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Ranking All Of Director David Lean’s Movies

David Lean Filmography Movie Ranking Movies

“What are David Lean’s Best Movies?” We looked at all of Lean’s directed filmography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the movies directed by David Lean and looked at their Rotten Tomato Critic, Rotten Tomato User, IMDB, and Letterboxd scores, ranking them against one another to see which movies came out on top. The movies are ranked in our list below based on which movies have the highest overall score between all 6 review sites in comparison with all of the other movies by the same director. The process is all very scientific with no flaws at all.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Viewing!



The Top Film’s Of David Lean



17 ) Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor

Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 16
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 16
  • IMDB User Review Score: 15
  • Letterboxd User Score: 17

Director David Lean became involved in the search for an anchor lost by Captain Cook in 1773. This documentary follows the search for this historic item.

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16 ) The Sound Barrier

 The Sound Barrier Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 14
  • IMDB User Review Score: 17
  • Letterboxd User Score: 15

Fictionalized story of British aerospace engineers solving the problem of supersonic flight.

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15 ) Madeleine

 Madeleine Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 11
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 13
  • IMDB User Review Score: 16
  • Letterboxd User Score: 15

The middle-class family of a young woman cannot understand why she delays in marrying a respectable young man. They know nothing about her long-standing affair with a Frenchman.

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14 ) Blithe Spirit

 Blithe Spirit Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 12
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 10
  • IMDB User Review Score: 14
  • Letterboxd User Score: 14

An English mystery novelist invites a medium to his home, so she may conduct a séance for a small gathering. The writer hopes to gather enough material for the book he’s working on, as well as to expose the medium as a charlatan. However, proceedings take an unexpected turn, resulting in a chain of supernatural events being set into motion that wreak havoc on the man’s present marriage.

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13 ) Ryan’s Daughter

 Ryan’s Daughter Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 15
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 12
  • IMDB User Review Score: 9
  • Letterboxd User Score: 9

World War I seems far away from Ireland’s Dingle peninsula when Rosy Ryan Shaughnessy goes horseback riding on the beach with the young English officer. There was a magnetic attraction between them the day he was the only customer in her father’s pub and Rosy was tending bar for the first time since her marriage to the village schoolmaster. Then one stormy night some Irish revolutionaries expecting a shipment of guns arrive at Ryan’s pub. Is it Rosy who betrays them to the British? Will Shaugnessy take Father Collin’s advice? Is the pivotal role that of the village idiot who is mute?

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12 ) The Passionate Friends

 The Passionate Friends Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 15
  • IMDB User Review Score: 7
  • Letterboxd User Score: 6

The passionate friends were in love when young, but separated, and she married an older man. Then Mary Justin meets Steven Stratton again and they have one last fling together in the Alps.

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11 ) Doctor Zhivago

 Doctor Zhivago Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 16
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 16
  • IMDB User Review Score: 4
  • Letterboxd User Score: 4

Doctor Zhivago is the filmed adapation of the Russian novel by Boris Pasternak from director David Lean that was an international success and today deemed a classic. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie play two protagonists who in fact love each other yet because of their current situation cannot find a way be together.

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10 ) A Passage to India

 A Passage to India Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 8
  • IMDB User Review Score: 10
  • Letterboxd User Score: 11

The film is set during the period of growing influence of the Indian independence movement in the British Raj. It begins with the arrival in India of a British woman, Miss Adela Quested (Judy Davis), who is joining her fiancé, a city magistrate named Ronny Heaslop (Nigel Havers). She and Ronny’s mother, Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft), befriend an Indian doctor, Aziz H. Ahmed (Victor Banerjee).

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9 ) In Which We Serve

 In Which We Serve Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 5
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 10
  • IMDB User Review Score: 12
  • Letterboxd User Score: 11

This is the story of a British Naval ship, the HMS Torrin, from it’s construction to its sinking in the Mediterranean during action in World War II. The ships first and only commanding officer is the experienced Captain E.V. Kinross who trains his men not only to be loyal to him but to the country and most importantly, to themselves. They face challenges at sea and also at home. They lose some of theirs shipmates in action and some of their loved ones in the devastation of the blitz. Throughout it all, the men of the Torrin serve valiantly and heroically.

