Pulp Fiction. The Dark Knight. Schindler’s List. These are all fantastic films with a place in the pantheon of great cinema, but when people start talking about true classics, we immediately think about the golden oldies. For the purposes of best old movies, we’re drawing the line at 1970. We’re not sacrificing modern convenience just because we want to watch an old movie, so all the films included have to be available through Netflix streaming. Despite the fact the service lacks gems from Akira Kurosawa, influential monster flicks and a good portion of the contenders for “best film of all time,” there are a number of old school greats worth your time. These are the best old movies on Netflix right now… start watching before they change the catalog again.

The African Queen

More than half a century ago, The African Queen set the bar for action/adventure films. Katherine Hepburn plays Rose, the British missionary / damsel in distress to Humphrey Bogart’s Charlie Allnut, the surly, gin-swilling African Queen boat captain. Bogey won his only Best Actor Oscar for the role. It’s co-written and directed by the legendary John Huston. It’s part of the United States National Film Registry because the Library of Congress deemed it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Oh yeah, and it’s also sitting pretty with a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Link

Metropolis Restored

We could spend an entire cocktail party discussing the importance, themes and minutiae of Metropolis. It was one of the first feature-length films and a pioneering work of the science-fiction genre. It was the most expensive film ever released until that point. It also tackles serious issues like class stratification and the role of technology through a lens filled with beautiful scenery and special effects despite the fact it’s set in the dystopian future of 2026. As if that wasn’t reason enough to watch this Fritz Lang epic, there’s an Indiana Jones-like story about how it came to be restored with original cuts of the film from different continents that you can read all about here. Link

The Day the Earth Stood Still

During Cold War-era Earth, an alien (Klaatu) intent on world peace lands a flying saucer (complete with robot bodyguard, Gort) in Washington. Everything goes awry when an overzealous soldier wounds Klaatu and Gort springs into action to protect him. This slickly constructed classic—not to be confused with the 2008 remake of the same name—touches on themes like violence, religion and disarmament in a way that’s interesting even if it’s a little dated. Link

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one you likely need no introduction to. We’re not going to get into the traditional novel versus film adaptation debate, because the two versions of To Kill a Mockingbird compliment each. When it comes to the film, however, what you need to know is that it was a box-office smash, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards (it won three) and it is part of the National Film Registry. In other words, it’s worth a watch for the cultural significance alone. Link

White Christmas

Though the argument for Die Hard being the greatest Christmas movie of all time certainly has its merits, and we can definitely connect with a kid shooting himself in the face with a BB gun, nothing gets us in the holiday spirit quite like White Christmas. It’s absurdly saccharine. It’s unabashedly cheerful. It’s a sappy, romantic musical. It’s the film version of a peppermint mocha from Starbucks, and yet, it remains a holiday classic because of the execution, the star power and the sentiment. Oh yeah, and it probably also has something to do with the fact that it features Bing Crosby singing the Irving Berlin hit “White Christmas,” which, according to Guinness, is still the best-selling single worldwide fifty years later. Link

Sunset Boulevard

Considered by some to be the greatest movie Hollywood has ever made about itself, and one of director Billy Wilder’s finest works (which says a lot because he has writing/directorial credits that run the gamut from Some Like It Hot to the original Ocean’s 11), Sunset Boulevard tells the dark story of a former silent-film star sinking her claws into an aspiring writer who was about to give up his dream. Gloria Swanson plays Norma Desmond, the demented former star. William Holden plays Joe Gillis, the writer that can’t sell anything. Part film noir and part black comedy, Sunset Boulevard is the definition of an old school classic film. Link

Young Mr. Lincoln

Young Mr. Lincoln is a partly fictionalized biopic of the early life of Honest Abe, and it’s another hundred-percenter on the ‘ol Tomatometer. The story focuses on Lincoln as a lawyer, based on the murder case of William “Duff” Armstrong that took place in Beardstown, Illinois, at the same courthouse where Lincoln practiced law. The source material and subject matter are enough of a reason to watch, but Young Mr. Lincoln is cemented in the halls of best old movies with Henry Fonda’s performance as Abe under the watchful eye of the winningest director of all time in John Ford. Link

The Longest Day

Thirty years before Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day became one of the most influential war films ever produced because of its depiction of Normandy. Based on the book written by Cornelius Ryan, and produced by mogul Darryl F. Zanuck, The Longest Day recreates the D-Day invasion with as much dual perspective, chaotic realism as the actual event, instead of focusing on an individual unit like the more modern epic. Original locations were used as much as possible, which meant directs on four different continents. The cast is more star-studded than Band of Brothers, with notables ranging from John Wayne and Sean Connery to Henry Fonda and Red Buttons. D-Day participants from both sides were hired as consultants for the film, and more than 2,000 soldiers were extras. It might get a few things wrong, but if you’re at all interested in history, this “docudrama” is well worth the three hours. Link


Composed of eight different animated segments set to pieces of classical music, and only the third in what would become a long line of animated films from the studio, Fantasia is widely considered to be Walt Disney’s cinematic masterpiece. We’re not going to tell you that you need to be on psychedelics to enjoy this 1940, G-rated classic, but should you find yourself in a mind-altered state sinking into the couch, the experience of Fantasia will make you experience magic for the first time, all over again. Even if your mind isn’t already blown, the colors and visuals will make you feel like a kid again. Link


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