Netflix Instant: Classic Films, 1st Ed.
Netflix is constantly changing its lineup of classic movies available to stream, so here are ten great classic films you can watch instantly!
This is the first in a series, so for more old movies, check out my other Netflix Instant classic movie lists including the most recent 8th Edition. For more on classic films, follow me on Twitter, tumblr, Instagram at BlondeAtTheFilm, pinterest, and Facebook.
1. The Lady Eve (1941)
A comedy starring Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, and Charles Coburn, written and directed by Preston Sturges. Stanwyck and Coburn are con artists who target Fonda, a rich, awkward, and naive ophiologist (snake scientist). Watch it. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here. Here’s my full length review.
2. Nothing Sacred (1937)
Carole Lombard is just a girl from Vermont until she is told she is dying from radium poisoning–hold on, it’s a comedy! She is taken to New York where she becomes a celebrity, feted as a heroine for her bravery in the face of impending death. Fredric March is an unscrupulous reporter who shows Lombard around the city…they might fall in love, or fight. It’s Lombard’s only Technicolor film, and she often said it was one of her favorites. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here.
3. His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed by Howard Hawks, this screwball comedy centers on a newspaper editor (Cary Grant), his ex-wife and star reporter (Rosalind Russell), and her sweet but clueless fiancé (Ralph Bellamy). It’s famous for its incredibly fast, overlapping dialogue, so get ready for a lot of sharp, intense, and heated repartee. It’s very funny, with some wonderful inside jokes: Cary Grant says Bellamy’s character “looks like that fellow in the movies, you know…Ralph Bellamy!” and at one point makes a reference to how he dealt with Archie Leach, the last man who crossed him. Archie Leach was Cary Grant’s real name. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here.
4. Double Indemnity (1944)
Classic film noir with the tagline: “From the moment they met it was murder!” A terrifying film fatale (Barbara Stanwyck in an odd blonde wig), an easily corrupted insurance man (Fred MacMurray), and his boss (Edward G. Robinson), all directed by Billy Wilder. A must see. Here’s the trailer, and click here to read my full review. You can buy this film here.
5. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Another Billy Wilder film with Marlene Dietrich as Tyrone Power’s wife. He’s on trial for murder, and she’s a witness for the prosecution…shocking! Charles Laughton is Power’s barrister in this courtroom drama based on an Agatha Christie story. It’s dark, weird, and has tons of twists and turns. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here.
6. Scarlet Street (1945)
Another film noir classic, but this one’s a bit funnier than usual and features a really pathetic hero (Edward G. Robinson), and a slimy but oddly likable villain in Dan Duryea. Joan Bennett is great as “Lazy Legs:” “The things she did to men ended only one way–in murder!” She’s a prostitute, Duryea is her pimp/boyfriend, and Robinson’s a frustrated painter saddled with an awful wife. It’s all delightfully seedy with some very creepy voiceovers. Here’s a clip, and you can buy this movie here.
7. The Apartment (1960)
It’s yet another Billy Wilder film! Jack Lemmon is an employee of a massive insurance corporation, just one of many anonymous workers until he starts letting executives use his apartment for their extra-marital trysts. It’s all going fine and he’s close to that elusive promotion until he sees the almost-disastrous effects of one of Fred MacMurray‘s affairs. Baxter has to pick up the pieces with MacMurray’s mistress, Shirley MacLaine. Jack Lemmon later said: “I always felt that Billy Wilder grew a rose in a garbage pail with this one.” It’s an incredibly charming, funny, bittersweet, wonderful film. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this film here.
8. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
This is a bit later than I usually go, but it’s so good! Handsome legendary actors (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) playing rakish outlaws. Funny, smart, highly entertaining, and definitely classic. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this film here.
10. High Noon (1952)
Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) has just married Grace Kelly in a small western town. They’re literally leaving for their honeymoon when Kane finds out that Frank Miller, a criminal whom he’d caught and sent to jail, is out and coming to get revenge. At first Kane decides to leave with his wife, and hopefully avoid a murderous showdown. But he returns to face Miller, assuming he’ll get help from the townspeople whom he has successfully defended for years. But one by one his friends and neighbors turn away, reluctant to risk their own lives to help him. Will he flee or stay to fight Miller’s gang alone at high noon? Will anyone step up to help him? It’s a beautiful, provocative movie that stands out among westerns. Plus, there’s a hilarious but weirdly powerful theme song. Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here.
10. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)
It’s not really a classic, but it’s got so many classic moments and stars that I’m counting it. I mentioned this movie in my Notorious review. It’s a wonderfully clever use of classic films, a loving parody of film noir, and it’s funny-goofy, too. Steve Martin interacts with all the greats of Classic Hollywood: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Lana Turner, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, Edward Arnold, James Cagney, etc. Here’s the trailer to see how it all works. If you watch Double Indemnity first, and other noirs, too, it will be even funnier. You can buy this movie here.
Netflix Instant does a pretty good job keeping a small collection of classics in their streaming lineup (though I could do with some more musicals, Hitchcock, screwball comedies, and Esther Williams!) I hope one of these strikes your fancy; I’ve got more in my other editions of Netflix Instant lists!