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8 ) Summertime

 Summertime Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 7
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 7
  • IMDB User Review Score: 10
  • Letterboxd User Score: 11

Middle-aged Ohio secretary Jane Hudson has never found love and has nearly resigned herself to spending the rest of her life alone. But before she does, she uses her savings to finance a summer in romantic Venice, where she finally meets the man of her dreams, the elegant Renato Di Rossi. But when she learns that her new paramour is leading a double life, she must decide whether her happiness can come at the expense of others.

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7 ) This Happy Breed

 This Happy Breed Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 1
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 9
  • IMDB User Review Score: 12
  • Letterboxd User Score: 9

A middle-class family faces personal triumphs and tragedies when they move to a new home in the suburbs.

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6 ) Hobson’s Choice

 Hobson’s Choice Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 8
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 3
  • IMDB User Review Score: 7
  • Letterboxd User Score: 6

Henry Hobson owns and tyrannically runs a successful Victorian boot maker’s shop in Salford, England. A stingy widower with a weakness for overindulging in the local Moonraker Public House, he exploits his three daughters as cheap labour. When he declares that there will be ‘no marriages’ to avoid the expense of marriage settlements at £500 each, his eldest daughter Maggie rebels.

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5 ) Oliver Twist

 Oliver Twist Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 1
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 6
  • IMDB User Review Score: 6
  • Letterboxd User Score: 6

When 9-year-old orphan Oliver Twist dares to ask his cruel taskmaster, Mr. Bumble, for a second serving of gruel, he’s hired out as an apprentice. Escaping that dismal fate, young Oliver falls in with the street urchin known as the Artful Dodger and his criminal mentor, Fagin. When kindly Mr. Brownlow takes Oliver in, Fagin’s evil henchman Bill Sikes plots to kidnap the boy.

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4 ) Brief Encounter

 Brief Encounter Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 8
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 4
  • IMDB User Review Score: 3
  • Letterboxd User Score: 2

Returning home from a shopping trip to a nearby town, bored suburban housewife Laura Jesson is thrown by happenstance into an acquaintance with virtuous doctor Alec Harvey. Their casual friendship soon develops during their weekly visits into something more emotionally fulfilling than either expected, and they must wrestle with the potential havoc their deepening relationship would have on their lives and the lives of those they love.

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3 ) Great Expectations

 Great Expectations Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 1
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 5
  • IMDB User Review Score: 5
  • Letterboxd User Score: 4

In this Dickens adaptation, orphan Pip discovers through lawyer Mr. Jaggers that a mysterious benefactor wishes to ensure that he becomes a gentleman. Reunited with his childhood patron, Miss Havisham, and his first love, the beautiful but emotionally cold Estella, he discovers that the elderly spinster has gone mad from having been left at the altar as a young woman, and has made her charge into a warped, unfeeling heartbreaker.

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2 ) The Bridge on the River Kwai

 The Bridge on the River Kwai Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 5
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 1
  • IMDB User Review Score: 2
  • Letterboxd User Score: 3

The classic story of English POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors. British and American intelligence officers conspire to blow up the structure, but Col. Nicholson , the commander who supervised the bridge’s construction, has acquired a sense of pride in his creation and tries to foil their plans.

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1 ) Lawrence of Arabia

 Lawrence of Arabia Review Website Ranks:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Critic: 4
  • Rotten Tomatoes Users: 1
  • IMDB User Review Score: 1
  • Letterboxd User Score: 1

The story of British officer T.E. Lawrence’s mission to aid the Arab tribes in their revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Lawrence becomes a flamboyant, messianic figure in the cause of Arab unity but his psychological instability threatens to undermine his achievements.

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David Lean’s Best Movies



David Lean Review Website Filmography Rankings

FilmRT CriticRT UserIMDBLetterboxdOveral Rank
Lawrence of Arabia 4111 1
The Bridge on the River Kwai 5123 2
Great Expectations 1554 3
Brief Encounter 8432 4
Oliver Twist 1666 5
Hobson’s Choice 8376 6
This Happy Breed 19129 7
Summertime 771011 8
In Which We Serve 5101211 9
A Passage to India 1081011 10
Doctor Zhivago 161644 11
The Passionate Friends 131576 12
Ryan’s Daughter 151299 13
Blithe Spirit 12101414 14
Madeleine 11131615 15
The Sound Barrier 13141715 16
Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor 16161517 17

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