The best classic movies on Hulu right now

Essential cinema will vary based on the eye of the beholder. As an art form, moviegoing is a subjective experience that paves the way for opinions and spirited discussion about what we like, dislike, and why. But when it comes to “the classics,” there’s something a bit more unifying about the medium. These are the movies you’ll see on a variety of must-watch lists. And chances are that even if you’ve never seen one of these beloved flicks, you’ve probably at least heard of the film.

For the Hulu subscribers of our readership, there are a number of “classic” flicks on the platform that fit nicely into this cinematic label. For one reason or another, these are the movies that often find themselves at the top of the silver-screen trove. If you want to dive into some of these gems, here’s a roundup of all the best classic movies you can watch on Hulu right now.

We’ve also curated a guide to the best movies on Hulu and the best movies on Netflix if you’re looking for additional recommendations.

Recently added to Hulu

Shane (1953) new

80 %
Genre Drama, Western
Stars Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin
Directed by George Stevens
The Western genre often crops up in the many lists of classic curations, and for good reason. These frontier epics often delve into the nitty-gritty of some of cinema’s most universal themes, with good versus evil as one of the chief plot points. In George Stevens’ Shane, a celebrated Western classic, good versus evil is front and center when the titular nomadic cowboy (played by Alan Ladd) wanders into town. As the man begins intermingling with the townsfolk, he uncovers the long-running bad blood that has plagued the Old West community — spurred on by the malicious reign of a set of cattle barons. It’s up to Shane and his familiars to bring an end to the age-old war.

Days of Heaven (1978) new

Days of Heaven
93 %
pg 94m
Genre Drama, Romance
Stars Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard
Directed by Terrence Malick
Richard Gere and Brook Adams star in Terrence Malick’s magic-hour drama, Days of Heaven. Playing an on-the-run couple, Bill and Abby, disguised as brother and sister, the lovers find work as seasonal farmhands for an elusive landowner (played by Sam Shepherd). When the couple discover that the farmer could be near death, they decide to take advantage of the man’s affinity for Abby. But as their plotting becomes apparent, and the authorities close in, Bill and Abby start taking on more trouble than they bargained for in the first place.

The Warriors (1979) new

The Warriors
65 %
r 93m
Genre Action, Thriller
Stars Michael Beck, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly
Directed by Walter Hill
Director Walter Hill’s The Warriors may best be remembered for its ambitious set pieces, crazy costumes, and memorable one-liners — and all for good reason. Set in a New York City wasteland, the film follows the titular gang as they move through the dilapidated streets to reclaim their home turf, all while they’re being hunted by every rival gang across the cityscape. It’s a campy mashup of brutality and big visuals, and it still packs a punch over 50 years later.

The Conversation (1974) new

The Conversation
85 %
pg 113m
Genre Crime, Drama, Mystery
Stars Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather films are so ubiquitous that many of his other movies get lost in the shuffle. Case in point, The Conversation, a ‘70s thriller starring Gene Hackman as private electronic surveillance expert Harry Caul. An intensely private man, Harry’s skill at his job is matched only by his overpowering paranoia about the invasion of his own privacy. When tasked by a client known only as The Director (Robert Duvall) to spy on a couple, Harry becomes convinced that the couple’s conversation is about their fear of being murdered by his client. That’s why Harry refuses to hand over the recording to The Director’s assistant, Martin Stett (Harrison Ford). However, Harry’s client refuses to take “no” for an answer, and Harry’s fear of falling under surveillance proves to be well-founded.

Hondo (1953)

79 %
pg 83m
Genre Western
Stars John Wayne, Geraldine Page, Ward Bond
Directed by John Farrow
John Wayne made his name in Westerns, and Hondo is one of his best. In the film, Wayne plays Hondo Lane, an army cavalry member who befriends Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) and her young son, Johnny (Lee Aaker). The local Apache tribe respects Angie and her son, but they give her a deadline to take a husband from their people if her own missing husband does not return. To save Hondo’s life, she tells the Apache that he is her husband. However, the rising tensions between the army and the Apache put Hondo and Angie in a very difficult situation. And there is no way to avoid bloodshed when the two sides converge.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Genre Romance, Drama, Horror
Stars Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Before Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces, portrayed the Phantom of the Opera, he had an unforgettable turn in the title role of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This is definitely not the Disney version of this tale, as poor Quasimodo is even more harshly treated in this depiction of 15th-century Paris. The gypsy dancer, Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller), is one of the few who offers Quasimodo compassion and kindness. Esmeralda also catches the eye of Phoebus de Chateaupers (Norman Kerry), and he quickly becomes enamored with her. When their mutual enemies frame Esmeralda for Phoebus’ murder, Quasimodo gives her sanctuary and fights for her survival.

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