If you enjoyed the glimpse behind-the-scenes of Hollywood, then Singing in the Rain is for you. It’s a movie about making movies, set in the early days of silent cinema when ‘talking pictures’ revolutionised the industry and actors had to, ya know, start talking. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, it is probably the ultimate movie musical, with tunes you’ll recognise even if you’ve never seen the film before. There’s romance, amazing dance numbers, brilliant comedy and some OTT ’20s fashion to gawp at even if singing (in the rain or otherwise) ain’t your thing. Switch on for feel-good vibes and old-Hollywood movie magic.
If you’ve already binge-watched most of Netflix’s new show Hollywood, then you’re probably obsessed with the exciting glamour of old-school Tinseltown. Want more? Here are 15 classic movies to fill that craving and provide some much-needed escapism during lockdown…
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
The film that launched a thousand black dresses; could Breakfast at Tiffany’s be any chicer? Yeah, no. Never actually seen it? What have you been doing with your life? Run to NowTv immediately and enjoy Audrey Hepburn’s most famous role, the immortal looks that have lasted from 1961 to Big Little Lies, and a sad and wonderful story.
Probably one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films – and regularly topping Best Movie lists, Vertigo is classic movie royalty. This old school thriller is full of suspense, plot twists and towering performances from the ‘Tom Hanks of the 1950s’ James Stewart, playing an acrophobic in love with tragic ice-queen beauty Kim Novak.
If you haven’t heard of Casablanca, you’ve probably been living on the moon. Whether you’ve seen it or not – so many of its references have infiltrated popular culture – the song, the famous lines and that famous last scene – that you may feel you have. But Casablanca is so worth a watch; so get yourself to Amazon Prime now and enjoy the old-school drama, very flattering 1940s lighting (seriously, where can I get me a permanent spotlight like that?) and sweeping, world-in-peril romance from two of Hollywood’s greatest stars: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Play it again, Sam…
North by Northwest (1959)
This is such a classic Hitchcock thriller, you’ve probably seen the iconic image of the plane chasing Cary Grant across a cornfield – it’s cemented in movie history. North by Northwest stars one of old Hollywood’s most famous leading men, Cary Grant (think cool suits and easy charm) playing one of his best roles. You’ve got everything you could ever need in this film: spies, mistaken identity, murder, romance, drunken car chases and some very suggestive flirting over fancy cocktails on a train ride. Where was that on our last Virgin train to Manchester, huh?
Some Like it Hot (1959)
This fabulous comedy, set in 1929, follows two jazz musicians, played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, forced to flee from the mob after they accidentally witness a murder. They disguise themselves as women and join an all female jazz band (led by Marilyn Monroe) as they head off on tour to Florida. Hilarity, obviously, ensues – particularly when Tony Curtis falls for Marilyn. This film is as charming as it is funny and is worth a watch for one of Marilyn’s most famous roles and probably the greatest last line of any movie ever made.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Dreaming of all the holidays you can’t go on? Let this movie transport you to the French riviera in the 1950s. Impossibly sunny, bright blue skies, sandy beaches and luxury hotels full of beautiful tanned people doing tanned and beautiful things. Oh, there’s a jewel thief to catch too, and Cary Grant (yes, him again) has to clear his name. But mostly, we’re in it for Grace Kelly’s wardrobe and the wanderlust. Enjoy.
Funny Face (1957)
Audrey Hepburn, ’50s fashion, Audrey Hepburn. Need we say more? Funny Face is a sweet romantic musical about fashion and the magazine industry in the 1950s. Set between Paris and New York, a shy, bookish girl (Hepburn) is recruited to become a top model and then falls for a roguish photographer (Fred Astaire). You may want to buy everything you see. This is The Devil Wears Prada in tap shoes.
It Happened One Night (1934)
It may have been made between the world wars, but It Happened One Night has a fresh, modern story that feels like it could have been filmed yesterday. Clark Gable plays a journalist who accidentally falls for a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) on the run from her father, while he’s blackmailing her for an exclusive story on her escape. It’s silly, romantic and genuinely funny – full of (super) old-school charm.
Rear Window (1954)
Feel stuck indoors in lockdown? So does James Stewart in Rear Window! His character, L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies, has a broken leg and is bored in the house, he’s in the house bored. That is, until he witnesses what he thinks is a murder from his window and he and his girlfriend, an impossibly stylish (yet again) Grace Kelly, set about trying to solve it. Fantastic lockdown watching, and genuinely suspenseful – just mind you don’t start imagining your neighbours are murdering people. Obvs.
Before there was the teenage witch, there was Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina (sorry Kiernan!). Audrey plays the young daughter of a rich family’s chauffeur, who falls in love with both the older (Humphrey Bogart) and younger (William Holden) brothers of the family. Talk about keeping it in the family… This film is impossibly chic, romantic and full of fantastic atmosphere (and fashion).
All About Eve (1950)
From Cady Heron and Regina George to Tai Frasier and Cher Horowitz, we all love a good frenemy movie, and it doesn’t get any better than All About Eve. Bette Davis plays Margo Channing, a famous, but fading, actress who hires Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a shy fan girl, to be her assistant. Little does she know that Eve is planning on stealing her career – and her relationship. It’s seriously sassy and dramatic, with some fantastic female characters – remaining the only film in Oscars history to receive four female acting nominations. Sit back and enjoy the show because, as Margo Channing would say: “it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
A stressed paleontologist (Cary Grant) a scatterbrain socialite (Katharine Hepburn) and a leopard? Yes, that’s the premise for this silly, witty romantic comedy from waaay back in 1938. Trust me, this is charming beyond belief and truly very, very funny. Perfect for any lockdown blues.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Just like Netflix’s Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard is a look behind the curtain at the murky, dark side of tinseltown. Gloria Swanson plays a fading silent-movie star who strikes up a relationship with a young, out-of-work screenwriter, played by William Holden. Things soon take a seriously sinister turn for the worse. Moody and brilliant, this is a true classic, and has that immortal line: “Alright Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup…”
High Society (1956)
It doesn’t get more cool, classic Hollywood than this; with a cast featuring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong. There’s jazz, great songs, drool-worthy fashion and a witty, funny plot about a Californian heiress on the eve of her second wedding, with an ex husband (Crosby) trying to win her back, and a new arrival (Sinatra) trying to flirt with her. Make a cocktail, sit back and watch movie history – all the while imagining how lockdown would be so much better if you could live in one of the Californian mansions on show. Sigh.