Classic Films on Netflix Right Now

Sian Brett

Whilst these movies were made to be seen in a cinema, some us are too young to have ever had the chance to catch them sprawling across the big screen. Fear not; for those who want to further their film education or for those who want to revisit these films of cinema past, we’ve chosen some of the best classic films that you can catch on Netflix.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The film that brought together the dream pairing of Robert Redford and Paul Newman, this 1960’s western written by William Goldman won him an Oscar for best screenplay, and it’s easy to see why. Butch Cassidy (Newman) and his sidekick The Sundance Kid (Redford) are on the run after a series of train robberies. They flee to Bolivia with Etta (Katherine Ross) in the hope of freedom and a somewhat quieter life. Based loosely on the real life cowboy Butch Cassidy, the film is at times a high tension chase, before becoming an incredibly cleverly crafted comedy the next. Newman and Redford’s cool practically burns off the screen and if this film doesn’t make you want to ride a bike with a handsome cowboy then we don’t know what will.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox
Jaws (1975)
Everyone knows what those infamous and ominous chimes mean – even the words ‘duh-dun’ can strike fear into the heart of many a landlubber. Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975, Jaws sparked many a fear of the sea around the world and is considered to be a watershed moment in cinema history. When a woman swimming in the sea at dusk is found brutally killed by a shark, fear spreads through the seaside town of Amity Island, not just for their lives but for the summer trade that the town relies on. Police Chief Brody becomes the voice of reason in a battle between not only man and shark but police, government, and public. The film is thought to have many connections to the state of post-Watergate America at the time and as modern day America’s place on the world stage ever wobbles, it’s definitely time for a rewatch. It’s increasingly prescient and always, always, terrifying.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures
All About Eve (1950)
You may think Hollywood fights these days look bad but darling, you’ve got no idea. Bette Davis stars at Margo Channing, a Broadway star whose heyday is slipping away from her. Enter Eve, (Anne Baxter) a young fan who quickly becomes an integral part of Margo’s life as her assistant, and then her understudy, before soon, Eve has complete control of Margo’s life. It’s a timeless film about fame, aging and fandom, and even features a very early performance from Marilyn Monroe. Aside from the gripping performances and storyline, the 1940s Hollywood aesthetic is glorious, and will make you immediately want to go out and get yourself a fake fur and cigarette holder. It was nominated for an incredible 12 Oscars, and won six of them, so it’s practically film royalty darling.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
The classic novel from Harper Lee is brought to the screen in this 1962 adaptation starring the dreamy Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Told through the eyes of Atticus’s daughter Scout (Mary Badham) it’s the story about the good and bad in people, and the one lawyer willing to defend a black man accused of rape in an incredibly hostile and racist environment. Lee commented that “When he [Peck] played Atticus Finch, he had played himself” and for anyone who knows and loves the character there’s not a higher compliment that can be paid. It’s a fiery tale of race relations boiled down (as the best stories are) to one story in one small town. Look out for an early performance from Robert Duvall as Boo Radley, the recluse who intrigues and terrifies Scout. 

Image Credit: Universal Pictures
Network (1976)
Recently staged at the National Theatre Network is the story of Howard Beale, a news anchorman who isn’t pulling in the viewers and is given the boot by his station. What follows is one of the most famous speeches in cinema history, still providing chills to this day. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” shouts Howard, staring down the cameras and encouraging those watching to open their windows and shout the same. This rather public breakdown causes him to become an overnight celebrity, and his speeches about the state of the world are broadcast every night to huge viewing figures. As screens slowly invade our lives and opinion triumphs over truth, it’s a chilling reminder of what viewership is worth, and of the relationship between entertainment and news.

Image Credit: United Artists

All of these films are on Netflix as of April 2018.

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