One of the fantastic things about the internet is the availability of streaming videos out there. Any film scholar can tell you that issues of copyright and ownership often got confusing at times. For example, many of the films of Alfred Hitchcock, most famously Vertigo, were in the courts for years as the legal system was asked to determine ownership. The result was an unfortunate one; one in which we the viewing public were not able to enjoy these films. Another consequence was that the prints were at times left to deteriorate due to neglect. Fortunately for us, many of these treasures have been identified and properly preserved or are in the process of being so.
Another fate suffered by older films is that motion picture companies who own these films hold the films in their vault and debate whether to release them for sale or distribution.
Thankfully, many groups holding these films in either case have come up with a solution to satisfy film fans everywhere – make these films available in the public domain. Take hulu.com, for instance. A click on their Movies (Full Length), will display a plentiful supply of classic titles, enough to whet any movie lovers’ appetite. There is some Hitchcock (39 Steps, Lady Vanishes); His Girl Friday; Orson Welles’ The Stranger and more recent films such as Broken Flowers, The Last Days of Disco, Your Friends and Neighbors, etc. You can spend some time looking at the feature films and documentaries.
The one suggestion I have is to check the offering often. A couple of months ago I watched Otto Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. When I recently checked the movie list, it was not there.