I’m an actor and also a TCM NYC Classic Film Tour Guide. It’s a great fit for me – passionate about both Film and NYC, I love how the two intertwine. I’ve been re-watching some of my favorites recently and thought I’d compile a list for your summer-classic-film-watching-pleasure!
In chronological order:
1. My Man Godfrey – 1936.
A classic screwball comedy. The real-life divorced couple of William Powell and Carol Lombard have great chemistry. I also love Mischa Auer as Carlo, who is always sighing in the corner and does a hysterical monkey impression!
2. Bringing Up Baby – 1938.
Another screwball comedy filled with snappy dialogue, Howard Hawks infamous medium two-shot and an independent, strong willed Katherine Hepburn battling Cary Grant. (For fun watch the 1978 Superman afterwards, Christopher Reeves based Clark Kent on Cary Grant in Bringing up Baby.)
3. The Shop Around the Corner – 1940.
Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. My favorite scene is Jimmy Stewart slowly reading his letter of reference after he gets fired – so sad! Inspired by the Hungarian play Parfumerie which also inspired the Judy Garland musical The Good Old Summertime, the Broadway show She Loves Me and You’ve got Mail. (Some have implied that Stewart’s unrequited love for Margaret Sullivan is what kept him a bachelor for so long.)
4. Life with Father – 1947.
Set in the 1880s, William Powell is fantastic as the curmudgeonly father. Parenting styles have changed a lot since then -“You’re too young to know what you like. You have no business not liking oatmeal.” It also stars Irene Dunne and a 15yr old Elizabeth Taylor.
5. The Naked City – 1948.
Attributed to bringing shooting back to NYC! Amazing footage, shot in 107 locations with a lot of hidden cameras. It is a fantastic artifact of post-war NYC. It inspired the docu-drama style – films like Kiss of Death and Call Northside 777 and won Oscars for cinematography and editing.
6. Some Like It Hot – 1959.
A charming and hysterically funny movie starring Marilyn Monroe, who gives one of her best performances. The first of Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder seven collaborations. AFI’s #1 Funniest American Movie of all time!
7. The Apartment – 1960.
Classic Jack Lemmon. A category-breaking blend of romance, comedy (straining his pasta with his tennis racquet,) drama (the suicide attempt,) and commentary on corporate America. By 1960 The Production Code was beginning to lose its grip and the numerous playboys having extra marital affairs was pretty scandalous for the time. I love the typical unsentimental Billy Wilder last line, “Shut up and Deal” too.
8. Wait Until Dark – 1967.
A scary movie – Alan Arkin is an awesome bad guy who torments Audrey Hepburn. You can visit the NYC location for the film on St Lukes Place.
9. Cactus Flower – 1969.
A fun and quirky film. In her first movie role Goldie Hawn wins the Oscar for best supporting actress. Ingrid Bergman, in a rare comic turn, also stars as the mousy secretary who finally blooms – and lets her hair down in an awesome 60s dance scene!
10. Marathon Man – 1976.
A fantastic thriller with amazing performances! The Classically trained Laurence Olivier and the Method based Dustin Hoffman sometimes had conflicts. After Hoffman said he had been up for two days to get into the part, Olivier responded “My dear boy you look awful, why don’t you try acting.” Also known as the film that put a lot of people off going to the dentist! The torture scene was originally meant to be a lot longer but it made the test audience nauseous so they shortened it. The first theatrically released film, to shoot with Steadicam too.
Happy Watching! What films inspire you? What are you favorite classic films? I’d love to hear. Let me know below.