16 Amazing 1950s Movies On Netflix To Watch Right Now!

According to our definition, Netflix’s library of classic films (films made over 25 years ago) isn’t as vast as it was before the streaming service changed its focus to more modern programming, especially original series. However, there are some classics from the 1960s to the early part of the 1990s if you’re looking to experience some of the filmmaking in the past. To see a wider selection, look up our top list of best movies available on Netflix.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Year: 1975

Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Connie Booth

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG

It’s a bummer to think it has had some shine sucked off the Holy Grail by its massive ubiquity. Today, when we hear “flesh wound,” a “ni!” or a “huge tracts of land,” our first thoughts are usually of full scenes being replayed to us by ignorant obsessive, nerdy geeks. Or, in my instance of repeating complete scenes to uninformed people, obsessive fanatics. However, if you do your best to distance yourself from the over-saturation aspect and go back to Holy Grail after a while, you’ll discover new gags similar to the ones we’ve all seen. Holy Grail is one of the most densely packed comedies within the Python canon.

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There are a lot of jokes in the movie that it’s amazing how easily we forget this, given its popularity. If this film completely burns you out, take a second look with commentary, and you’ll discover another quality of enjoyment that comes from the skill of the way it was created. It’s certainly not the cost of a $400,000 production. It’s also fascinating to find out which jokes (like that coconut half) originated from a need for low-budget alternatives. The first-ever co-direction between actor Terry Jones (who only sporadically directed the film after Python was disbanded) and the lone American Terry Gilliam (who prolifically changed Python’s cinematic style into his own brand of nightmare fantasy) is spooky effectiveness. –Graham Tischler

She’s Gotta Have It

Year: 1986

Director: Spike Lee

Stars: Tracy Camila Johns, Spike Lee, John Canada Terrell, Tommy Redmond Hicks

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Rating: R

An incredibly honest film debut that instantly announced Lee’s bold, new voice in the American film She’s Gotta Have It, which is shot as a documentary and a shrewd examination of a young black girl known as Nola (Tracy Camilla Johns) trying to choose between three male partners as well as flirting at her bisexual pride to at first, determine what makes her feel happy. The most refreshing thing concerning the documentary is that Lee always raises the possibility that “none of the above” is an ideal choice for both Nola and single women. It was a major shift in the year 1986. The DIY film’s grainy, indie black-and-white cinematography enhances the film’s realism and authenticity. –Oktay Ege Kozak

Apocalypse Now Redux

Year: 1979

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne

Rating: R

Time of Run: 206 minutes

Let’s call Truffaut to mind, as his philosophy is as pertinent to the discussion of Francis Ford Coppola’s baffling adaption of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as to discussing the war film Paths of Glory and to examining war films generally. If we take Truffaut as he says, Apocalypse Now (and its upgraded version, which has 49 more minutes of footage that is being streamed on Netflix) cannot help but support war simply by recreating the genre as art. Perhaps that’s not enough to stop the film from communicating the central themes of Coppola’s film: war turns men into monsters and sends them to an unnatural, lawless mental state and, ultimately, war is hell. A dreadful phrase that has become a cliché due to its massive use between 1979 and the present.

While the film is innately apprehensive about the concept of war through its depiction, it doesn’t endorse its impact on the human nature of the participants. In actual fact, Apocalypse Now remains one of the most profound examples of the devastation that national-sanctioned violence can have on a person’s soul and psyche. It’s adorable that after forty years, we’re able to continue the film being cited in horribly terrible AT&T commercials or even repurposing its historical backdrop to the point of creating King Kong happen for contemporary viewers for the second time. However, there’s nothing sweet or even is quotable about the film. Apocalypse Now sears, sickens, and smudges, marking it in our memory as only the most brutal display of human cruelty could. –Andy Crump

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Year: 1984

Director: Wes Craven

Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Johnny Depp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri

Rating: R

Time of running of 90 minutes

Of the big three slasher franchises–Halloween, Friday the 13th, and thus–A Nightmare on Elm Street arguably presented us with the most complete and perfectly polished of original installments. It’s no doubt one of the reasons it was the first to be released with the franchise since Wes Craven had a chance to observe and influence the sly Carpenter and the more vulgar and insipid Cunningham in various F13 sequels. What came out of that mix of influences is a killer with the same indestructibility as Myers or Voorhees and an added twist from Craven’s hilarious style of comedy. It’s not that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) isn’t a comedian.

