Old movies and the Internet

While I’m here in China, I’m cut off from my usual sources of legal streamed content — Amazon won’t let me play movies I own that it hosts, Netflix won’t let me stream from here, Hulu is only for those in the US, and the list goes on. I even decided to give iTunes another try, and successfully downloaded and streamed some back TV episodes. But, as soon as I connected my laptop to a Chinese Apple TV to use the office projector, all sorts of crazy DRM issues broke loose, and I’m back to boycotting buying content through Apple. I’m trying to do things right and support creators by actually paying for content, but the industry is a mess, especially when you’re traveling.

So, all of this to say: I have had to branch out and find other sources of streaming content. And I’m a little ashamed I’ve never done this before, because the results are so great!  The Internet Archive has a HUGE selection of movies to choose from, including an entire library of classic noir movies. There are some gems that you can’t believe have been allowed to lapse into the public domain. Here are 5 of my favorite finds so far:

(1) I’m going to start with Please Murder Me, starring Angela Lansbury.

(2) Cyrano de Bergerac. I loved this movie as a kid. Skip the modern updates and stick with the 1950’s over-the-top dramatics. You won’t be sorry.

(3) His Girl Friday. I can’t believe this is the public domain. I also can’t believe I haven’t seen it all the way through.

(4) My Favorite Brunette. I love Bob Hope movies, and this one is tied with “Road to Morocco” as my favorite.

(5) Betty Boop. Pre-code animation is pretty racy stuff.

I’m certainly not the first person to make this realization, either, and several bloggers have put together lists of their favorites.

I love old movies. When I was a kid, the local PBS station had a weekend Silver Screen movie night, when they showed great old black-and-white classics. (I did a little digging to provide a link, but I couldn’t come up with one quickly.) I must have seen a hundred old movies this way, including classic noirs and dramas and war-time movies. I’m excited to watch some old favorites and discover some new gems, too.

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