1. The Animal Kingdom– 1932 Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, Myrna Loy
I grew up thinking that any black-and-white movie was old-fashioned and prudish. This film is a reminder that the lives people led before movies received color were not as rigid or stark as the technology that represented them. Leslie Howard and Ann Harding play a couple who practically have a common law marriage which is interrupted by a woman eventually compared to a high-class prostitute. These “taboo” subjects are all addressed with intelligence, humor, and subtlety, of course. Myrna Loy plays to perfection an unusual role for her as the manipulative woman.
2. Nothing Sacred– 1937 Carole Lombard, Fredric March
Don’t let the fact that I learned a history lesson because of this movie deter you from watching it. Carole Lombard plays a “radium girl” – one of many women during the 1910s who received radium poisoning from licking her paintbrush between painting glow-in-the-dark watches. Fredric March plays the newspaper reporter who wants to take her to New York and make a sensation out of her slow and painful death. (Don’t feel too bad for her, she’s not really sick but really wants a trip to N.Y.) This movie has a bit of a slow start, but is worth the warm-up to the complex feelings of love and guilt two people would inevitably have when beginning a relationship this way.
3. The Lady Vanishes – 1938 Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas
This is my new favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie. Although it is technically a mystery, it’s not as Hitchcockian as I expected. Michael Redgrave has instant appeal as the love interest constantly annoying Margaret Lockwood’s character, yet proving to be her only friend as she tries to convince everyone around her, and eventually herself, that the older woman she met on the train existed – and vanished. This is full of droll one-liners.
4. His Girl Friday – 1940 Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell
The dialogue in this movie will make your head spin. Rosalind Russell shows us that women always had a hard time knowing how to balance and satisfy their need for career and family. Her character decides to leave the newspaper business for good in order to be a “human being” and lead a “half-way normal life” before it’s too late. Cary Grant is her ex-husband and co-worker determined to keep that from happening. Get the picture?
5. Real Genius – 1985 Val Kilmer
I didn’t notice what a great actor Mr. Kilmer is until a few years ago. Maybe if I had seen this movie when it came out I would have caught on much sooner. Costarring are lots of familiar faces of steadily-working actors. It’s fun to say, “Hey, it’s that guy! What do I know him from?” This movie also introduced me to “I’m Falling” by Comsat Angels. Great song!
6. Cyrano De Bergerac – 1950 Jose Ferrer
Better than Shakespeare. There, I said it.
7. The Snows of Kilimanjaro – 1952 Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner
If you’re looking for a tidily wrapped love story, you should never look to Hemingway. This movie is based on his short story by the same name. Gregory Peck plays a writer dying from a hunting wound in Africa. He spends his last few hours on earth toying with the emotions of Hayward’s character, and mentally revisiting lost loves. Memories of one woman in particular, played by Ava Gardner, haunt him. The ending feels forced, probably because it was. Hollywood wasn’t about to let our hero bite it.
8. Ghostbusters II – 1989 Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts
The whole gang returns for an opportunity to feed the fever from the frenzy of the first. I don’t care what the critics said, I like this movie. I guess “bustin’ makes me feel good.”
9. The Best of Times– 1986 Robin Williams, Kurt Russell
Maybe like the main characters in this movie, I’m just feeling nostalgic. I know this isn’t the most popular example of Robin and Kurt’s work, but I enjoy watching these guys work out their building disappointments from 13 years of life-after-high-school. By inviting an opposing team to a rematch of a lost football game, they hope to regain the promises of youth and win back the hearts of their wives.
10.. Holiday – 1938 Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant
When You Tube works out the bugs, I’m sure this will be a great movie to watch. So, am I endorsing it without having seen it? Uh, yeah. It’s got Hepburn and Grant, what more could I possibly need to know?
– Anita, Noted in Nashville