So, this year was an extremely productive year for me when it came to watching films. I watched over 180 new to me classic films. Wait, what? That’s right almost 200 films. I honestly don’t even know how that is possible, especially considering I also read over 120 books while working as well. That number of course doesn’t include the new releases, documentaries, television series, Hallmark movies etc. which I didn’t bother to keep track of.
This year’s classic film binge included me filling in my filmography gaps for stars like Rita Hayworth, William Holden, Robert Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, George Brent, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando and others. I watched my first Esther Williams films and finally found one I liked. And I finally discovered why Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are considered a great pairing.
Some of the more well-known classics I finally made time for were On the Waterfront, The Great Escape, A Streetcar Named Desire, Sergeant York, Make Way for Tomorrow, Mildred Pierce, Marty, and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. I had put off watching On the Waterfront and Streetcar because I didn’t think myself a fan of Brando. Well, I loved the first, but was right in thinking I wouldn’t enjoy the second despite amazing performances. I really enjoyed the others, especially The Great Escape and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. I don’t know why it took me so long to watch them.
I also had a really good year in my choice of silent films and shorts. Among those I enjoyed are Show People, Where Are My Children? The Conquering Power, Sunrise, It, The Show, La Boheme, and Wildcat. Sunrise was stunning and I was reminded again how underrated Janet Gaynor is. The powerful storytelling in Where are My Children? and The Conquering Power will remain with me a long time.
Along with the films I’ve already mentioned, some of my favorite classic film discoveries this past year are:
- Nurse on Wheels -Juliet Mills stars in this charming, funny comedy. It was hands down my favorite film experience of the year.
- The Go-Getter – If you’ve ever wondered if George Brent could act, then this film should change your mind.
- Dear Ruth – I found this under rated comedy starring William Holden absolutely delightful.
- Greyfriar’s Bobby – Disney’s sweet little story about a dog loyal to its’ dead master had me in tears and smiles.
- The Young Lions – Despite its’ faults and long run time, I haven’t been able to quit thinking about this WWII film starring Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin
- Cowboy – I’m not even a fan of Westerns but something about this one with Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon held my attention. Is there anything Lemmon can’t do?
- His Kind of Woman – I was so surprised by how entertaining I found this strange film. Vincent Price who has never been a favorite of mine totally stole the show!
FOREIGN FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES
I didn’t watch that many documentaries at all, but what I did see I really enjoyed. The one about Mr. Rogers, I saw in the theater and it both inspired me and made me cry. I was especially intrigued by the documentaries on Pickford and Lamarr. I had no idea what a pivotal role Pickford played in the early years of Hollywood. And I had to wonder if Lamarr would have been happier tinkering away on her inventions instead of ever becoming an actress.
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
- Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies
- Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn
- Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
- Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano
I didn’t watch quite as many foreign films this year as last. I really enjoyed the Russian series Sophia which is based on the life of Ivan the Great as well as The Red Queen based on the life of Russia’s first supermodel. I fell hard for the Spanish series Morocco: Love in Times of War. I also enjoyed catching up with the second seasons of Ekaterina and Il Paradiso del Signore. I thought the Russian fantasy film I Am Dragon entertaining. And I found Netflix French series The Hookup Plan addicting! The Mexican rom-com A la Mala helped me pass some time.
I added in classic foreign films for the first time. To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed the classic foreign films as much as I do the more current foreign offerings. As I already mentioned, I watched several of Loren and Mastroianni’s films together, as well as some famous French classics. Of these Purple Noon was my favorite because it introduced me to Alain Delon.
I had very good intentions of watching more films in the theater this year and started out strong. But unfortunately I petered out half way through the year.
- The Greatest Showman -loved this one so much I paid to see it three times in the theater AND bought the soundtrack. Everything a musical should be.
- 12 Strong -kept me on the edge of my seat and made me even more thankful for those who risk their lives in our military.
- The 15:17 to Paris -interesting and inspiring but not as gripping as I expected.
- Forever My Girl -such a sweet little romance.
- Black Panther – very entertaining, but slightly over-hyped in my opinion.
- I Can Only Imagine – sad, touching and made me bawl my eyes out.
- Chappaquiddick – Made me mad at how easy it is for people of influence and power to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
- Avengers :Infinity War – everything I waited for and broke my heart with its’ open ending.
- Ocean’s 8 – loved the actresses and the costumes.
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – I enjoyed this long awaited sequel although not quite as much as the first.
- The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society – Adored it, watched it multiple times. Bravo Netflix!
- Christopher Robin – I grew up with Winnie the Pooh, so I loved the nostalgia of this story.
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout -as long as Tom Cruise keeps making them I will watch the Mission Impossible films. Although I did miss the presence of Jeremy Renner.
- Crazy Rich Asians – we need more rom-coms and this film proves it!
- A Star is Born – surprised me by being my favorite itineration of all the films telling this story. It’s rare that I prefer a remake over the classic original.
- Second Act – I expected another J Lo rom-com, but got something even better. We need more films like this please.
I had the honor of participating in nineteen blogathons this year. I always enjoy these. First because the give me special motivation to watch a film and to write to a deadline. Also, I really enjoy reading the entries from other film fans. Classic film lovers are a small community but a loyal one that I am thankful for.
- 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon – Classic Film Stars Who Never Won an Oscar
- Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon – National Velvet
- Doris Day Blogathon – The Glass Bottom Boat
- Bette Davis Blogathon – Winter Meeting
- William Holden Blogathon – Dear Ruth
- Dynamic Duos Blogathon – Robert Montgomery & Norma Shearer
- Reel Infatuation Blogathon – Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail
- Winter in July Blogathon – New In Town
- Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Blogathon – Romance in Manhattan
- Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon – Arsene Lupin
- Ingrid Bergman Blogathon– Ingrid Bergman: Remembered
- Fred MacMurray Blogathon – The Happiest Millionaire
- Lauren Bacall Blogathon – How to Marry a Millionaire
- Deborah Kerr Blogathon – Night of the Iguana
- Rita Hayworth Blogathon – Affair in Trinidad
- They Remade What? Blogathon – The Male Animal & She’s Working Her Way Through College
- Grace Kelly Blogathon – Living with Grace by Grace Mallory
- Rock Hudson Blogathon – Tarnished Angels
- The Unexpected Blogathon – Nurse on Wheels
What were some of your favorite films this year?