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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 (with Showtime add-on)
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.
3) Bull Durham
Often heralded as one of the greatest sports movies of all time, this 1988 comedy stars Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis, a longtime minor league baseball catcher who gets sent to the Durham Bulls to groom rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) for the majors. Naturally, Crash finds himself romantically entangled with Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), who originally sets out to woo Nuke but finds herself falling for Crash. Deftly combining comedy, romance, and of course, some grade-A baseball, Bull Durham is a home run. —B.R.
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4) Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino has made better films in his career, but none are tighter than Reservoir Dogs. The robbers with the colorful names are still wickedly entertaining, and Tarantino’s script retains much of its shine. Watching Reservoir Dogs now immediately transports you to a time before the poster image became a groomsmen picture staple, to a time when many of our favorite filmmakers were just getting started. Reservoir Dogs is the kind of movie that makes you stand and take notice, something that still happens on repeat viewings 25 years later. —Eddie Strait
5) A Fistful of Dollars (with STARZ add-on)
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. —E.S.
6) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
It doesn’t feel right to call this movie overlooked, but it’s rarely the first movie anyone brings up when talking about John Hughes. Still, this movie is every bit the equal of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and the rest of his filmography. Steve Martin and John Candy are a perfect pairing as Neal Page and Del Griffith, two completely opposite strangers who get stuck on a calamitous three-day road trip to get Neal home in time for Thanksgiving. The duo should have yielded more collaborations, but at least we have this all-timer. —Eddie Strait
7) Silence of the Lambs
Calling Silence of the Lambs a horror film may be tough, but how many suspense films feature crucifixion, cannibalism, and skin suits. The misconception that this isn’t a horror film is part of what helps make it so terrifying—viewers come in with basic expectations and end up surrounded by unspeakable evils. While much has been written about Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, the real joy of the film is Ted Levine’s Buffalo Bill. Whether driving home the importance of lotion or dancing to new wave, each of his scenes helps build a sense of dread that will stick with you long after you’ve run out of Chianti. —John-Michael Bond
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8) The Shining (with Showtime add-on)
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) The Terminator
Could this be the best time-travel story ever? Forget about how convoluted the franchise’s mythology became with each successive entry; the original Terminator is so elegant in its core concept, so economically executed, its punches land harder than in any of its sequels. The action is exhilarating, the special effects were state-of-the-art for their time, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s captivating, villainous performance rightfully launched him to movie stardom with one of the most iconic catchphrases in film history: “I’ll be back.” —E.S.
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) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (with STARZ add-on)
It’s amazing what you can do when you’re on a project deadline. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure follows its two titular slacker protagonists as they travel through time via phone booth to pluck historical figures from centuries past and bring them back for a history presentation. Just as Bill and Ted get a crash course in world history, Napoleon Bonaparte, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Lincoln get a lesson in navigating the local mall and waterpark. —B.R.
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.