At least not in the opening Nightmare, where he’s shown as a real threat and a truly terrifying one, and not in the self-parodying satire that he was in subsequent sequels, such as Final Nightmare. However, his playful approach to murder and his later gallows humor makes for an entirely new kind of supernatural killer and one that was extremely influential on the post-Nightmare slashers. The basic premise of the film, exploring the terrors of dreams and skewed real-life experiences, was an offer from God directly to the actors and set designers, who were given the freedom to let their imaginations run wild and design memorable sets unlike anything else in the genre of horror to the point. It’s a fantastical phantasmagoria filled with morbid comedy and nightmares. –Jim Vorel

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When Harry Met Sally

Year: 1989

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby

Rating: R

Perhaps the most loved romantic comedy of the past decade, the tale about Harry (Billy Crystal), Sally (Meg Ryan) and their journey of 12 years towards marriage boasts a strong script written by Nora Ephron that feeds and takes advantage of the surprising romance between its main characters. (And every time a new generation of couples watches the scene in the restaurant at first, a woman is laughing, while a man remains silent, contemplating what’s so funny.) –Michael Burgin

The Other Side of the Wind

Year: 2018

Director: Orson Welles

Stars: John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Random, Susan Strasberg, Oja Kodar

Genre: Drama

Rating: R

As bizarre and gaudy as the title suggests, It’s as gaudy and inexplicably bizarre. Other Side of the Wind still sings through power from its motion that stretches its limits. The wind blows: Orson Welles channels it through his studio-inflicted/self-inflicted torpor, in that process finding an organic melody–or rather, jazz. The documentary that was made to accompany them, They’ll Love Me After I’m Dead, released by Netflix to accompany this film, the streaming giant’s most memorable moment, shows Welles massive and half-baked, explaining what he refers to as “divine accidents.”

These events were responsible for some of his most memorable particulars (wherein God resides), such as the breaking of the egg from Touch of Evil; they were something he set out to pursue (like chasing the wind) through the film he made his final effort that was released decades after its production when Netflix began to open their accounts to reveal the coffin in which the footage was kept. His former co-stars in the film, Peter Bogdanovich and Frank Marshall, have fulfilled their pledge with their boss to finish the film on his behalf, locating the essence of the project and delivering us the film we’ve never seen before. A divine accident. John Huston plays John Huston as Jake Hannaford, who is also Orson Welles, trying to finish The Other Side of the Wind much like Welles tried to finish The Other Side of the Wind, over the course of years with no real budget and by the seats-of-everyone’s-pants.

Blade Runner

Year: 1982

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: R

In the same way that The Road Warrior set the style and mood for the countless post-apocalyptic film scapes that followed and, similarly, Ridley Scott’s dim, filthy and over-crowded Blade Runner set the standard for depicting dystopias of the past. The film also featured Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and a group of actors who brought the Philip K. Dick-inspired story of a policeman who is a replicant to life in a realistic, gritty way. Under the impressive stage design and enthralling performances lies a profound contemplation of the unsettling isolation that is the human (and possibly, the human) condition that resonates (and creates new works like the film of Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049) to the present day. –Michael Burgin

Full Metal Jacket

Year: 1987

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Matthew Modine, Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Baldwin

Rating: R

There’s no doubt that the worth of Full Metal Jacket extends to the first half of the film and then declines after that as the movie begins to delve into the realm of conventionality. The second part of Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam horror tale is the source of the rules by which we can assess the film from a retrospective perspective as well as conventional content when it’s presented by an artist as talented as Kubrick should be watched. Full Metal Jacket’s second half is captivating and dark as it should be.

