Tons of Movies for Free on YouTube

If only there was some way to stream classic B&W movies online. Well, maybe there is.

Photo: Still from An American in Paris’ (1951) Archive Photos//Getty Images

18 August 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Fred Astaire dances with a coat rack in the 1951 film “Royal Wedding.” For many filmmakers, TCM isn’t just a favorite channel, it’s their lifeblood.

TCM has been in the news a lot lately. Some time ago a couple of world class directors told the world how much they LOVE TCM:

NEW YORK — Turner Classic Movies, that bastion of black-and-white, holds a unique place on the dial and in the hearts of cinephiles. In a continuous, commercial-free stream, much of the history of Hollywood is on view, 24/7, for sampling and binging — an uncorrupted corner of celluloid obsession that flickers day and night with Buster Keaton shorts, Robert Ryan series and Ernst Lubitsch marathons.

But for many filmmakers, TCM isn’t just a favorite channel, it’s their lifeblood. Among directors from Martin Scorsese to Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s a common refrain that Turner Classic is a constant source of inspiration and a beloved background in their lives.

“I tend to have it on in the kitchen,” said Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”). “I have a small TV in the kitchen, a great old Sony Trinitron. And that’s probably where I see it the most. It’s a comfort blanket. It’s like a pacifier.”

In cult of Turner Classic Movies, front row is lined with filmmakers

And then more recently, it was announced that Spielberg, Scorsese and PTA to Help Curate as Charlie Tabesh Stays On as Head of Programming. Faced with the fear of cutbacks at the channel -or even losing it altogether- many in the entertainment industry rose to the occasion:

“TCM is a cultural treasure, and we are honored to help steer the future direction of this beloved brand with the partnership of three of the most iconic filmmakers of our time, Steven, Marty, and Paul,” De Luca and Abdy said. “David Zaslav led the charge, driven by our shared love of storytelling, to bring us together for a project about which we are so passionate. Over the last year, we have meaningfully increased our content investment in TCM, and intend to further enhance TCM’s on-air programming and engagement with fans.”

Spielberg, Scorsese and PTA to Help Curate as Charlie Tabesh Stays On as Head of Programming

So, all of this is good news for film buffs. At least if you happen to be a classic film fan who lives in the US. While versions of TCM are carried in some markets around the world, if you wish to use their (apparently terrific) streaming app to watch one of their two feeds, you have to not only to live in the US, but also subscribe to the channel. Via a cable network.

Of course such sweetheart deals used to be common.

While cable (and satellite) TV is probably in long term decline, there are still roughly 70m pay TV households in the US. But this is a number that has declined from closer to 100m, and is set to continue to decline. But nearly all of those 70m homes probably have CNN as part of their packages, and CNN collects one dollar ($1.01 according to Variety) per month for each of those subscriptions. That would amount to nearly $850m a year! Linear news channels in the US are very profitable. According to this table from Pew based on estimates from Kagan, CNN’s profit was $714m in 2020, while Fox News’ profit was $1.8bn.

The Short Life of CNN+

People have long wondered why TCM has never made their app available to a wider audience without the need to subscribe to cable, and the standard answer would likely suggest that they might not buy the rights to shows many films in different regions, which is certainly true.

But even a cursory look online shows that countless people would gladly pay a for a subscription akin to the offered by (the very exellent) Criterion Channel.

Lately, and quite by accident, I discovered what might be called a poor person’s version of TCM that is actually streaming right now.

One day, in search of a Bogart or Astaire movie, I found what could only be called a treasure trove of B&W movies. Now these might not be classics, but they are indeed classic, from drama, musical, film noir and more.

Most of these films have entered into the ‘public domain’ area, meaning the copyright has lapsed and now anyone can broadcast or even charge for the old films. In other words, PD films are legal.

And one of the interesting sidelines of this is discovery is what I used to consider to be one of the most annoying things about YouTube. If you have ever accidentally watched a cat video you likely discovered that you ‘recommendations’ rarely veered from cats and dogs for months on end.

But if you happen to watch a B&W movie from 1932 for example, YouTube will actually offer an endless list of other movies that actually might be of interest.

So as I say, it is a poor cousin to TCM but it really is not bad at all.

Below are just some of the ‘playlists’ I have discovered (this is where viewers have collected together movies in a particular genre or feature popular actors, so you can find them with ease.

And you will notice, this is clearly a list of my personal preferences, but you can certainly find just about any genre you might like.

So enjoy!

James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Alec Guinness Movies

The Sprocket Vault

Henry Fonda Movies

Peter Sellers Movies

Spencer Tracy Full Movies


Noel Coward’s plays

Dirk bogard movies

1970’s movies

1960’s movies

Fred Astaire – Full Motion Pictures

Gregory Peck Movies


James Stewart Movies

Cary Grant Movies

Burt Lancaster movies

British TV Plays

Play for today


Classic Western Movies

Classic Movies 1940s

Classic Movies of 1930’s

Classic Movies 1930s

Film Noir Movies

Classic Movies 1950s

1950’s movies

Classic Spy Movies

1950’s movies

Classic Spy Movies

Classic War Movies

Cagney & Bogart Movies


humphrey bogart full-length movies

Classic Film Noir Movies


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