The classics movies you CAN’T get on streaming services: From Some Like it Hot to Citizen


Netflix put a massive nail in the coffin of the DVD business when it ended its mail-out disc service after 25 years

The media behemoth, which shipped its last DVDs from US distribution centres on September 29, said the business had ‘shrunk’ due to the popularity of streaming. 

It means fans are relying more than ever on streaming platforms to provide an eclectic mix of mainstream movies, silver screen classics and cult favourites – but are they up to the job?

Unfortunately, MailOnline has found a bias towards more modern movies made in the last 30 years, while many acclaimed older films nowhere to be seen. 

Some Like it Hot, Citizen Kane and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are some of the masterpieces that fans can’t stream as part of their subscriptions on Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. 

Some Like it Hot, Citizen Kane and Breakfast at Tiffany's are some of the classics that fans can't stream as part of their subscriptions

Some Like it Hot, Citizen Kane and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are some of the classics that fans can’t stream as part of their subscriptions

Originally, Netflix only shipped out DVDs to customers in little envelopes (pictured), but its business model shifted to online streaming

Originally, Netflix only shipped out DVDs to customers in little envelopes (pictured), but its business model shifted to online streaming

Your monthly fee won’t get you these classics

Below are some older classics not available as part of your Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video subscription in the UK

– Rebecca (1940)

– Citizen Kane (1941)

– Brief Encounter (1945) 

– Great Expectations (1946) 

– Some Like it Hot (1959) 

– Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

– The Great Escape (1963) 

– The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) 

– Young Frankenstein (1974) 

– One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Back in 2018, film writer Kate Hagen noted that the number of films on Netflix that were made prior to 1990 totalled just 98. 

Still today, if you scroll down Netflix’s list of movies, it’s striking that the overwhelming majority are films from the last 20 or 30 years. 

To investigate this further, MailOnline drew up a list of 50 older films widely considered ‘classics’, as named by IMDb and Empire Magazine.

Using 1980 as the cut-off point as what could reasonably be considered an ‘old’ film, the list included Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Some Like it Hot, Mary Poppins, 2001: A Space Odyssey and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. 

We then searched for them on the ‘big three’ streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. 

Shockingly, Netflix only had a measly three out of 50, while Disney+ fared even worst – it only had one (Mary Poppins).

This is largely because Disney+ predominantly has movies that are under ownership of the Walt Disney Company. 

Amazon Prime Video only had two out of 50 that I could stream as part of my subscription, although the majority were available to rent for an extra fee (between £3 and £4). 

Experts agree that it’s getting harder to watch older classics – those made in the 1970s and even before that – because of the dominance of streaming. 

James Bore, tech expert at consultancy Bores Group, said ‘physical media in general seems to be struggling’ – not just with DVDs but also gaming consoles which are going discless

British retailers such as John Lewis have already stopped selling DVD players in their stores, although Blu-ray players are faring better. 

‘We’re moving, or probably have pretty much moved, to a world where all media is ephemeral and subject to erasure or change by streaming companies,’ Bore told MailOnline. 

‘It’s not even that we rent our media – we rent access to it instead.’  

Dave Wain is owner of one of Britain’s few remaining DVD rental stores – Snips Movies in Bebington, Merseyside – which is stocked from wall to wall with over 15,000 titles available to rent. 

Dave Wain, owner of Snips Movies in Merseyside, said it's getting harder for film lovers to watch older films on streaming services

Dave Wain, owner of Snips Movies in Merseyside, said it’s getting harder for film lovers to watch older films on streaming services

Mr Wain said it’s getting harder for film lovers to watch older films on streaming services, which inevitably means they’re missing out on some classics. 

‘Unless you have the persistence – and finances – to subscribe to a double-figure number of streaming services, the chances are you will have little or no access to some of the greatest films ever made,’ he told MailOnline. 

‘Granted, the majority of people will have minimal interest in watching a Billy Wilder movie or something by Douglas Sirk, but that shouldn’t mean that they’re not available. 

‘We need to preserve our film history.’ 

Mr Wain said the frustration of not being able to find certain films on streaming services ‘is an ongoing topic of conversation’ in his store with customers. 

‘I have just over 15,000 titles, and the number of people who rent specific titles from me for the sole reason that they’re unavailable on streaming platforms is growing with every passing month,’ he said.

Mr Wain thinks going into a physical store that is stocked from wall to wall with choices allows people to discover a greater range of films. 

It seems movie lovers have to rely more than ever on streaming platforms to give them the films they want - but are they up to the task?

It seems movie lovers have to rely more than ever on streaming platforms to give them the films they want – but are they up to the task?

Blockbuster, known for VHS and DVD rentals, ceased most of its business operations in the last decade

Blockbuster, known for VHS and DVD rentals, ceased most of its business operations in the last decade

Netflix, in comparison, decides which films to promote heavily on its landing page, while others are boosted by an algorithm that uses data from our watch history. 

‘In the video store era, we weren’t governed by an algorithm that pointed us in a specific direction over what to watch,’ the owner said.

‘We had the freedom to browse and choose, and potentially go down a rabbit hole.

‘The days of kids stumbling across an old Brian De Palma film or some classic Alfred Hitchcock are in danger of vanishing.’ 

One of the best-loved movie rental businesses was Blockbuster, which actually competed with Netflix 20 years ago before it started streaming movies for customers via the internet. 

Blockbuster, known for VHS and DVD rentals, ceased most of its business operations in the last decade, partly edged out of the market due to the wild success of Netflix.

Only one Blockbuster store remains – in the city of Bend, Oregon – although it’s rumoured the brand is about to make a spectacular comeback

MailOnline finds a shocking lack of classic films on the big three streaming services 

Below is a list of 50 acclaimed films made before 1980. Only one, Mary Poppins, is available on Disney+. 

Three (Jaws, Lawrence of Arabia, Monty Python’s Life of Brian) are on Netflix. 

Amazon Prime Video has two (The 39 Steps, 8½) although more are available to rent for further fees. 

It means that you can only stream six out of these 50 films as part of your subscription to Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video – and that’s if you’re signed up to all three. 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 

The Godfather (1972) 

Seven Samurai (1954) 

Citizen Kane (1941) 

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) 

The Exorcist (1973) 

Psycho (1960) 

The Birds (1963) 

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) 

Young Frankenstein (1974) 

Jaws (1975) 

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) 

Some Like it Hot (1959) 

Gone with the Wind (1939) 

Taxi Driver (1976) 

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 

Metropolis (1927) 

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) 

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) 

Casablanca (1942) 

Night of the Living Dead (1968) 

Apocalypse Now (1979) 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) 

The 39 Steps (1935)

 8½ (1963)

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) 

West Side Story (1961) 

Brief Encounter (1945) 

Rear Window (1954) 

Rebecca (1940) 

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 

The Sound of Music (1965) 

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 

Mary Poppins (1964) 

The Graduate (1967) 

Spartacus (1960) 

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) 

The Philadelphia Story (1940) 

The Great Escape (1963)

Oliver! (1968) 

Ben-Hur (1959) 

Goldfinger (1964) 

Cape Fear (1962) 

Doctor Zhivago (1965) 

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) 

Great Expectations (1946) 

12 Angry Men (1957)



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