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The best classic movies on Netflix right now

F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus.
Orion Pictures

There have been long stretches on Netflix with barely any classic movies from the 1970s or 1980s. Thankfully, Netflix currently has pretty decent lineup of older films, including Amadeus, Footloose, Born on the Fourth of July, and A Nightmare on Elm Street and almost all of its sequels.

Those films cover drama, comedy, and horror, and that’s just the beginning of our roundup of the best classic movies on Netflix right now. But catch these films while you can. The older titles on Netflix don’t tend to stick around beyond a few months. And once these movies leave, we can’t predict when or if they’ll be back on Netflix.

Amadeus (1984)

Tom Hulce in Amadeus.
Orion Pictures

To call Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) a genius really undersells a one-of-a-kind talent who composed over 800 pieces of music despite passing away at only 35-years old. Amadeus reenvisions its title character as a rock star among classical musicians in the 19th century, with all of the vices that go along with that.

Amadeus’ rival, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), is so jealous that God has given Amadeus such an incredible aptitude for music that he plots revenge against both Mozart and the Almighty. But even Salieri’s hate can only take him so far in the face of Amadeus’ undeniable talent.

Watch Amadeus on Netflix.

Footloose (1984)

Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon in Footloose.
Paramount Pictures

There was a remake of Footloose in 2011, but as far as we’re concerned, the original is the only Footloose that matters. It’s the classic tale of a big-city kid, Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), who moves to a small town and makes new friends including Willard (Chris Penn) and Rusty (Sex and the City‘s Sarah Jessica Parker). He also wins over the heart of Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), the daughter of the local reverend, Shaw Moore (John Lithgow).

Because of a tragedy years before, Reverend Moore convinced the town to ban drinking and dancing. But since dancing is what Ren does best, he goes out of his way to convince the town to let the high school have a real prom again.

Watch Footloose on Netflix.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July.
Universal Pictures

Mission: Impossible action star Tom Cruise got his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his powerful performance in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July. This biopic is based on the life of Ron Kovic (Cruise), a man who was motivated by patriotism to join the Marines and go off to war in Vietnam.

What Kovic finds in Vietnam is a military disaster that shatters his mind and body. During the long road to recovery, Kovic turns against the ideology that he blindly followed before the war and reinvents himself as an anti-war activist.

Watch Born on the Fourth of July on Netflix.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
New Line Cinema

Almost all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are on Netflix right now, except Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. But you aren’t missing much with that one! While A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors is a fan favorite, the original film is our choice for this list because it’s the one of the few times that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was truly unsettling in the role.

Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her boyfriend, Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp), are alarmed by the death of their mutual friend, Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss). As much as the cops want to pin Tina’s murder on her boyfriend, Rod Lane (Nick Corri), Nancy realizes that Freddy is stalking Elm Street’s children in their dreams. If they die while they’re asleep, they die in the real world as well. And if Nancy can’t find a way to stop Freddy’s rampage, then she’ll be the next victim on his list.

Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street on Netflix.

Animal House (1978)

The cast of Animal House.
Universal Pictures

For a movie that came out in 1978, Animal House is still pretty wild even by today’s standards. The late John Belushi had one of his funniest performances as John “Bluto” Blutarsky, one of the leaders of Delta House, a rowdy fraternity at Faber College in the early 1960s. Bluto, Eric “Otter” Stratton (Tim Matheson), and Donald “Boon” Schoenstein (Peter Riegert) welcome new recruits Larry “Pinto” Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent “Flounder” Dorfman (Stephen Furst) as they get their first taste of campus life.

Delta House’s antics have already made them the hated targets of Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon), and he’ll do anything get them kicked out of school. Hilariously, the Delta House guys do more to help the Dean’s case than his flunkies in Omega House. And Delta House isn’t above getting some very public payback on both the Dean and the Omegas.

Watch Animal House on Netflix.

Legal Eagles (1986)

Robert Redford and Debra Winger in Legal Eagles.
Universal Pictures

Would you believe that Legal Eagles was Ivan Reitman’s first film after Ghostbusters? It’s true. Reitman cast Robert Redford as Tom Logan, a rising star in the District Attorney’s office who wants to become the D.A. himself. Tom’s career aspirations are put on hold when he goes up against Laura Kelly (Debra Winger), a defense attorney who is representing a woman named Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah) against theft charges.

Chelsea is attempting to recover artwork by her late father, who was a famous painter. And even after the initial charges against Chelsea are dropped, she soon faces a charge for murder. With his own legal career on the line, Tom teams up with Laura to clear Chelsea’s name even as romantic sparks go off between them.

Watch Legal Eagles on Netflix.

Out of Africa (1980)

The cast of Out of Africa.
Universal Pictures

Somebody at Netflix really loves Robert Redford, as he appears in several of the streamer’s classic movies. Out of Africa casts Redford as Denys Finch Hatton, a big game hunter who captures the heart of Baroness Karen von Dinesen (Meryl Streep). The film itself is based on the autobiographical story of von Dinesen, who wrote the novel Out of Africa under her pen name, Isak Dinesen.

Karen moved to Africa to secure her future by marrying Baron Bror von Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer). But when their relationship goes cold, Karen turns to Denys for all of the passion she can’t get from her husband. Yet, even when Karen is freed from the bonds of matrimony, maintaining a long-term romantic bond with Denys may not be possible.

Watch Out of Africa on Netflix.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Eddie Murphy in a poster for Beverly Hills Cop.
Paramount Pictures

Eddie Murphy was never just an action star. Coming off his iconic run as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, Beverly Hills Cop was the action comedy that propelled Murphy to leading man status and a member of Hollywood’s A-list. Murphy portrays Axel Foley, a Detroit police detective driven to solve the murder of his friend, Michael “Mikey” Tandino (James Russo).

Foley defies orders to stay out the investigation and follows the trail of Mikey’s killers back to Beverley Hills. The Los Angeles Police Department wants no part of Foley’s vendetta, so they assign Detective William “Billy” Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Sergeant John Taggart (John Ashton) to keep him out of their way and out of trouble. But trouble is what Foley does best, and Rosewood and Taggart are overwhelmed when Axel runs rings around them before bringing both men over to his side.

Watch Beverly Hills Cop on Netflix.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

King Arthur and his knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
EMI Films

Monty Python is a group of comedy legends, and their second film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, may be one of the funniest movies ever made. It’s the relentlessly silly story of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights, Lancelot (John Cleese), Robin (Eric Idle), Bedevere (Terry Jones), and Galahad (Michael Palin) as they stumble across the countryside in search of the Holy Grail.

On their journey, Arthur and his servant, Patsy (Terry Gilliam), encounter the Black Knight (Cleese) in a sequence that’s still hilarious and quotable nearly five decades later. The rest of the movie is also amazingly funny, and it’s one of the rare films that never seems to get old as long as you’re willing to embrace the Pythons’ brand of bizarre comedy.

Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Netflix.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell

Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek Monthly, SYFY Wire, Superhero Hype, Collider, DC Universe, and the official sites for Star Trek and Marvel. He also lends his pop culture expertise to Digital Trends on a variety of TV, movie, and streaming features.

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