HBO Max: 14 classic movies you have to stream right away

Citizen Kane, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Yojimbo. HBO Max is stuffed with cinematic classics from the Criterion Collection and various movie studios. We had a go at whittling it down.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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And ... action!


When you think of HBO, you think of prestige TV, but that's not all there is to HBO Max. HBO's new streaming service is stuffed with grade-A classic movies transporting you through the milestones of cinema history. To get you started, I've picked some of the unmissable highlights of moviemaking magic to stream right away.

HBO's streamer comes with an intoxicating catalog of legendary movies from Warner Bros., Studio Ghibli and various other film studios, plus a lineup of groundbreaking classics from across the globe in the Criterion Collection. We're talking all-timers here, folks. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apocalypse Now. Battleship Potemkin. Casablanca. Citizen frickin' Kane. And that's just going up to C! Of course, they're not all the sort of thing you have to pretend you've seen at film school -- Armageddon is in there too.

If you're looking for comfort viewing, HBO Max comes with every Die Hard, Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street and Police Academy movie. You've got several recent James Bond movies, three different versions of A Star is Born -- including the 2018 Oscar winner -- and more Godzilla movies than you can shake a giant scaly tail at. And of course there's the DC Comics films from Warner Bros, which include Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam and Batman flicks coming out of your pointy ears.

Here's a handful of electrifying classics to get you started. 

The Wages of Fear

A convoy of trucks carrying ultra-delicate explosives drives through a ridiculously hostile jungle in The Wages of Fear, one of the most suspenseful movies ever made. Try and remember to breathe.


Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro's first feature film sees him firing on all cylinders in this delirious slice of neo-vampire weirdness. Cronos is gory, imaginative and just delightfully weird.

The Wild Bunch


Western classic The Wild Bunch.


One of the best and certainly toughest westerns ever made, The Wild Bunch arrived at a pivotal moment for Hollywood. Exploding onto screens at the end of the sixties alongside Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde (the latter of which is also on HBO Max), Sam Peckinpah's opus was one of the touchstones in the coming of the "golden age of Hollywood," when American cinema told richer and often darker stories in a more natural and provocative style. Infamous for what was then startling violence, it's also a brutal interrogation of the male psyche and the myth of the Wild West -- with quotably hardboiled dialogue and astonishing shootouts.

If you're into westerns, HBO Max takes you a tour of the age-old genre: start with John Wayne in Stagecoach, Rio Bravo and The Searchers, then progress through to Once Upon a Time in the West and then latter-day westerns like Giant, Dead Man and Blood Simple.

Paths of Glory

Stanley Kubrick pulls you deep into the madness of war in Paths of Glory, a World War I story with a twist. Kirk Douglas is magnificent as an officer battling to protect his men from both the enemy and their own commanders. Powerful and beautifully-shot, it's also way shorter than Apocalypse Now (which is also on HBO Max, as well as Kubrick's nightmarish anti-war satire Dr. Strangelove).

Set It Off


A heist with a difference in Set It Off.


This still-dazzling 1996 crime movie puts an impassioned twist on the heist genre with a cast of black women pulling off a score. Smartly crafted and brilliantly acted, Set It Off is as relevant now as it was when it was made.

The Great Dictator

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Charlie Chaplin pulls no punches in The Great Dictator.


Comedy legend Charlie Chaplin mixed the laughs with serious satire in this scathing attack on the Nazi regime, which was also his first movie with sound. Hilarious and important, The Great Dictator is a great way into Chaplin's oeuvre. Other comic pioneers on HBO Max include Harold Lloyd in Safety Last! and Jacques Tati in Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, both of which influence comedy to this day.

Withnail and I

One of the most quotable comedies ever made, this tale of a larger-than-life but perpetually out-of-work actor manages to be the funniest snapshot of alcoholic degradation you're ever likely to see. Richard E Grant burns a hole in the screen as Withnail, the kind of guy you love to watch but never want to meet.  

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Colorful, playful and utterly irresistible, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of several precipitation-themed musicals on HBO Max. Actually, it's just this and Singin' in the Rain.


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Yojimbo, the samurai movie that inspired the man with no name.


You're in for a treat if you like samurai movies: HBO Max has a bunch of classics sharper than a slashing katana blade. In addition to Throne of Blood and the Lone Wolf and Cub series, there's Seven Samurai -- which inspired The Magnificent Seven -- and The Hidden Fortress, from which George Lucas borrowed liberally for a little movie called Star Wars. Start with Yojimbo, an action-packed and massively influential flick that went on to inspire Clint Eastwood's entire career.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

If you liked the recent Uncut Gems, this is the sweaty street-level flick for you. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is one of the bold and uncompromising trawls through the throbbing streets of 1970s America from singular filmmaker John Cassavetes that you can find on HBO Max.

