Instant Classics: February

Want to know which classic films are coming to Netflix Instant each month, but don’t want to see my other blog posts? Get monthly RSS updates!

New This Month

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Feb. 1
After vowing to step away from his dark experiments, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is blackmailed into creating another fiend (Elsa Lanchester) — this time, in female form — who will serve as a ghoulish bride for his infamous monster (Boris Karloff). Ernest Thesiger co-stars as Frankenstein’s deranged mentor, Dr. Septimus Pretorius, who forces the doctor’s hand by kidnapping his wife (Valerie Hobson).

The Wolf Man (1941) Feb. 1
After teasing his friends for believing in werewolves, Larry (Lon Chaney Jr.) is promptly bitten by a rabid wolf and faints. Horror superstars share the screen when Larry wakes to find a gypsy (Bela Lugosi) who moonlights as a werewolf. Cursed by the werewolf’s bite, Larry suffers torturous full-moon transformations and tries to escape the townsfolk who hunt him. Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers and Ralph Bellamy also grace this classic B movie.

Buffalo Bill (1944) Feb. 1
Joel McCrea is larger-than-life Wild West showman William F. Cody (better known as Buffalo Bill) in this entertaining biopic. Spanning Bill’s life, the film depicts the varied and colorful roles the now-legend played throughout his career: Indian scout, U.S. Cavalry war hero, celebrity and head of his own international traveling troupe. Edgar Buchanan, Maureen O’Hara (as Bill’s wife) and Anthony Quinn co-star. William A. Wellman directs.

The Snake Pit (1948) Feb. 1
Olivia de Havilland earned an Oscar nomination for her work in this stark drama as Virginia Cunningham, a married young woman whose idyllic life falls apart when she sinks into a world of psychosis and is eventually placed in an institution. Adapted from Mary Jane Ward’s gripping autobiography, Anatole Litvak’s portrait of mental illness examines the treatment of mentally unstable patients in the late 1940s and ’50s.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) Feb. 1
Hard-as-nails World War II Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) must turn a discouraged group of American bomber pilots into heroes. Along the way, the once-alienated general comes to view the men as family. No longer a heartless commander, Savage — with the aid of his loyal adjutant Maj. Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) — learns how difficult true leadership really is. Director Henry King’s Oscar-winning war drama boasts actual air combat footage.

Let’s Make It Legal (1951) Feb. 1
The marriage between Miriam (Claudette Colbert) and her gambling husband Hugh (Macdonald Carey) is about to end unless their daughter Barbara (Barbara Bates) can make the two see eye to eye again. Complicating matters is the resurfacing of Miriam’s former love, Victor (Zachary Scott), who’s now a millionaire. It’s up to Hugh to win Miriam back — but will she choose his reckless ways over the fiscally stable Victor? Co-stars Marilyn Monroe.

Les Miserables (1952) Feb. 1
Director Lewis Milestone helms this adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel about a man who starts anew after a prison stint for stealing a loaf of bread in 18th-century France — and the fanatical policeman who ruins him. Michael Rennie is Jean Valjean, who violates parole by changing his name after his release and later becomes a wealthy factory owner, and Robert Newton plays the lawman devoted to finding the fugitive.

Broken Lance (1954) Feb. 1
Rancher Matt Devereaux (Spencer Tracy) rears his four sons with tough love in this Western that rings of Shakespeare’s King Lear. After years of living under their dad’s rule, Ben (Richard Widmark), Mike (Hugh O’Brian) and Danny (Earl Holliman) are indifferent when he’s accused of a crime. But son Joe (Robert Wagner) takes the blame for his dad and serves jail time. Years later, Joe’s released to find his father dead and his brothers to blame.

April Love (1957) Feb. 1
Nick Conover (Pat Boone) is a young troublemaker from Chicago sent to work on his uncle’s farm in Kentucky. At first, he hates being there, but he’s soon excited to help train a spirited horse … and even more excited to meet local beauty Liz (Shirley Jones). The former juvenile delinquent eventually learns to ride the prizewinning steed and discovers that there’s plenty to like about life — and love — in the country.

Circus of Horrors (1960) Feb. 1
After mutilating a patient, a plastic surgeon (Anton Diffring) is booted from the medical profession and goes into hiding in France. There, he transforms disfigured female criminals into beauties who perform in his traveling circus. But when some of the women meet with horrific “accidents” when they try to escape, Scotland Yard begins to take notice. Donald Pleasence and Yvonne Monlaur co-star in this grisly British cult classic.

