• Gerard Donley


This post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy something through one of the links provided, it doesn't cost you a penny extra, but we may get a small commission to keep the website running. For more information, see our disclosure here.

Credit AMC Filmsite



I love old movies. How old? Well, as a boomer, what I call “old” is most likely considered ancient to all of you born after 1990.

I only mention my generation so you understand that when I say old movies, I’m not talking about The

Matrix (1999) or even Jurassic Park (1993). I mean movies like Moby Dick (1956), Sunset Boulevard

(1950), and Casablanca (1943). To get access to these and other old gems, I was frustrated with my cable-TV, premium movie channels’ offerings. (Another proud baby boomer quality of mine is my ankle-deep understanding of new technology. Yes, I still have a cable cord.)

Credit Youtube.com

I do think Netflix is much better than my premium cable channels. But I find Netflix selections

limited too. I won’t knock the Netflix originals. They’re equally well or even better produced than the films being made by the legacy movie companies. But my quest for high quality, old movies wasn’t satisfied for very long on Netflix.

Learning New Tricks – (Amazon is not just for shopping?)

The one can’t-live-without channel on my cable package is TCM (Turner Classic Movies). It was my sole refuge among the other cable options I overpaid for every month, even though I signed up for every premium movie channel.

It’s gotten to the point where I keep my premium channels just to watch Bill Maher on HBO, or the occasional miniseries like Escape at Donnemora on Showtime. Mostly, my premium channels featured repeats of repeats.

Then I decided to join Amazon Prime, thinking only that I’d save lots of money with the one-day free shipping. (Stop laughing. I looked at Amazon like it was a well-stocked Walmart.) When I learned about

Prime Video, I couldn’t believe what I found in the Included with Primemovie list.

I started to look for a hidden catch.

The Test: My Premium Channels vs. Prime Video

It was time for me to test whether Prime Video’s stock of “included” movies was deeper than what I

could find on my premiums; HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. Sure, I could rent any number of good movies on cable. But why should I pay to rent movies on a channel I already subscribe to? I want more movies to be included, not more to pay extra for.

So, to begin my test, I called out movie title after movie title. Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), North by

Northwest (1959), and To Catch a Thief (1955). Richard Brooks’ Elmer Gantry (1960), Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957).

Credit Reddit.com

None were free with just my premium cable channels. All were “Included with Prime.”

For the next 45 minutes, I continued searching for movies on cable and on Prime.

Here’s the final score:

HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax. . . 6 free, great old movies

The Hustler (1961), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Chariots of Fire (1981), The Deer Hunter (1978), Out of

Africa (1985) and Body Heat (1981)

PRIME VIDEO . . . 83 free, great old movies.

Birth of a Nation (1915), The Ghoul (1933), Ten Little Indians (1965), The Fall of the House of Usher (1950), Sunset Boulevard(1950), High Noon (1952), The Defiant Ones (1958), The Great Escape (1963), The Pink Panther (1964), The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), The Fortune Cookie (1956), Midnight Cowboy (1969). . . (Well, you get the idea.)

Not Just Classics

Now, I’m no movie snob. Of course, I love classics like Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942), and On the Waterfront (1951). But there are hundreds of great movies time forgot that I still adore. Prime Video had dozens of obscure titles, all included with Prime.

Watching these vintage film jewels will expose you to the truism that there really is nothing new under the sun. Racism, poverty, domestic violence, needless war, corruption, and cruelty are themes running throughout these pictures. I am often mesmerized as I watch these sensitive subjects so artfully dealt with by filmmakers who sometimes had only rudimentary technology, compared to today’s computer-generated images and Steadicams.

Great Fun Too

Don’t get me wrong. Everything doesn’t have to be so deeply meaningful. Some of my favorite movies on Prime Video are purely thrillers, fast-action, or just hilarious. The original The Taking of Pelham One

Two Three (1974) is one film I can’t pass up. And the original Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther (1964) and his A Shot in the Dark (1964) showcase the genius of Peter Sellers as he bumbles along as France’s best

(or worst) detective.

You want some desperate “who can you trust?” suspense? Spend a few hours with Three Days of the

Condor (1975), Sydney Pollack’s brilliant spy mystery where even the good guys are not such good guys.

Must-See Performances

Some of the greatest performances ever delivered by Dustin Hoffman, Peter Cushing, Peter Finch, Gloria Swanson, Faye Dunaway, James Dean, and Natalie Wood are waiting and included with Prime Video.

Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Willie Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman will sear into your memory. Presented in a made-for-TV adaptation, this is a must-see for any film lover


Gloria Swanson and William Holden take a premise beginning with a coincidental meeting and develop it into a surprisingly poignant and ultimately explosive drama. This is Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Too Much More. . .

I could continue going through all 83 of the great, old films I added to my Prime Video watchlist in just the first 45-minute search. But you have better things to do.

Will I run out of my favorite vintage movies on Prime? Perhaps, in time. But from the looks of it, my old boomer body will probably start to run out of steam before I run out of movies at the Prime mother lode.

To start your 30-day free trial with Amazon Prime - https://amzn.to/2OyDzRJ

1 comment