Netflix has one of the largest lineups of movies of any streamer, and yet if you want to find the best classic movies, you’re going to struggle. Indeed, Netflix only offers a handful of titles from the 80s, and even fewer from the 70s. One reason for this is that Netflix is entirely dependent on other studios for these existing titles, and these films are often already streaming on other platforms.
But there are a handful of truly classic films streaming on Netflix that are streaming just as well today as when they were released four to five decades ago. This month we’re highlighting two such films: an all-time great buddy action film titled Midnight Raceand one of the most famous baseball films ever made, Field of dreamsas they join the best classic films on Netflix.
Midnight Run (1988)
Midnight Race wasn’t the first buddy action movie, but few did it better than Robert De Niro (Flower Moon Killers) and Charles Grodin did it here. De Niro plays Jack Walsh, a former cop turned bounty hunter who takes on a mission to escort mob account Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin) to Los Angeles.
The problem is Jonathan doesn’t want to go and he sabotages Jack’s attempt to bring him back. This might turn out to be a mistake, as Jonathan’s former mob boss, Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina), wants him dead. Meanwhile, Jack’s rival Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton) tries to steal his bounty, while FBI Special Agent Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto) has his own agenda for Jonathan. At this rate, it would be a miracle if Jonathan and Jack made it to Los Angeles alive.
Watch Midnight Race on Netflix.
Field of Dreams (1989)
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Kevin Costner could do no wrong at the box office. Field of dreams unexpectedly became a box office hit and cultural touchstone in 1989 that was acclaimed by critics and fans alike. Costner plays Ray Kinsella, a struggling corn farmer who is haunted by a voice that tells him “if you build it, it will come.” Against all logic, Ray builds a baseball field in his cornfield. But even Ray is shocked when his creation attracts Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and other deceased players from the Chicago Black Sox scandal of the 1920s.
The pitch itself represents a second chance, both for Ray and for the players who can once again embrace their love of the game from beyond the grave. Even players like Archibald “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster) who never had a chance can become young again by playing on the field. In short, this movie is a decades-long baseball fairy tale, and the real Field of Dreams used in the movie has become a popular tourist attraction.
Watch Field of dreams on Netflix.
Just when you thought it was safe to return to the water, the four Jaws the films are on Netflix. But of course, the first film is clearly the best, and it’s also the one that made Steven Spielberg a superstar among directors almost fifty years ago. Off the coast of Amity Island, a great white shark has decided to hunt and devour anyone it catches in the water. And it’s killing the local tourism industry.
When Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) refuses to close the beaches, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) takes it upon himself to go kill the shark alongside a professional shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw). . Unfortunately for both men, the shark has its own ideas about who is the hunter and who is the prey.
Watch Jaws on Netflix.
The Moron (1979)
Steve Martin made his debut as a movie star in The moron, in which he plays a complete jerk named Navin R. Johnson. Navin is so oblivious to reality that he does not initially realize that his black adoptive parents, his mother (Mabel King) and father (Richard Ward), are not his biological parents. Or that he’s not black himself.
When Navin leaves home to find his destiny, he manages to fall back into money and success only to lose everything. The only redeeming aspect of Navin’s journey is his love for Marie Kimble (Bernadette Peters). But even that connection might not last because of Navin’s carefree awkwardness.
Watch The moron on Netflix.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
The deer hunter was the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1978, but it’s not always easy to get by. It’s the story of three friends, Mike Vronsky (Robert De Niro), Nick Chevotarevich (Christopher Walken), and Steven Pushkov (John Savage), who go to war in Vietnam and never truly return home as the same men. All three are captured and tortured while in Vietnam, and their collective PTSD is so intense that Nick can’t even bring himself to return to his wife, Linda (Only murders in the building Meryl Streep (season 3 star).
If you’re looking for a life-affirming message, you won’t find it here. The deer hunter is about as dark as the films get, but it remains a powerful film 45 years after its release.
Watch The deer hunter on Netflix.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python is a group of comedy legends, and their second film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is perhaps one of the funniest films ever made. It’s the relentlessly silly story of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights, Lancelot (John Cleese), Robin (Eric Idle), Bedevere (Terry Jones) and Galahad (Michael Palin), as they travel the campaign in search of the Holy Grail.
During their journey, Arthur and his servant, Patsy (Terry Gilliam), encounter the Dark Knight (Cleese) in a sequence that is still hilarious and quotable nearly five decades later. The rest of the film is also incredibly funny, and it’s one of the rare films that never seems to get old as long as you’re willing to embrace The Pythons’ brand of bizarre comedy.
Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Netflix.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
When Fast times at Ridgemont High was released, director Amy Heckerling couldn’t have known that several of the film’s main actors would go on to greater stardom. Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates rode this wave, while even some of the supporting cast like Nicolas Cage (Dream scenario), Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz and Forest Whitaker have moved on to bigger things.
The irony is that the film’s most engaging story doesn’t directly involve any of these performers, except Leigh. Her character, Stacy Hamilton, is loved from afar by Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer). This doesn’t stop Rat’s best friend, Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), from going after Leigh himself and getting her pregnant. When Rat finds out, their friendship may not survive.
Watch Fast times at Ridgemont High on Netflix.
Support Me (1985)
There have been a lot of terrible Stephen King adaptations over the past four decades, but sometimes the combination of King’s story with the right director (in this case, Rob Reiner) and casting results in a classic instant. This was the case of Stay by mea coming-of-age story set in 1959. After learning the location of a missing boy’s body, 12-year-old Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (Wil Wheaton) and his friends Chris Chambers (River Phoenix ), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) decide to find the body in the hopes of being recognized as heroes.
However, the boys’ journey to the body is anything but smooth, as they run afoul of a local gang leader, John “Ace” Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland). There is no supernatural element to this story. But it’s a beautifully touching film that ranks among the greatest of all time.
Watch Stay by me on Netflix.
Among the films of the 80s, Scarf is in a class of its own. Brian De Palma directed this remake from a screenplay by Oliver Stone, which features an unforgettable turn by Al Pacino as the title character, Tony Montana. In the early 1980s, Tony and his friends arrived in the United States as refugees from Cuba. But Tony believes he is destined for greater things and he chooses to seek wealth in the world of illegal drugs.
Tony manages to become a wealthy drug lord, but he has no shortage of enemies he makes along the way. Tony’s self-destructive streak is so powerful that his downfall begins almost as soon as he gains the power he so desperately desires.
Watch Scarf on Netflix.