Top classic films on NOW TV
Staff Reporter | On 07, Nov 2018Reading time: 9 mins
It can be hard to find classic films on streaming services – especially since the decision to close FilmStruck. But with Sky Cinema inking deals with almost all the major studios out there, it’s a veritable hub of timeless gems from some of the great movie masters, including Hawks, Hitchcock, Ford and Wilder.
Looking to expand your online film library with some favourites from Hollywood’s golden years? We’ve put together a rundown of the best films from before 1970 currently available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can stream the whole lot on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription. Find out more here.
This list will be updated regularly to reflect new releases and removals.
Disney’s marvellous 1941 classic stars Dumbo, the young circus elephant whose huge ears make him a laughing stock – until his friend Timothy Q Mouse becomes convinced they can make him fly. Tune in for the pure emotions, keep watching for the trippy pink elephants.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are electric in this classic romance set in Morocco during the early days of World War II, as the jaded owner of a gin joint unexpectedly crosses paths with his former lover.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Henry Fonda is at his conflicted best in William Wellman’s Western, which sees a group out for revenge for the killing of a wealthy rancher.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
What would the world be like if you didn’t exist? Frank Capra’s seasonal classic not only tackles the subject of suicide but also manages to find time for topical anti-bankers commentary, angels and heart-warming family sentiment. It’s hard to think of a Christmas movie that’s more human.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
John Wayne didn’t just do Westerns, and this gung-ho WWII adventure is a classic reminder, as The Duke plays Sergeant Stryker, who works hard to make sure his recruits are trained for the frontline – and doesn’t hesitate to lead from the front when they’re shipped out to Iwo Jima.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
William Holden’s hack screenwriter writes a role for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity in Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning classic, starring Gloria Swanson as timeless diva Norma Desmond, whose voiceover is to die for.
Winchester 73 (1950)
In Winchester ’73, the first of the Mann-Stewart westerns, Stewart is driven anti-hero Lin McAdam, out to avenge the heinous murder of his father — and, in a parallel pursuit, to recover a much-coveted stolen rifle, now passing from hand to hand.
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Montgomery Clift is at his swoonsome best in George Stevens’ drama about a young man who lands a job at his uncle’s factory and finds himself attached to working girl Alice, even as he falls for wealthy débutante Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor).
Ace in the Hole (1951)
Billy Wilder does it again with this biting newspaper melodrama, which sees Kirk Douglas play a ruthless reporter willing to leave others between a rock and a hard place just to get a scoop.
High Noon (1952)
“Do not forsake me, oh my darling…” Gary Cooper. Grace Kelly. High Noon is an iconic Western, but it’s a bold piece of filmmaking in its own right, from the flawed local Sheriff who must face an enemy from his past – without the support of the town’s locals – to the tense script, which builds up to the climactic 12 o’clock encounter almost in real-time.
The Quiet Man (1952)
John Ford’s 1952 classic stars John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara as an American boxer who returns to his home country and falls for a local redhead. Romance, drama, comedy and two Johns at the top of their game? You’d be mad to miss it.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
The inimitable Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds are on radiant form in this 1952 musical about Hollywood’s switch from silent film to “talkies”.
Roman Holiday (1953)
A day out on the town with Audrey Hepburn? William Wyler’s romantic comedy, which stars Gregory Peck as a reporter who crosses paths with a runaway princess, is a delightful, charming ride.
Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden star in Billy Wilder’s romantic drama, which follows an impish chauffeur’s daughter and the two brothers (one a womaniser, the other a workaholic) who fall for her charms.
White Christmas (1954)
Musical romantic comedy starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as former G. I. s who reinvent themselves as a song-and-dance act.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
When a reformed jewel thief is suspected of returning to his former occupation, he must ferret out the real thief in order to prove his innocence. Alfred Hitchcock. Gracy Kelly. Cary Grant. What more could you want?
This timeless Rogers and Hammerstein musical follows troubled soul Billy Bigelow (Gordon MacRae), who’s given the chance to leave heaven for one day to help his family back on Earth.
Funny Face (1956)
How do you improve a musical by George Gershwin? Get Fred Astaire to reprise his role on screen, then hire Audrey Hepburn to star opposite him. Stanley Donen’s 1957 musical, about a fashion photographer who takes over a book store to use for a shoot – only to fall for the owner.
The Rainmaker (1956)
Not the legal drama starring Matt Damon, but Joseph Anthony’s romance starring Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn, as a con man who preys on a drought-stricken farming town in Kansas – and the farmgirl who sparks a deluge of another kind entirely.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Cecil B DeMille directs this incomparable epic, which stars Charlton Heston as Moses, alongside Edward G Robinson, and captures on camera nothing less than the parting of the Red Sea. Biblical stuff.
