Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Films with Style and Romance

The famous song Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes is known as a hit of the 1980's but unfortunately not many people are familiar with the woman who inspired the lyrics. I am slightly...ok, completely infatuated with the actress Betty Davis. I watch her movies over and over and each time fall a little bit more in love with her, the glamour of the 30's and 40's and with the characters she played. (I posted back in 2008 about my love for Bette Davis movies which you can read here, Bette Davis Eyes).

There are few true movie stars in this day and age. Modern society is ruthless in it's obsession with fame and the personal, often sordid lives of those in film and TV. Is there anyone who can watch an Angelina Jolie movie and NOT think of her half a dozen children and her nomad life with Brad Pitt. She just can't become a character anymore, she is always her famous persona. Ditto with so many other film actors such as Tom Cruise (with the exception of his character in Tropic Thunder, hilarious!), Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz. I want to escape when I go to the movies and sadly unless it's a Harry Potter film or another fantasy adventure, I rarely can think of anything but the film star's latest headlines for their personal life. There are a few exceptions such as Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ewan McGregor and Meryl Streep.

People who love movies say it often, "They just don't make films like they used too." I wholeheartedly agree. Sure there are exceptional films being made and lately I've seen a few including True Grit (although a remake of a classic), The Social Network, The King's Speech and the final Harry Potter film. And then there are the same films that get made over and over and over again. How many rom-com movies are there and isn't the new film Friends with Benefits (Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis) the same film as No Strings Attached (Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman). No way would I spend $10 for either movie.

So I buy DVD's on Amazon of beautiful, original, classic films when movies were always an escape to another time or place with stunning costumes, true romance, real ladies and their gentleman and manners we've all forgotten about. If you are interested in films that will make you sigh with wonder, cry over the romance and wonder over the loss of a gentler time here are a few of my favorite films from the 1930's and 40's.

  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. 1947. Oh my. The romance. The location. The stunning Gene Tierney, a very young Natalie Wood and the gruff Rex Harrison. The perfect wrong place-wrong time romantic film. Oh and the ending...
  • Dark Victory. 1939. Bette Davis is young and beautiful in this film. A rich socialite changes her life and falls in love after a terrible diagnosis. It doesn't get any better than this for a weepy romance. Trust me, no one has a dry eye at the end. This film also stars Humprey Bogart in a small role before he became a movie star.
  • The Enchanted Cottage. 1945. Robert Young is terrific in this film about a soldier with terrible war wounds and the quiet woman who loves him. I don't think there is a film that better expresses the beauty of love than this one. Don't miss it.
  • Waterloo Bridge. 1940. A little seen Vivien Leigh (Scarlet from Gone with the Wind) film. War, England, guilt. A classic.
  • Mr. Skeffington. 1944. Gorgeous sets and costumes. And an unlikely romantic leading man in Claude Rains (famous for Casablanca). Bette Davis is ruthless and perfect in this role.
  • To Have and Have Not. 1944. The film that started it all with Lauren Bacall and Humprey Bogart. One of the greatest movie lines in history is spoken by Bacall in this film, "You know how to whistle don't you just put your lips together and blow." I don't know if there is a woman alive who has seen this film who hasn't tried to imitate Bacall's chin down, peekaboo look when flirting with a man. Classic. I met Lauren Bacall at a book signing years ago and she is still this character, sassy, sexy and gorgeous.
Do you watch old films? What are your favorites?

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