Netflix Instant Classic Films: Five More Movies
Netflix is constantly changing its lineup of classic movies available to stream, so here are five more great films you can watch instantly! For more, check out my other Netflix Instant classic movie picks here and here.
1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
This is that famous film with Marilyn Monroe in her iconic role as gold-digging, smart-dumb-blonde Lorelei Lee. Although most people think of Monroe and “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” when they think of this movie, Jane Russell, who plays Monroe’s wise-cracking best friend Dorothy, was the bigger star at the time, and Monroe’s role was originally intended for Betty Grable. (Grable’s salary was $150,000 a picture, but rising star Monroe could be had at only $18,000, so she got the role.) Monroe and Russell are showgirls on a voyage to Paris; Monroe is looking for diamonds and millionaires, but Russell is out for love. Charles Coburn (The More the Merrier, The Lady Eve) is excellent as a millionaire with a weakness for blondes, and the wonderful cast is directed by the legendary Howard Hawks (Barbary Coast). There are great musical numbers (a personal favorite is Russell’s “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love” which she sings in the ship’s gym surrounded by Olympic athletes in flesh-colored briefs), funny set-pieces, beautiful costumes, and excellent performances. For a full review, check out my post on this film. Here’s the trailer.
2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Yet another of 1939′s amazing offerings. Directed by Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur (Easy Living, The More the Merrier), Claude Rains (Notorious), Astrid Allwyn (Hands Across the Table) and Edward Arnold (Easy Living), it was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and remains timelessly excellent. Jimmy Stewart is naive, optimistic Jefferson Smith who runs a Boy Scout-esque organization. He’s appointed to the Senate by his state’s governor, who assumes that Smith will be easy to manipulate. Smith doesn’t realize that just about everyone in Washington is crooked, criminal, jaded, or all three, and eventually his innocent, honest idealism causes problems for some corrupt political bosses and politicians…his filibuster against these forces is cinematic magic! It’s a must-watch that unfortunately remains very relevant. Here’s the trailer.
3. Daddy Long Legs (1955)
Fred Astaire (The Gay Divorcee, The Band Wagon) is a middle-aged, third-generation millionaire who crosses paths with a French orphan. He wants to adopt her, but when his advisors learn that the orphan is a beautiful eighteen-year-old (Leslie Caron), they convince him that he should anonymously sponsor her, instead. He sends her to college in America, complete with an incredible wardrobe and anything she might ever need. He stays away, refusing even to read the letters she sends to her benefactor. Eventually they do meet, and it becomes very difficult for him to stay away…With two such incredible dancers as Astaire and Caron, naturally there are some beautiful dances filling the CinemaScope frame, including imaginative dream sequences, ballets, lyrical duets, and one of those giant college dances where the entire student body knows the complicated choreography (like the “Varsity Drag” in Good News). For a full review, check out my post on this film. Here’s the trailer.
4. I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
Cary Grant in drag? Yup. Grant (Notorious, To Catch a Thief, The Awful Truth) is a French officer who falls for American officer Ann Sheridan when they’re both stationed in Germany. At first they can’t stand each other, but eventually warmer feelings prevail. When the two decide to get married, they’re faced with red tape from three governments, further complicated by Sheridan’s new orders to return to the States. There were rules and regulations in place for war brides to emigrate with their American husbands to the US, but none for war husbands…It’s another Howard Hawks’ film (Barbary Coast, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), a late screwball comedy in the unlikely setting of post-war Germany with a famous ending involving Grant, horsehair, and a woman’s uniform. Here’s a clip from the beginning of the film.
5. It’s a Pleasure (1945)
If you’re in the mood for a light musical with lots of ice-skating and an evil but beautifully dressed nemesis, this is the film for you. Sonja Henie was a Norwegian figure-skating champion turned movie star whose ice-skating musicals were extremely popular and profitable in the 1930s-1940s. This is one of her later films, and her only Technicolor movie. She’s an ice-skater in a live show (Henie also produced and performed in wildly popular ice shows in real life) who falls for a troubled hockey player (Michael O’Shea). Will she stay with him, leaving her career to stagnate, or will she leave him to become a famous star? Can she have both her love and her sparkly skating costumes? What about her boss’ wife (Marie McDonald) who seems awfully interested in O’Shea? There’s drama, glorious Technicolor, and lots of ice-skating. For a full review, check out my post on this film. Here’s the Brazilian samba extravaganza from the end of the movie.
For more old movies available to stream, check out my other Netflix Instant classic movie picks here and here. Happy streaming!