There are some movies you can watch again and again and again. No matter how much time passes, their plots are so intriguing and universal that they're just as relevant today as they were when they first hit theaters. These are called the classics. "Classic films are often distinguished or unique works of cinema that have transcended time and trends, with indefinable quality," according to AMC Filmsite. While some may say the golden age of film is over thanks to streaming services like Netflix, you can still enjoy the classics with the press of a button.
If you're chasing a bit of nostalgia or craving something different than your usual streaming selections, trade in recently released movies for classics from the '50s to the '90s. Listen in awe of Katharine Hepburn's unmistakable drawl in The African Queen, be uplifted by the immortal words of Walt Whitman as told by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, and get your heart racing as you watch Laura Dern and Sam Neill evade dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park. Here are 25 of the best classic movies on Netflix right now.
Plot: One of the most iconic films of all time, The Godfather paints a portrait of a powerful Italian-American family involved in the mob. Enjoy performances by Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Diane Keaton in this true classic. You'll be happy to know the entire trilogy is currently available to stream on Netflix. If you haven't already, it's time to cross this film series off of your movie bucket list.
Memorable Quote: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." — Don Corleone
The Sixth Sense
Plot: In case the arguably greatest twist in movie history hasn't already been spoiled for you, let's just say this film is about a young boy who is visited by ghosts, and the only person he confides in is a child psychologist played by Bruce Willis. It's a creepy thriller that will keep you hooked until the very end.
Memorable Quote: "I see dead people." — Cole Sear
She's Gotta Have It
Genre: Indie romance
Plot: In Spike Lee's groundbreaking coming-of-age film, one woman pursues relationships with three different men. The movie is shot in black and white and portrays a woman who is unapologetic about what she wants. Each man she dates has something unique to offer, but Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns) simply can't make up her mind.
Memorable Quote: "It's really about control—my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I'm not a one-man woman. Bottom line." — Nola Darling
Plot: As war ravages his Sicilian village, a young boy named Salvatore Di Vita finds solace at the Cinema Paradiso movie house. The film follows Di Vita as he grows up, falls in love, and considers leaving his home to pursue filmmaking.
Memorable Quote: "Life isn't like in the movies. Life… is much harder." — Alfredo
Daughter's of the Dust
Plot: Set in the early 20th century, this film follows a family living in the Gullah community of South Carolina. Descendants of West African slaves, the family journeys north in search of a new life on the mainland. Intertwining narratives unravel in this modern American classic about family, love, and opportunity.
Memorable Quote: "Look in my face! I'm trying to give you something to take north with you, along with all your great big dreams." — Nana Peazant
The Little Rascals
Plot: A group of adorable kids begins meddling in the love life of one of their friends, Alfalfa, after he's caught wooing a girl named Darla. Alfalfa's interest in Darla goes against everything their anti-girl organization stands for, but all of their efforts may cost them the go-kart race they've been preparing for.
Memorable Quote: "Dear Darla, I hate your stinking guts. You make me vomit. You're scum between my toes! Love, Alfalfa." — Buckwheat
Plot: This Christmas classic follows a pair of performers (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) who met in the army during World War II. When the singing and dancing duo meet sister act Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) they follow them to Vermont, where they put on an elaborate performance for their old commander from the war. All the while, love is in the air.
Memorable Quote: "I guess I got carried away." — Judy Haynes
"Yes, she carried me right with her—I don't weigh very much." — Phil Davis
Harry and the Hendersons
Plot: When a family accidentally hits a sasquatch with their car on the way home from a vacation in the woods, their lives are turned upside in this hilarious '80s comedy. Bigfoot turns out to be a sweet creature who the family names Harry, but keeping him a secret becomes a problem.
Memorable Quote: "The basement. You'll love it! It's like a cave. With a pool table." — Emily Henderson
Genre: Drama/Teen Film
Plot: When the popular girl, Veronica (Winona Ryder) starts dating J.D. (Christian Slater), she is so blind with love, she doesn't realize that he's intentionally killing students while making it appear like a suicide. Case in point, her clique leader Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) who they "accidentally" poisoned. She eventually catches on and tries to stop him while also clashing the group's new leader, Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty).
Memorable Quote: "If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game show host." — Veronica Sawyer
Plot: Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) has a strong connection with the ocean, and nothing will ever get between her and her love of surfing. She's dedicated to taking out the title in the upcoming Pipe Masters surf competition, getting up before dawn every day to master her craft. That is, until pro quarterback, Matt Tollman (Matthew Davis) comes along. She soon starts to question what she really wants as she falls for him.
