Although Amazon pushes its Prime Originals pretty hard, you shouldn’t forget that your Prime membership allows you to watch a whole slew of films, which includes a lot of classics. The best part is that you can watch these classic movies on Amazon without having to pay anything extra!
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t have a “classics” category for you to search through if you’re in the mood to watch a hit from yesteryear. But don’t worry! We’re here to give you a list of the best classic movies on Amazon Prime right now.
Some of the classics below are big hits you likely have already seen (or at least heard of before), but we’ve also included some older-but-lesser-known classics in there as well.
So grab some popcorn and snuggle in on the couch with some of these awesome classic films! Not an Amazon subscriber but want to watch some movies on Netflix instead? We’ve got you covered there, too.
The Stranger (1946)
There are a lot of “firsts” to the 1946 film The Stranger. It’s the first film noir from famed director Orson Welles and also his first (and only) film to be an uncontested box office smash. It’s also the first Hollywood film to include documentary footage of the Holocaust.
The Stranger is a story about a war crimes investigator who is tracking a Nazi fugitive who happens to be hiding out in Connecticut. The fugitive has erased all clues to his identity, with his obsession with clocks being the only thing investigators know about him.
Although Citizen Kane will always be Welles’ masterpiece, The Stranger is certainly one of his best works. Don’t miss one of the most classic movies on Amazon!
Director: Orson Welles
Screenplay: Anthony Veiller, Decla Dunning
Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles
The African Queen (1951)
The African Queen is an adventure drama with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. It centers on the unlikely partnership of a steamship captain — played by Humphrey Bogart — and a missionary widow played by Katharine Hepburn. The two find themselves trapped in some dangerous situations while in German-occupied Africa.
Bogart won his first and only Oscar for his acting in this film, and it’s frequently cited as one of Katharine Hepburn’s best performances. The film was a big hit when it was released in 1951 and has gone on to attain a legendary status not only among film historians and filmmakers, but also film fans.
If you’re at all hesitant to watch one of the most bonafide classic movies on Amazon, just keep in mind that it’s only 105 minutes long — far shorter than most blockbusters of today!
Director: John Huston
Screenplay: John Huston, James Agee, Peter Viertel, John Collier
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
While Night Of The Living Dead might not be the first zombie movie ever made, it certainly is the most important. The cult horror film was shot on a shoestring budget and became a huge hit in the late 60s, terrifying theatre-goers around the world.
The plot of the movie is as simple as it gets: seven people are trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse during the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse. Each of the human survivors gets picked off one-by-one in ever gruesome ways (for the time, at least). The question is: how many of them are killed by zombies and how many of them are killed off by one another?
Night Of The Living Dead spawned five subsequent films in the “Living Dead” series, but it all started here.
Director: George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, John Russo
Cast: Judith O’Dea, Duane Jones, Marilyn Eastman, Karl Hardman, Keith Wayne
On paper, the 1985 film Clue sounds like a terrible idea: a movie based on a board game where one of the characters is named Colonel Mustard. Somehow, despite everyone’s preconceptions, Clue ends up being not just a terrific film but quite possibly one of the funniest movies ever made. It certainly is one of the best classic movies on Amazon right now, hands down.
The plot of the film reflects that of the board game in that six characters are stuck in the middle of a murder mystery and must deduce who committed the murder, with what weapon, and in which room of the cavernous mansion in which they are trapped. As one would expect, farcical hijinx ensue.
The thing you need to remember while watching Clue is to pay strict attention: the jokes come fast and they are very subtle. There are some broad comedic strokes for sure, but nearly every line out of a character’s mouth is laden with sarcasm, wit, or deadpan humor.
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Screenplay: Jonathan Lynn
Cast: Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Martin Mull
Ordinary People (1980)
For some strange reason, this terrific drama directed by legendary Hollywood actor Robert Redford (his directorial debut) flies under the radar with modern audiences. Despite the movie winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1980 as well as earning a bevy of accolades for its incredible cast, it’s likely few people reading this have seen or even heard of it before.
