Even though Netflix is mostly concerned with offering its subscribers new and original content, the streaming service also features many classic movies. 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 classic movies on Netflix.
Best classic movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best classic movies on Netflix.
1. Schindler’s List
Hoping to make a fortune, German businessman Oskar Schindler arrives in the German-occupied Polish city of Krakow. Sensing an opportunity to make money from the Nazis’ rise to power during World War II, Schindler founds a company that makes cookware and utensils.
Making these items are unpaid Jews, who are forced to live in Krakow’s ghettos due to the Nazis’ increasing presence. Schindler soon grows a conscience as more of his unpaid employees are sent to the nearby labor camp. Even if it means giving up a potential fortune, Schindler wants to prevent as many Jews going to the camp as possible.
2. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones is not your run-of-the-mill archaeologist. After all, he’s willing to lose limbs to get a solid-gold idol from somewhere in the Peruvian forest. Taking notice of Jones’ exploits, Army intelligence agents authorize him to find the Ark of the Covenant to prevent the Nazis from finding it first.
As things often do with Indiana Jones, nothing goes as planned. Jones soon finds out the Ark is anything but a normal artifact. Not only does he have to fight his way through the Nazis, but he also has to fight through whatever the Ark contains.
3. Taxi Driver
It’s not easy being an ex-Marine who’s also an insomniac. Just ask Travis Bickle, who copes with his insomnia by working the night shift as a taxi driver.
Spurned by a potential lover and disgusted by the dysfunction of New York City, Bickle’s worldview quickly turns into one of violence. Whether you’re a presidential candidate or an armed gangster, no one is safe from Bickle and his imagined destiny.
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.
Grease was already a hit Broadway musical before the movie version was released in 1978. However, the film version attracted a whole new audience thanks to hiring two superstars in the lead roles. Fresh off his starring turn in Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta was perfectly cast as Danny Zuko, a 1950’s tough guy with a heart of gold. Oliva Newton-John, the mega disco singing star, was also perfect as Sandy Olsson, who falls for Zuko’s real person inside the tough racer persona. The musical has tons of great songs, excellent dance numbers, and is just pure entertainment.
6. Pulp Fiction
Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are two hitmen tasked with finding their employer’s stolen briefcase. Eventually, one of them is tasked with taking the employer’s wife out to dinner while he’s away.
Later, we meet a boxer who is paid to lose his fight and two thieves who decide to rob a coffee shop. These stories might seem unrelated, but they are woven together in a manner never before seen in cinema. Also, Marvin gets shot in the face. Must have been a speed bump or something. Pulp Fiction was a groundbreaking film and is easily one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
7. Rain Man
Following the death of his father, Charlie Babbitt returns to his hometown to collect his father’s $3 million estate and 1949 Buick Roadmaster. However, it turns out the $3 million is held in trust for Raymond Babbitt, the brother Charlie didn’t know he had.
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Raymond is also an autistic savant, one who can memorize trivia and math equations in a split second. Charlie hopes to exploit Raymond’s gifts, but his reckless abandon forces Charlie to reassess his own values. It’s definitely a must for our classic movies on Netflix list.
Sylvester Stallone became a superstar with this 1976 film about a boxer with a dream. Many people forget that Stallone actually wrote this movie, which centers on Rocky Balboa’s quest to go up against the heavyweight boxing champion. It seems like an impossible dream, but Rocky’s determination fills up this movie right up to the fight itself. In the end, this movie is one of the all-time great sports films. It has heart, humor, and it shows that dreams come true in ways that are very unexpected.
9. Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee became a movie superstar just a few weeks after his untimely death with this 1973 kung-fu action film. Bruce Lee plays, well, Lee (that’s his character’s full name), who is recruited by British intelligence. Lee goes to a martial arts tournament on a private island near Hong Kong. His true mission is to find evidence that the island’s owner, Han, is into drug smuggling. Western movie audiences had never seen an action film like this. They had also never seen a movie actor like Lee, who projected confidence and incredible fighting skills. Enter the Dragon started the massive kung-fu movie trend of the 1970s, but the original is still one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
10. Rebel Without A Cause
Like Bruce Lee, James Dean was a groundbreaking actor that died just a few weeks before his greatest film was released. This 1955 drama tried to portray American teenagers like Dean’s character Jim Stark as more than just the stereotypical juvenile delinquents. It focused on themes of youth vs parents and how some teenagers handled being outsiders. Natalie Wood is Dean’s equal, as she plays Stark’s girlfriend Judy.
Best classic movies on Netflix — honorable mentions
There are plenty of other classic movies on Netflix to check out. Here are a few that didn’t quite make the top 10 list.
- White Christmas – This 1954 holiday musical has become a staple of the Christmas season, and for good reason.
- Carrie – The horror genre got one of its best films in this 1976 release, as a bullied teenaged girl discovers she’s a telekinetic.
- Doctor Zhivago – Director David Lean brought us this epic 1965 film about a romance set in Russia during the Bolshevic Revolution.
- Four Weddings and a Funeral – This 1994 comedy may be one of the best “rom-coms” ever made.
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.