Friday, May 15, 2009

J's Classic Movies

from Jacqueline

A couple of weeks ago I received an Amazon alert, bringing to my attention the fact that the 1992 film Enchanted April was about to be available on DVD for the first time. I placed my order with barely a second thought. It’s one of my favorite movies, so was worth plunking down the money for it. I know I’ll watch it again and again, to immerse myself in a magical April in Italy.

In this day of downloadable movies and Netflix, I thought about other movies I’d acquired or wanted to acquire because they were among “Jackie’s Classic Movies.” The films I knew I’d want to see time and again, and usually they are pretty old films. Here’s my list – though I know as soon as someone else mentions their favorite films, I’ll probably jump in with, “Me too!” Surprisingly, quite a few of them are classic war films, and there’s usually one or two scenes that have pulled me in and made the whole movie memorable. The list is in no particular order (and I didn’t mean it to be this long, it just grew as I was writing):

Enchanted April: Truly, truly enchanting film about four women who escape 1920’s post WW1 London, for a month in an Italian castle. Magical, as I said.

The Dam Busters: With Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave – the heart stopping story of the RAF squadron tasked with bringing down Germany’s Ruhr dam in WW2. Final scenes when “boffin” (an old name for the government’s inventors) Sir Barnes-Wallis (Redgrave) is informed of the success of the operation, and the loss of life it entailed sum up a futility of war. There’s a remake on the way – heaven help us.

The Magnificent Seven:. The theme music pulled me in when I was a kid, along with Yul Brynner leading the Seven into town. Classic western

The Secret of Roan Inish: The legend of the Sielka, so beautifully told. Amazing scene when the sielka sheds her seal-skin to reveal a woman was beautifully filmed.

Whistle Down The Wind: Hayley Mills and Alan Bates. Children believe runaway murderer is Jesus. Great scene when Mills sees Bates in the distance being frisked by the police, and as he holds up his hands, the silhouette is that of Christ on the cross. Took your breath away. From a novel by Mary Hayley Bell – Mills’ mother.

The Guns of Navarone: Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn lead the story of a mish-mash team – including two women – who are tasked with taking out a huge enemy gun emplacement in German-occupied Norway. Final scene of a flotilla of navy ships “whooping” their success – which comes at a cost – always makes me tear up.

The Carry On Movies: Very British, bawdy, irreverent, comical, slapstick, all rounded off with a fast wit. Once seen, never forgotten, even though they are a bit dated now.

Gosford Park: Classic murder-mystery – gorgeous sets and equally gorgeous costumes, with a cast to die for.

Gallipoli: Peter Weir’s haunting story of the battle of Gallipoli which cost the lives of countless Australian, New Zealander (ANZAC) and British soldiers in the Great War. Told through the lives of two Australian “runners” (boys and men who were fast runners were used to run messages back and forth in both wars – my dad, age 12, was a “runner” in London during the Blitz in WW2). I couldn’t move from my seat in the movie theater when the film came to an end, then I looked around and virtually everyone was still seated, and weeping, even though the credits had run and there was just a blank screen.

National Velvet: Every horse-loving girl’s dream – young Elizabeth Taylor and her horse Pie storm the Grand National. The aftermath of watching the movie (that droning plea for an equine friend) eventually led my mother to say, “No, for the last time, you can’t have a horse. Do you think money grows on trees? And who’s going to feed the thing?”

Ice Cold In Alex: WW2 drama with British Army unit (John Mills in charge) making its way across the desert. A German spy, masquerading as South African ally (Anthony Quayle) leads them out of trouble. They talk about the ice cold beer they’ll enjoy once they reach Alexandria. In the final scene and having reached Alex, they are sitting at the bar with their ice cold beers in those tall fluted European lager glasses. John Mills runs his finger down the outside of the glass, and they all linger just looking at that beer ... and in come the squad searching for a German spy. I think of that scene on very hot days when I am a long way from a cold beer.

Brief Encounter (With Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson): 1946 story of a love that can never be.

Babette’s Feast : Set in 19th century Denmark. Babette, the cook to two God-fearing women serves up inventive dishes. She is left a legacy which she decides to spend on preparing a feast for the women and their guests. Turns out she isn’t the unassuming cook, but a celebrated French chef de cuisine. From a book by Isak Dinesen.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s: I so wanted to be Audrey Hepburn after watching this movie. In fact, after I watched The Nun’s Story (in which she starred with Peter Finch) when I was about nine years old, my mother told me to, “Get that sheet off your head before I take it off for you!” Years later, on my first visit to Manhattan (I was about 21), I went straight to Tiffany’s first thing in the morning, wearing a little black dress, and stood there with my coffee and donut as they put the diamonds back in the window for the day’s business. My breakfast at Tiffany’s.

There are many other films that I have loved (those Bogart and Bacall movies) or I couldn’t stop thinking about, but could never watch again (Breaking The Waves comes to mind – I was raw inside for days after watching that film), but this post is too long already.

Then of course there are those classics in the making, from Our Jim Born!

OK, so what are the all-time favorite movies that you would pay money to have on DVD or whatever format you prefer, so that you could watch them again ... and again.


  1. I've only seen one of those films, Our J--Enchanted April. I have a friend who has an Enchanted April Tea Party every Spring during which much sherry is consumed around the TV screen.

