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Old Movies: Watch the Glamour, Glitz, and Theatrical Beauty of Old Movies

Flora Lange

November 14th, 2017

Most of us are used to watching the terrible movies of today: the plots are ridiculous, the acting sub-par, and the style underwhelming and disappointing. And when you want to see where these cheap hits got their stage, you can look to old movies. Many old, classic films provide glamorous movie experiences and show you why the movie business took off the way it did. Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions to get you into old movies:

 

Rear Window: This classic 1954 mystery and thriller by legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock stars the iconic James Stewart as action photographer L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies. When he breaks his leg and is laid up at home in his bed for several weeks, he finds entertainment in watching the his neighbors through the windows. One night he hears one of his neighbors scream “Don’t!” and then the next morning he doesn’t see her or any days after. He becomes convinced that her husband has murdered her. And when one of his neighbor’s dogs is found dead, his suspicion heightens. The movie culminates in a dangerous and mysterious experience between Mr. Jefferies, his girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), police detective Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey), and possible murderer neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr). Featuring two of the most famous and glamorous movie stars of the time, James Stewart and Grace Kelly, Rear Window is my personal favorite of Hitchcock movies. If you watch this and enjoy it also check out: Shadow of a Doubt and Strangers on a Train also by Hitchcock.

 

Swing Time: This 1936 musical starring the dynamic dancing, singing, and acting duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers is energetic and glamorous from start to finish. Fred Astaire stars as John Garnett, a gambler and dancer who shows up late to his own wedding, causing his fiance's family to cancel the engagement. He then heads to New York, where he meets dance instructor Penny (Ginger Rogers). The two share a classic and fun dance scene in her studio to “Pick Yourself Up” by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Field, in which Garnett pretends to not know how to dance. They then find out they are staying in the same hotel; what follows is a hilarious, glamorous, and musical portrait of falling in love. Other songs in this musical are: "The Way You Look Tonight" and "A Fine Romance" by Kern and Field. If you enjoy this film, also check out Swing Time and Top Hat, both starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

 

Maltese Falcon: This 1941 noir, starring the dark and mysterious Humphrey Bogart, is a moody and thrilling mystery. The story centers around an expensive model of a bird called the “Maltese Falcon.” The movie begins with Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor) telling two partner private eyes Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) that her sister is missing. Mr. Archer agrees to follow Ms. Wonderly that night, while she goes to meet a man with whom her sister has been involved named Thursby. Mr. Archer is killed while tailing Mrs. Wonderly and Thursby is killed by an unknown individual. This spurs Mr. Spade to investigate Ms. Wonderly who turns out to have been lying about her identity; she is really Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Thursby’s former partner. What follows is a mystery of blackmailing, bribery, murder, and deception, considered one of the greatest noir films of all time! If you enjoy this movie also watch In a Lonely Place and Double Indemnity, which are both classic noirs.

 

Meet Me in St. Louis: This 1944 musical takes place in the early 1900s and follows a family living in Missouri from the spring of 1903, before the St. Louis world fair, to the spring of 1904, which directly follows it. In the beginning of the movie, the father, Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) and his wife Anna (Mary Astor) announce that the family may have to move away from St. Louis due to Mr. Smith’s job. However, the movie also shows the daily life of the family showing why they don’t want to leave St. Louis. Esther Smith (Judy Garland) is a teenager who falls in love with John Truett (Tom Drake), and they have a humorous and sometimes dysfunctional story of falling in love. Rose (Lucille Bremer), Agnes (Joan Carroll), and Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) Smith have along with Esther ridiculous Halloween experiences, fun party songs and dances, and sorrow at the families possible move from St. Louis. The movie culminates at the winter ball and Christmas night; in which Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. The movie ends with the family at the 1904 St. Louis fair having come to a decision about whether to stay or leave St. Louis. The movie has been my favorite for years and provides a look at a family from a time past. I consider this movie one of a kind so just watch it again!

If you want to see these movies on the big screen check out Film Forum (https://filmforum.org/), which shows a lot of old movies. Also go there to discover more old movies not on this list!