6 of the best classic movies you can now stream on Netflix

To Catch a Thief

Photo via To Catch a Thief/FanPop

'All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.'

Given its assembly line of new and original TV shows and films, it's easy to forget that you can also watch some of the best classic movies of all time on Netflix.  The current lineup available to stream includes notable titles from directors Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Robert Altman. Whether you prefer heist films, World War II dramas, sci-fi, or adaptations of dystopian literature, there's something here for everyone.

Here are some of our favorite films in Netflix's current selection of classic films. 

1) To Catch A Thief (1955)

Hitchcock's compelling tale of high-profile robberies among wealthy Americans in the French Riviera is the director at its best. To Catch a Thief star screen legends Cary Grant and Grace Kelly playing opposite each other—another reason this absorbing heist movie shouldn't be missed. Grant plays a reformed jewel thief who must prove his innocence after a series of cat burglaries occur on the French Riviera. Kelly plays half of a high-rolling mother-daughter duo vacationing in the Riviera. Once the two decide to join forces, it's nearly impossible to tear your eyes off the screen. 

2) Cleopatra (1963)

This flashy period piece is riddled with inaccuracies andranks as one of the most expensive movies of all time. Cleopatra cost 20th Century Fox an estimated $40 million to make in 1963, which adjusts to roughly $330 million in 2016—a lofty sum even by today's blockbuster standards. Even though the film was a critical disaster, it's worth seeing for the breathtaking visuals and star-studded cast alone. Elizabeth Taylor shines as the young Egyptian queen Cleopatra, and Richard Burton plays Roman general Marc Anthony. Taylor and Burton's on-screen chemistry isn't staged; the two stars were in an affair during the course of filming.


3) Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Sunset Boulevard is both a swan song to the age of silent films and a love story. Silent film star Norma (Gloria Swanson) is wasting away in the era of talkies. She spends her days screening her old movies and being waited on by her former husband Max Von Mayerling (Erich von Stronheim), who was once the greatest silent film director of his time and is now just Norma's butler. When Joe, a failed screenwriter (William Holden) half her age stumbles into Norma's life, she begins to fall in love and offers him a job. The sordid sequence of events that follow turn Sunset Boulevard into a fascinating and bleak tale of lost stardom and the perils of unconditional love.

4) 3 Women (1977)

Female friendship takes a bizarre turn in this classic from the '70s courtesy of legendary director Robert Altman. Set in a small California town, 3 Women focuses mostly on just two women. Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is a shy new employee at a health spa who becomes fast friends with the energetic Millie Lammoreaux, played by Shelley Duvall. Pinky is enamored with Millie, and not in a benign way. When the two opposites become roommates, things quickly take a turn for the worse. 

5) Morituri (1965) 

This captivating tale of World War II era spies features screen legends Yul Brenner and Marlon Brando. Robert Crain (played by Brando) is a German engineer who gets blackmailed by the Allies into disabling scuttling charges in a cargo ship bound for Germany. At the helm of said ship is Captain Mueller (Brenner), a patriotic German who has other things in mind. 

6) An Affair to Remember (1957)

Long before Sleepless in Seattle, another pair of lovers made a pact to meet at the top of a notable tall building. Cary Grant plays Nicki Ferrante, a notorious playboy who meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) on a cruise liner en route to New York City. Even though Terry and Nicki are engaged to other people, the two hit it off on board the ship. The two lovers make a pact to meet at the Empire State Building on New Year's Eve. But then, of course, something goes wrong. 

Here are some other great classic titles that Netflix made available this year. The list below is current as of May 2016:

  • The 300 Spartans (1962)
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
  • Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
  • The French Connection II (1975)
  • Move Over, Darling (1963)
  • Out 1/Chapters (1971)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Scarface (1983)
  • The Seven Year Itch (1955)
  • How to Steal a Million (1966)
  • My Side of the Mountain (1969)
  • Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
  • Barbarella (1968)
  • The Great Gatsby (1974)
  • Pumping Iron (1971)
  • The Big Boss (1971)
  • Call Northside 777 (1977)
  • Cinema Paradiso (1988)
  • The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)
  • Detroit 9000 (1973)
  • Grease (1978)
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
  • Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
  • Maine Piyar Kiya (1989)
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
  • The Quiet Man (1952)
  • Switchblade Sisters (1975)
  • Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
  • The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
  • Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Editor's note: This article is regularly updated for relevancy. 

6 overlooked sci-fi movies you need to stream
While the movie selection on the streaming services can be hit or miss, there are a lot of small gems to be found on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Whether it’s a critically praised gem you missed in theaters, an interesting flick that flew totally below your radar, or even a critically savaged film you’d still like to check out without investing in a ticket, there’s plenty to see if you poke around the streaming catalogs.
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