Americanized a classic piece of British literature, Walt knew some aspects of the story would need to be altered. He wanted Alice to appeal to families, though in the end, people of all demographics fell in love with the film.
4 Sleeping Beauty
Garnering mixed reviews and underperformance at the box office, Sleeping Beauty was the last fairytale Disney tackled for some time. However, modern critics have hailed 1959’s movie as one of the greatest animated films to have ever been created.
The movie follows the story of a princess who is hidden away because of a curse that will cause her to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and enter a deep sleep on her sixteenth birthday. The film perfectly blends charming animations with magic, romance, and just a touch of looming darkness. The film also happened to introduce Disney’s most beloved villain of the era, Maleficent.
3 The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book follows the tale of a young orphan boy who is raised by wolves and asked to leave the jungle for his safety, being the only human who is part of it. Rudyard Kipling’s classic story is accompanied by fastpaced songs, charismatic characters, and a whole load of fun.
As the last film Walt worked on, The Jungle Book represented all the liveliness Disney was capable of producing. This also helped critics to appreciate the movie more, with many of them finding The Jungle Book to be one of Disney’s most entertaining stories.
Disney’s musical version of Cinderella debuted in 1950. The adaptation elevated the classic fairy tale – in which a maiden leaves her glass slipper at a ball – by adding enchanting animations, dreamy songs, and heartfelt emotions.
Viewers were instantly entranced by the film. They praised that each aspect of the movie felt complete, balancing all of its components in such a manner that both children and adults could be whisked away by Cinderella‘s magic. Contemporary critics similarly find the film just as charming.
1 Peter Pan
There are few films as magical and nostalgia-inducing as Disney’s 1953 Peter Pan. The boy who wouldn’t grow up was beautifully animated alongside Wendy, her brothers, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook. The art style, featuring soft colors and enchanting scenery, brought new depth to Neverland.
Though some critics believed the story strayed too far from the original tale, Peter Pan became a classic over time and boasts strong themes of friendship, belief, and adventure.
Off to Neverland!
NEXT: 10 Disney Animated Movies That Have Not Aged Well