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20 Classic Movies to Watch on Netflix

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Maybe you are one of those people who always has an eye on the latest Netflix releases, but have you looked through the Netflix back-catalog? You will be surprised by some of the classic films that you can find there.

After you have gotten through the most popular movies on Netflix and their classic comedies, check out our list of all the classics. It includes films from the 1940s to the 1980s, including essential action flicks, musical and love stories, and important war documentaries.

The Battle of Midway (1942)

This short documentary film made by John Ford is still a must-see for fans of military history. He was sent to Midway Island to record the daily life of the isolated military base, but a Japanese attack meant that he was there to catch all the action first hand.

Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

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This classic film starring Clint Eastwood tells the story of the 1962 prisoner escape from the maximum-security prison on Alcatraz Island. It is both a gritty portrayal of life in prison and an exciting heist film.

The Godfather (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola’s quintessential gangster flick starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall. Set in the late 1940s, it tells the story of the transformation of the son of the head mob boss from reluctant outsider to ruthless mafioso.

Grease (1978)

Still one of the best-loved musicals of all time, John Travolta stars as a cool guy that falls for a new arrival played by Olivia Newton-John, who doesn’t fit the mold. They struggle to make their love work while keeping up appearances in high school.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The first of the Stephen Speilberg films starring Harrison Ford as the swashbuckling archaeologist, in this installment he is on the trail to recover the Ark of the Covenant, before it can be exploited by the Nazis for their own evil purposes.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The best of the Indiana Jones films, in large part because Harrison Ford is joined on screen by Sean Connery, playing his father. Together they are on the hunt for the holy grail. They need to get their hands on it before the Nazis (always Nazis) can use it to take over the world.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Based on the classic Greek legend, it is an early example of stop-motion animation used to bring to life the many monsters that Jason and his followers encountered on their journey. It is still considered one of the best fantasy films ever made.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

One of the first stories brought to life by the magic of Studio Ghibli, it tells the story of a young witch who moves to a new town and uses her ability to fly in order to make a living. It is designed to look at women’s struggles for independence within Japanese families.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

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Martin Scorsese brings Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial novel to the screen with Willem Dafoe in the titular role. It presents a much more human Jesus, who struggles with the same temptations that confront all men including fear, doubt, lust, and depression.

Love Story (1970)

Based on the novel of the same name, Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal play a couple from very different backgrounds that fall in love despite the odds. But, while love seems to overcome all, their story is destined to be a tragedy.

The Memphis Belle (1944)

Another early war documentary, it tells the story of the final mission of the crew of the Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. It includes film footage of actual battles, as well as interviews with World War I veterans.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

This British comedy crew reminds us that we shouldn’t take life too seriously. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin take on the Arthurian legend of the quest for the holy grail.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

The comedy team is back, this time telling the story of Brian, a Jewish-Roman born on the same day, and next door to Jesus, and subsequently mistaken for the Messiah. How does a regular Joe deal with the many challenges designed for the son of God?

Out of Africa (1985)

Meryl Streep plays Karen Blixen in this film that tells the life of an unmarried Danish woman in Africa in the 1910s. We see her arranged marriage, and an illicit love affair with a young man played by Robert Redford.

Rocky (1976)

The first film in the series that tells the story of the boxing legend. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script, and only agreed to sell it on the condition that he would star in the film. After much back and forth, the studio agreed; that a star was born.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

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The classic disco dancing film starring John Travolta. He plays a man who uses his celebrity in the disco clubs as an escape from a very hard life outside the glitz and glamor of the clubs. It is full of fun, over-the-top dance scenes.

Scandal in Sorrento (1955)

Sophia Loren stars in this classic Italian film, which is actually the third film in a series. Vittorio De Sica returns to Sorrento to find a woman, Loren, squatting in his home and refusing to leave. But he soon falls for her.

The Signs of Venus (1955)

Another Sophia Loren classic, she stars as a woman actively searching for love after receiving a favorable love horoscope from a fortune teller.

Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Meryl Streep stars as a Polish immigrant to America hiding a dark secret from the past. She lives in a boarding house in Brooklyn with a new lover and her young son, and soon finds herself in an impossible situation.

Top Gun (1986)

Tom Cruise stars in this classic action flick about military jet pilots. Competition on the training ground and big egos result in tragedy, and the team must overcome their differences to confront a common enemy.

What To Watch Next?

Sci-Fi fans should check out our list of classic science fiction films available to stream or this collection of film adaptation based on classic Russian literature.

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