Destroy All Monsters

If you're not in the mood for a five hour examination of eighteenth-century Swedish family politics -- we're looking at you, Fanny and Alexander -- then grab a pizza and a brew and enjoy any of the Godzilla movies on HBO Max. This is the ninth in the series and is basically a nonstop scrap between eleven giant monsters. 


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Get down with concert film Wattstax.


A bunch of concert films on HBO Max provide tuneful snapshots of the 20th century's iconic musical movements. Wattstax is a funky fresh film of a 1972 concert featuring the soul, funk and jazz artists of Stax records such as Isaac Hayes, interspersed with introductions by Richard Pryor. For more musical mayhem, check out the Rolling Stones' concert film Let's Spend the Night Together and Martin Scorsese's documentary The Last Waltz.

Her Smell

Not every movie on HBO Max is a black-and-white French arthouse film. You also get recent stunners like Her Smell, an abrasive 2018 drama powered by an audacious turn from Elisabeth Moss. 


It's not hard to see why this stylish crime flick was famously touted as one of Quentin Tarantino's favorites. Yes, it's in black and white, but it's also proof that classic cinema isn't all glacial arthouse impenetrability. If you don't want to throw on some shades and smoke cigarettes outside a coffee shop after watching this then I don't know what to tell you. 

Watch this: Twitter's new reply settings, HBO Max gets the 'Snyder Cut'

All the movies on HBO Max

Honestly, I could go on all day, but I've got movies to watch. So here's the full list:

Warner Bros. Classics

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • 42nd Street
  • Adam's Rib
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • An American in Paris
  • Ben-Hur
  • Body Heat
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • Cannery Row
  • Casablanca
  • Cheyenne Autumn
  • Cimarron
  • Citizen Kane
  • City of Angels
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • Countdown
  • Dirty Harry
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • East of Eden
  • Elvis: That's the Way it is
  • Footlight Parade
  • Freaks
  • Giant
  • Girl Crazy
  • Gold Diggers of 1933
  • Gold Diggers of 1935
  • Gone with the Wind
  • How the West was Won
  • Keeper of the Flame
  • King Kong
  • Klute
  • The Little Drummer Girl
  • Lolita
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Mildred Pierce
  • Million Dollar Mermaid
  • Mrs. Soffel
  • North by Northwest
  • Now, Voyager
  • The Nun's Story
  • Pat and Mike
  • A Patch of Blue
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Point Blank
  • Polyester
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Rhapsody in Blue
  • Rio Bravo
  • Romance on the High Seas
  • The Sea of Grass
  • The Searchers
  • Shall We Dance
  • Shoot the Moon
  • Singin' in the Rain
  • The Singing Nun
  • The Song Remains the Same
  • A Star is Born (1954)
  • A Star is Born (1976)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Strike Up the Band
  • Tortilla Flat
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Wattstax
  • The Wild Bunch
  • Without Love
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Woman of the Year
  • Woodstock

Modern Warner Bros. Films and Favorites

  • Aquaman
  • Batman: Gotham Knight
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2
  • Batman & Robin
  • Batman Forever
  • Batman vs. Robin
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Blade Runner: The Final Cut
  • Contact
  • Crazy Stupid Love
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Critters
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Deep Blue Sea
  • The Devil's Advocate
  • Drop Dead Fred
  • Empire of The Sun
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
  • Friday the 13th (2009)
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Green Lantern
  • Gremlins
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Hairspray (1988)
  • Hairspray (2007)
  • Harold & Kumar go to White Castle
  • Isn't It Romantic
  • IT: Chapter 2
  • Joker
  • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Lethal Weapon 2
  • Lethal Weapon 3
  • Lethal Weapon 4
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
  • Police Academy
  • Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment
  • Police Academy 3: Back in Training
  • Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
  • Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach
  • Police Academy 6: City Under Siege
  • Police Academy: Mission to Moscow
  • Practical Magic
  • Selena
  • Set It Off
  • Shazam!
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
  • Snakes on a Plane
  • A Star Is Born (2018)
  • Sucker Punch
  • Suicide Squad
  • Supergirl
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Three Kings
  • A Time to Kill
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare
  • The Witches of Eastwick
  • Wonder Woman