    Sometime ago, I clipped an article from the newspaper with the Writer's Guild selection of top 10 movie greats. They are:

    1. Casablanca
    2. The Godfather
    3. Chinatown
    4. Citizen Kane
    5. All About Eve
    6. Annie Hall
    7. Sunset Boulevard
    8. Network
    9. Some Like it Hot
    10. The Godfather II

  2. Surely they could have come up with one or two from the last decade or so.

  3. my favorite of all time is a small budget movie - the first in a trilogy - called The Gods must be crazy. it's about a coke bottle that comes falling out of the sky to a small african tribe living in the middle of nowhere. they had never seen anything made of glas before and eventually they decide to throw it off the edge of the world. it's a wonderful, fun-packed, clever, innocent film that i can only recomment to anyone who likes a good, no, a very good laugh.

    other than that, anything with meryl streep in it, or clint eastwood.


  4. To add to the already very entertaining list:

    The original Bedazzled with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
    The Lavender Hills Mob with Alex Guiness.
    King of Hearts with Alan Bates and Genevieve Bujold.
    The Bear.
    The Groove Tube.
    My Dinner with Andre with Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory.


    and The Gods must be crazy was a very funny and thought provoking film; I love that one too, Sybille

  5. from Jacqueline

    Sybille, I LOVED The Gods Must Be Crazy - apparently it made temporary stars of the people of the tribe. And Jon, your list made me want to add to mine immediately, especially with The King of Hearts and My Dinner With Andre.

    Patty, so not one of my favorites made it to the list, eh? But I do like the idea of an Enchanted April party - maybe I'll do that for my next birthday ... in Italy, perhaps!

  6. yes it did, jackie. but when it came to paying them they didn't know what to do with the money because they had never seen any before. so instead they were given cattle of some sort. but they didn't quite know how to handle that either, so they just let it run off.

  7. To Kill a Mockingbird
    King of Comedy
    The Color Purple
    A Fish Called Wanda
    Imitation of Life

    SO many......

  8. OH!!!! I just remembered one of my favorite movies--Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The dancing was particularly bueno. Here are a few recent best pic Oscars. Any favorites among them?

    2009 Slumdog Millionaire
    2008 No Country for Old Men
    2007 The Departed
    2006 Crash
    2005 Million Dollar Baby
    2004 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    2003 Chicago

  9. James O. Born5/15/2009 6:17 PM

    Thanks for the mention.

    I'm a movie buff.

    There have been some great movies listed

    The Longest Day
    Lawrence of Arabia
    The Searchers

    Just off the top of my head.


  10. from Jacqueline

    I knew this would happen - with all these lists, my list just grew by at least half a dozen - and how could I have missed Lawrence of Arabia? I could add The Graduate and The Deer Hunter, Out of Africa and The African Queen, to say nothing of Islands in the Stream.
    Thanks, all, for your lists. This could keep me entertained for a long, long time. To Catch A Thief is one of my favorite Cary Grant films, and of course, I always wanted to be Grace Kelly too ....

    Patty - Slumdog Millionaire will be a keeper, and we have The Lord of the Rings (the trilogy) on DVD, which has now been watched a couple of times since we saw it in theatres. And Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - they don't make 'em like that anymore!

  11. My Brilliant Career is one I could watch again and again. (1979) I do have a thing for Aussie films though.

  12. Now I know why I love Jackie's books -- we have a lot of the same favorite movies, I seldom find other women who like war movies! I'd also second the motion for the original Bedazzled, The Gods Must Be Crazy, The Longest Day and The Lavender Hill Mob. I liked No Country for Old Men a lot, somewhat underwhelmed with Slumdog Millionaire. Favorite movie others may not know: Powwow Highway. Favorite classic: The African Queen.

  13. from Jacqueline

    (couldn't get my password right this morning, so I'm anonymous!)

    Auntie Knickers, I was going to add The Train, with Burt Lancaster, but worried that my list had too many war movies. The Lavender Hill Mob is due for a re-watching. Oh, and one of my old faves - The Mudlark, with Irene Dunn as Queen Victoria!

  14. from Jacqueline

    (couldn't get my password right this morning, so I'm anonymous!)

    Auntie Knickers, I was going to add The Train, with Burt Lancaster, but worried that my list had too many war movies. The Lavender Hill Mob is due for a re-watching. Oh, and one of my old faves - The Mudlark, with Irene Dunn as Queen Victoria!

  15. Late to the party, but this is one of my favorite games ;-)

    This morning, my favorite movies are (the list will probably be different tomorrow, or even later today):

    1. Judgment at Nuremberg
    2. Some Like It Hot
    3. Network
    4. Galaxy Quest
    5. A Midsummer Night's Dream (the 1935 version, with James Cagney as Bottom, and Mickey Rooney as Puck)
    6. Any Fred and Ginger movie
    7. Lord of the Rings trilogy
    8. Tootsie
    9. The Devil Wears Prada
    10. The Big Chill

  16. J , do try and check out the ORIGINAL's the classic idea of selling your sole to the's funny yet philosophical at the same time...and peter cook and dudley moore have such great chemistry.

  17. "slip"....I meant, soul, of course......guess I should stop watching The F Word..and pay attention to what I'm writing.

  18. from Jacqueline

    (Still anonymous, but you know it's me)

    Great list, Rae - and how could I have forgotten at least five of yours???

    Anything "Pete 'n' Dud is fine with me, so I will check out Bedazzled.

    And I love the idea of selling your sole to the devil - what kind of heel would do that?