Classics for Comfort
This week, the Classic Movie Blog Association is sponsoring the “Classics for Comfort” blogathon. Members of the CMBA are compiling lists of five classic movies that soothe and comfort us during this weird, scary time. You can find my five films below and the other entries here–enjoy!
1. Anything with Esther!
If you follow this blog, you know I love Esther Williams! There is something so incredibly soothing about her bright, funny, gorgeous films. Perhaps it’s their sometimes tenuous grasp on reality (I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been serenaded as I swam in perfectly aqua water wearing an elaborate headdress that matched my swimsuit), or their stunning Technicolor glory, spectacular water ballets, or reliably and usually chlorine-drenched happy endings where love conquers all.
These films are also deeply of their time, and right now it’s awfully pleasant to leave the present behind once in a while. My top picks for most comforting Esther movies are Thrill of a Romance (1945), On an Island With You (1948), Neptune’s Daughter (1949), Easy to Love (1953), and Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) (purely for the extravagant water ballets!) Click on any title to read my full-length review. Bonus, her movies are packed with amazing MGM stars and contract players, so you’ll get to enjoy Ricardo Montalban, Lucille Ball, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse, Betty Garrett, Red Skelton, and more!
2. The Thin Man (1934)
Witty, glamorous, sexy and fun, The Thin Man and its five sequels (!) are a delight. Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are one of the greatest screen couples of all time, and their cocktail-soaked world and smart but goofy rapport are terribly inviting. The murders, blackmail, and unsavory characters that follow this suave duo around just add some spice to their giddy, sparkling world. If you’ve never watched The Thin Man, mix yourself a drink and prepare to be charmed, tickled, and comforted!
3. To Catch a Thief (1955)
Here is something enchanting starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant set amongst the splendor of the Riviera. It’s a lighter Hitchcock mystery packed with beautiful people, places, and costumes. As a cat burglar nimbly makes his way across rooftops and into the diamond-stuffed safes of wealthy tourists, former jewel thief Grant tries to clear his name while attempting not to fall for bold American oil heiress Kelly. If you’re looking for a comforting escape with plenty of eye candy (Kelly’s Edith Head-designed costumes alone are worth it!), this is it!
4. Easy Living (1937)
I’ve been thinking about the Great Depression recently…and this movie popped into my head as an example of excellent screwball set against a grim backdrop. It’s no wonder screwball comedy flourished during the 1930s; then as now, stressed and scared audiences wanted to take a break from crisis and maybe even get some laughs. Easy Living is a lesser known film but thoroughly enjoyable with some hilarious set pieces (the Automat riot and bathtub nonsense are personal favorites). Jean Arthur and Ray Milland are terrific together, and the goofy misunderstandings that start with a falling fur coat will take your mind off more serious matters.
5. The More the Merrier (1943)
Finally, my very favorite comforting classic! Charles Coburn, Joel McCrea, and Jean Arthur become unlikely roommates in Washington, D.C. during the WWII housing shortage. Coburn decides his younger pals would make a perfect couple, so he turns his extraordinary energies to pushing them together even though she is engaged to someone else. (For more on the housing shortage and context for the scandalous living situation at the center of the movie, check out my History Through Hollywood on the topic.)
This film is so funny, so charming, and just so wonderful all around. It’s perfectly cast, beautifully (under)acted, and a joy to watch. And wait until you see the stoop scene–wowsa!
There you have it! I hope some of these movies bring a little comfort. We could all use some right now! For more on these films, click on the title links to read my full reviews. You can buy or rent the movies on Amazon or my MovieZyng site, or visit TCM to check when they’re next airing. And be sure to peruse the other CMBA members’ picks of comforting classics! As always, thanks for reading!