Criterion Collection

  • …And God Created Woman
  • 16 Days of Glory
  • 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
  • The 3 Penny Opera
  • The 39 Steps
  • The 400 Blows
  • The 47 Ronin: Part 1
  • The 47 Ronin: Part 2
  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
  • Amarcord
  • An Angel at my Table
  • Ashes and Diamonds
  • Atlanta's Olympic Glory
  • Au Revior Les Enfants
  • Autumn Sonata
  • Babette's Feast
  • Battle of Algiers
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • The Beales of Grey Gardens
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Belle De Jour
  • Bicycle Thieves
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
  • Black Girl
  • Black Narcissus
  • Black Orpheus
  • Blithe Spirit
  • The Blob
  • Blood Simple
  • Breaking the Waves
  • Breathless
  • Brief Encounter
  • A Brief History of Time
  • The Brood
  • Brute Force
  • Buena Vista Social Club
  • Calgary '88: 16 Days of Glory
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Chimes at Midnight
  • La Ciénaga
  • The Circus
  • City Lights
  • Cleo from 5 to 7
  • Cranes are Flying
  • Cries and Whispers
  • Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment
  • Cronos
  • Daisies
  • A Day in the Country
  • A Day's Pleasure
  • The Daytrippers
  • Dead Man
  • Desert Hearts
  • Destroy All Monsters
  • Diabolique
  • Divorce Italian Style
  • A Dog's Life
  • Don't Look Back
  • Down by Law
  • The Earrings of Madame De
  • Eating Raoul
  • Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
  • Elevator to the Gallows
  • The Emperor Jones
  • The Entertainer
  • Equinox
  • Eraserhead
  • Europa
  • Europe '51
  • Eyes Without a Face
  • F is for Fake
  • Faces
  • Fanny and Alexander
  • Fantastic Planet
  • Fat Girl
  • First Man Into Space
  • For All Mankind
  • Foreign Correspondant
  • The Four Feathers
  • Fox and His Friends
  • The Front Page
  • Funny Games
  • George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey
  • George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin
  • Germany Year Zero
  • Gidorah, The Three Headed Monster
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Godzilla
  • Godzilla Raids Again
  • Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla
  • Godzilla vs Megalon
  • Godzilla vs Gigan
  • Godzilla vs Hedorah
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
  • The Gold Rush
  • The Gold Rush: 1942 Version
  • The Grand Olympics
  • Gray's Anatomy
  • The Great Dictator
  • Great Expectations
  • Grey Gardens
  • Hamlet
  • Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
  • Hanzo the Razor: The Snare
  • Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold?
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • Harlan County U.S.A
  • Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
  • Hearts and Minds
  • Henry V
  • The Hidden Fortress
  • Hobson's Choice
  • The Honeymoon Killers
  • Hoop Dreams
  • House
  • I Married a Witch
  • I Shot Jesse James
  • I Was a Teenage Zombie
  • The Idle Class
  • Ikiru
  • The Immigrant
  • In the Mood for Love
  • In Vanda's Room
  • Intermezzo
  • Invasion of Astro-Monster
  • Irma Vep
  • Ivan the Terrible Part 1
  • Ivan the Terrible Part 2
  • Jubilee
  • Jules and Jim
  • Juliet of the Spirits
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Kid
  • Kill!
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
  • A King in New York
  • The King of Kings
  • Knife in the Water
  • Kwaidan
  • Lady Snowblood
  • Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance
  • The Lady Vanishes
  • L'Amore
  • L'Argent
  • The Last Emperor
  • The Last Metro
  • The Last Wave
  • Late Autumn
  • Late Spring
  • L'Avventura
  • Lillehammer '94: Days of Glory
  • Limelight
  • The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
  • Lola
  • Lola Montes
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby in the Land of Demons
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengence
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
  • Loneliness of the Long Distance
  • The Long Voyage Home
  • Look Back in Anger
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Lost Honor of Katarina Blum
  • Love in the Afternoon
  • Major Barbara
  • Man Bites Dog
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • Marriage of Maria Braun
  • Masculin Feminin
  • Metropolitan
  • Mikey and Nicky
  • Modern Times
  • Mon Oncle
  • Mona Lisa
  • Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
  • Monsieur Verdoux
  • Monterey Pop
  • The Most Dangerous Game
  • Mothra vs Godzilla
  • Mr. Arkadin
  • Multiple Maniacs
  • My Brilliant Career
  • My Dinner with Andre
  • My Life as a Dog
  • My Night at Maud's
  • Nagano '98 Olympics: Stories of Honor and Glory
  • The Naked City
  • The Naked Kiss
  • Nanook of the North
  • Nice and Friendly
  • A Night in the Show
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Oliver Twist
  • Onibaba
  • Paris, Texas
  • Pather Panchali
  • Pay Day
  • Pepe Le Moko
  • Permanent Vacation
  • Persona
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • The Pilgrim
  • The Player
  • Police Story
  • Primary
  • The Private Life of Henry the VIII
  • Pygmalion
  • Quadrophenia
  • Querelle
  • Rashomon
  • The Red Balloon
  • Red Desert
  • The Red Shoes
  • Rembrandt
  • The Return of Bulldog Drummond
  • Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Richard III
  • The Rink
  • The Rise of Catherine the Great
  • The Rite
  • The River
  • Rodan
  • Rome Open City
  • A Room with a View
  • The Ruling Class
  • The Runner
  • Sabotage
  • Safety Last!
  • Salesman
  • Le Samourai
  • Samurai Trilogy 1: Musashi Miyamoto
  • Samurai Trilogy 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
  • Samurai Trilogy 3: Duel at Ganryu Island
  • Satan's Brew
  • Sawdust and Tinsel
  • Scanners
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Scenes From a Marriage
  • Schizopolis
  • Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  • Secrets and Lies
  • Senso
  • Seoul 1988
  • Seven Samurai
  • Seventh Seal
  • The Seventh Veil
  • Shadows
  • Shock Corridor
  • Shoot the Piano Player
  • The Shooting
  • The Shop on Main Street
  • Shoulder Arms
  • Sisters
  • Smithereens
  • Solaris
  • Son of Godzilla
  • Speedy
  • Stagecoach
  • La Strada
  • Stranger Than Paradise
  • The Stranger
  • Stromboli
  • Summertime
  • Sunnyside
  • Sweetie
  • Taste of Cherry
  • A Taste of Honey
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla
  • The Testament of Dr Mabuse
  • That Hamilton Woman
  • The Thief of Bagdad
  • Three Colors: Blue
  • Three Colors: Red
  • Three Colors: White
  • Throne of Blood
  • Through a Glass Darkly
  • Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
  • Time Bandits
  • The Times of Harvey Milk
  • The Tin Drum
  • To Be or not To Be
  • Tokyo Olympiad
  • Tokyo Story
  • Tom Jones
  • The Trial of Joan of Arc
  • True Stories
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
  • Two English Girls
  • Ugetsu
  • Umberto D.
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • Under the Volcano
  • Vampyr
  • Victim
  • Vivre Sa Vie
  • Voyage to Italy
  • The Wages of Fear
  • War and Peace
  • The War of the Gargantuas
  • The War Room
  • Watership Down
  • Weekend
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Wings of Desire
  • Wise Blood
  • Withnail and I
  • A Woman of Paris
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • The X From Outer Space
  • Yojimbo
  • Young and Innocent
  • Young Girls
  • Z

