Instant Classics: July

Here are the movies coming to and expiring from Netflix Watch Instantly in July.

New This Month

The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924) July 1
Following one man’s journey to salvation, this compelling silent drama focuses on defrocked country clergyman Gösta Berling (Lars Hanson), whose alcoholism costs him his parish. But after he moves in with beautiful Elizabeth Dohna (played superbly by Greta Garbo), she becomes the instrument of Berling’s redemption. Heralded as “a summary and a swan song” of Swedish cinema, director Mauritz Stiller’s moving film made Garbo a star.

It (1927) July 1
This 1927 silent film features Clara Bow as Betty Lou, a sweet and sassy clerk at a department store who decides she has found Mr. Right when she meets the store’s owner (Antonio Moreno). One thing: She must convince him that she’s Ms. Right, too. As Betty Lou strives to catch his attention, she also tries to help her roommate, who has recently become a mother. This classic silver-screen tale is inspired by a short story written by Elinor Glyn.

There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) July 1
Irving Berlin provides the tunes for this engaging musical about the singing and dancing Donahue clan as they ascend to stardom on the vaudeville circuit during the genre’s last hurrah. The superb cast includes Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and Marilyn Monroe. With splashy production numbers, Merman belting out the title song and Monroe’s sultry version of “Heat Wave,” this musical extravaganza bubbles over with sparkling style.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) July 1
Based on an Agatha Christie play, this Oscar-nominated mystery directed and co-written by Billy Wilder concerns an esteemed and aging lawyer (Charles Laughton). On the eve of retiring, he takes on the defense of an alleged murderer (Tyrone Power, in his final film performance) accused of killing a wealthy widow. Things get complicated when the accused’s only alibi, his wife (Marlene Dietrich), decides to testify for the prosecution.

The Fly (1958) July 1
Scientist André Delambre (David Hedison) has invented a matter transporter. To perfect his machine, he decides to test the device on a human subject — himself. He steps into the chamber unaware that an ordinary housefly has accompanied him. His head and arm become horrifically switched with those of the fly. Now Delambre and his wife (Patricia Owens) are faced with a gruesome dilemma in this classic sci-fi horror co-starring Vincent Price.

Sex and the Single Girl (1964) July 1
Natalie Wood stars as Helen Gurley Brown in this farce loosely based on Brown’s book of the same name. Trying to land an interview with the noted psychologist, unscrupulous journalist Bob Weston (Tony Curtis) poses as a man seeking therapy for marital troubles. The two fall in love, but when Weston’s charade is nearly exposed, he must resort to ever-more-desperate trickery to avoid revealing his true identity. Lauren Bacall co-stars.

The Omega Man (1971) July 1
Charlton Heston plays Robert Neville, one of the last “intact” survivors of a biological war that’s ravaged Earth’s population in this Boris Sagal-helmed sci-fi thriller based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend. Armed with an experimental vaccine for the disease that’s turned everyone into light-averse zombies, Neville roams the empty streets of Los Angeles by day and fights off the mutated “subnormals” at night.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) July 1
Devil-worshipping hippies revive Dracula (Christopher Lee) in this groovy 1970s Hammer Studios horror flick set in London. Thinking Dracula’s one cool cat, Johnny (Christopher Neame) and his psychedelic gang resurrect the count. The powerful creature of the night awakens with a mission: to destroy his archnemesis Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). It’s good vs. evil as Van Helsing faces Dracula in a thrilling final showdown.

The Exorcist (1973) July 1
When movie actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) begins to suspect that an evil spirit is possessing her young daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), she calls in two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) to try and exorcise the demon against frightening and formidable odds. Writer William Peter Blatty scored an Academy Award for his big-screen adaptation of his own novel; the film also won an Oscar for Best Sound.

Foxy Brown (1974) July 1
Smart and sexy black heroine Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) is one of the most popular icons of the 1970s, thanks to this blaxploitation flick oozing with sass and funky style. Gangsters murder Foxy’s government-agent boyfriend because her cokehead brother ratted him out. Now, on a kick-ass quest for revenge, she joins a high-class prostitution agency to get closer to the drug ring. There’s plenty of violence, plenty of nudity — but no mercy.

Expiring This Month

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) July 6
This notorious horror parody — a fast-paced potpourri of camp, sci-fi and rock ‘n’ roll, among other things — tracks the exploits of naïve couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) after they stumble upon the lair of transvestite vampire Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). The film — a bizarre musical co-starring Meat Loaf and Richard O’Brien — bombed in its initial release but later gained a cult following at midnight showings.

Indiscretion of an American Wife (1954) July 12
Producer David O. Selznick collaborated with Italian director Vittorio De Sica to make this complex character study. Jennifer Jones is an American wife on holiday in Rome; Montgomery Clift is her Italian lover. She bids him farewell at the train station, he begs her to stay. Their performances are the central appeal of the film, which is notorious for its troubled production history.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) July 22
Considered director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s finest achievement and one of the greatest movies of all time, this stunning emotional drama recounts the events surrounding Joan of Arc’s 1431 heresy trial, burning at the stake and subsequent martyrdom. The film’s original version, thought to have been lost to fire, was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981. Maria Falconetti turns in a haunting performance as the young French saint.

Pandora’s Box (1929) July 22
G.W. Pabst’s visually striking silent melodrama examines the plight of Lulu (Louise Brooks), a mesmerizing woman whose uninhibited sexuality leads to her downfall. After marrying her wealthy lover, Dr. Schon (Fritz Kortner), Lulu inadvertently shoots him during a struggle. She’s convicted of murder but escapes with Schon’s lovestruck son (Francis Lederer). Soon, their circumstances spiral downward, with tragic results.

M (1931) July 22
German-American director Fritz Lang presents his first “talkie” — and cinema’s first serial killer — in this 1931 classic whose central villain was later used in Nazi propaganda films to illustrate the evils of sexual deviance. Propelled by a compulsion he can’t control, plump pedophile Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) escapes the eye of the law — but not the wrath of the Berlin underworld being blamed for his crimes. Otto Wernicke co-stars.

The Rules of the Game (1939) July 22
When affluent Marquis Robert de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio) hosts a party at his sprawling property, emotions run high. Guests include Robert’s mistress Genevieve (Mila Parely) and pilot Andre Jurieu (Roland Toutain), who fancies Robert’s wife, Christine (Nora Gregor). Meanwhile, Schumacher (Gaston Modot) is trying to keep Marceau (Julien Carette) from hitting on his wife (Paulette Dubost). All the while, the servants watch with great interest. Read my review here.

Ugetsu (1953) July 22
With 16th-century Japan’s feudal wars as a backdrop, director Kenji Mizoguchi’s lyrical masterpiece delivers a profound message about the ephemeral nature of human life. Despite the conflict raging around them, a potter (Masayuki Mori) and a farmer (Saka Ozawa) — two peasants with visions of grandeur — journey to the city seeking wealth and glory. But their blind ambition ultimately takes its toll… on the families they left behind.

Diabolique (1954) July 22
The ailing spouse (Véra Clouzot) and manhandled mistress (Simone Signoret) of a sadistic boarding school headmaster (Paul Meurisse) plan and execute the man’s murder — but their plan goes haywire when the corpse vanishes. Henri-Georges Clouzot directs his real-life wife in this icy, black-and-white masterwork of homicide and Grand Guignol suspense, which ranked No. 49 on the Bravo network’s “100 Scariest Movie Moments.”

The 400 Blows (1959) July 22
After young Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) runs away, life on the streets of Paris leads to nothing but trouble and guilt in this gritty feature film debut from legendary director François Truffaut. Though he turns to petty crime to survive, Antoine’s remorse often leads him to try to return things he’s stolen — with disastrous results. The film was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Beyond the Rocks (1922) July 28
Screen legends Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino star as a love-struck twosome in this silent melodrama. Yielding to family pressure, Theodora Fitzgerald (Swanson) weds an elderly millionaire (Robert Bolder) but falls for valorous Lord Bracondale (Valentino) while on her honeymoon. When Theodora’s new husband gets wind of her feelings for the noble aristocrat, will he seek reprisal or gallantly step aside?

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  1. Yes, Witness for the Prosecution! Also yay for It and Gosta Berling’s Saga. I have both of those, but it makes me happy to see Clara Bow and Garbo on Netflix Streaming.

  2. KC

     /  June 30, 2011

    Ooh, IT. I haven’t seen that for years. Thanks for the super helpful list.

  3. dunyazad

     /  July 8, 2011

    ….and I have even more incentive for buying HuluPlus. Sigh.

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