• Sarah E. Mason

25 Great Movies to Stream for Free in Quarantine

Part 1 of the Pandemic Movie Series

Life as we know it has paused, for how long, we do not know. Everyone is on edge. This morning I saw two women physically fighting over a carton of strawberries. Many of us who work in the gig economy or as contract workers, part-time, seasonal, etc etc are terrified as we do not qualify for unemployment, have no sick pay, and have no idea how we are going to pay our rent. I get it, and I'm right there with you.

Those of us who are storytellers need to do it now more than ever--in whatever medium you can do it in. I've been writing about movies for 25 years. So here's what I offer up to lighten the load -- 25 great movies that you can stream right now for free with your Amazon Prime or Netflix account.

Let me say this, I hate list based articles. This is a thoughtfully curated list, fully vetted with explanations for why I chose the films, trivia and fun facts. Most of the films on the list are not easily found on Netflix and Amazon Prime's promotional rotations. They are hidden gems, iconic and classic films you didn't realize were streaming. There is something for everyone, in every genre, for all ages. They are in no particular order. Click the images to go directly to the films.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and perhaps turn this list into a viewing club. I will be back with 25 more films in Part 2 of the Pandemic series.

Stay safe and healthy and enjoy!

Disclaimer: At the time of publication, March 20, 2020, all of these films were streaming for free on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. Take note, several of the films are leaving free streaming March 31, 2020, and are marked as such.

1. The Court Jester

Musical, Comedy, Classic, 1955

Amazon Prime

Director: Melvin Frank,

Norman Panama

Starring: Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns,

Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury,

Cecil Parker

Synopsis: Hawkins, a kind-hearted entertainer, who disguises himself as the legendary king of jesters, Giacomo, infiltrates the court of the evil villain Sir Ravenhurst but when a sorceress hypnotizes him, royal chaos ensues.

The Pitch: This classic movie is comedy gold and is the perfect respite from our over-stimulated, CGI based virtual world. Danny Kaye (White Christmas) leads an all star cast of classic actors including, Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins), a very young Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote), Cecil Parker (The Lady Killers) and the great Basil Rathbone who, long before Benedict Cumberbatch made Sherlock Holmes a household name appearing in over 14 films as the character. The most expensive comedy ever made, at the time ($4m), The Court Jester bombed at the box office. But over the years the film became a matinee classic with now famous exchanges: "Get it?" "Got it." "Good!" and "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!" Kaye's Golden Globe nominated performance is chicken soup for the weary soul.

2. Three Days of the Condor

Mystery, Thriller, 1975 Amazon Prime

Director: Sydney Pollack

Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max Von Sydow, Cliff Robertson

Synopsis: A mild mannered CIA researcher paid to read books, returns from lunch to find all of his co-workers assassinated. "Condor" must find out who did this and get in from the cold before the hitmen get him.

The Pitch: Three Days of the Condor is a member of the elite class of great action/drama films produced in the 1970s. Robert Redford, in his prime flexes more than his good looks in this smart spy thriller. The opening sequence will unnerve you in 60 seconds or less after Max Von Sydow creeps into the scene. Swedish actor Max Von Sydow is extraordinary as hitman, Joubert. A methodical and charming killer, every moment he's on screen sends a chill up your spine. It's a somewhat cerebral thriller exploring the many layers of good and bad, through the inner antics of the CIA. Directed by Oscar winning director, Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa), Three Days of the Condor is one of seven films Pollack and Redford did together. The screenplay was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr and David Rayfiel based on the novel by James Grady. Pollack's use of long running sequences down narrow hallows and staircases is effective at rattling you, keeping you on the edge of your seat.All but one of the cast members are Oscar winners; Redford (Ordinary People), Faye Dunaway (Network), Cliff Robertson (Charly), John Houseman (The Paper Chase), Von Sydow was nominated but never won. Sadly Von Sydow died March 8 at 90.