Last week I shared one of my all-time favorite movies, Meet Me in St. Louis, and said I had watched it after the election results as a way to escape from all the drama that ensued. It was fun to chat with some of you about your favorite old movies, so I thought I'd elaborate a little more and share some of my other favorites. I tried to limit it to ten, and then to fifteen...I think I'm up to seventeen, with a few cheats at the end (you'll see what I mean). I could have gone on and on. I actually feel bad that I didn't include others, but I had to stop somewhere! :)
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite oldies and why I love them so much:
Little Women with June Allyson and Peter Lawford (1949). The classic story of Jo March and her coming of age. There were two older versions that I loved growing up (before the 1994 version with Winona Ryder). The earlier version stars Katharine Hepburn and is in black & white. I loved the one with June Allyson because it's in color...and because I secretly had a crush on Peter Lawford who played Laurie. I still can't watch any version without hoping that this time Jo will choose Laurie.
Please Don't Eat the Daisies with Doris Day and David Niven (1960). Doris Day plays a mother of four rambunctious boys living in a high rise apartment in New York City. She's married to a theater critic and desperately longs to leave Long Island and move to the country. What's not to love about this story? Four little boys (all with different hair color and one named Gabe), a rambling old mansion, and fun Doris Day songs. Doris Day is probably my favorite actress of all time. I loved her sunny disposition, her humor, her voice, and her optimism in all her films. If you haven't seen a Doris Day movie, there are dozens to choose from. I could have easily filled this list with all of her movies.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with Jane Powell and Howard Keel (1954). Seven handsome backwoodsmen. Enough said. :) This story follows Adam and Millie's unique love story. They marry after their first meeting, and she thinks she's escaping the drudgery of cooking and cleaning for dozens of men at the hotel where she works, only to discover that she has six scruffy brothers-in-law that she must now reform. The songs alone are wonderful, but the dancing is some of the best caught on film. The first CD I ever purchased was the soundtrack to this film. I had seven bridesmaids in my wedding and I intentionally was married in June because of the song June Bride from this movie. I absolutely love this film.
Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland and Tom Drake (1944). Last week I shared my adoration for this film. I love the community pride, the boy next door, the singing, the Victorian charm, and the fact that they are preparing for the World's Fair. The story takes place over the course of one year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis, MO. Each child in the family has a different storyline, but Esther (played by Judy Garland) is the main character.
Singing in the Rain with Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly (1952). Okay, this is a classic, for sure. Gene Kelly is one of the best dancers in Hollywood history--and he's adorable and can sing, too. A triad of talent. Debbie Reynolds is so sweet and sassy in this movie. It's set in 1927 and shares the transition Hollywood made from silent films to talkies. I love the chemistry between Gene and Debbie. Though Gene has dozens and dozens of movie roles, his role in this movie (and the song, Singing in the Rain) is probably his most iconic.
Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda (1968). I don't tend to like films between the mid-1960's and 1980's, but this one is an exception. It's a hilarious look at two large families (one with 8 children and one with 10) who come together after the mom and dad fall in love. They buy a big old house and the dad tries to run it like a navy warship. Add in lots of subplots with the older children, a funny sidekick and several mishaps, and you have a winner.
Summer Stock with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (1950). Here's another movie chock-full of amazing dancing and singing. Judy is trying to make ends meet on her family farm and her younger sister returns home with the cast of her current play. The director of the play, Gene Kelly, needs a place to hold the play, so he talks Judy into letting them use the barn. Lots of hilarity ensues and a romance develops between two unsuspecting characters.
The Thrill of it All with Doris Day and James Garner (1963). James Garner...sigh. This movie challenges the roles of a wife and mother in the 1960's when she's offered a surprise opportunity to be the face of Happy Soap. She's married to a doctor and has two little children, but she tries to manage being on a weekly (live) commercial and in magazine and billboard advertisements. The pool scene in this movie is a classic when the Happy Soap ends up in the pool and creates a backyard full of suds.
Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale (1942). This one is sometimes considered a Christmas movie (Bing Crosby sang White Christmas for the first time in this movie), but it's so much more. The story follows Bing as he leave show business to try to run a farm. When he realizes it's too much work, he turns the farm into an inn and only opens on holidays. The show features twelve songs (one written for each holiday) by Irving Berlin. It also stars Fred Astaire, who sings and dances his way through yet another classic film.
The Shop Around the Corner with Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart (1940). This romantic film was remade in 1998 and titled You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The plot is very similar, though in The Shop Around the Corner, the two main characters are pen pals who happen to work at the same music shop. As co-workers, they are at each other's throats, as pen pals, they fall in love. One of the scenes that is familiar in both movies is the one where he goes to meet her in the restaurant and realizes it's her, but stands her up. The movie was remade as a musical with Judy Garland and Van Johnson in 1949 and titled In the Good Old Summertime. I love all three versions.
My Favorite Wife with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant (1940). Cary Grant. Need I say more? This is a romantic comedy about a man who believes his wife has died at sea. Several years later, after he's had her pronounced legally dead, he's on his way to his honeymoon with another woman when his first wife shows up! She had been in a shipwreck, but had survived on an island with a fellow passenger. Now, she's back, and willing to fight to keep her husband. This movie was also remade in 1963, starring Doris Day and James Garner (who were paired in The Thrill of it All).
The Andy Hardy Movies with Mickey Rooney and a cast of Hollywood ladies (1937-1946). Okay, I'm cheating for the last four selections, because they're actually several movies in each series. One of my favorite series is the Andy Hardy movies. Oh, where do I begin with this one? I adore Andy Hardy (played by Mickey Rooney). He was an all-American kid, in an all-American home, living in an idyllic town in California during the 30's and 40s. He always got into good-natured trouble, learned his lesson, and moved on. This series helped debut some of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies of the day. It followed Andy through high school and beyond. He even returns as a married man in the last couple films. Such an iconic character from this era. Sixteen movies in all.
The Ma & Pa Kettle Movies with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride (1940's-1950's). I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I love Ma & Pa Kettle movies! They are screwball comedies with hillbilly characters who have a passel of kids. In one movie, they move off their ramshackle farm when they win a modern, state-of-the-art home. It's hilarious to watch them adjust to life in the city and try to fit into their new neighborhood. Pa Kettle is especially goofy and tends to get into a lot of trouble when he's not even trying. Ten movies in all.
The Tammy Movies with Debbie Reynolds in Tammy and the Bachelor (my favorite) and Sandra Dee in Tammy Tell Me True and Tammy and the Doctor. I love Tammy (short for Tambrey) Tyree. She's a sweet, polite, backwoods girl who charms her way into the hearts of several men. Like I said, my favorite is Tammy and the Bachelor, which also starred Leslie Nielsen. Tammy lives with her grandpa on a riverboat and one day her grandpa finds Pete (played by Leslie) after a plane accident. They nurse him back to health and Tammy falls in love with him, but he sees her as a child. When Tammy's grandpa is arrested for moonshining, he tells her to go to Pete's home. She walks there and discovers he lives in a big, old plantation home. Pete and his family mistakenly think Grandpa has died, so they take her in. She disrupts their lives in a good way, and Pete eventually sees her as the woman she is. Such a fun, heartwarming story.
This was such a hard list to make, because I couldn't decide which ones to include!! I have so many more favorites, but I had to stop somewhere. Next time I'll limit it to just my musical favorites, and then I'll do a Christmas one, too. I love sharing my passion for old films and I hope I've encouraged you to try some of these for yourself.
Your Turn: I'd love to know if you're familiar with any of these films, and which ones you've enjoyed. What are some of your favorites that I didn't include?
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