It’s a stark portrayal of how war alters people, in contrast to how the military culture depicted in the first half alters people. Being subjected to humiliation daily can break someone’s heart into two pieces. The pressure to kill another human being will cause a person to lose their soul. There’s absolutely nothing in Full Metal Jacket that doesn’t accomplish or convey Kubrick’s message. Still, there’s no doubting how iconic the prewar scene is, especially because of R. Lee Ermey’s legendary performance as the most frightening Gunnery Sergeant. –Andy Crump

Bonnie and Clyde

Year: 1967

Director: Arthur Penn

Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman

Rating: R

Running time: 112 minutes

There was a brief period of time in American film history that began shortly after the public became bored of the boring comedy and dramas that were cloying in the 1960s, but not before studios understood the potential of franchises such as Jaws as well as Star Wars that could pile sequels upon sequels, make millions of profits from merchandise, and ensure a steady flow of money, regardless of the artistic merit. In that brief time, studio executives had no better plan than throwing money at promising directors, hoping to be lucky. Films such as Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde possess a realist style that’s as smart and insightful as that of the French New Wave but filled with the fun American spirit that the corporate agenda had not suppressed.–Shane Ryan.

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Taxi Driver

Year: 1976

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Rating: R

Taxi Driver was his breakthrough film in a passionate and fervent rebuke of alienation — not to mention the city’s transformation into the midst of crime, delivered with such a slick, icy realism that when Scorsese’s main character (and long-time co-worker) Robert De Niro finally bursts into flames, it’s a harrowing experience. If Taxi Driver feels slightly overrated, it’s because its DNA has snuck into many later films. Scorsese was a child who loved Westerns which is why Taxi Driver could be his version of The Searchers. The only difference is that the man-out-of-time has no redemption. –Tim Grierson

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Year: 1979

Director: Terry Jones

Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R

The film was created on George Harrison’s money and regarded to be apocryphal by the famed comedy group to be their greatest movie (probably because it’s the closest they’ve ever come to a 3-act story that has obvious “thematic concerns”), Life of Brian got banned by many countries towards the close of the 1970s. It’s it was a Christ story, it tells of how the squealy mama’s son Brian (Graham Chapman) is mistakenly portrayed as one of the messiahs emerging in Judea in the backdrop of Roman occupation (around 33 AD on a Saturday afternoon). The sequel to the success of Holy Grail may be the most political that it’s akin to. In this regard, the British group removed all romance and nobility from the plot’s outlines by satirizing all sorts of radicals from the military and religious institutions to bureaucratic bureaucracy in government but never making a fuss about the persona that is Jesus or his humble doctrines.

Of course, Life of Brian isn’t the first film that is about Jesus (or: Jesus adjacent) to examine the human aspects of the supposedly savior-like figure–Martin Scorsese’s popular version did this just a decade after–but it’s the first film to use human weaknesses in opposition to God’s expectations. The film is awash in satire and focuses on every aspect of Spartacus and Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth, and is bolstered by as many memorable phrases like the crucifixes that hold the film’s frame (as Brian’s equally squeaky mother shouts to the crowds of people, “He’s not the Messiah.

The Exorcist

Year: 1973

Director: William Friedkin

Stars: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb

Rating: R

Time of running: 120 minutes

The Exorcist is kind of a safe choice. However, you have to have to consider whether another film on the list is more frightening and more influential, or simply scary than this one. There isn’t any. The film exudes an air of terror, it feels uneven and unclean, and shaky, even before the scenes of possession begin. Certain scenes, such as”the “demon face,” flash on the screen for one-eighth, confusing the viewer and giving the impression that you will never allow your security to fall. The film wiggles its way into your skin only to remain there for the rest of your life.

The film continuously erodes any hope both the viewers and characters may have and makes you feel that there’s no chance that the priest (Jason Miller), who isn’t particularly strong in his faith, will be capable of saving the demonized young woman (Linda Blair). The final “victory” is a very hollow victory, as discussed by the writer William Peter Blatty in The Exorcist III. It is a difficult experience to watch it regardless of having seen it numerous times. The Exorcist is a great film in any sense. –Jim Vorel

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