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How are you going to decide what to watch on Disney+? After all, there’s a huge range of titles available on the streaming service. Including Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar movies.
However, there’s also a wealth of classic films on Disney+. Including many of the best films from the Disney archive. So, here are the classic movies worth watching on Disney+.
We begin with an historical treasure. Made in 1950, Treasure Island is Disney’s first completely live-action production and features stunning location filming across the UK.
You all know the story: Jim Hawkins goes in search of a buried fortune and gets embroiled with pirates. The high production values mark it as one of the best adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s much-loved novel (and the first produced in color).
2. Old Yeller
Forget Bambi and Lassie Come Home. Old Yeller is a real tear-jerker that’s nonetheless loved by all generations.
It’s a coming-of-age tale set on a Texas range, centred around a young boy who quickly becomes attached to a stray dog. It’s in a similar vein as The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins, proving a mainstay for family audiences.
This 1985 animation is one of Disney’s biggest flops—so why should you check it out on Disney+?
It was the company’s first PG animation, fitting for the era of Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and Teen Wolf. Despite its huge budget, however, its production was troubled, partly owing to a change in animation.
As we explored in our look at Disney’s use of technology, the company has been quite a trailblazer when it comes to advancing the craft. And this animation style would eventually lead to 1990s classics like Beauty and the Beast.
Regardless of its production issues, The Black Cauldron works beautifully as something to scare parents and keep kids entertained.
Oliver Twist with dogs. That was the original pitch. Pet lovers should already be sold on the notion.
Oliver and Company shows the cruel reality of the animal kingdom as the titular cat is left to fend for himself on the streets. And yet the film manages to be warm, funny, and captivating. It’s another underappreciated gem, overshadowed by The Great Mouse Detective and The Little Mermaid, classics that bookended its release.
Disney has utilized many different animation styles, most recently being immersed in CGI. But in 1996 came this clever fusion of live action and stop-motion animation. Although the first scenes are filmed as normal, it changes when James enters the peach and meets its insect inhabitants.
Most pleasingly is the melding of these cinematic styles at the end of the film. It means this adaptation is refreshing, beautiful, and distinctive—just like Roald Dahl’s novel.
Hopefully, watching films based on famous books will inspire children to read more fiction. And if so, here’s how to pick the perfect book for children.
Similarly mixing styles, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? also caters for different generations. Like The Simpsons, different gags will resonate with different age brackets.
Children and grown-ups will love the Looney Tunes-like visuals, scary bad guy (the wonderful Christopher Lloyd), and slapstick comedy. Adults will further appreciate the noir tone and wordplay, nostalgic satire, and pacey narrative. Oh, and Jessica Rabbit. She’s not bad. She’s just drawn that way.
We all sometimes dream of escape. For the Robinsons, this is achieved through dire circumstances. They become stranded on a desert island and begin a new life away from civilization as we know it.
The humor and frivolity belies the questions at the heart of this 1960 movie: the Robinsons ask themselves if they even want to get back. Home, as they say, is where the heart is.
8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Walt Disney’s first live-action films were relatively cheap affairs. He stepped it up with his company’s first science fiction movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The lavish production boasts a fantastic cast (including Kirk Douglas and James Mason), great designs and effects, and an underwater battle with a giant squid.
This adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel was one of the most expensive movies made in the 1950s. It was a massive gamble for Disney. But things generally worked in his favor. That’s entirely evident here.
Disney is synonymous with boundless imagination, and that’s exactly what Escape to Witch Mountain delivers.
Evil millionaire Aristotle Bolt lures two psychic orphans to his mansion so he can exploit their powers. They escape, but soon find themselves running from the villagers who believe they’re witches. It’s entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret… all the best things are.
You can’t go far wrong with any movie starring Robin Williams. You might be tempted by Aladdin or Jack, but we suggest watching Flubber instead. It’s a feel-good film about a nutty genius that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Flubber is actually a remake of The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), which is also available on Disney+ and is similarly worth checking out.
When 12-year-old David Freeman wakes up, eight years have passed, but he hasn’t aged at all. What’s more, his mind is full of alien data. Does this tie into the spaceship that has crash-landed nearby?
Flight of the Navigator is a quirky adventure fashioned after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Time Bandits. It will help you recapture a glorious sense of wonder, hopefully inspiring kids to take an interest in science.
12. Turner and Hooch
A wonderful murder mystery that starts with a cliché: Tom Hanks is the moody Detective Turner, desperate to leave town. His friend is then murdered and Turner inherits his dog. Mayhem ensues.
Hanks spent a lot of time playing with the canines who played Hooch before filming. This is such a joyful film, with the chemistry Turner has with Hooch at its heart. The production owes something to Old Yeller as its inspiration, so if you’ve never seen that film before, expect to shed some tears.
What Classic Films on Disney+ Have You Watched?
As this article has shown, there are plenty of classic films on Disney+. However, as we saw when Disney revealed everything coming to Disney+, there’s also lots of filler too. Hence the need to sort the wheat from the chaff to avoid wasting your evenings.