Netflix Instant: Classic Films, 8th Ed.
Netflix is constantly changing its lineup of classic movies available to stream, so here are five more great classic films you can watch instantly!
For more streaming classics, check out my other Netflix Instant classic movie lists. And for more on classic films, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram at BlondeAtTheFilm, tumblr, pinterest, and Facebook.
1. Laura (1944)
When this classic film noir begins, the title character (Gene Tierney) has already been murdered in her apartment. A wonderfully ordinary, constantly fidgeting detective named McPherson (Dana Andrews) is assigned to catch her killer.
The suspects include Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson, and that fixture of horror films, Vincent Price. Through flashbacks and solid detective work, McPherson tries to reconstruct Laura’s life and determine who killed her and why. But soon his professional interest in the victim crosses the line from duty to obsession. Creepy, oddly funny, and haunting, with a tremendous cast directed by a master of the genre, Otto Preminger, this is a must-watch!
Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here. Fun fact: David Raksin composed the film’s score, including the song “Laura,” which would go on to become a jazz standard.
2. Desk Set (1957)
This film features the incredible screen team Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in their eighth film together. Hepburn plays a crazy-smart research librarian at the Federal Broadcasting Company, and Tracy is an engineer who has come to install a computer in her department. The librarians are afraid that once the computer, EMERAC, is installed they will all lose their jobs. So Hepburn and her fellow brilliant librarians, (including Joan Blondell), set out to prove that they are not so easily replaced!
Meanwhile, Hepburn and Tracy embark on an adorable platonic and then not-so-platonic affair. But can their budding love survive the invasion of Tracy’s EMERAC? For more, you can read my full review of this film.
Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this movie here. Fun fact: EMERAC was based on two real computers: ENIAC, developed in 1946, and UNIVAC, which came on the market in 1951. Computers were still quite new in 1957, but they were beginning to be utilized commercially. Their installation in offices usually resulted in layoffs, so the plot of this movie would not have been farfetched for 1957 audiences.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
This is that rare movie that is as wonderful as its source book. Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel comes to beautiful, poignant life in this timeless, Oscar-winning film.
It’s the story of a widowed lawyer and his children in a small Alabama town in the 1930s, told from the perspective of the lawyer’s daughter, Scout. She recounts both the everyday and the extraordinary, namely a trial of an African-American man who is accused of raping a white woman. Her father defends the man, which, as you can imagine, is an unpopular position. Things spiral from there.
The movie is amazing: Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch, Mary Badham is the perfect Scout, and nothing is out of place, overdone, or extraneous. It’s a true classic and an absolute must-see.
Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this masterpiece here. Fun fact: To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and took home three statuettes: Best Actor (Gregory Peck), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction.
4. High Society (1956)
In the mood for a jazzy musical starring three icons of the silver screen? Then High Society might be just the thing! It’s a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story (1940) with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra replacing Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart.
The film is set amidst the “high society” of Newport, RI, on the eve of Kelly’s wedding. Her ex-husband (Crosby) is still in love with her, and through various hijinks, including a jazz festival featuring Louis Armstrong, he worms his way back into her life. A reporter (Sinatra) and photographer (Celeste Holm) complicate matters, and the whole gang performs the bubbly Cole Porter score as wonderfully as you’d expect. For more, you can read my full review here.
Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this fun musical here. Fun fact: this was Grace Kelly’s final film performance before she married Prince Rainier of Monaco, and she wears her actual enormous engagement ring in the movie. High Society premiered three months after she became Princess Grace.
5. Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
This Busby Berkeley-directed musical follows the comical trials, both romantic and professional, of a baseball team in 1908. Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin are baseball players and part-time vaudevillians (which explains their frequent bursting into song!) whose team is sold to a new owner who happens to be–shock–a woman!
Esther Williams plays the beautiful owner who has to contend with unruly players, gangsters trying to fix the games, and an adorable but mischevious fan, Betty Garrett. (Neptune’s Daughter, which also starred Garrett and Williams, would premiere just two months after Ball Game.)
Here’s the trailer, and you can buy this musical here. Fun fact: Williams would later write in her autobiography that this was not a pleasant film to make. Gene Kelly was disappointed that Williams replaced Judy Garland, who was the original choice for the part, and he took a dislike to the swimming star. His antipathy was only made worse because she was three inches taller than he was, (a fact he goes to great lengths to hide in the movie and the press materials). Kelly made things difficult for Williams on set, as well as apparently nixing a planned swimming routine. Indeed, she only appears once in a swimming pool in this film, and it’s a casual jaunt instead of her usual extravaganzas.
For more streaming classics, check out my other Netflix lists here which feature lots of movies still available to stream. And you can follow me on Twitter, tumblr, pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram at BlondeAtTheFilm. Happy watching!
I’m glad they added Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I’ve never seen it, but love the Gene/Frank/Jules trio in On the Town. Can’t wait to give it a watch!
Me, too! I’m excited to finally have an Esther Williams film for people to stream! I hope you enjoy it–that trio is fun to watch!
Great post! I love these films. I recently saw Desk Set for the first time and loved it; I think it’s the most underrated Hepburn/Tracy film.
I agree about Desk Set! Thanks for reading!
Take Me out to the Ballgame and DeskSet are some of the best movies ever made.
I love them, too!