Like most movie addicts, we like to keep close tabs on which “old” movies are popping up on Netflix’s Watch Instantly platform — and while their additions have been relatively unimpressive over the last several weeks, that all changed yesterday. Below you’ll find a big batch of films that just (re-)arrived on Netflix’s streaming service, complete with a few quick points on why you might want to queue them up. (Thanks to the sites instantwatcher.com and feedfliks.com for tracking it all.)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) — Frank Capra. Cary Grant. Dark comedy. Peter Lorre. Truly fun stuff.
High Noon (1952) — Grace Kelly. Gary Cooper. Grace Kelly. (Yes, again. She’s that great.) Great morality tale and a fun western at the same time. Also Harry Morgan, Otto Kruger, Lloyd Bridges, Lee Van Cleef, and Lon Chaney Jr. (Runs 85 minutes. You have no excuse.)
Sabrina (1954) — Billy Wilder. Audrey Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart? Yep. Also you’ve probably already seen the Harrison Ford version. This one is considerably better.
Bus Stop (1956) — Marilyn Monroe. Enough said.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) — Paul Newman. Elizabeth Taylor. Tennesse Williams. It’s not boring, honest.
The Bellboy (1960) — Jerry Lewis vehicle. I haven’t seen it. Ranked among his better films so I include it for fairness.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964) — Don Knotts turns into an animated fish. Kids dig it.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) — Arguably the first mega-violent mainstream film. It’s also simply a fantastic crime flick.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) — Billy Wilder goes relatively dark in this one. Fascinating. Also a bit too long.
The Day of the Jackal (1973) — Forget the remake. Dark, excellent British espionage movie. From the director of High Noon!
Gray Lady Down (1978) — Another one I haven’t seen, but it’s Charlton Heston in a nuclear submarine/disaster sort of thing. I’ll queue it for the weekend.
Cruising (1980) — From the director of The French Connection and The Exorcist (that’d be William Friedkin), a look at gay culture that was controversial back then, and still discussed often today.
Heaven’s Gate (1980) — Decide for yourself! I don’t love the infamous film, but it’s got too many strong assets to simply ignore.
Somewhere in Time (1980) — Christopher Reeve goes back in time to make out with Jane Seymour. As would I.
Superman 2 (1980) — A fun sequel, stupid stuff and all.
Arthur (1981) — Old-fashioned yet foul-mouthed. A great vehicle for Dudley Moore, and John Houseman and Liza Minnelli are not exactly slouches. Bonus: funny!
Quest for Fire (1981) — Arguably the best movie ever made about caveman culture. Approach it with a straight face and an open mind, and you may love this film.
Amityville 2: The Possession (1982) — I’m not a fan of this one, truth be told (it’s alternately dull and ugly), but many horror pals have a soft spot for A2. I include it here for their sake.
Creepshow (1982) — Easily one of the best horror anthologies out there. Nice mix of stories, a tone of colorful horror and broad gallows humor, and a great cast.
D.C. Cab (1983) — One of Joel Schumacher’s earliest films. Yep, he directed this. It’s a standard slob-style comedy, but it’s not every day you see a movie featuring Mr. T, Gary Busey, Adam Baldwin, Bill Maher, and Irene Cara.
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) — Generally seen as the “weakest” of the Python’s official movies (Holy Grail and Life of Brian being the others), but it still has lots of brilliant, weird, absurd, and hilarious stuff.
Mr. Mom (1983) — Feature-length sitcom buoyed by a great cast, Also a witty script from a young John Hughes.
Risky Business (1983) — Tom Cruise’s big breakout comedy. We can forgive it because it’s also really good. A bit dated nowadays, but the comedy still works and Rebecca De Mornay is forever gorgeous.
To Be or Not to Be (1983) — One of the few Mel Brooks movies he didn’t direct, it’s … a remake. I didn’t like it when I was a kid (not silly enough), but as a grown-up I like it just fine.
Tightrope (1984) — Once in a while Clint Eastwood does something dark and weird. This is a good example.
Silver Bullet (1985) — One of the more sedate Stephen King adaptations (it’s based on Cycle of the Werewolf) but it maintains some solid charm and provides a few cool chills. Not great, but good enough.
The Toxic Avenger (1985) — While I’m not a big fan of Troma’s productions, generally speaking, you have to give them at least Toxie 1. What a sick, twisted, weird, and ballsy little indie comedy horror satire mash-up.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986) — Hey, another ancient Troma title that I recall enjoying. In a stupid, childish way, but it makes for a fine partner with Toxic Avenger.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986) — If you can’t wait for the extended version (hitting Blu-ray soon!) then feel free to catch up with this delightful musical throwback at your convenience. Yes, I said delightful.
The Milagro Beanfield War (1986) — A Robert Redford movie I’ve never seen but remember hearing good things about. I include these ones for you!
Platoon (1986) — Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger are pretty amazing in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam war film and … hey, that’s Charlie Sheen! Before he became a lunatic! And man he’s really good in this movie.
Under the Cherry Moon (1986) — You wanna see what pure ego slathered on celluloid looks like? Try watching this Prince production with a straight face. I dare you.
