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 July 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 August 6: 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 is no longer on Netflix and replace them with movies of equal or better quality to keep this the best Netflix picks on the Internet.
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.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
One of the best family-friendly movies in history hit Netflix with The NeverEnding Story.
The movie features a bullied young child named Bastian, who is running from his pursuers and hides out. While in hiding, he discovers a book called The NeverEnding Story.
Despite warnings, he reads the book about a young warrior named Atreyu who is on a quest to save the Childlike Empress and it is only a matter of time before Bastian realizes he is being literally swept into this story as it affects his real life as well.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
In 1966, Sergio Leone directed the final movie in his Dollars Trilogy, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
This is possibly the greatest spaghetti western movie ever made and it made Clint Eastwood a major star.
The film stars Eastwood as the Man With No Name, who is a gunslinger on the hunt for buried Confederate gold. Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef also starred as rival gunslingers trying to find the same treasure.
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.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorsese is one of the most respected voices of ’70s cinema and directed some of the best crime drama movies you will see on Netflix.
One of these movies was the brilliant Taxi Driver in 1978, a film that picked up four Oscar nominations but was passed up for all four, including Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor (Robert De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster).
The movie has De Niro starring as a Vietnam vet who takes an interest in a political intern (Sharon Stone) and a teenage prostitute (Foster) and is determined to protect them both at all costs.
West Side Story (1961)
Another classical musical on Netflix is the 1961 movie West Side Story.
The movie is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, but the star-crossed lovers are members of rival street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. The film was based on the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name.
This movie picked up 11 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, and set the record for the most wins for a movie musical. It was also added to the Library of Congress in 1997 as a culturally significant film.
Steven Spielberg is remaking the movie for a release that is currently scheduled for 2020.
In 1980, the Zucker Brothers created one of the most iconic and brilliant movie parodies of all-time with Airplane!.
This comedy movie on Netflix is a direct parody remake of the 1957 disaster movie Zero Hour! However, on top of spoofing that disaster movie, the film makes fun of anything and everything from popular culture in 1980.
While movies in future years would make parodies one of the most hated genres in cinema, this one did it all right and stands on its own as a true comedy classic.
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.
Mean Streets (1973)
Martin Scorsese has made some of the best classics in movie history, and the first masterpiece of his career came in 1973 with Mean Streets.
The film is a crime story that focuses on two friends, Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) in Little Italy, New York City.
While Charlie is trying to make it while working for a local mafia boss, but he is continuously thrown off by Johnny Boy, who is a gambler who is getting in too deep with local bookies and puts everyone around him in danger.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
If you are looking for an action movie on Netflix, there is a brilliant classic adventure movie that might be one of the best of its kind.
In 1981, Steven Spielberg directed the first Indiana Jones movie with Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In this first movie, Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, a professor and treasure hunter who is searching for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis have a chance to get to it first.
There were three sequels, but the first is not only the one that started it all but the best action-adventure movie you can see on Netflix.
Dustin Hoffman is a former Oscar winner and has some brilliant classic movies in his past, including The Graduate, Rain Man, and All The President’s Men.
However, one of his most successful movies saw him dressing up like a woman in Tootsie.
Hoffman is Michael Dorsey, an actor who has developed a reputation as someone hard to work with. He is struggling to get a job and learns of an opening on a daytime soap for a woman, so he auditions in drag and wins the role.
Tootsie picked up 10 Oscar nominations, but only won one for Jessica Lange for Best Supporting Actress.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Released in 1973, The Wicker Man is one of the best horror movies of all-time and might be the best horror classic on Netflix.
The movie sees a police detective searching for a missing girl. Edward Woodward, who later starred in the TV series The Equalizer, starred as the police officer.
He ends up following leads and tracks the missing girl to an island where a cult lives, all serving a mysterious and enigmatic leader named Lord Summerisle, played by the always brilliant Christopher Lee.
A remake was made in 2006, with Nic Cage in the role of the detective, but it was universally panned.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Released in 1984, The Karate Kid is not only a great coming-of-age story but also one of the best underdog sports movies.
Ralph Macchio stars as Daniel Russo, a new kid in town who is immediately bullied by some local karate students when he meets a new girl.
He ends up training in karate under Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and moves on to battle in the local karate tournament, where the bullies from Cobra Kai are on the other side.
There was a sequel released decades later as a YouTube Premium series, making one of the main bullies, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) as the new protagonist, and Daniel as the more antagonistic character.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs is one of the top critically acclaimed horror movies on Netflix.
The film, based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, stars Jodie Foster as an FBI agent sent to interview convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) as she tries to stop a new killer on the loose.
This horror movie picked up Oscar wins in every significant category and is the only real horror movie ever to win the Best Picture award at the Oscars. Also winning awards were Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and director Jonathan Demme.
Poltergeist is a movie officially directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) by the side of Steven Spielberg, who served as the producer and screenwriter as well.
This is a haunted house ghost story and is one of the scariest movies on Netflix.
A family moves into a house and finds that it is haunted when the spirits target their daughter. The family calls in exorcists to try to save their family, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards.