Instant Classics: April

Here are the classic movies new to Netflix Watch Instantly in April.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Stellar performances highlight this delightfully witty adaptation of the hit Broadway play about two dotty spinsters (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) with a peculiar avocation: helping lonely old gents by poisoning them and burying them in the cellar. But the jig is up when the ladies’ newlywed nephew, Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), discovers his aunts’ “benevolent” deeds. Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre also star.

Ace in the Hole (1951)
Fired from a number of big-city papers, reporter Charles Tatum tries to re-establish himself in New Mexico. When a local store owner is trapped in a cave-in, Tatum turns the victim’s misfortune into a media frenzy to further his own career.

Dial M for Murder (1954)
Director Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece of double-cross and intrigue stars Ray Milland as former tennis champ Tony Wendice, who concocts a plan to kill his rich but unfaithful wife (Grace Kelly), who’s embroiled in a liaison with a writer (Robert Cummings). When Tony’s plans go awry, he improvises a second act of deceit, but the entire bloody affair turns out to be far messier than he expected. John Williams plays a sly Scotland Yard inspector.

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
Tragedy is in the offing when widowed Eurasian doctor Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones) falls for dashing American war correspondent Mark Elliot (William Holden). Despite insurmountable obstacles — Hong Kong’s anti-miscegenation laws and the refusal of Mark’s wife to give him a divorce — Han and Mark’s love deepens … till he’s sent to cover the “police action” in Korea. The film chalked up multiple Oscars, including Best Song.

Anastasia (1956)
In 1928 Paris, a group of exiled White Russians claims to find Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman, who won a Best Actress Oscar), the only living heir of Czar Nicholas II. The entire Romanoff royal family was executed in 1918, after the Bolsheviks took power. Based on the true story of an infamous hoax in which a woman named Anna Anderson maintained for years (and was believed by many) to be the Russian Crown Princess. Co-stars Yul Brynner.

Giant (1956)
In Oscar-winning director George Stevens’s sprawling epic, Texas cattleman Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) journeys to Virginia in the early 1920s, falls in love with aristocratic, independent-minded Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor) and takes her back to his ranch — setting the stage for an intergenerational saga that spans decades. James Dean (in his last film appearance) co-stars as sulking, nouveau riche Jett Rink — the root of Bick’s worries.

Auntie Mame (1958)
Rosalind Russell dazzles in a tour de force performance as the larger-than-life Mame Dennis, who unexpectedly gains custody of her young nephew Patrick in 1920s New York. As Patrick grows, he learns to live by Auntie Mame’s motto: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Peggy Cass, Coral Browne and Pippa Scott co-star in this exhilarating comedy based on the memoir by Patrick Dennis.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Members of an avaricious Southern clan scramble to curry favor with dying, wealthy patriarch Harvey “Big Daddy” Pollitt (Burl Ives) in this Oscar-nominated adaptation of playwright Tennessee Williams’s sizzling stage drama. Paul Newman stars as alcoholic ex-football star Brick Pollitt, whose self-pity and drunken malice jeopardize not only his inheritance, but also his marriage to the seductive Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor).

Lilies of the Field (1963)
Aimless ex-soldier Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) is on his way to California when his car overheats in the desert. He stops to get some water at an isolated farm and soon finds himself building a chapel for the nuns who live there. The stern mother superior (Lilia Skala) is certain God has sent Smith for just that purpose, and all of Smith’s words to the contrary fall on deaf ears in this Oscar-winning film from director Ralph Nelson.

The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
Based on the novel by Theodore Pratt, this quaint little children’s fantasy leads the viewer on a deep-sea adventure. Henry Limpet (Don Knotts), a bespectacled, milquetoast bookkeeper, loves his pet fish so much that he longs to be one. When Henry’s wish comes true and he’s turned into a talking fish, the simple ocean life he’d envisioned proves more exciting than mundane as he helps the U.S. Navy defeat the Nazis during World War II!

How to Steal a Million (1966)
Trouble ensues when noted art collector and forger Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) lets his ego get the best of his senses, and he decides to loan his prized Cellini “Venus” — the forged version, that is — to a museum. It doesn’t take Bonnet and his daughter (Audrey Hepburn) long to realize that the museum won’t be duped, so they hire a suave cat burglar (Peter O’Toole) to steal the statue back. William Wyler directs.

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)
A Russian submarine runs aground near a small New England town, and it’s up to Lt. Rozanov (Alan Arkin) as the Russians’ second-in-command to covertly secure a towboat to avoid an international confrontation. When he hooks up with residents such as Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) and the police chief (Brian Keith), all hell breaks loose. This classic comedy earned three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Serial bank robbers, sometime lovers and folkloric heroes Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) barrel across Depression-ravaged America on a shooting spree that ends in a deadly rain of bullets and tragedy. Directed by Arthur Penn, this stylish and sexy film shattered the mold when it came to crime pictures, layering comedy onto mayhem and youthful criminality. Gene Wilder makes his big-screen debut.

1 Comment

  1. KimWilson

     /  April 7, 2012

    Thanks for listing these–it makes it so easier than searching for them.

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