Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vintage Film Delights

I visited my parents this weekend, which means two things. One, I ate entirely too much because my mother is a wonderful cook. Two, I watched delightful old movies because my mother has a wonderful delightful old movie collection. And what's the use, I thought, of enjoying delightful old things, if I don't share them with you all for your perusal?

First up: Delightful old movies. We (re)watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which, despite playing host to some of the kookiest choreography of all time, the worst song lyric ever ("a man can't sleep/when he sleeps with sheep"--I should hope not), and the potential to offend any woman who doesn't find being carted off in the back of a feed wagon romantic, charms the pants off me every time. Adorable. I love the completely inauthentic old-timey costuming. And the admittedly goofy song and dance numbers.

We also picked up some older fare. First up was The Broadway Melody, which won the second Best Picture Oscar ever in 1929--and was the first "talkie" to do so. Has the caliber of acting, writing, and cinematography improved significantly since 1929? Yes. Could one have said that even in, say, 1935? Again, yes. Was it still one of the sweetest, most charming, most clothing-envy-inducing movies I've seen in a while? Wholehearted yes! Ok, just look at those hats. Also, this movie is pre-Code, and it's an interesting study in comparison--though nothing inappropriate to a modern perception happens, there are allusions--one of the girls is taking a bath in one scene, and a dangerous liasion is a major plot point. And this film had more edge and spunk to it than I've seen in many recent movies--not to mention a completey appropriate, satisfying, but not cookie-cutter ending.

Also, some early Hitchcock. Stick with me. I'm not terribly fond of his most famous later films, such as Psycho and The Birds, either (too scary. Still can't get the concept of The Birds out of my head. Apparently Hitchcock wanted to end the film with a shot of the Golden Gate bridge completely covered in birds, but it was too expensive to pull off, and wouldn't that have been an awful vignette to carry around in your head? Except, having heard that factoid, I imagined it and I do carry it around with me. Shudder). But his less horror-based, more suspense-based films are among my favorites already--North by Northwest, Lifeboat. Add in a rakish rogue with Errol Flynn hair as a main character, fanatastic early 30s clothing (tune in for the lady character's suits with adorable giant collars (see left) alone...sigh), and a setting on the moors of Scotland in our pick, The 39 Steps, and I'm hooked. Highly recommended...and I'll be hunting up more lesser-known Hitchcock.
Anyone see any good movies lately? Good old movies? Movies with to-die-for clothing?


anachronist said...

I can't say I've seen a lot of old movies recently but I do enjoy them while watching. Oh wait, I can remember one Marilyn Monroe movie - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - with amazing 50s dresses and furs.

dolleygurl said...

I recently bough a bunch of Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn movies - I love the slightly more wholesome-ness of the movies. I recently watched Meet Me In St. Louis and loved it - even though there wasn't a lot to the story. I like how it sort of is a lot less distracting than all of the CG stuff that is in movies today.

Jill said...

I like musicals. I dream in musicals, clean house in musicals . . . I love the idea of any plain old activity in life spurring a professional song and dance routine. Say I'm making Italian food, so I start singing about oregano, spinning around and flinging spaghetti at the wall. I guess what I'm saying is that I live in my own old movie. :)

Rowenna said...

Anachronist--Gentlmen Prefer Blondes is awesome! I wanted the whole wardrobe.

Dolley--I love Judy Garland, and Meet Me in St. Louis is a favorite--my mom and I watch it every Christmas (and isn't little Tootie a riot? And kinda creepily morbid?)

Jill--Songs about oregano? Now that is awesome!