Considering the large number of films on Netflix, you might be surprised to learn that the streamer doesn’t have many classics. Only a handful of Netflix films hit theaters in the 70s, and only three current Netflix films are from the 60s. Netflix does a better job with its selection of ’80s films, but even those titles don’t have much to choose from.
Regardless, we believe it’s long overdue to highlight the best classic films on Netflix from the 70s and 80s. As you can see in the list below, several of these titles have cemented their place in Hollywood history. The films also hold up remarkably well despite the decades that have passed between their theatrical releases and their reemergence in the streaming era.
Just when you think it’s safe to get back in the water, all four Mouth the movie is on Netflix. But of course, his first film is definitely his best, and it’s also the film that made Steven Spielberg a superstar among directors nearly five decades ago. Off the coast of Amity Island, a great white shark decides to hunt and devour anyone it catches in the water. And this is killing the local tourism industry.
When Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) refuses to close the beaches, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) takes action to kill sharks with professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). Unfortunately for both men, sharks have their own ideas about who is the hunter, and who is the prey.
Watch Mouth on Netflix.
Steve Martin started his career as a film star The bastard, in which he plays a simpleton named Navin R. Johnson. Navin is so oblivious to reality that he initially doesn’t realize that his black adoptive parents, Mother (Mabel King) and Father (Richard Ward), are not his biological parents. Or he himself is not Black.
When Navin leaves home to find his destiny, he manages to fall into money and success only to lose everything. The only redeeming aspect of Navin’s journey is his love for Marie Kimble (Bernadette Peters). But even that relationship might not last long because of Navin’s carelessness.
Watch The bastard on Netflix.
Deer hunter was the 1978 Oscar winner for Best Picture, but it wasn’t always easy to live up to. This is the story of three friends, Mike Vronsky (Robert De Niro), Nick Chevotarevich (Christopher Walken), and Steven Pushkov (John Savage), who went to war in Vietnam and never really came home as the same people. All three were captured and tortured while in Vietnam, and their collective PTSD was so strong that Nick couldn’t even bring himself to return to his wife, Linda (Meryl Streep).
If you’re looking for a life-affirming message, you won’t find it here. Deer hunter almost as bleak as the film gets, but it remains a powerful film 45 years after its release.
Watch Deer hunter on Netflix.
Monty Python is a group of comedy legends, and their second film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps one of the funniest films ever made. This is the relentlessly silly tale of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights, Lancelot (John Cleese), Robin (Eric Idle), Bedevere (Terry Jones), and Galahad (Michael Palin) as they traverse 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 is still hilarious and quotable nearly five decades later. The rest of the film is also incredibly funny, and it’s one of those rare films that will never seem to get old as long as you’re willing to accept Python’s brand of wacky comedy.
Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Netflix.
At the time Fast Times At Ridgemont High School was released, director Amy Heckerling couldn’t have known that some of the film’s lead actors would go on to become bigger stars. Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hakim Reinhold, and Phoebe Cates rode that wave, while even some of the supporting cast like Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker went on to bigger things.
Ironically, the most interesting storyline in the film does not directly involve any of the players except Leigh. Her character, Stacy Hamilton, is loved from afar by Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer). That doesn’t stop Rat’s best friend, Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), from getting close to Leigh himself and getting her pregnant. When Rat finds out, their friendship may not survive.
Watch Fast Times At Ridgemont High School on Netflix.
There have been a lot of bad Stephen King adaptations over the last four decades, but sometimes, the combination of a King story with the right director (in this case, Rob Reiner) and cast results in an instant classic. That’s what happened with By my sidecoming-of-age story set in 1959. After learning the location of a missing boy’s body, 12-year-old Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (Wil Wheaton), and his friends Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) , and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) decides to find the body in hopes of being recognized as a hero.
However, the boys’ journey to the body is not smooth, as they run afoul of local gang leader, John “Ace” Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland). There are no supernatural elements found in this story. But it is a film that has a beautiful impact and ranks among the greatest films of all time.
Watch By my side on Netflix.
Scar Face (1983)
Among the films of the 80s, scar being in class alone. Brian De Palma directed this remake based on a script by Oliver Stone, featuring Al Pacino’s unforgettable turn as the title character, Tony Montana. In the early 80s, Tony and his friends arrived in America as refugees from Cuba. But Tony believed he was destined for greater things, and he chose to pursue his fortune in the world of drugs.
Tony managed to become a rich drug kingpin, but he had no shortage of enemies he made along the way. Tony’s self-destructive streak is so powerful that his downfall begins as soon as he gains the power he so desperately desires.
Watch scar on Netflix.