Netflix Instant: Five Classic Films, 4th Ed.

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 movies, check out my other Netflix Instant classic movie lists: 1st Edition, 2nd Edition3rd Edition5th Edition, 6th Edition, and most recent 7th Edition.

To make it a little easier, I’ve also compiled a list of the movies that are still available to stream from my earlier lists below the new picks. For more on classic films, follow me on Twittertumblr, Instagram at BlondeAtTheFilm, pinterest, and Facebook.

1. Funny Face (1957)

Netflix is heavy on Audrey Hepburn films right now, which is fine with me! First up is Funny Face, a delightful musical about an intellectual woman (Hepburn, Roman Holiday, CharadeParis When It Sizzles, How to Steal a Million) who is unwillingly pulled into the world of high fashion. She is discovered quite accidentally by a charismatic magazine editor (Kay Thompson, who usually worked behind the camera as a vocal arranger and coach, and also wrote the Eloise children’s books) and a fashion photographer (Fred Astaire, The Gay Divorcee, The Band Wagon, Daddy Long Legs, Roberta) based partly on legendary photographer Richard Avedon. The movie starts in New York, but the bookshop assistant with a “funny face” is persuaded to come to Paris, as so often happens in a Hepburn movie!

As you can imagine, there are fun musical numbers (including Hepburn’s famous black-clad solo in the cafe) and gorgeous fashion scenes featuring designs by Givenchy. Fun fact: Hepburn trained as a ballerina, and she was thrilled to get to dance with Fred Astaire in this movie. The film was directed by Stanley Donen (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singin’ in the Rain, Royal Wedding), so you know it’s going to be great!  You can watch the trailer here, and read my full review here.

2. Monkey Business (1952)

If you’ve only seen suave, in-control Cary Grant, a great pleasure awaits you in this film! Directed by Howard Hawks, Grant plays an absent-minded scientist working on a youth serum. He’s happily if stodgily married to Ginger Rogers, and there’s a gorgeous young secretary thrown into the mix played by Marilyn Monroe. But this movie isn’t a man-has-affair-with-secretary story, or even a wife-thinks-he-might-be-cheating-with-secretary story. Instead, Grant accidentally makes a huge breakthrough with the serum and then accidentally tests it on himself instead of the monkeys in the lab. So it’s not very believable, but who cares? Soon Grant is acting like a dumb college kid, but that’s just the beginning! Rogers gets in on the act, and they eventually (accidentally, of course) dose themselves back to the playground! I think this film is terrifically funny; I love watching Grant and Rogers play, and supporting actors Monroe and Charles Coburn just add to the fun. It’s a great one to watch with kids, too. Here’s the trailer.

3. Charade (1963)

Back to Miss Hepburn and Paris! Hepburn is a wealthy woman unhappily married to a secretive man. We meet her on vacation where she has just decided to get a divorce. But when she returns to Paris, she finds out that her husband has been murdered, and before he was killed he inexplicably sold all of their belongings. There’s an oddly affecting scene when she runs through their beautiful, achingly empty Parisian home throwing open closets and drawers in the hope of finding something, anything, left behind. Anyway, she’s drawn into a confusing web of intrigue involving WWII, a missing fortune, mistaken identities, unsavory characters, and Cary Grant, whom she coincidentally met on vacation and now appears in Paris to “help.”

But who can she trust and what in the world is going on? A great cast of Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Ned Glass, and Jacques Marin (who plays the head guard in How to Steal a Million) surround her in this funny, romantic, suspenseful thriller. It’s often called the “Hitchcock film he didn’t make” because it was directed by Stanley Donen, but Charade is Hitchcockian on purpose. Donen meant it as an homage and near-spoof of Hitchcock’s films, especially those with Grant. It’s that odd Hitchcockian mix of romance, wit, absurdity, style, murder, and suspense, and it’s wonderful! You can watch the trailer here, and read my full review here. Fun fact: Charade was remade as The Truth About Charlie in 2002, but watch the original, please.

4. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

This helpful film stars three legends, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable (The Gay Divorcee), and Marilyn Monroe as models determined to marry very well. In a scheme devised by Bacall, the three beautiful ladies pool their money and rent a penthouse apartment, the better to attract their kind of man. The women are unabashed gold diggers with a plan, and they stick to it, for a while…Darn that love! This movie is about that age-old conundrum that Hollywood loved to explore: marry for love or marry for money? Or can you do both? (see Hands Across the Table, Midnight, The Palm Beach Story, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes…) Bacall is wonderful as a supremely confident plotter overseeing her two blundering buddies, Grable is adorable in her own ditzy, sweet way, and Monroe’s perfect “dumb blonde” who is “blind as a bat” but doesn’t want to wear glasses is hilarious. William Powell appears as a suitor (bonus!), and the movie is stylish, fun, and filmed in CinemaScope! Here’s the trailer.

5. Sabrina (1954)

After winning the Best Actress Oscar for her first Hollywood film, Roman Holiday (1953), Audrey Hepburn made this movie. In Sabrina, Hepburn plays the chauffeur’s starry-eyed daughter on the immense Larrabee estate on Long Island. She has an intense, unrequited crush on the younger Larrabee son, David, played by William Holden, Hepburn’s co-star in Paris When It Sizzles a decade later. Sabrina goes to Paris to train as a chef and try to get over her impossible love. She leaves Long Island a naive girl and comes back a sophisticated woman dripping in chic Parisian couture. Now David notices her, but that’s very inconvenient because he is engaged! So David’s older, somewhat craggy brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart), steps in to break up the blossoming affair (not for the sake of the engagement, but because David’s marriage would cement several important business matters for Larabee Industries.) This fairy tale of a movie directed by the great Billy Wilder is utterly charming. You can watch the trailer here.

Fun facts: the production wasn’t entirely smooth, but none of that conflict shows up in the movie. Hepburn and (married father) Holden enjoyed a love affair during the production, but they broke it off when a heartbroken Hepburn realized he wouldn’t get a divorce. (Holden apparently never quite got over his ethereal co-star; read my Paris When It Sizzles review for more on that.) Bogart was Wilder’s second choice behind Cary Grant and everyone knew it, which caused some tension, shall we say! In happier drama, costume designer Edith Head, who designed Hepburn’s costumes in Roman Holiday, also designed Hepburn’s pre-Paris clothes for this film. But Wilder wanted a real Parisian look for Hepburn’s triumphant return, so he sent Hepburn to hot young designer Givenchy in Paris. Famously, Monsieur Givenchy thought that his appointment with “Miss Hepburn” was with Katharine Hepburn, and he was bewildered when Audrey walked in the door! But they became fast friends as she picked out items from his collection for Sabrina. Hepburn became Givenchy’s muse, and the pair were lifelong pals and confidantes. He would design her film costumes and her personal wardrobe for the rest of her life.

Here are the films that I’ve listed before that are still available to stream. Click on each edition to find more information about the movies.

From the 1st Edition:

Nothing Sacred (1937), His Girl Friday (1940), Double Indemnity (1944), Scarlet Street (1945), Witness For The Prosecution (1957), The Apartment (1960)

From the 2nd Edition:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), All About Eve (1950), The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

From the 3rd edition:

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), I Was a Male War Bride (1949), It’s A Pleasure (1945), Daddy Long Legs (1955)

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Categories: Comedy, Drama, Film Noir, Musical, Mystery, Romance, Screwball, Thriller

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6 replies »

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog! I LOVE old movies and regularly visit your site for suggestions. Having the rundown of available films from Netflix means the I can always find something to watch! Thanks!

  2. Great post, Cam! I remember watching Monkey Business a couple of months ago and loving it! It was exhilarating to see Cary Grant in such an uncharacteristic role… the haircut he gets himself still makes me chuckle. (As well as naughty Ginger Rogers dropping fish where she wasn’t supposed to!)

  3. If you Google Becall’s images, you’ll find the photo you’ve chosen from “How to Marry a Millionaire” is one of the RARE shots of Becall where she’s not gazing askance. (What she referred to as “The Look.”) Thanks for this!

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