Monday, September 3, 2018

Classic Movies on Amazon Prime in August 2018

Amazon Prime may not have a reputation for featuring classic movies, but it boasts a stellar line-up this month. Here are the highlights:

Poitier as detective Virgil Tibbs.
In the Heat of Night (1968) won a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Rod Steiger. Watch it, though, for Sidney Poitier's dynamic performance as a Philadelphia detective coping with racism and murder in the Deep South.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) is one of the 1970s finest suspense films, with stunning sequences featuring a runaway subway and a race against time through the crowded streets of New York to deliver ransom money. It also boasts a witty script and Walter Matthau at his best as a New York transit authority officer who becomes a hostage negotiator.

Donald Sutherland.
This first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is almost as good--perhaps better--than the the 1956 original. The closing scene with Donald Sutherland is a stunner. (In our interview with actress Veronica Cartwright, she contrasts Body Snatchers with her other sci fi classic Alien).

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote and directed Crime Without Passion (1934), which stars Claude Rains as a coldhearted attorney whose jealousy gets him into a major jam. The opening scene shows three Furies rising from a pool of blood to fly over New York City. It'll make your jaw drop!

The Magnificent Seven (1960) pops up regularly on TV, but I never get tired of it...nor Elmer Bernstein's incredible score. Plus, Amazon Prime also has the not-as-good sequels Return of the Seven (at least, it's got Yul) and Guns of the Magnificent Seven. Wait, there's can watch the Denzel Washington remake, too, but it kinda pales next to the original.

Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.
All That Heaven Allows (1955) is the best of Douglas Sirk's lush, colorful sudsers with Jane Wyman as a lonely widow who falls in love with a younger plaid-shirted Rock Hudson. Her crappy kids--and a conventional society--stand in the way of the couple's happiness.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) may be a lesser Billy Wilder picture, but it's still an interesting take on Conan Doyle's famous sleuth. Wilder and his frequent collaborator I.A.L. Diamond never quite find the right tone, but they have a grand time debunking some of Holmes' famous traits and Robert Stephens makes a memorable Sherlock.

Also playing:  Support Your Local Sheriff, an amusing Western with James Garner; Gary Cooper in The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell; Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in the Army comedy Caught in the Draft; Kim Novak and Brian Keith in the heist caper 5 Against the House; and the violent (and very sad) Hammer film Hands of the Ripper, starring Angharad Rees (Demelza in the first Poldark miniseries).


  1. Great titles. I have yet to take advantage of Amazon Prime. Can't seem to find time for all the movies I have to watch without that service. Must find a time-expanding pill of some sort.

  2. Thank you for this public service. I have Prime, but just can't keep up on all that it offers. I've never seen IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT though I enjoyed its sequel THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS. THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE was a staple of NYC-area late shows when I was a kid and I watched it whenever I could. It reminds me of FAIL SAFE with men on phones negotiating and navigating an explosive situation. This movie made me an even bigger fan of Matthau and Balsam.

    And yeah, rare is the remake that is better than the original, but the 1978 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is one of them, due in large part to Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and Veronica Cartwright. I also loved Brooke Adams, who has classic TV creds from O.K. CRACKERBY. (Her nude scene is a textbook example of gratuitous, however.)

    Thanks for this post--hope you'll make it a regular feature. I like your annotations on the spotlighted films.

    1. The pods among themselves would have no need for clothing. The great irony in this version is that San Fran '78 was already a place teeming with personal transformations. And it was allowed the ending denied the original. And Mr Spock's in it cuz Phil Kaufman had worked on a cancelled Star Trek movie.

  3. I don't have Amazon Prime at this point either, but this is a promising list. Love the Billy Wilder/Izzy Diamond Sherlock film, and especially Robert Stephens in the title role. Wish the man had made more films.

  4. Awesome! Thanks, Rick. The Magnificent Seven is a film I've tried to see, but haven't yet – long story – so I'm excited to see it's on Amazon Prime.

  5. Impressive lineup! I have seen all of these except “Crime without Passion.” I have however seen the unforgettable opening scene and it is something every film fan should see.