Netflix is mostly concerned with offering its subscribers new and original content. However, there are also lots of classic movies on Netflix. From black and white dramas from the 1930s to the best movies of the 1970s, 1980s, and even 1990s, there’s plenty of critically-acclaimed films on Netflix. Let’s take a look at the best ones.
Best classic movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best classic movies on Netflix.
1. Bonnie and Clyde
The 1967 film broke a lot of rules for a major Hollywood studio movie. It had much more violence, and more sexual content, than what was considered the norm. It was based loosely on the real lives of bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. As played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, these criminals loved to shoot guns, rob stores and kill both civilians and police officers. However, the movie portrays both of these people as sympathetic, and even romantic, characters. It’s definitely one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
2. My Fair Lady
This 1964 musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, was a huge hit at the time. It tells the story of Henry Higgins, a college professor in Edwardian London, played by Rex Harrison. He believes he can take a girl off the streets and turn her into a “real lady”. The woman turns out to be Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn. Higgins works with Doolittle and actually does achieve his goal, but at what cost. The movie went on to win eight Ocards that year, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Harrison.
3. Cool Hand Luke
The 1967 movie, but set in the 1950s, stars Paul Newman. He plays a man who, in some people’s eyes, commits a minor crime. In this case, he’s arrested for cutting a few parking meters off poles in a Florida town. However, he’s sentenced to two years to a prison camp, where he works on a chain gang. This movie is legendary in showing how Newman’s character tries to buck the system, and fight the prison camp’s warden. It’s also famous for the warden’s line, “What we got here is a failure to communicate.” The movie also features George Kennedy as another prisoner, and his performance won him the Best Supporting Actor award that year.
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Considered one of the best comedy films of all time, Monty Python and the Holy Grail takes the Arthurian legend and turns it on its head. That means King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, and even God are all accounted for.
However, this isn’t a simple retelling of King Arthur’s journey to find the Holy Grail. From the projectionist accidentally putting the wrong film in the projector during the beginning of the movie to Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot, Monty Python and the Holy Grail messes with your expectations from the very beginning and never lets up. It’s a lock for one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
5. Rain Man
This 1988 drama was both a box office and a critical hit. It also won a ton of Oscars for that year, including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman. He plays Raymond, an autistic man who has been in a mental institution for most of his life. He’s discovered by his younger brother Charlie, played by Tom Cruise, who also finds out that Raymond can recall huge amounts of facts and numbers inside his head. At first, Charlie just sees Raymond as a way to get rich quickly in Vegas by using his talents. However, the two brothers soon begin to truly bond with each other. It’s definitely one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
6. A Bridge Too Far
This 1977 film is set during the WWII invasion of Europe by the Allied forces. It recounts the true story of Operation Market Garden. The plan was to take a series of bridges in Holland so the Allied forces could have a course to get to Berlin. Of course, things don’t go according to plan. This movie is also notable for its huge all-star cast. Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, and (in a small role) Robert Redford are just some of the major actors in this movie. It’s one of the best classic movies on Netflix you can watch.
While there were movies about the Vietnam War before this 1996 film, this one was perhaps the first to truly depict the war close to the way it happened for the US ground troops. Writer-director Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam War veteran, created a movie that shows much of the attitute of the common soldiers in that fight. Many didn’t want to be there, and many wondered why they were fighting.
Charlie Sheen plays the main character, an actual volunteer who goes to Vietnam to fight. He’s soon caught in between two sergeants, played by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe. One has been hardened by the war, and the other is just trying to get throug. Sheen’s character has to choose which philosophies he must follow. It’s one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
8. Fiddler on the Roof
This 1971 musical, based on the hit Broadway play, is just fun to watch. There’s a story about a father in pre-Soviet Russia who is dealing with his three daughters that want to get married. However, it’s the songs and music, which won the Academy Awards in those categories that year, that are the true highlight. It’s also filled with terrific dance sequences, and more.
9. White Christmas
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play two former WWII soldiers in this 1954 musical who become successful music producers. They tag along with two singers played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen to a holiday inn in Vermont, only to discover it’s owned by Crosby and Kaye’s former military commander. The inn is in danger of shutting down due to a lack of snow and guests. The foursome try their best to stage a musical at the inn to save it. The storyline doesn’t matter much; what matters are the Irving Berlin songs that are featured in White Christmas and sung by the cast, including the title tune (which actually debuted in an earlier movie, Holiday Inn).
10. A Clockwork Orange
After making the groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey, director Stanley Kubrick made a very different kind of sci-fi movie with this 1971 release. Malcolm McDowell plays Alex, who lives in a near-future version of the UK. He and his gang commit horrible crimes in this film, but he gets captured and is put through a brainwashing program that is supposed to “cure” him. This movie is sometimes hard to watch, but it has a lot to say about how we view criminals, and the attempts to rehabilitate them.
These are our picks for the best classic movies on Netflix. We’ll update this post with new titles once they hit the streaming service.