Usually 90 minutes is the bare minimum, but some classic films have gotten away with going shorter.
When a movie gets cut down under 90 minutes, it’s usually considered a bad sign. (See: Maeby Funke’s 52-minute cut of Almost Cousins.) From time to time, though, a movie just doesn’t have an hour-and-a-half worth of story to tell — but the story it does have remains worthwhile. At least, apparently that’s the case. Before I did this list I had no idea any movie here was sub-90 minutes. So good on them.
Here are 11 iconic movies with runtimes shorter than the industry’s “bare minimum” standard of 90 minutes.
1 | Stand By Me (1986), 89 minutes
Forget standing by me, I’ve stood for Kol Nidres longer than 89 minutes.
Wait, don’t leave, we’re just getting started. Seriously. Come back. Aww nuts.
2 | Airplane! (1980), 88 minutes
88 minutes, approximately 178 jokes, and about 175 of them that are excellent. (I could especially do without “Your husband and the others are alive, just unconscious.” “Just like Gerald Ford.”)
3 | Office Space (1999), 89 minutes and Idiocracy (2006), 84 minutes
When Mike Judge makes a movie, he’s getting you out of there in time for tea. (And/or the studio cuts off his funding halfway through because they just don’t “get” him and he has to drastically alter/shorten his plans.)
4 | Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), 89 minutes
The excruciatingly awkward scene where the nerdy guy forgets his wallet on the date feels like it’s 89 minutes just by itself. Also, I’m shocked they didn’t use an even more lingering shot of Phoebe Cates just to bump the movie up one extra minute.
5 | High Noon (1952), 85 minutes
If I recall correctly from when I watched this movie in a film class decades ago, it occurs in real time. Seems like they felt 90+ minutes of real time tension would be too much, a lesson that was completely ignored by eight diminishing return seasons and a TV movie of 24.
6 | This Is Spinal Tap (1984), 85 minutes
This is the first time in eight years of doing this website I’ve been able to organically include Spinal Tap in a list, despite having countless people tell me “your blog goes to 11.”
7 | The Lion King (1994), 89 minutes
They should’ve cut Be Prepared — aka the rotten apple spoiling the batch — and made the movie 85 minutes.
8 | The Evil Dead (1981), 85 minutes
Other horror movies with sub-90 runtimes: Child’s Play, Paranormal Activity, The Wicker Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Cloverfield, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and three of the seven Saw movies. Evil Dead gets to be the representative because I’m pretty sure it didn’t have the budget to go a second longer but still achieved legendary cult status.
9 | Mannequin (1987), 90 minutes (including credits)
I guess I could’ve excluded it because technically it’s 90 minutes (although that includes 4 minutes of credits) — but nothing was going to stop me now. Has anyone re-edited Mannequin for the Mannequin Challenge yet?
10 | Beauty and the Beast (1992), 84 minutes
Very short, but still 20 MINUTES longer than Disney’s Dumbo from 1941. I guess you could get away with that when movie tickets cost a dime, not $17. (Note: I chose to put this on the list over Toy Story, which is also under 90 minutes, even though I didn’t even have a killer line to write about it. I’m not a big Toy Story person.)
11 | Rashomon (1950), 88 minutes
I like describing Rashomon as a whole movie that’s like Summer Nights from Grease. Mostly because I really like seeing smoke come out of my film geek friends’ ears.