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20 Classic Movies on Amazon Prime Instant Video

I am a part-time freelance writer and mom who writes on many different topics.

Still free on Amazon Prime

Battle scene still from the silent movie "Wings," winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture.

Battle scene still from the silent movie "Wings," winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture.

Amazon Prime Instant Video - Pickings Are Getting Slim

If you love old movies – and I mean, you know the names of actors and actresses your parents saw at the movies – then you undoubtedly have Amazon Prime. The selection of free old movies is getting smaller on Amazon Prime so I did some searching.

I checked hundreds of movie titles at Amazon Prime, none newer than 1975, to find movies that are still free on Amazon Prime Instant Video. While I personally love movies from the 1930s and 1940s, it's tough to find well-known titles from that era that are still free of charge (besides your annual membership fee) to watch. Most of the films on my list were made after 1948.

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the fast-talking comedy "His Girl Friday."

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the fast-talking comedy "His Girl Friday."

A little bit of everything, for free!

But, as of August 7, 2014, the 20 movies listed below, from as far back as 1927 (yep, it's a silent movie) to 1975, are still free for Amazon Prime subscribers. Mix them in among the rentals to keep the cost of your classic movie addiction down for a couple of months.

There are westerns, light comedies and dramas, one science fiction move and even a Christmas movie you’ve perhaps never heard of before. I couldn't find a free musical, but I'm sure that they are there for the looking. Amazon keeps charging for more and more movies all of the time, though, so if you find that a movie on my list has become a rental, please comment below! I had to take two off of my list since I first started this article four months ago. I'll try to find replacements whenever possible.

Free Classic Movies on Amazon Prime

1. Wings (1927, drama), a silent film that starred Clara Bow (the original “It Girl”), Buddy Rogers, Richard Arlen and a very young Gary Cooper, is a film about World War I fighter pilots. It won the very first Best Picture Academy Award.

2. The Blue Angel (1930, drama, restored), a German talkie that made Marlene Dietrich a star, about a beautiful cabaret singer and a teacher (played by Emil Jannings) who becomes obsessed with her. The film is in German with English subtitles.

3. You Can't Take It With You (1938, comedy), early hit movie of Jimmy Stewart, is a romantic comedy based on a play of the same name about an eccentric family and the mostly-normal daughter who falls in love with the son of a tycoon. It was directed by Frank Capra.

4. His Girl Friday (1940), is a fast-talking comedy with biting commentary about the newspaper business. It stars Cary Grant as a red-journalism newspaper owner still in love with his ex-wife and ex-star reporter Rosalind Russell.

5. Our Town (1940, drama), was the film version of the play of the same name by Thornton Wilder. It starred William Holden. If you've seen the play, be forewarned: The film has at least one major change from the stage version.

6. Dark Passage (1947, drama) stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a film noir crime story about an unfairly accused man trying to find his wife's murderer.

7. A Place in the Sun (1951) is a romantic drama starring Montgomery Clift (before the car accident that scarred his face), Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor. It won six Academy Awards. If nothing else it's worth watching just to see Clift and Taylor, two of the most beautiful movie stars of all time.

8. The Greatest Show On Earth (1952), obviously about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has an all-star cast including actual performers from the circus troupe and was directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde appear in the film, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Story.

9. The African Queen (1952) is a fun-to-watch story about the journey of a liquor-happy mail and supply boat captain (Humphrey Bogart) and the prim sister of a missionary minister (Katharine Hepburn) as they travel down the river to a lake patrolled by a German warship in World War I-era Africa.

10. War of the Worlds (1953) is an adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name. Instead of occurring in England in the late 1800’s, this film version has the first Martian craft crash-land in southern California in the 1950’s. The film won an Academy Award for its special effects.

11. Sabrina (1954) is an Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy, in which Hepburn’s character, Sabrina, becomes involved with two brothers (William Holden and Humphrey Bogart) of a wealthy family that employs Sabrina’s father as a chauffeur. Hepburn was nominated for a Best Actress Award for Sabrina, and this is one of her best-known films.

12. We’re No Angels (1955) Who ever thought that Humphrey Bogart would be in a Christmas movie? The movie is about three convicts (Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray) who escape from prison shortly before Christmas, and their encounter with a family who operates a run-down store that gives credit to customers a little too freely.

13. The Seven Year Itch (1955) is a romantic comedy starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The film’s biggest claim to fame is the famous shot of Monroe with her white dress blown into the air while standing on a subway grate. In the film, Monroe lives in the apartment above a man in his seventh year of marriage who fantasizes about having an affair with his beautiful neighbor.

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14. Witness For The Prosecution (1958) Courtroom drama starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich. This movie is fun to watch because both of the stars do great acting jobs, especially Tyrone Power.

15. The Magnificent Seven (1960) is a western about a group of seven gunmen hired by the residents of a small Mexican farm village to drive off the criminal gang that extorts money and goods from them at harvest time every year. Yul Brenner had top billing as the head gunslinger and Steve McQueen is his right-hand man. The scene in the beginning of the movie when Brenner and McQueen drive the wagon up the town hill is unforgettable.

16. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962) Another western drama, this one with Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles and a list of excellent supporting actors, the story explores western themes about honor, duty and sacrifice. The film, directed by John Ford, the master of the American western, was a big hit in the year of its release.

17. Fantastic Voyage (1966) This science fiction movie was a staple on Sunday afternoon TV back in 1960s and 1970’s. Donald Pleasence and Raquel Welch starred in this story about scientists who are shrunken to microscopic size and pilot a tiny vessel through the body of an important scientist in an attempt to save his life. The crew battles the body’s defenses to save the scientist, so it’s a science lesson masquerading as a movie. The special effects are fun to watch even now.

18. Barefoot in the Park (1967) Cute Neil Simon comedy pairing Robert Redford as a serious young lawyer and Jane Fonda as his free-spirited newlywed bride, coping with each other and their tiny first apartment in New York City. Charles Boyer is the continental gentleman who lives in the attic and befriends the couple.

19. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) Light comedy starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball as single parents who marry and cope with blending their broods of a combined 18 children. A forerunner of the TV show, The Brady Bunch, this movie was a big commercial success as a family-oriented movie.

20. Three Days of the Condor (1975, R rating) Suspense film starring Robert Redford as a humble CIA “reader” who suddenly must run for his life from unknown killers. Faye Dunaway serves as the love interest and Max von Sydow is terrific as the menacing hit man tasked with eliminating Redford’s character.

How many people really watch old movies?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Mary Efron


Paula on January 07, 2018:

Just looked up my favorite old movie “ Yours, Mine & Ours “ no longer free . Disappointed!

David Livingston on January 05, 2018:

Thanks for the article! Just what I was looking for... I’ll binge-watch a few of these now.

will not join on December 17, 2017:

will not join prime .no so many old movies amazon prime get with it.

Zaton-Taran from California on February 12, 2017:

Not much of a classic movie-watcher, but I might give them a shot now with my new Amazon Online Video streaming subscription. thanks for writing!

Lorrie on January 25, 2016:

Most of these movies are no longer available for free. :(

Mary Efron (author) from Orange County, California on August 23, 2014:

Hi shivamt25, I'm glad that you will be able to use it!

Shivam Tiwari from India on August 23, 2014:

This article was very helpful. I started watching old movies about a year ago, this list is really useful.

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