Other Titles

  • Alien (Director's Cut)
  • Aliens
  • Alien 3
  • Alien Resurrection
  • American Pie
  • Analyze This
  • Annie Hall
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Armageddon
  • The Awful Truth
  • Aya
  • Babe
  • Baby Boom
  • The Bells of St. Mary's
  • Big Top Pee Wee
  • Boys Don't Cry
  • Braveheart
  • Bridesmaids
  • Broken Arrow
  • Capricorn One
  • Casino Royale
  • Castle in the Sky
  • The Cat Returns
  • Cold Mountain
  • D2: The Mighty Ducks
  • D3: The Mighty Ducks
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Dick Tracy
  • Die Hard
  • Die Hard 2: Die Harder
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance
  • Downton Abbey
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Eagle Eye
  • Ella Enchanted
  • The Family Stone
  • Fast Five
  • Fight Club
  • From Up on Poppy Hill
  • A Good Day to Die Hard
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Grosse Pointe Blank
  • Hackers
  • Half-Nelson
  • Happy Death Day
  • Harold and Maude
  • Hellboy (2019)
  • Her Smell
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie
  • Hobbs & Shaw
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  • Hope Floats
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • In Bruges
  • In Cold Blood
  • Jaws
  • Jaws 2
  • Jaws 3-D
  • Jaws: The Revenge
  • John Tucker Must Die
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Kiki's Delivery Service
  • The Killing
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • The Land Before Time
  • Last Holiday
  • The Last Waltz
  • Let's Spend the Night Together
  • Lilies of the Field
  • Little Black Book
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Love Actually
  • Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again
  • Manhattan
  • The Mighty Ducks
  • Mona Lisa Smile
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • Network
  • Notting Hill
  • One Fine Day
  • Ocean Waves
  • An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Only Angels Have Wings
  • Only Yesterday
  • Out of Africa
  • Paths of Glory
  • Pet Sematary
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • Pom Poko
  • Ponyo
  • Porco Russo
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Raising Arizona
  • Ready or Not
  • Reds
  • Save the Last Dance
  • Scary Movie 3
  • The Secret World of Arrietty
  • Shall We Dance?
  • Shooter
  • Shutter Island
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Some Kind of Beautiful
  • Spirited Away
  • Stealing Harvard
  • Striptease
  • Swingers
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • Tales from Earthsea
  • Teen Witch
  • That Thing You Do!
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
  • This Means War
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Tropic Thunder
  • True Lies
  • Twins
  • Unfriended
  • Us
  • Van Helsing
  • Varsity Blues
  • War of the Worlds (2005)
  • What About Bob?
  • What Women Want
  • When Marnie was There
  • Whispers of the Heart
  • The Wind Rises
  • The Wood
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • Yesterday

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