When you hear someone mention classic film, do you automatically think ‘boooring’?
Well, that’s what I used to think, until I found myself sobbing through Now, Voyager (1942) and dreaming of playing the Bette Davis role while taking a “pleasure cruise” in a variety of fabulous hats with Paul Henreid (who also stars in the world-famous Casablanca film).
During Hollywood’s Golden Age, the best of the best writers, producers, directors, costume designers, stars, etc. came together to create entertainment that couldn’t rely on computers or special effects that hadn’t been invented yet; so, this meant that the dialogue, story and acting had to be captivating on its own. What remains are enduring stories (and some amazing lighting for legendary beauties like Ingrid Bergman!) that still resonate today.
As the host of a classic film podcast and also a volunteer at a historic theatre in Los Angeles, I thought it apropos to put together a list of five films to make your next movie date night one to remember. And if you can’t talk your significant other into watching “one of those old films,” simply give him a “Here’s looking at you kid,” keep all the popcorn for yourself and get ready to swoon.
#1 – Roman Holiday (1953)
This is the film that made Audrey Hepburn a star! She is so gorgeous and lovable as the princess of an unknown country who decides to run away from her princess duties while in Rome for a royal visit. She just so happens to run into American newspaper reporter Gregory Peck, who sees his chance to get an exclusive story (and maybe some dirt on the princess) while showing her around and taking her for some gelato. But when you combine Rome with two of the most beautiful people to ever grace the silver screen…you think romance will enter the picture?!
Quotable quote: “I’ve never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it’s most unusual!”
#2 – Casablanca (1942)
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) walks into Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart). We learn quickly that they have a PAST, and that she broke his heart years before. And oh yes, she is married to Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a famous Czech Resistance leader, and they are on the run and need Rick’s help to escape to America. Add gorgeous costumes by Orry-Kelly and the romantic strains of “As Time Goes By,” and you might need a beach towel to soak up your tears.
Quotable quote: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
#3 – City Lights (1931)
Charlie Chaplin plays his iconic Tramp character, who is in love with a beautiful, blind, poverty-stricken flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) who mistakenly thinks he is a rich man. When Tramp finds out that there is an operation that could restore her sight, he decides to do whatever it takes (including going into a boxing ring) to get her the money for it. This is one of my all-time favorite films, with an ending that just DESTROYS me every time I see it. A must-see, especially if you have never seen Charlie Chaplin in action!
Quotable quote: None; it’s a silent film! But there IS a terrific score composed by Chaplin himself.
#4 – Top Hat (1935)
This Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical has a plot that revolves around a case of mistaken identity: Dale (Ginger) thinks that Jerry (Fred) is the husband of her good friend, which makes it a little awkward when he starts pursuing her. But really…who cares about the plot when you have Fred and Ginger (in an ostrich-feather gown in one scene) dancing to songs by Irving Berlin?!
Quotable quote: “Heaven, I’m in Heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.” – from the song “Cheek to Cheek”
#5 – Now, Voyager (1942)
Bette Davis shows off those famous eyes to great effect in this chick flick that has her playing Charlotte, a “spinster aunt” who has a unibrow and glasses and a domineering mother. After a stay at a sanatorium to play tennis and get some sun (and get away from mom), she gets a makeover, takes a cruise and falls in love with married man Jerry (Paul Henreid). Even though we all know smoking is bad, the way Jerry lights two cigarettes and hands one to Charlotte is one of the most romantic moments in any movie anywhere. Insider tip: Any time you see someone smoking in a classic film, it basically means they are making love.
Quotable quote: “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars!”
About the Writer: Lara Scott is a popular radio host and on-air personality, a Los Angeles lifestyle expert, and a contributing writer to The Happy Weekly. Connect with her on Instagram.