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The Best Older Movies Streaming Right Now – /Film

(Welcome to Hidden Streams, a column focused on the best older movies available to stream on your favorite services, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more.)

Everything going on with FilmStruck might make it harder for cinephiles to dig those older hidden gems out of the overwhelming piles of streaming titles. From lesser-known classics to cult favorites, we’ve put together a handy guide to some of the best older films you can stream on the various platforms. In this flagship edition of Hidden Streams, you’ll find plenty of golden (and not-so-golden) oldies to check out or revisit, including torrid love affairs, post-apocalyptic terror, the tragic death of an emerging starlet – and nothing that was released after 1985.

The Stranger

Now Streaming on Netflix

Release date: 1946

Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, and Orson Welles

For his third feature film – a thrilling noir – Orson Welles directed himself in the role of Franz Kindler, a Nazi fugitive hiding in Connecticut to avoid punishment for his war crimes. Edward G. Robinson is special investigator Mr. Wilson, who’s been tasked by the United Nations War Crimes commission to locate Kindler and bring him to justice. Now living under the name Charles Rankin, Kindler has successfully erased all traces of his former identity – except for one: his obsession with clocks. The Stranger was Welles’ most conventional film – and thus his only legitimate box office success, though its greatness is often overshadowed by the filmmaker’s more stylish efforts, like Citizen Kane.

For fans of: Touch of Evil, Shadow of a Doubt, L.A. Confidential, and Black Book.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release date: 1972

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Cast: Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, and Irm Hermann

Based on his own play of the same name, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 film boasts an all-female cast – long before it seemed subversive or radical to do so. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant stars Margit Carstensen as the title character, a successful fashion designer whose romantic history with men is fraught with heartache and tragedy. Petra lives with her assistant and fellow designer Marlene in what amounts to a codependent sado-masochistic relationship: Marlene is often degraded by Petra, who forces her assistant/lover to submit to her sadistic whims. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant traces the title character’s evolving relationship dynamics with other women and takes place almost entirely in her bedroom – the focal point of which is a huge reproduction of Poussin’s Midas and Bacchus, a 17th century painting that depicts nude (or mostly nude) men.

For fans of: The Duke of Burgundy, The Clouds of Sils Maria, and Persona.

Brief Encounter

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release date: 1974

Director: Alan Bridges

Cast: Sophia Loren and Richard Burton

This remake of David Lean’s 1945 film is, like its predecessor, based on the Noel Coward play Still Life, and follows a man and a woman – both married to other people – who engage in a torrid affair after meeting in a railway station. Unlike its predecessor, however, 1974’s Brief Encounter is not nearly as beloved. Many criticized the remake for its misguided casting of Sophia Loren and Richard Burton as lovers due to their complete lack of chemistry. And yet this – along with the fact that it was ultimately only ever released as a television film – is exactly what makes the remake so fascinating to watch. Poorly received upon its initial screening in New York, plans to distribute Brief Encounter in theaters internationally were abandoned.

For fans of: Awkward romantic pairings (see also: Gigli, Passengers), Carol, and 1945’s Brief Encounter.

Star 80

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release date: 1983

Director: Bob Fosse

Cast: Mariel Hemingway, Eric Roberts, and Cliff Robertson.

Directed by Bob Fosse (Cabaret), Star 80 chronicles the brief rise and tragic fall of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten (Hemingway), who was brutally killed in a murder-suicide committed by her abusive husband Paul Snider. The film vacillates between 1980, when the murder-suicide took place, and the two years leading up to that horrible day. It explores the tumultuous relationship between the two as Paul tried to capitalize on – and take ownership of – Dorothy and her success. Star 80 features a career-best performance from Eric Roberts as the possessive Paul and a subtly stunning turn from Hemingway as the late, could’ve-been-great Dorothy Stratten. (Also of note: The film’s pivotal murder-suicide scene was filmed in the house where the actual crime took place.)

For fans of: You Must Remember This’ “Dead Blondes” series, Bob Fosse, Boogie Nights, and Gia.

The Hunger

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release date: 1983

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and David Bowie

Before directing a series of successful studio films, Tony Scott made his feature debut with this erotic thriller starring Catherine Deneuve as the seductive vampire Miriam and David Bowie as her eternal lover, John. Not long after the film opens, John begins suffering from insomnia and discovers that he’s aging rapidly. Miriam sold him a false bill of goods; she’s given him eternal life, but not eternal youth, so he seeks help from a specialist, played by Susan Sarandon. What follows is a dark, visually engaging love triangle and tale of addiction that’s unlike anything Scott would make after it. Though many critics felt the film had more style than substance upon its initial release, The Hunger has become a cult classic and features a remarkable performance by Bowie.

For fans of: Interview With the Vampire (Tony Scott was in talks to direct the adaptation before he made The Hunger), Let Me In, and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

Demon Seed

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release date: 1977

Director: Donald Cammell

Cast: Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, and Robert Vaughn

Based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, Demon Seed follows the brilliant Dr. Alex Harris, whose obsession with the creation of an artificially intelligent super-computer has caused a rift between him and his wife, Susan. When the computer takes over Harris’ home, it holds Susan captive and forcefully impregnates her in the hopes of using the child as its human host. Demon Seed is sci-fi horror at its silliest – and most unforgettable, due in large part to Christie’s ability to keep this absurd story on the ground.

For fans of: Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now, and Ex Machina.

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