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A blast from the past.
If you’re looking for classic movies on Hulu, you might need to lower your expectations. Hulu doesn’t have as many old movies as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or even YouTube, but the ones it does offer are pretty great. Here are the best classic movies on Hulu when you need a blast from the past.
The best classic movies on Hulu
1) Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s brilliant stoner comedy about the last day of high school came out in 1993, takes place in 1976, and still packs a hilarious, heartfelt wallop in 2019. Dazed and Confused is full of killer tunes, hilarious hijinks, and enough substances to give you a contact high, but it’s the underlying suburban ennui and longing to squeeze as much enjoyment out of a mundane life that make the movie connect today. Alright, alright, alright. —Bryan Rolli
Heathers is a comedy about school shootings, and while that may be a hard sell, it’s still a great movie. You would think that growing sensitivity and cultural turmoil would’ve made it unwatchable in the years since it came out, but on the contrary, this black comedy works because of its take on today’s hot-button issue. Watching Heathers in the context of our national conversation about bullying actually makes it an even more interesting experience.
Nothing sucks more than being called in to work on your day off. Kevin Smith perfectly captures those feelings of despair and boredom in his masterful budget comedy Clerks. Dante Hicks and Randal Graves both slog away at the Quick Stop as a variety of colorful characters pass through, talking about whatever ridiculous topics they can fathom to pass the time. If you’ve ever wondered about the ethical implications of building the second Death Star, it’s time to press play on Clerks. —B.R.
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4) Blue Velvet
David Lynch’s 1986 film is, like so many of his films, a dream committed to screen, and it’s easy to see why it shocked audiences back then. Kyle MacLachlan stars as Jeffrey, a fresh-faced college student who (pre-Twin Peaks) starts doing some detective work after finding a severed ear while back in his hometown. This leads him to a singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) who welcomes him into her unhinged world—one filled with deviants, violence, and Dennis Hopper huffing gas. —Audra Schroeder
5) A Fistful of Dollars
This Sergio Leone classic kicked off the equally admired Dollars Trilogy or Man With No Name Trilogy, followed by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It features Clint Eastwood in his first starring role as the instantly iconic “Man With No Name.” Between Eastwood, Leone’s directing, and of course, Ennio Morricone’s legendary score, A Fistful of Dollars remains as spry and entertaining today as when it came out over 50 years ago. —Eddie Strait
6) Easy Rider
You can describe the significance of Easy Rider with a lot of academic jargon. It represented the American countercultural era. It emboldened film studios to invest in avant-garde projects. It drew inspiration from French New Wave and ushered Hollywood into its post-classical phase. But all you need to know is that Easy Rider is a timelessly badass film about two bikers (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) cruising through the Southwest after a cocaine deal. The only thing harder than the drugs was the perfect soundtrack, featuring the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, and Steppenwolf. —B.R.
7) Major League
When former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) inherits the Cleveland Indians from her dead husband, she sets out to relocate the team to Miami by sabotaging their attendance and triggering the escape clause in their contract. So Rachel assembles the worst team of misfits and has-beens in Major League history, including Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), a convicted felon with an unwieldy fastball, and Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), who runs like hell but can’t hit the ball to save his life. There’s just one problem: These delinquents make a damn good team, and now Rachel must do everything in her power to keep them from succeeding, with hilarious results. —B.R.
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8) The Shining
Stephen King’s award-winning novel differs quite a bit from Stanley Kubrick’s vision of it in film, but both are horror tales that will stick with you long after they’re over. Kubrick’s take is considered a visionary masterpiece to this day, loaded with incredible performances. A young Jack Nicholson is a standout as Jack Torrance, an alcoholic writer fighting for sanity in a deserted hotel with his family in the dead of winter. —Colette Bennett
9) Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke
What, you really want to know about the plot of a Cheech & Chong movie? Suit yourself. Tommy Chong plays Anthony “Man” Stoner, a delinquent drummer who leaves home after his parents threaten to ship him off to military school. He later gets picked up by fellow smoker Pedro de Pacas (Cheech Marin), and the two promptly get arrested for being stoned to high heaven. Police hijinks, deportation to Tijuana, and a Hollywood Battle of the Bands ensue, all with one connecting thread: high times, baby. —B.R.
10) The Furies
As a general rule, classic film lovers should be willing to watch anything with Barbara Stanwyck in it. In this Western from 1950, she plays a fiery heiress who clashes with her difficult cattle-rancher father. When another woman enters his life, their relationship takes a turn for the worse. Director Anthony Mann may be known to subscribers of the Criterion Collection, which this film is currently included in.
11) The Tall Stranger
Some of the post-Civil War tropes at the heart of The Tall Stranger don’t hold up in 2018. That said, there’s still a lot that works about this 1957 Western following a Northern officer trying to help a group of former Confederate soldiers. Chiefly, there’s the great chemistry between leads Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo, whom classic movie lovers will likely recognize from titles such as Sullivan’s Travels and Foreign Correspondent, and The Best Years of Our Lives and White Heat, respectively.
12) A Man Alone
Most people probably remember Ray Millard from films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, and Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend. What many don’t know is that he was also a director who made several films in the ‘50s and ‘60s including this Western. His first movie behind the camera, A Man Alone also stars Millard as a gunfighter forced to go into hiding when he is accused of taking down a stagecoach.
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13) Carrie (with STARZ add-on)
Brian De Palma went on to make plenty of other iconic films (Scarface, The Untouchables), but 1976’s Carrie may still be his best. For one thing, De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel has more interesting female characters than pretty much any movie he’s ever made. All of De Palma’s usual hyper-stylization is still here, from split-screen to slow-motion, but Carrie doesn’t let any of that style get in the way of the characters. Sissy Spacek’s performance as Carrie White is an iconic portrait of pent-up teenage sexuality gone awry, and Piper Laurie remains one of the horror genre’s scariest, non-supernatural monsters. Skip the 2013 remake. If you’ve never seen the original Carrie, do yourself a favor and watch this masterpiece about the horrors of high school today.
14) RoboCop (with Cinemax add-on)
Some satires apply only to the time in which they were made while others become more prescient every year. Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop, from 1987, is set in a futuristic Detroit where the city has nearly collapsed (too real), everything is owned by massive corporations (too real), and controlled by a militarized police force (way too real). Peter Weller plays an injured officer that police force brings back from the brink of death to protect the city as a weaponized cyborg. RoboCop has a lot of cheesy effects and some seriously campy moments, but its mix of Frankenstein-like philosophy and politically charged themes ensure it holds up, debatably even better than the 2014 remake.
15) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (with STARZ add-on)
The spaghetti western to end all spaghetti westerns. The third and final film in director Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s Dollars Trilogy follows three lawless gunslingers in their own personal gold rush during the American Civil War. Between the tense duels and dramatic long shots, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has everything you’re looking for, including another iconic score from Ennio Morricone. —Austin Powell
Still not sure what to watch on Hulu? Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Chris Osterndorf is an entertainment reporter and movie critic based in Los Angeles. He holds a degree in cinema from Chicago’s DePaul University. His work has appeared on the Daily Dot, Mic, the Script Lab, Salon, the Week, xoJane, and more.