Granted, the movie is quite bleak. It’s centered on a white, upper-middle-class family that is slowly getting torn apart after the accidental death of one of two sons and the attempted suicide of the other. The drama is very real and there are no easy answers to find within the family’s intense arguments.
If you’re looking for the kind of movie you can put on to have a relaxing evening, this is not the film for you. If you’re looking for an important drama centered around true-to-life characters going through a very tough time, this film is right up your alley.
Director: Robert Redford
Screenplay: Alvin Sargent
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, Timothy Hutton
The film Alfie centers on the titular character: a narcissistic, womanizing, apathetic man played by a young Michael Caine. Alfie lives only for his own enjoyment and doesn’t care if he has to walk all over someone else to get what he wants. Eventually, certain events force Alfie to reflect on just how damaging his awful behavior really is.
Interestingly, Alfie will often break the “fourth wall” by directly addressing the viewer. Just like his interactions with other characters in the film, what Alfie tells the viewer might not be true.
Alfie is actually the film version of a play by the same name, and this film was remade in 2004 starring Jude Law as Alfie. Interested in the remake? Well, that is also on Amazon Prime. The remake isn’t something we would lump in with a list of classic movies on Amazon, but it’s worth a look!
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Screenplay: Bill Naughton
Cast: Michael Caine, Millicent Martin, Shelley Winters, Julia Foster, Jane Asher
To Catch A Thief (1955)
Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock is usually associated with horror since his films Psycho and The Birds are so embedded in our culture. However, what Hitchcock did the best was take audiences on grand adventures where romance and intrigue abound and nothing is what it seems.
That’s exactly what you get with To Catch A Thief. While it’s not Hitchcock’s most critically-lauded film, it certainly is one of his most fun movies.
To Catch A Thief is the story of a retired cat burglar played by Cary Grant. He’s forced out of retirement when a new cat burglar starts preying on wealthy tourists in France, framing Grant as the culprit. But who is the real burglar? You might be guessing up until the very end.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: John Michael Hayes
Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams
The Stepford Wives (1975)
You might have seen the 2004 remake of this film, which stars Nicole Kidman. If so, you might think the original will be a comedy just like the remake. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as the original film is quite dark and fully commits to the horror of its premise.
The premise is that the idyllic lives of wealthy Connecticut couples aren’t quite as they seem, as the women living in Stepford aren’t really women at all.
The Stepford Wives is still controversial as some perceive it as an anti-feminist statement. The director, however, would beg to differ, as he describes it as firmly anti-men. You’ll need to see it for yourself to decide!
Director: Bryan Forbes
Screenplay: William Goldman
Cast: Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Peter Masterson, Nanette Newman, Tina Louise, Patrick O’Neal
War Games (1983)
This might sound unbelievable, but the film War Games actually inspired then-President Ronald Reagan to question Congress and his own administration on the feasibility of the film’s plot actually happening. It’s generally accepted that the first Presidential directive on computer security came about as a response to War Games.
In the film, Matthew Broderick portrays a young computer whiz who nearly causes World War III when he hacks a military computer simulation thinking it’s a new kind of video game. Once he realizes what he’s done, the race is on to stop the military computer from actually launching a nuclear assault on Russia.
You’ll have to look past the dated computers and jargon to see the real point of the film, which is that placing too much trust in technology is a dangerous game.
Director: John Badham
Screenplay: Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The film Fatal Attraction is almost like The Silence Of The Lambs of 1987, in that it was a genuinely terrifying film that somehow topped box office charts and got nominated for several Academy Awards. It leaves such an indelible impression on people — especially men — that Glenn Close still gets stopped in the street by people telling her how much she terrified them in the film.
Fatal Attraction centers on a husband and wife who are seemingly happy, but the husband still decides to have a short fling with a co-worker. Realizing his mistake, the husband tries to cut off the affair — but the co-worker is not giving up that easily. What follows is a terrifying treatise on obsession, mental instability, and downright evil.
This film is frequently used to this day by psychiatrists to examine borderline personality disorder, which the co-worker embodies in the movie.
Director: Adrian Lyne
Screenplay: James Dearden
Cast: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer