I love movies, and I especially love discovering old movies that I didn’t know existed—and finding out they are fabulous! I have some old favorites that I’m looking forward to watching this year, especially when the cold weather sets in. Most of these are romantic comedies, and probably not for everyone’s taste, but hopefully someone will watch one of these and discover a new favorite.
1. Desk Set – This is a romantic, screwball-type comedy (thought it was made in 1957) starring Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Joan Blondell. Hepburn plays the spunky head of a TV network’s research department who feels both threatened and charmed by the new engineer assigned to the office. The characters are charming and the banter is witty. It’s even timely in an old-school way, because Hepburn’s character feels her job is threatened by the new “super-computer” that is brought in to perform the jobs of many in much less time. Beaver Cleaver’s teacher, Miss Landers, even has a supporting role in the film. And this movie made me want to be a TV network researcher when I grew up.
2. Pillow Talk – Another screwball-comedy romance, this one starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall as acquaintances who wind up in a fiesty love triangle full of misunderstandings. Doris Day and Rock Hudson live in the same apartment building, and they happen to share a party line. When Day hears Hudson carrying on with a number of women on the line, spouting sweet nothings & refusing to get off of the phone, she sees red. When she starts to fall for a sweet-talking cowboy who treats her like a queen, she doesn’t realize he and the boar on the party line are one and the same. Tony Randall complicates matters as a client who is dating Day’s character – and he just happens to be close friends with Hudson’s as well.
3. Barefoot in the Park – This is one of my all-time favorite films. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford have great chemistry, and both are surprisingly good at these comic roles. As Corrie and Paul Bratter, they play a newlywed couple moving into their first apartment. She’s a free-spirit, and he’s a stuffed-shirt lawyer, but they are crazy about each other and manage to make their marriage work no matter what the circumstances. This is arguably the best-adapted Neil Simon play to film, and it’s filled with memorable dialogue. Sadly, I can quote most all of it while watching.
4. Cactus Flower – Goldie Hawn is a sweet, young free spirit who is in love with an older, swinging dentist, played by Walter Matthau. To avoid commitment, the dentist tells Hawn that he’s married with children, when in reality, he’s very much single. When he decides to commit to Hawn and tells her that he’s leaving his wife, she insists on meeting the wife to explain and apologize for the situation. He ends up enlisting his hard-working secretary (Ingrid Bergman) to play the role of his wife, unaware that she is very much (and very quietly) in love with him, too.
5. Tom, Dick, and Harry – Ginger Rogers stars as a telephone operator looking for love, who ends up falling for three very different men: a rich man; a boring, good guy; and a poor nonconformist. She dreams of what it would be like to be married to all three, all while stringing them along until she can make the decision about which one she truly loves. Rogers’ character is a little annoying, but still very likeable, and Burgess Meredith is great as the witty, cynical, but oh-so-in-love nonconformist.
6. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek – A Preston Sturges classic. Trudy Kockenlocker is a small-town girl who feels it’s her patriotic duty to send the troops off to WWII in style. She attends a party, and wakes up confused after getting a big bump on the head. She knows, though, that she got married to one of the troops that night, and ended up pregnant – trouble is, she can’t even remember the soldier’s name. She decides to try to trick her naive, steady boyfriend Norval into marrying her, and that’s when everything goes south. The writing is spectacular in the film, and it’s a great satire for its time. Plus, where else will you find the character name of Ignatz Ratzywatzky?
7. Moon Over Miami – Another of my all-time favorites. I love Betty Grable, and this one is dreamy. Yes, it’s a musical, but it’s just so charming and innocent, and it features a young Don Ameche who is also…very dreamy. Kay and Barbara are sisters who are carhops at a drive-in restaurant. They dream up a plot to take some inheritance money, go to Florida, and pretend to be rich so they can meet a rich husband (or two). Kay soon finds herself in love with two men who are very, very different. Not only does she have to choose who she really loves, but she also has to eventually come clean about her predicament of being poor.
8. Penny Serenade – A real tear-jerker with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Julie is preparing to leave her husband Roger, and while she is preparing to do so, she listens to a series of recordings, each of which reminds her of various stages of her life with her husband: they day they first met, their courtship, their desire for a child. Grant is fabulous and very funny as a bumbling father, and he has great chemistry with Dunne.