Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

The Movies Used to Be Great Medicine.

“The Philadelphia Story” (photo credit)
A little Sunday reading and a call to arms.

Screenwriters, upon returning from your strike, give us proof of your worth — earn the DVD receipts. Bring back the sophistication and wit of the screwball comedies of the 1930’s and the battles-of-the-sexes of the 40’s and 50’s. We will revere your names and add them to the pantheon studied in film schools and written about in newspapers ever after. Study the classics and bring them into the modern era. Give us your all.

Dear readers, please list your favourites so that we may add them to our libraries and Netflix queues. Because sometimes there is no substitute for the real thing.

21 thoughts on “The Movies Used to Be Great Medicine.

  1. I was at the annual G-Hog day party last night and they were projecting some old Sophia Loren movie onto a giant balloon hovering above the space (at xmas it was It’s a Wonderful Life)… Even watching without sound, you could tell it was a great movie.

    Did you get your soap yet?

  2. “Mr and Mrs Smith” (1942), with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery as a couple who learn they actually aren’t married, due to some bureaucratic snafu—and so question whether they should actually even be married. Directed (surprisingly) by Alfred Hitchcock.

  3. Hello Fairfax! That sounds like a ball. Ms. Loren is always a pleasure to watch!

    Aesthete, I’m not sure I’ve seen it! Thank you; off to NetFlix right now. I really like Carole Lombard and Hitchcock always pulls amazing performances from his actors.

  4. I second the All About Eve vote; it is an all time classic. I highlight recommend The Women. It is a perfect Sunday afternoon film.

  5. I do really like George Saunders. And of course, Bette Davis was one of the greats.

    I got a kick out of “The Women.” It’s in the library. Have to add “All About Eve” next.

  6. Another good film but not screwball, etc, is Irene Dunne and Cary Grant in “Penny Serenade.” He’s a small-town newspaper publisher; she is his wry, long-suffering wife who wants to adopt a child, despite his misgivings. It is a lovely, lovely film, and the true definition of tear-jerker. I have to leave the room in spots or start blubbering.

  7. Aesthete, it kills me. I actually can’t watch it. “The Awful Truth” is more my speed. Hell, I cry during “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A hauntingly sincere ( as a result of being a true returned war hero?) Jimmy Stewart’s final “Attaboy Clarence” sets me off every time.

    Speaking of George Saunders, “Foreign Correspondent” makes good use of him. Would that I could ape that sonorous voice.

  8. Father Goose, A Night to Remember, The Citadel, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Ghost and Mrs Muir, Lawrence of Arabia, 1-2-3, the list is endless…

  9. My favorite topic! I second ‘ all about eve’ -but also, how to marry a millionaire and the grass is greener are both GREAT witty comedies from the 50’s – great writing and very stylish!

  10. Hi Scott, Good list. Which version of “Goodbye Mr. Chips?”

    I find it interesting that most of the movies mentioned are older. Are there any modern classics to consider?

  11. Can’t leave out The Thin Man and After the Thin Man with the lovely Myrna Loy at her comic best and William Powell simply brilliant – the sets on the second one are absolutely brilliant and so elegant.

    Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House – as an architect I can’t help but love this one – two of my favorites (Grant and Loy)

    The Philadelphia Story and High Society – same story two very different but elegant casts. The original is, IMHO, the best with Grant, Hepburn and Stewart – but Grace Kelly is so elegant and handles her own in the remake.

  12. I think both versions of Goodbye Mr Chips are good, but I prefer the earlier version with Robert Donat. He’s also in The Citadel, and is a great if forgotten actor.

    For modern ones recently I liked “How to Kill your Neighbor’s Dog” as well as a laundry list of foreign films.

  13. Amen GA, you’ve listed my favourites. Though not necessarily in order.

    Scott, The O’Toole version always makes me well up. But both are fantastic. The erudite Mrs. E. is a teacher at a boy’s school here and I know that that influences my preference for these movies, too (not to mention “Dead Poet’s Society” etc. .) Don’t know “The Citadel.” Off to NetFlix!

  14. Has the Elegantologist seen the 1939 film called MIDNIGHT?
    It is, as Pauline Kael attests, one of the true delights of the ’30s.
    And Pauline knew a thing or two.
    Claudette Colbert is stranded in Paris. John Barrymore comes to her rescue.
    Need I say more?

  15. Now this is a real subject, old movies. We’ve got to be more discerning!
    Everything in black and white was not necessarily “good”.
    ‘Penny Serenade’ is mawkish tripe, yet that scene where Cary Grant begs to keep the adopted baby is quite something, and it displays his range beautifully.
    I suppose that ‘Brief Encounter’ must also be classified thusly, but I have a weakness for well-modulated performances and Trevor Howard supplies just that.
    Lately, courtesy of Turner Classics, I have developed a fondness for post war “noir” films made by Warner Brothers~they’ve got depth, plus all those shadows cast by neon light filtering through Venetian Blinds. Try ‘The Man I Love’ with Ida Lupino, a nightclub chanteuse who sings, smokes and drinks-simultaneously.

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