Everyone has seen It's a Wonderful Life, Gone With the Wind, and Casablanca, but there are so many great movies that came out before a lot of you were born (back before the world was in color), that it can be hard to know where to start. Thanks to Netflix and Turner Classic Movies, these flicks are easy to find, and a lot of them have been digitally remastered so they are nice to look at, too. My taste runs to witty dialogue and romance, as well as a little suspense, and the occasional song-and-dance flick. So next time you're in Blockbuster, trying to decide between Speed Racer and The Love Guru, head for the Classic section, and rent one of these, instead. What's old is new again.
Duck Soup (1933): My favorite of the Marx Brothers movies has fresh, light, comedy that still feels totally relevant and modern.
The Thin Man (1934): A mystery is solved by a high-living, sharp-witted couple with perfect chemistry (and a great dog named Asta).
It Happened One Night (1934): Charming, flirtatious banter between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Silly and romantic.
The Awful Truth (1937): A couple's divorce has surprisingly hilarious consequences. And the dog that plays Asta makes a reappearance! I absolutely love this one.
Bringing Up Baby (1938): Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant shine, while shooting barbs at one another and raising a leopard.
You Can't Take It With You (1938): A worst-case scenario of "meet the in-laws" when the family turns out to be totally screwy. Fun.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939): A naive country bumpkin is appointed to the Senate, and shakes things up.
The Philadelphia Story (1940): Another Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant charmer about a love triangle. Or square, I guess.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940): A cute story about a couple who are in love as pen-pals, but hate each other in real life. You might recognize the story from the remake, "You've Got Mail".
The Great Dictator (1940): One of Charlie Chaplin's very best: it's political, it's got sound, and most of all, it's really funny.
Palm Beach Story (1942): Another divorce-based comedy with a lot of great sets and costumes. And great dialogue.
Double Indemnity (1944): A romantic film noir that will actually surprise you.
Harvey (1950): Jimmy Stewart befriends a six-foot rabbit.
An American in Paris (1951): A great musical, with show-stopping song and dance numbers. Much better than High School Musical 3, I promise.
The African Queen (1952): Adventure, romance, Bogie... what more do you want?
Roman Holiday (1953): Audrey Hepburn is lovely as a princess on vacation in Rome. Romantic and sweet.
Rear Window (1954): The very best (in my opinion) of the Hitchcock films- suspenseful, romantic, and Grace Kelly's clothes will make you swoon.
Some Like It Hot (1959): Humorous drag comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.
West Side Story (1961): God, I love the singing and dancing in this film. Be prepared to sing along.
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963): A goofy group of people race to find stolen cash. Light escapism at its best.
Take the Money and Run (1969): A less-seen Woody Allen film- it's a mockumentary about an incompetent thief.
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