Bedazzled (1967) Feb. 1
Mild-mannered short-order cook Stanley (Dudley Moore) is too shy to admit he’s fallen in love with his beautiful co-worker Margaret (Eleanor Bron). He’s ready to give up and take his own life when the devil (Peter Cook) appears with a bargain too good to turn down. In exchange for his immortal soul, Stanley makes seven wishes aimed at improving his life. But the crafty devil finds a way to twist every wish into exactly what Stanley doesn’t want.

The Towering Inferno (1974) Feb. 1
In director Irwin Allen’s Oscar-winning actioner, architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) and builder James Duncan (William Holden) are celebrating their latest success: the world’s tallest building. But when a blaze caused by bad wiring rages during the grand opening, Doug and Fire Chief O’Hallorhan (Steve McQueen) must beat impossible odds to save those trapped inside, including Doug’s lady, Susan (Faye Dunaway), and con man Harlee (Fred Astaire).

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Feb. 1
While serving time for insanity at a state mental hospital, implacable rabble-rouser Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) inspires his fellow patients to rebel against the authoritarian rule of head nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher). This Milos Forman masterpiece was the first film since It Happened One Night (1934) to take all five major Oscar prizes for picture, director, screenplay, actor (Nicholson) and actress (Fletcher).

Destry Rides Again (1939) Feb. 4
Jimmy Stewart stars as Tom Destry, a tough lawman who doesn’t like guns. And that could pose a problem when a saloon owner and a corrupt mayor plan to rob the local cowpokes blind, with the help of crooked waitress Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich). Dietrich hits a career peak with her rendition of “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have.” When sparks fly between her and Destry, there’s no doubt they’ll be riding off happily into the sunset.

The Big Trees (1952) Feb. 4
Ruthless timber baron Jim Fallon (Kirk Douglas) and his crew leave Wisconsin to earn a fortune clearing the redwood forests of Northern California. But once they arrive, the loggers are opposed by members of the Quaker community, who consider the trees to be sacred. After falling for the pious Alicia (Eve Miller), Jim changes his views and his religion. Yet Jim’s lumberjack friends remain unmoved — and determined to destroy the land.

All That Heaven Allows (1955) Feb. 4
Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson star in this supreme example of the glossy Technicolor melodramas of director Douglas Sirk, which were the inspiration for 2002’s art-house hit Far from Heaven. Wyman is a repressed widow; Hudson is the virile (and younger) gardener who quotes Thoreau. A scandal ensues when they flaunt their love before their stuffy mid-1950s family and social set.

The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) Feb. 4
While visiting London in 1911 to attend the crowning of King George V, a stuffy Carpathian nobleman (Laurence Olivier) surprisingly finds himself attracted to saucy American showgirl Elsie Marina (Marilyn Monroe) in this bright romantic comedy. But complications and political intrigue ensue as a plot to topple the Balkan throne comes to light. Sybil Thorndike shines as the off-her-trolley queen dowager.

The Sheepman (1958) Feb. 4
This lighthearted 1958 Western stars Glenn Ford as Jason Sweet, a gambler turned sheep rancher who locks horns with local cattle baron Col. Stephen Bedford (Leslie Nielsen) over grazing rights on the range — and the affections of lovely frontierswoman Dell (Shirley MacLaine). But when Sweet uncovers Bedford’s carefully hidden secret, the lead begins to fly. The film received an Oscar nod for its screenplay.

The Gold Rush (1925) Feb. 15
Charlie Chaplin’s comic masterpiece centers on the hardships of life on the Alaskan frontier. The Little Tramp plays a pathetic, lonely prospector who journeys to the Klondike hoping to discover gold and make his fortune. Instead, he gets mixed up with some burly characters and falls in love with the beautiful Georgia (Georgia Hale).

Expiring This Month

Un Chien Andalou (1929) Feb. 6
Artist Salvador Dali and novice (at the time) director Luis Buñuel came together to craft this unique film consisting of a jarring collage of absurd and deplorable images aimed at raising more than a few eyebrows. Images include a razor slicing a woman’s eye, a man hauling a giant piano, ants circling a hole in a man’s hand and more, including assorted detached body parts and futile murders. Originally a silent film, a score was later added.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Feb. 11
Legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) display their gifts for perfect comedic timing and charisma as they pull off heist after heist in this Academy Award-winning film from director George Roy Hill. To evade a relentless posse, the boys flee to Bolivia, thinking they’ll find easier pickings there. But trouble finds the charming desperadoes wherever they go, prompting yet another run.

All About Eve (1950) Feb. 28
Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp script anchors this story about New York City theater life, with Bette Davis playing an aging Broadway diva who employs a starstruck fan (Anne Baxter) as her assistant, only to learn the woman is a conniving upstart. The now-classic All About Eve won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Mankiewicz), Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders).

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: