What are the best classic movies on Netflix?
Maybe the question should be, “what is a classic movie?” For some people, a classic movie is from the ’60s or ’70s and earlier, but for some younger audience members, it could be something from as late as the ’90s, since 20-year-olds weren’t even born during the last century.
With that said, Netflix has something for everyone, but in this case, we will stick with movies that are from no later than the early ’90s, and in the case of 2020, we will cut it off in 1991.
Here is a look at 15 great classic movies you can stream right now on Netflix.
Every month, Netflix deletes movies from its streaming service when contracts expire. The good news is that Netflix also had plenty of great movies to replace them.
Bookmark this page, as we will update this article every month to remove the films that drop off and add great new sci-fi movies you can enjoy every month.
Updated on April 8: Every month, Netflix makes major changes to its streaming service. Several movies and TV shows leave the service, replaced by a new batch of shows and movies that replaces them. This means some of our picks are no longer available.
The good news is that we check in every month to ensure that the movies on the list are current. We remove any movies that are no longer on Netflix and replace them with movies of equal or better quality to keep this the best Netflix picks on the Internet.
My Fair Lady (1964)
My Fair Lady was a 1964 musical-drama adapted from the stage musical of the same name by George Bernard Shaw.
In the movie, Audrey Hepburn played a poor flower seller named Eliza Doolittle who has an arrogant professor named Henry Higgins make a bet that he can teach her to speak proper English to make her more “proper” in high society London.
My Fair Lady won eight Academy Awards and was named one of the best movies of all time by the American Film Institute.
The Pianist (2002)
Roman Polanski directed the Holocaust movie The Pianist in 2002 and watched as the film won him an Oscar while actor Adrien Brody picked up one as well.
Brody stars as a Jewish pianist living in Poland during World War II. Just when it looks like Britain and France might save Poland when they join the war, Germany overruns the country.
Through the movie, the pianist loses everything, including his family, to the Nazi extermination camps, and has to go into hiding thanks to protection from a sympathetic member of the Jewish Ghetto Police.
Rain Man (1988)
Released in 1988 by Barry Levinson, Rain Man is a movie starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.
Cruise is Charlie, a wealthy and successful businessman who returns home to settle his estranged father’s estate after his death. However, he then learns he has an older brother.
This brother is Raymond, an autistic savant who lives in a mental institution. He then tries to use his brother’s skills to make money in Las Vegas, but realizes that there is more to his brother than he expected.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Kevin Costner directed and starred in Dances with Wolves in 1990, based on the novel by Michael Blake.
In the movie, Costner is a Union Army lieutenant named John J. Dunbar who travels to the American frontier, searching for a military post. Along the way, he deals with the Native American tribe, the Lakota.
Dances with Wolves received 12 Oscar nominations and won seven of them, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Bonnie and Clyde is one of the movies that helped change how Hollywood made movies.
Released in 1967, the movie an independently made movie, and along with films like Easy Rider, it helped convince Hollywood that auteurs should be given leeway to go off the beaten path.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway starred as the legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, as they rode through towns, robbing banks, and becoming folk heroes to the poor people who saw them as heroes.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Paul Newman was one of the biggest movie stars of the ’60s and one look at Cool Hand Luke will show why.
In the film, Newman starred as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system.
Much like Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke was a movie that was firmly anti-establishment and was a great example of the new style of filmmaking that took the world by storm.
The movie earned four Oscar nominations, winning one, and was added to the United States Library of Congress in its National Film Registry in 2005.
Dark Waters (1956)
Dark Waters was released in 1956 and starred Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia).
The plotline has a fisherman, Ragab (Sharif), returning home after three years only to find that the woman he loves is drifting away, the sailors feuding, and his community falling apart.
This is a romantic drama, with Ragab returning to the woman he plans to marry, only to find she has fallen in love with a wealthy man named Mandouh (Ahmed Ramzy). He then fights to try to win her affections back.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick directed the adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1971.
The film is a dystopian film that takes place in a Britain that has fallen to debauchery, delinquency, and violence.
Malcolm McDowell stars as Alex, the leader of a small gang he calls the Droogs, as they rape, steal, and kill people without recourse. However, when Alex is arrested, the story changes.
He goes through what is basically conversion therapy to “cure” him from being evil. When he leaves, he cannot defend himself when people he hurt in the past come to collect receipts.
In 1986, Oliver Stone directed the Oscar-winning war movie Platoon.
Based on his own experiences in the war, Charlie Sheen took the lead role as a U.S. Army volunteer caught between the differing ideals of his Squad Leaders (Tom Berenger and Willem Defoe).
The cast outside of those three men was exemplary, with Johnny Depp, Kohn C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Keith David, and Forest Whitaker rounding out the cast.
The movie won both the Best Picture and Best Director Oscar awards for Stone.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Actor Richard Attenborough directed one of the best war movies of the ’70s with A Bridge Too Far.
Attenborough, who most people know as John Hammond in the original Jurassic Park movie, had an all-star cast for this World War II movie.
James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, and Robert Redford were among the Oscar winners who starred in this film.
The movie tells the story of the failed Operation Market Garden in World War II. It picked up eight BAFTA nominations, winning for four of them.
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Spike Lee has become one of the top voices in African American cinema for over three decades.
Netflix subscribers can watch his newest movie, Da 5 Bloods, and now they can also watch his very first feature-length movie on the streaming giant as well.
She’s Gotta Have It was shot in black and white in 1986 and tells the story of a young woman who is dating three different men. When she is forced to make a decision, things get complicated.
There is also a Netflix original series released in 2017 based on Spike Lee’s debut film.
Mad Max (1979)
In 1979, Mel Gibson enjoyed his breakout role as Max Rockantansky, a police pursuit officer for the Australian highway patrol.
The film takes place in a dystopian future where an oil crisis has led to biker gangs taking control of the nation’s roadways and running rampant, with little controlling them.
After Max decides to retire when his friend and fellow officer dies at the hands of one of the gangs, he leaves with his family only to have the gang track them down and kill his family.
Driven to rage, Max steals his old Pursuit Special car and heads out, seeking bloody and violent revenge.
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Released in 1971 by acclaimed director Norman Jewison, Fiddler on the Roof is a musical film based on the 1964 Broadway musical of the same name.
The movie features Tevye, the father of five daughters who tries to maintain his Jewish traditions. However, this was a rough time for Jewish people in the early 1900s.
Three of his daughters start to move further away from his beliefs, and the government of his home turns on all Jewish residents.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Monty Python comedy troupe was already a legend before they started making movies with a popular and hilarious British comedy sketch series.
In 1975, they made Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was a re-telling of the King Arthur legend, but in a hilarious manner.
With everything from the Knights Who Say Ni to the Black Knight, there are so many legendary moments that this is one comedy classic that stands up well 45 years later.
This might be Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin’s finest moment.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
The second Monty Python movie on Netflix is the Christian satire Life of Brian.
The movie tells the story of a man named Brian, a child born in the stable next to Jesus Christ. This causes the Three Wisemen to find him and initially confuse him with the King of the Jews.
Brian then falls in love with a young rebel and joins the People’s Front of Judea, a freedom movement that spends as much time in-fighting as getting anything done.
The movie found protestors from every religious sect, but it might be the funniest movie from Monty Python.
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