Gunfight at The OK Corral (1957)
“There’s always a man faster on the draw than you…” The legendary shootout gets the suitably mythic treatment in John “The Magnificent Seven” Sturges’ classic of the genre, which stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Did we mention The Magnificent Seven? This all-American counterpart to Seven Samurai is a gorgeously old-school Western, which stars Yul Brynner as a gunslinger who rounds up a posse of roguish mercenaries to help rid a poor Mexican farming village of a bandit played with relish by Eli Wallach.
South Pacific (1958)
You can never have too many Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals on your watchlist, and this 1958 delight – set on a South Pacific Island during World War Two – is perfect proof why.
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The evil Maleficent places a curse on a young princess in Disney’s irresistible animation.
The Apartment (1960)
Nothing says Christmas like an office party – and that’s the starting point for Billy Wilder’s marvellous movie, the film where Wilder put to rest the cynicism that came to peak in 1951’s ruthless satire, The Ace in the Hole, in service of one of the most genuinely heartfelt, bittersweet romances of cinematic history
From Janet Leigh’s memorable shower scream to Anthony Perkins’ twitchy motel owner, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller about a woman on the run, who finds herself on the wrong side of a mummy’s boy, is a masterpiece of suspense.
It takes a lot for a film to overcome a parody by Monty Python, but Stanley Kubrick’s Oscar-winning epic – starring Kirk Douglas as the heroic slave who leads a rebellion – manages it without breaking a sweat.
West Side Story (1963)
Romeo and Julie gets the musical treatment, as Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer play two star-cross’d lovers in 1950s New York, caught between two warring gangs. From the whip-smart direction to the ear-worming songs, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s is a treat guaranteed to get your fingers clicking.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1963)
A young New York socialite takes interest in a man who moves into her apartment building downstairs in this lovely adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel. Audrey Hepburn is a delight.
The Guns of Navarone (1963)
Gregory Peck and David Niven share the screen in this adaptation of Alistair MacLean’s WWII story, which sees a US officer lead Allied commandos on a mission to destroy the titular guns off the coast of Greece.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
David Lean’s sweeping take on Boris Pasternak’s novel, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, is arguably the definitive take on the classic text.
The Sound of Music (1965)
“The hilllllllls are aliiiive…”
Lewis Gilbert and Michael Caine team up for this hugely enjoyable comedy-drama about a womanising cockney who finds himself unexpectedly meeting his match.
The Italian Job (1969)
Make it a Michael Caine double-bill with this classic crime flick, which blows the bloody doors off as Charlie Croker finds himself hired by Noel Coward’s jailbird kingpin, Mr. Bridger, to bag a bunch of gold bullion in Turin. Enter a team of drivers and a trio of Mini Coopers…
El Dorado (1966)
Howard Hawks is one of cinema’s all-timers, and this 1966 sees him at his peak, as he directs John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in the tale of a gunfighter who teams up with a drunken sheriff to stop a cattle baron monopolising a region’s water supply.
The Graduate (1967)
Mike Nichaols’ seminal coming-of-age tale, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, still inspires new generations of lost college-leavers today, a sign of just how timeless his knack for entertaining people was – and continues to be.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
What is there left to say about Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic? From the dawn of man to its brain-melting future, this is a unique, dazzling epic.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1968)
After owning Glastonbury, Burt Bacharach takes on Netflix with the arrival of this fantastic Western by George Roy Hill and William Goldman. Paul Newman as Butch and Robert Redford as Sundance make the story of these Wild West outlaws as funny as it is flashy. The performance of Bacharach’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, complete with bicycle, seals the deal.
The Odd Couple (1968)
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are on unbeatable form in this classic comedy about two divorcees who share an apartment.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway are instantly iconic in this entertaining caper about a bored millionaire who masterminds the perfect robbery – all the while accompanied by the Oscar-winning song The Windmills Of Your Mind.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The man with the harmonica became the stuff of legend in this spaghetti Western, which sees Sergio Leone forging cinematic myth with a tale of a gunslinger (Charles Bronson) and an outlaw (Jason Robards) teaming up to save a widow from a railroad tyoon.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Sam Peckinpah’s film about an ageing outlaw gang in a changing frontier is ironically timeless cinema.
Hello, Dolly! (1969)
Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford – ok, we’ll stop dropping names. This star-studded take on the Broadway show (based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker) is a belter of a musical.