Memorable Quote: "What do I want? Oh my god, I want Penny to quit smoking and go to college. I want, I want to be able to pay the phone, electric and rent in the same month. I want a girl to be on the cover of Surf magazine. It would be great if that girl were me, but any girl would do. I want… I mean I wish my mom would come home, and I really, really want to win Pipe Masters tomorrow—that's what I want." — Anne Marie
Plot: A dreaded Saturday detention becomes one of the most memorable days of five high school student's lives. Although from separate walks of life, they each find common ground, compassion, and understanding through telling their stories over the course of the day. It's compelling viewing as you watch the rebel, the princess, the outcast, the nerd, and the jock relate to each other and find friendship.
Memorable Quote: "Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place." — John Bender
Plot: With Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, and Charlize Theron, The Devil's Advocate has a stellar line-up making it our sleeper hit flick that should be on everyone's classic movies list. Keanu Reeves as Kevin Lomax is a Florida defense lawyer who starts working for a New York law firm with John Milton, played by Al Pacino. But the real drama and thrill begin when his wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) experiences several frightening and mystical events that warp reality. Kevin soon realizes that evil is lurking and his mentor is behind it.
Memorable Quote: "Free will. It's like butterfly wings: once touched, they never get off the ground. No, I only set the stage. You pull your own strings." — John Milton.
The below classic flicks are no longer available on Netflix, but we highly recommend you add them to your must-watch list too:
To Kill A Mockingbird
Plot: Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, this classic movie follows Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) as he defends a black man against false rape charges. The film, like the novel, exposes themes of racism and stereotyping in a truly moving way.
Memorable Quote: "If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." —Atticus Finch
Plot: Journey to an island populated by dinosaurs made with prehistoric DNA in this action-packed adventure. When paleontologists played by Sam Neill and Laura Dern arrive with a mathematician played by Jeff Goldblum, they believe the island is safe, only to end up of fighting for their lives when something goes awry and the dinosaurs are set free.
Memorable Quote: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs." — Dr. Ian Malcolm
A Star Is Born
Plot: A young Barbra Streisand plays a rising star alongside Kris Kristofferson in this indie film. Rock star John Norman discovers singer Esther Hoffman and helps her get her start as the two fall in love. The only problem is Norman's career is on the rocks, leading to his excessive drug and alcohol use that causes problems for him and Hoffman.
Memorable Quote: "You can trash your life, but you're not going to trash mine." — Esther Hoffman
Dead Poets Society
Plot: This film never ceases to delight and inspire. Centered around a group of boys attending the prestigious Welton Academy, the classic movie features Robin Williams as unorthodox English teacher John Keating. His lessons on Shakespeare and Walt Whitman have a way of teaching his students far more about their own lives than even they realize.
Memorable Quote: "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." – John Keating
Can't Buy Me Love
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Plot: Long before Patrick Dempsey was McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy, he was playing high school nerd Ronald Miller in the coming-of-age classic Can't Buy Me Love. In typical '80s teen movie fashion, Dempsey's character negotiates a deal with a popular cheerleader, convincing her to pretend to date him in return for getting her out of a pickle. One can only guess what happens next.
Memorable Quote: "I mean, he went from totally geek to totally chic!" — Patty
Plot: You likely recognize the iconic movie poster for Endless Summer, but did you know the film is actually a documentary about the sport of surfing? This classic movie is essentially an endless roll of surf footage as filmmaker Bruce Brown follows surfers Michael Hynson and Robert August while they travel the world for—you guessed it—the perfect wave. Enjoy the soothing sounds of The Sandals, hilarious commentary from Brown himself, and neverending shots of Hynson and August catching waves around the globe.
Memorable Quote: "Many of us ride winter and summer, but the ultimate thing for us would be to have an endless summer. The only way to do this is to travel around the world." — Bruce Brown
The African Queen
Plot: Adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C.S. Forester, this film follows a religious woman played by the iconic Katharine Hepburn and a steamboat captain portrayed by none other than Humphrey Bogart. The unlikely pair ends up on an adventure together as they try to get out of Africa during World War II. What ensues is witty banter, hilarious high jinks, and a bit of unexpected romance.
Memorable Quote: "What are you being so mean for, miss? A man takes a drop too much once in a while; it's only human nature." — Charlie Allnut
"Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above." — Rose Sayer
This post was originally published on July 24, 2018, and has since been updated.