It’s easy right now just to seek out the most recent releases on streaming platforms. But what about the wealth of older movies that are on there? Whether you’re returning to a film that you’ve seen multiple times or you’re giving one of these a first time watch, Daily Info has the pick of the classics worth your time.
Citizen Kane (BBC iPlayer)
Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane is both a technical marvel of its era and a powerful 20th Century tragedy. Orson Welles’ debut sprawls back from the death of the titular tycoon, seeking to unlock the meaning behind his final words. There are few films in Western cinema that have been as innovative as this one and it very much defines what ‘classic cinema’ is. It also joins a roster of must-see cinema from the 30s and 40s that now resides on BBC iPlayer, from screwball comedies to prestigious awards contenders.
To Kill a Mockingbird (Amazon Prime)
Many will have read (and even studied) Harper Lee’s classic text about a lawyer in the Deep South defending a black man against an undeserved rape charge. But Robert Mulligan’s film is equally brilliant; a powerful adaptation with a moving performance from Gregory Peck (for which he won an Oscar) and a powerful emotional resonance.
The Great Escape (Netflix)
A firm favourite around the Christmas period, now nevertheless feels like a good time for us to give The Great Escape a watch. Charting Allied soldiers’ attempts to escape a POW camp, it is a resounding epic, with one of Steve McQueen’s truly great turns. Plus it has perhaps the most iconic moment on a motorbike in cinematic history.
West Side Story (Netflix)
Soon to see a new version directed by Stephen Spielberg, the new incarnation will have to go a long way to match this adaptation. Stephen Sondheim’s musical transports the story of Romeo & Juliet to the gangs of post-war New York, and in doing so creates a truly magnificent work. With a soundtrack that includes ‘America’, ‘Tonight’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’, it is a musical that is always worth a revisit.
Spartacus (Now TV)
All together now… “I’m Spartacus!” One of the most well-known moments in cinema, the eponymous hero received cinematic justice in Stanley Kubrick’s film. A sweeping epic with an incredible ensemble (Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons), as with many of Kubrick’s works the film’s impact has lingered long after its release.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Now TV)
From one Kubrick to another, 2001: A Space Odyssey may very well be one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. Following mankind into space, it is a film that is often imitated, particularly the sequences with a malevolent softly-spoken supercomputer called H.A.L. 9000. Kubrick’s craft and skill has been rarely matched and 2001 is among his greatest achievements.
The Conversation (Now TV)
Another example of a masterful director at the height of his prowess, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is the small film sandwiched between the first two Godfathers. And yet it is a brilliant achievement: a sweaty, tense thriller that follows a surveillance expert who becomes drawn into a potential murder plot. Gene Hackman’s performance is perhaps the greatest of his career.
A Shot in the Dark (Netflix)
A Shot in the Dark is a strange entry in the Pink Panther franchise, as it plays for the most part as a murder mystery thriller with Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau wandering through it. And yet it is the best in the series, perhaps because of this fact. A hilarious comedy with some terrific set pieces, it can be watched as part of the wider series or on its own. You won’t regret it.
Rear Window (Now TV)
Debatably Hitchcock’s best work, Rear Window feels like the best (or maybe worst) film to watch during isolation. Contained in photojournalist James Stewart’s apartment, it nevertheless manages to weave a thrilling murder mystery from the confines of our hero’s wheelchair. It is the work of a masterful director at the very height of his career.
Cat People (BBC iPlayer)
If you are unfamiliar with the works of Jacques Tourneur then seek out Cat People straight away. Running at a brisk 73 minutes, it gives viewers a masterclass in the horror icon’s cinematic formula. The story of a woman who believes she will turn into a cat person, it is chilling, thrilling and really quite brilliantly done.
And if you are seeking out even more classic examples of horror, head over to Amazon Prime with a wealth to pick from, including Nosferatu, House on the Haunted Hill and The Day of the Triffids.