Cross My Heart (1987) — A very slight and forgettable romantic farce, but I remember it fondly because of the leads. Martin Short, truly charming and barely hyper, and Annette O’Toole, at her most lovely and amusing. Not calling it a classic, but it’s “cute,” as my mom would say.
Disorderlies (1987) — You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Ralph Bellamy rap with The Fat Boys.
Surf Nazis Must Die (1987) — Third and final Troma title. Included only for the title because, let’s face it, surf Nazis MUST die.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988) — One of my all-time favorite comedies, and I’m not the type who employs the phrase “all-time” very often. Everyone shines. Cleese, Curtis, Kline, Palin. Too many great moments to spoil here.
Funny Farm (1988) — One of the better (and more admired) of Chevy Chase’s late-stage heyday, thanks probably in part to the presence of excellent director George Roy Hill. Entirely amiable fluff.
I’m Gonna Get You Sucka (1988) — A fantastic parody / spoof / satire of blaxploitation cinema, long before the broad spoof was turned into a junk drawer of pop culture refuse. If you like Black Dynamite, you’ve probably already seen this. “Gimme one rib!”
Tequila Sunrise (1988) — Kurt Russell and Mel Gibson fight over Michelle Pfeiffer at some gorgeous location. I don’t remember, to be honest. You want to watch that cast, or you don’t.
The Accidental Tourist (1989) — A serious Drama (with a capital D) from Lawrence Kasdan. William Hurt, Geena Davis, Kathlen Turner, and some great character actors in every other scene.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) — Say what you will about the movie (I’m not a huge fan), but Morgan Freeman is so damn good in this one.
The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990) — Someone once thought it was a good idea to wedge Andrew Dice Clay into his own action movie. The results are not pretty … although the flick does seem to maintain a small but loyal fan base. Of crazy people.
Graveyard Shift (1990) — Sometimes you just have to watch a giant mutated rat eat a bunch of people, you know?
He Said She Said (1991) — The half-and-half gimmick rom-com that doesn’t entirely work, but does feature some fun chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern. Bonus points for Nathan Lane and (yep) Sharon Stone.
Nothing But Trouble (1991) — A horror comedy starring Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Demi Moore? Wow, that sounds like something I’d … no, seriously? This is one outrageously bad movie. Watch it and experience what “jaw-dropping” really feels like.
Final Analysis (1992) — Richard Gere and Kim Basinger in a noir-ish mystery that benefits from the fluid and always stylish direction of Phil Joanou. Beyond that, meh.
Kuffs (1992) — Yep, Kuffs, Don’t pretend you don’t know this movie.
Demolition Man (1993) — I know a lot of movie geeks who adore this futuristic action-fest, but good lord it hurts my head to watch it. Stallone, Snipes, and an adorable Sandra Bullock spit out some of the stupidest words I’ve ever heard. Also lots of things explode.
The Vanishing (1993) — Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland star in a rather chilling thriller that deals with premature burial. The director is actually remaking his own movie, and the original is creepier, but this one works too.
Disclosure (1994) — Demi Moore sexually harasses Michael Douglas in Barry Levinson’s wonderfully outdated and overwrought boardroom semi-thriller. Fun trash is what I’d call it.
Monkey Trouble (1994) — Little Thora Birch has a monkey!
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) — Certainly not up there with Brooks classics like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, but (as usual) Leslie Nielsen knows his silly, and there’s ample support from Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, and the brilliant Peter MacNicol.
Empire Records (1995) — This is the movie you show to hipsters-in-training. Blah. But lots of people I know love it, so here it is. Rex Manning Day!
A Little Princess (1995) — Years before Y Tu Mama Tambien, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron directed this truly excellent family film. It’s really quite lovely.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) — I’ve never seen this crap. I only included it because I got all mushy about the A Little Princess.
Tromeo and Juliet (1995) — My second favorite Troma film, which I’m not sure is all that big a compliment. It’s got some clever stuff mixed in with the standard splattery weirdness.
Cannibal! The Musical (1996) — Before there was South Park, there was this.
Thinner (1996) — A so-so (yet kinda unfairly hated) adaptation of a creepy Stephen King novel. It’s about a man who cannot stop losing weight. Ever!
The Relic (1997) — Based on a very popular novel of the same name, this is a slick and very enjoyable monster movie with a dash of disaster flick thrown in. Fans like me want to know where Part 2 (Reliquary) is already!
Almost Heroes (1998) — I include this one only because I love Chris Farley. I don’t even remember if he’s given anything funny to do here.
The Avengers (1998) — Whoa, The Avengers is on Netflix already! How exciting … no, wait. It’s that weirdly dismal adaptation of the old British TV series. Rare is the Connery performance this ripe.
Small Soldiers (1998) — This manic Joe Dante movie takes a few early swipes at consumerism and the military, but then it just settles down into a crazy action comedy about a war between commando toys and alien action figures. Not all of it works, but most of it does.
Sphere (1998) — This dull and lumpy Levinson take on a Crichton novel stars Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Liev Schreiber, Peter Coyote, Queen Latifah, a bunch of jellyfish, a giant ball, and one truly silly screenplay. Also the ending is awful.
Flawless (1999) — De Niro as a homophobe and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a drag queen, directed by Joel Schumacher. This is a real movie.
Battlefield Earth (2000) — Oh, come on. You know you’re curious.