Monday, April 28, 2014

A Classic Movie Primer for the Millennials in Your Life

This weekend I (Keely) had the pleasure of dining with my younger nephew and my niece. They rock (just to establish their bona fides up front).


They are as yet unschooled as to the magic of The Golden Age of Movies. This means I have failed in my duty as super-spectacular aunt, font of all nifty wisdom and cool experiences.


The good news is that ignorance is fixable and family movie nights are fun. Am I right? Yes.


I gave it some thought and came up with my Top Ten Primer - the movies I'd like to share with my rocking peeps to give them a glimpse into a whole new (old) world of black and white film and a chance to expand their cultural literacy (shh, don't tell them that. They're supposed to think this is fun).

My framework for choosing these films: they are all black and white classics made in Hollywood during the 1930s and 40s. They are films *I* enjoy re-watching. A little comedy, a little drama, a little song and dance. And not one of them is Citizen Kane. There, I outed myself. In my opinion, that flick is a big yawn.

Here goes:

1. Casablanca (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains 1942 - "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." And other fine quotes. Need more be said?)

2. The Philadelphia Story (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart 1940 - sophisticated, elegant. All three actors are at the top of their games here)

3. The Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor 1941 - arguably the kick off to film noir)

4. The Gay Divorcee (Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers 1934 - really, almost any Fred and Ginger film would work as a great introduction to the uniqueness that is the movie musical. Add in a score by the inimitable Cole Porter and you can't go wrong)

5. Shadow of a Doubt (Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton 1943 - *shivers* Hitchcock shows us the evil that lies in wait behind the mask of normalcy. Eek!)

6. His Girl Friday (Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell 1940 - screwball comedy at a lightning fast pace)

7. The Thin Man (William Powell and Myrna Loy 1934 - my absolute favorite onscreen couple. See Lisa's blog on chemistry from a couple of weeks ago. This pair has it in spades!)

8. It Happened One Night (Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert 1934 - in which one learns about hitchhiking and how to dunk a donut)

9. The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn, Olivia de Haviland, Basil Rathbone 1938 - romance AND fencing? What's not to love?)

10. Footlight Parade (James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler 1933 - more interesting story than the better know 42nd Street)

What's on your list?


  1. Love this list, Keely. I've only seen three or four from it, so I have lots of room for growth. Also admirable that you're working with your peeps to educate them, I mean have fun, with them! ;0) Nicely done!

  2. Having fun is what it's all about. (Now what "it" means is debatable, lol!)

    I'd be delighted to watch a few with you should you ever feel the desire for a little further education!

  3. I fell asleep during Citizen Kane so I completely agree with you there!

    Love this list! As for my own. Oh man! I need some time to think of what I would add. I feel like I could go on for days. Of course I feel very strongly that every human being should see the original Star Wars films. And Charade is my favorite of Audrey Hepburn's movies. Rear Window definitely. Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind are classics. But so are Office Space, Goonies and Christmas Story in my opinion.

    Okay, you see where this is going. ;-)

  4. Kerri!! Sparkles to you this overcast Monday afternoon!

    All the movies you list are AWESOME. What helped me keep my list to a mere ten were the limits I put on it - but I could just have easily come up with a top ten musicals, top ten film noir, top ten sci-fi.

    Making a top ten list is a lot like making a mixed tape (another pleasure my millennials have never experienced, alas). So many groovy ways to take!

  5. Great choices all, Keely! You did a fabulous job, considering you limited yourself to 10--what a task! :-) We just watched "Laura", so I may have to add that to the list, and I've always loved "Arsenic and Old Lace". I'll never forget the first time we realized our nephew was sadly lacking in the classic department--DH made a reference to "beam me up, Scotty" and later my nephew asked why DH had said "beat me up, Sammy." :-)

  6. Kathy! I love Laura and Arsenic and Old Lace! Ack! Maybe my list needs to be 20 strong. Hmm...

    The cultural references we take for granted...I never thought there'd be a day when "Beam me up, Scotty" had to be explained.

  7. I would add: The Ghost and Mrs. Muer, Holiday Inn, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, West Side Story, Patton, Oklahoma, George M, Paint Your Wagon, Singing in the Rain,Gone with the Wind, TO Sir with Love,Ma and Pa Kettle, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of OZ (sound off -- Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon as soundtrack -- you start the music at the second lion roar -- amazing)

  8. Jamie - fantastic movies! I admit I've never watched Wizard of Oz to Pink Floyd. What an intriguing experiment...

  9. If i HAD to pick a "Best Movie Ever" (and who could??) i would say, "Now, Voyager."

    Modern classic -- "Master and Commander," based on the Patrick O'Brian novels, I think,

    And "Babe," because it's so, so wonderful
    - Marceline (as i'm always on as 'anonymous!')

  10. Marceline! I debated about Now, Voyager (though of the Bette Davis tearjerkers, I prefer Dark Victory), but I kept the personalities of my particular two millennials in mind. Neither of them is all that sentimental, so I'd need to sneak NV or DV into the next batch...once I already have'em hooked!

    I've never seen Master and Commander - must check it out!

  11. Oh, Keely! You've listed so many of my favorites!

    I actually prefer TOP HAT to THE GAY DIVORCEE, but I'd still come to your house for a DIVORCEE screening!

    I also adore THE BIG SLEEP with Bogie and Bacall. You get all that chemistry, and the back story about the film's making is so interesting to me. I know the plot is often criticized, but we'll blame the Hayes Act for toning down the bits that would've made it all make sense.

    And I love Jean Arthur in THE TALK OF THE TOWN. She shines like a star in the heavens. Plus, every time I watch it, I change my mind about who she should walk into the sunset with: Cary Grant or Ronald Colman.

    The Greer Garson/Lawerence Olivier PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is just fun. So are Mickey Rooney's Andy Hardy films. And don't get me start on Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in THE AWFUL TRUTH!

    Boy, I hope you'll list your picks for beyond 40's black and white films. This is so fun!

  12. Was just talking about the suave hunkiliousness of Ronald Coleman with a coworker this afternoon. Another movie that I adore but didn't list is Random Harvest. Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman. Amnesia and one of the best dress in B&W moviedom? I'm there.

    My personal fave of Rogers and Astaire is Shall We Dance. Love the Gershwin music, love the story line. But The Gay Divorce solidified their most successful - to me - story arc (I'd argue they had two: one where they are the main couple [TGD, TH, SWD, Swing Time], the other where they are the supporting couple [Flying Down to Rio, Roberta, Follow the Fleet])

    I am TOTALLY going to come up with more Top Ten lists. I'm working on Tear Jerkers right now. Film Noir, 1950s musicals, Favorite Katharine Hepburn flicks. Endless possibilities!