Netflix gets a lot of press for its original series and films, and that’s fair. The streaming giant has an impressive roster of new properties.
But let’s not forget Netflix’s roots as a place to access new and old movies, originally as a mail-order DVD rental service, and now primarily as a streamable library of titles. Among those are some of cinema’s best known films — classic movies that are still as good today as they were decades ago.
But there’s a lot to wade through. It’s not always easy to zero in on what you want to watch.
That’s what we’re here for. Below is a list of the very best classic movies on Netflix. So have a look, and queue up the oldie that’s right for you.
The African Queen
In this romantic adventure from director John Huston, World War I has just broken out, and an American missionary named Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) in German Eastern Africa finds herself needing to flee when her brother, the local reverend, is killed.
Aboard a dilapidated river boat, Rose tries to enlist the help of Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the grumpy American ferrying her out of the country, in her attempt to do her part in the war.
A classic fish out of water narrative, Trading Places is one of the funniest and best classic movies on Netflix.
A rich Wall Street investor (Dan Akroyd) and a homeless con man (Eddie Murphy) find themselves temporarily living in each others shoes as part of a bet between two eccentric millionaires.
The film is both hilarious and a surprisingly thoughtful look at class distinctions and inequality in America.
The Lost Boys
If you’re in the mood for an ’80s classic, and a defining film in the vampire genre, don’t miss The Lost Boys.
When he moves to a new town with his family, Michael (Jason Patric) falls in with the wrong crowd — the kind that stays out of the sun and doesn’t care for garlic or holy water.
With his little brother, the girl he has a crush on, and some self-proclaimed vampire hunters, Michael will literally fight for his life so that things can go back to normal. Don’t miss one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
The Godfather is essentially synonymous with gangster flicks, having set the bar high for everything that followed. Francis Ford Coppola’s family epic certainly deserves a spot on our list of the best classic movies on Netflix.
The Godfather can best be summed up as a clash of generations. As an aging New York mafia Don (Marlon Brando) tries to hold onto power over his domain, different factions vie for power. His son Michael (Al Pacino) tries to keep the peace and gets dragged into the conflicts, finally accepting his role in the next phase of the family business.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
A Manhattan socialite (Audrey Hepburn) falls for a writer who has just moved into her apartment building, and her interest in him threatens her party-girl lifestyle.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s definitely has some elements that haven’t aged so well, with Mickey Rooney’s racist portrayal of a Japanese man having aged particularly poorly.
The film as a whole remains an important Hollywood romance though, and it’s certainly one of the best classic films on Netflix.
Bonnie & Clyde
Another terrific classic movie on Netflix is Bonnie and Clyde, a timeless crime film as much as it’s a love story (albeit an unconventional one).
Based on the true story of Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), the film follows the two small-time crooks as their robberies get increasingly violent during the Great Depression. As their crime spree intensifies, the couple and their gang becomes increasingly notorious.
Goodfellas follows Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he climbs up the ranks of the New York mafia with his two partners in crime (Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci), though moral questions start to haunt him, forcing him to examine what he does for a living.
One of the best-known and beloved crime films of the 20th century, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
If you enjoy Mean Girls, definitely give Heathers a watch. The 80s cult classic is about as dark as teen comedies get, and it’s also hilarious.
Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) has gotten in with the most popular girls in school, the Heathers, but being popular isn’t everything, and Veronica soon finds herself uncomfortable with the way the Heathers bully her classmates and longs for her old friendships with the nerds. But then she gets involved with rebellious new kid J.D. (Christian Slater), who has a plan to get back at the cool kids — and is willing to go a little too far with it.
Definitely put Heathers on your to-watch list. It’s by far one of the best classic movies on Netflix.
To Kill a Mockingbird
The beloved American novel To Kill a Mockingbird is also one of the most famous Hollywood films of all time, and a notable title among the classic movies on Netflix.
Exploring the innocence of childhood and the racist past of the American south, To Kill a Mockingbird is a powerful film. It also gave us Gregory Peck as caring patriarch Atticus Finch, one of the most iconic father figures in Hollywood history.
Those are our picks of the best classic movies on Netflix.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Which classic movies on Netflix would you like to see on here? Let us know in the comments.