The widespread assumption that “every movie ever made is available on the internet” crumbles pretty quickly when you actually look at the offerings on Netflix Instant Streaming, Hulu Plus and their slowly multiplying brethren: According to the highly useful resource instantwatcher.com currently offers a grand total of 26 films from 1939, of which 11 are Republic westerns. Which is fine if you like Republic westerns (and I do!), but it’s nothing close to a representative sampling of the American studio output that year, not to mention worldwide production. But the good news is that there are quite a few Republic westerns on Netflix, along with films from other libraries that haven’t seen much distribution in recent times — principally early 50s Paramount titles (like Mitchell Leisen’s “No Man of Her Own,” and micro-budgeted indies originally released through United Artists (no less than seventeen films from the master of no-budget nihilism, Edward L. Cahn). Problem is, they’re hard to find unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, thanks to Netflix’s apparently deliberate policy of not posting a master list of available films.
This week in the New York Times, I poke around a bit in the Netflix library, and take a look at Hulu Plus as well, where the Criterion Collection has been posting movies they haven’t yet made available on DVD. The offerings include rarities from Alexander Korda’s London Films (William K. Howard’s “The Squeaker”), Walter Wanger (Frank Borzage’s “History Is Made at Night”), Toho (Mikio Naruse’s “Flowing,” and three other unavailable Naruse films), Svensk Filmindustri (Ingmar Bergman’s “All These Women”) and much else.
This may represent the end of the world as we know it, but we might as well enjoy the fruits of decadence while they are ripe. Anyone else with Netflix/Hulu/Mubi/Amazon/Fandor discoveries they’d like to share?