My Favorite Movies

The best list ever of the best movies ever from

You all know by now how much I love old movies; I’ve been recommending them in my books and calendars forever.  I know you love them too, so I thought I’d give you a list of my very favorite movies — wonderful stories guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, swoon, dream, yearn, or think.

Please forgive me if I’ve left your favorite out.  There’s no rhyme nor reason to this list; I didn’t include lots of really good movies, like Sound of Music for example, or An American in Paris, Mildred Pierce, Casablanca, Funny Face, or even My Fair Lady . . . and I’m sure there are plenty I’ve simply forgotten.  But this is still a really good start.  These are films I never tire of. 

Many of the movies I love best were made before I was born, and I saw almost all of them on the TV.  Wonderful, romantic, beautiful, magical, touching, funny and charming movies which, because they’re in black and white, lots of people have just never seen. They don’t know what they’ve been missing!  That’s why I’m doing this . . . a cozy afternoon on a freezing day, with a cup of hot chocolate and one of these movies is my idea of heaven.  They are soul soothers, inspiration-givers, joy spreaders.

I came by my love for these movies naturally, my mom started me very young.  She’s the same age as Shirley Temple; she fell in love with Shirley when she was a little girl.  By the time I was old enough to be propped in a chair, she made sure the Good Ship Lollypop was tap dancing its way into my heart.  She and I know the words to all of Shirley’s songs; we sang them while we did dishes.  I still love Shirley.  If there was ever anything cuter or more adorable than Shirley Temple in Baby Take a Bow, I don’t know what it is.  All my life, I could be having a bad day, turn on Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, hear Shirley sing “Come and Get Your Happiness,” see the darling curtains at Aunt Sarah’s house and the roses on Tony’s Porch, and cheer right up.

From Shirley Temple, it was natural for me to move up to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies; they were made about the same time.  I think they’re sort of the grownup version of Shirley Temple, sweet, innocent and charming; the fabulous genius-inspired dances they did (like this one in Swing Time); the creative visuals their early movies presented in the height of 1930′s fantasy fashion, elegant clothes, beautiful furniture and architecture, not to mention the music!  It was magic!  A world of inspiration; a feast for the senses!

By the time I was old enough to live out on my own, I was half-formed about what life was going to be like, and all of it, for better or for worse, was based on books like Pollyanna and Little Women and these wonderful old films, most of which I saw on the Million Dollar Movie on television.

I moved from my parents house into an apartment with my best friend Janet.  Her mom loved old movies too.  I’ll never forget us, lying on the floor, watching TV at two in the morning; A Farewell to Arms had just ended with Jennifer Jones dying, we were both sobbing hysterically. I had to get up and go into the other room.  Oh we loved it!  Janet called me Sue-Sue Applegate after the Ginger Rogers character in The Major and the Minor. (We called her Natasha after Boris’ wife.) We would get in her huge old car and go to the drive-in movies, wearing our jammies with big coats over them so we could go to the snack bar; we set our hair in big rollers while watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in French with English subtitles, and sobbed all the way home.  We really loved to cry at movies!  Splendor in the Grass almost killed us. (You can tell by these photos, we were already legends in our own minds!)

Old movies shaped my dreams:  they showed me what I wanted my house to look like, how I wanted to dress, what kind of a person I wanted to be; those shipboard romances in An Affair to Remember, The Lady Eve, Sabrina, and Shall We Dance; the rose-covered cottages in Father of the Bride and Love Letters; houses with darling curtains and wallpaper like in Dear Ruth; the train rides in The Palm Beach Story, Some Like it Hot, North by Northwest, and Brief Encounter.  I dreamed of fields of bluebells as high as my knee, like the ones I saw in Howard’s End, and one day I went to England to see them and they were just as wonderful as I knew they’d be. 

You could go around the world, even from a one-bedroom apartment, with The Quiet Man, Roman Holiday, Mrs. Miniver, Ninotchka (prettiest dress in the movies is in Ninotchka), Out of Africa, Two for the Road, and A Room with a View.

I planted flowering trees because of the tree-lined road Anne Shirley (of Green Gable fame) drove through, the petals flying, in the buckboard with Matthew just after she arrived on the train.  Remember?

Miracle on 34th Street made me decide to never grow all the way up.  I could see the fairy-tale life was the life for me.  I knew we lived in a beautiful world full of magic and charm, I saw it in movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, Margie, and The Secret Garden.

When 9/11 happened I was glued to the TV like everyone else, but after a while, the intensity was too much, the grief, sorrow, anger, pain was unbearable; the real world was just too real.  I couldn’t sleep, thinking about man’s inhumanity to man; the TV news was unrelenting.  I felt like it wasn’t healthy to hear it anymore. I finally turned it off, and began feeding my soul with childhood favorites . . . at first it was all Shirley Temple movies. Then, watching Cary Grant, cutie-pie Walter Pigeon, gorgeous Gregory Peck, Jeanne Crain, Barbara Stanwyck, or Myrna Loy — the laughter, beauty, whimsy, and charm made my troubles float away.  It took a few weeks for me to find my equilibrium and remember that the overwhelming majority of people in this world are good; those movies really helped.  One big bad apple had upset the balance.

If you’re starting from scratch, trying to learn more about old movies, it’s hard to know where to start. So here is my list of favorites, many times tried and forever true.  I added links to some of the trailers for these movies — I didn’t put trailers on all of them, just want you to know that the ones without the links are just as good as the ones that have them!  You can get these movies sent to your house from Netflix or buy them at Amazon. You can find them at your public library!  You can look them up on Google to learn more about them; some of them are even free and run in full length on Youtube.  If you decide to go the Netflix route you can put this whole list in your Netflix Queue and they will send them to you one at a time, you’ll never even have to think about it!  So here we go!  Enjoy!  Here’s the list:

This is a list of newer movies that I love as much as the old . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

180 Responses to My Favorite Movies

  1. Ginger says:

    Just saw one you might like. It’s an old Cary Grant called Room for One More. It was delightful.

  2. Ginger Meador says:

    I thought my husband and I were the only ones who loved “Hobson’s Choice.”
    We watch it over and over, whenever we need a ‘feel good movie.’

  3. Kywa says:

    The other night we rented Harvey on my husband’s birthday gift (Amazon Fire). It’s the original black and white, and my 10 year old who was not feeling good was all doze-y at the beginning. Once they announced Harvey is a Pookah, she was all eyes and ears glued to the t.v. (She knows about Pookah’s, have read the Guardian’s series of books by William Joyce. E. Aster Bunnymund is a Pookah). It thrilled me to see her so enthralled with this oldie. It’s such a great feel good movie.

    • sbranch says:

      Such a great thing to introduce a child to — there’s so much history in old movies, in such a wonderfully enjoyable way to learn about a way of life that is pretty much gone for them. It is possible to make lives like that inside your own house, but you have to know about them first.

  4. Jade Michele says:

    Have you seen From Time to Time ? It’s on Netflix right now. It’s a lovely movie,based on a novel by Lucy M Boston, I think you will like it! :)
    Love your book A Fine Romance,it’s one of my all time favorites!

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