Whenever I buy magazines, I tend to gravitate towards Life, particularly their special edition issues because they grab my attention the most. I am a big fan of learning more information about people from the past, so whenever I find an interesting Life issue that I’d like to learn more about, I have to get it to add to my growing collection.
One of the special edition Life magazines that I own was given to me a few days ago from my parents. This special edition focuses on Anne Frank’s life, which I cannot wait to read in order to learn even more about her. (If you have not read her diary, I highly suggest you do so. It is one of my absolute favorite pieces of nonfiction, and I cannot recommend it enough.) She was such an inspiration and wrote about unique and innovative ideas that can still correlate with today’s time. I cannot wait to read this edition in order to gain even more insight about her life!
The other two magazines, that I’d like to focus this blog post upon, are centered around Old Hollywood, an obsession of mine that began during high school. Ever since I took a cinema class in my senior year of high school, where we watched old movies and discussed the elements within them, I have been interested in classic films and the evolution that film has gone through.
Black and white movies, particularly film noirs (think brooding black and white movies centered usually around detectives), have always struck me, thanks to their dark aesthetic and dramatic flair woven into the plot lines. Classic films are such a wonder to watch and lose yourself in, for a few hours. The dialogue is always so rich, the cinematography is breathtaking and groundbreaking, and the actors add so much emotion into their roles. While they might have a slower plot line, compared to movies today, I cannot ignore the intrigue and allure that comes along with old films.
So, inspired by my two Life magazines, discussing old movies and the famous James Dean, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite classic films to recommend to you all. (These recommendations are sorted, somewhat, by genres!)
• Casablanca (1942)
Genres: Drama, Romance War
Casablanca is not only a great classic film, but it is also one of my top three favorite movies of all time. It follows a brooding and sarcastic Rick who runs a successful club in Casablanca, Morocco during WWII. He lives a pretty routine life, that is until an ex-lover of his pops into his club with her husband in tow, seeking to escape Morocco before Germans find and arrest him.
I adore this film so, so much. It was introduced to me in my high school cinema class and has stuck with me ever since. From the fantastic cast, especially Humphrey Bogart as Rick, to the dry humor woven into the dialogue, I was swept away when I first saw this movie. The cinematography was also fantastic with the frequent use of shadows to create unique shots in this black and white film.
WWII stories always interest me, with their complex and fast paced plot lines that leave me on the edge of my seat. And that’s how I felt while watching Casablanca. It gave me a dramatic WWII story full of twists and turns, along with a forbidden love mixed into it as well. Rick and Ingrid’s romance is one of my favorite film romances, simply because of the lines shared between both characters and how their chemistry swirled around them during each scene they shared together. “Here’s looking at you, kid” will forever be one of my favorite lines from a movie, and I cannot recommend this film enough to anyone. There’s a reason why it’s one of the top ten best films of all time.
• Citizen Kane (1941)
Genres: Drama, Mystery
Cinematography (i.e. visual elements of a film) is such a vital component to creating an award winning film. Orson Welles crafted a revolutionary movie filled with groundbreaking camera angles and newfound film devices that has never been seen before Citizen Kane was released to the public. This slow moving plot line following the life of a man who went from rags to riches unfolds across the screen in a breathtaking way due to all the atmospheric and stunning uses of lighting and angles.
This movie is celebrated as being the #1 movie of all time (on the AFI’s Greatest American Movies of All Time list) due to its captivating cinematography and acting, so if you are an true movie lover, I’d recommend watching this movie at some point!
• Psycho (1960)
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Nothing beats a classic horror movie, especially one like Psycho. This film follows the a lady who stole a large sum of money from her boss and runs away to a motel that is anything but normal. This thriller still leaves me on the edge of my seat, thanks to its cryptic music that played during the most gruesome of scenes and has become this movie’s trademark.
From the chilling acting to the ever rising suspense to the quick cuts during scenes, I am such a big fan of how this movie was filmed. The simplistic and yet complex use of camera angles provides an overlying sense of fear into this film that has successfully given me nightmares. I highly recommend watching this around Halloween time.
• Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
I had to include James Dean in this list (Hello! I have a magazine all about him!), especially in the most popular movie that he starred in. Rebel Without a Cause follows James Dean as a rambunctious teen who is supposed to be on the straight and narrow path, but that is a difficult task as the new kid in town who can’t seem to get out of trouble.
While the cinematography isn’t as fantastic in this one, the movie provides a fun-loving teen story line that I fell head over heels for. The angstiness that was shown throughout this movie was so cute to see along with the forbidden love that blossomed as the story progressed. It is definitely a sleepover or summery type of movie that I’d recommend watching because it does offer a nice lesson towards the end about the relationship between teens and adults and the vitality of friendship.
• Roman Holiday (1953)
Genres: Comedy, Romance
If you’re looking for a cute summery classic film to watch, Roman Holiday is the movie for you. It follows Audrey Hepburn playing a princess who is tired of the same old routine she is forced to follow. So, one night she sneaks out of her room and circumstances brings her together with a reporter whom she wanders around Rome with for a few fun filled days.
I think what I love about this film is how light and carefree it is. Because I have visited Rome when I was younger, it offered me a sense of nostalgia whenever I see Audrey and Gregory Peck roam around the beautiful Italian city. This film crafts such a cute romance between two amazing actors whose chemistry rolls right off the screen. It fills me with so much joy whenever I see this film and I cannot recommend it enough because who wouldn’t love to see Audrey Hepburn get into a bunch of mischievous situations around Italy?
• It Happened One Night (1934)
Genres: Comedy, Romance
Another adorable movie full of humor is It Happened One Night following an heiress who runs away from her family and clashes with a reporter. This film has the best banter and sassiness delivered by the two protagonists (Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable) is simply hilarious. This movie follows the hate-to-love trope in romance and is so well delivered. This lighthearted movie is hilarious and also offers insight on the gender roles enforced back in the 30’s which was discussed in my cinema class. So not only is it funny as ever, but it also gives you some historical insight for anyone curious about life back in the 30’s.
• Adam’s Rib (1949)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Another great movie that explores and breaks the strict gender roles placed on society back then is Adam’s Rib, a film about a married couple who are both lawyers and have to oppose each other in a very controversial court case. Katharine Hepburn playing an empowered female lawyer is groundbreaking, at this time, in film, and her dialogue is so rich with insight. I loved the hint of feminism shown throughout the film, as well as Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s flaming arguments. Overall, this is a very underrated movie that I wish more people would appreciate.
• Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Genres: Musical, Comedy, Romance
Singin’ in the Rain will forever be one of the most impressive classic films that I have ever seen. The dances performed throughout this musical are so incredibly complex and awe inspiring. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t be impressed by the cast’s artistic talent. This musical follows a silent film company in Hollywood as they slowly are learning to use audio in their movie that they decide to turn into a musical.
This film created the term “singing in the rain” which is when someone lip syncs during a movie and their voice is then dubbed over during editing. Not only is this movie impressive with the amount of iconic dance numbers it has, but it’s also hilarious. The entire cast is witty and relatable, and the jokes thrown into the movie still make me crack up. I will forever wish that Singin’ in the Rain would come to Broadway because I believe that it would be a hit. So, if you’re looking for an old school comedy or musical, I’d highly suggest giving this one a go.
Those are all the classic movies that I have to recommend for today! Let me know if you have seen or heard of any of these movies, and be sure to leave some classic film recommendations of yours in the comments! I love old movies and am always looking for more to watch, so I would love any recommendations that you have.
Have a good day! Xx Olivia