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5 Classic Films For A Vintage Movie Night

The film that everyone seems to be taking about at the minute is ‘La La Land’. I know a few people who’ve said they just ‘didn’t get it’. But there seems to be far more people who fell in love with it. The film’s style owes a lot to the Hollywood musicals of the 50s. 

In a time before Netflix, in the dark days of dial up internet, I used to pass the time by watching old movies. I’d go to my grandma’s house on a Saturday and we’d spend the day working through her vast video collection. Over the years I’ve amassed a decent knowledge of all things 50’s cinema, so I’ve put together a list of my favourites to make the perfect vintage movie night. 

5. Blue Hawaii

I know I said 50’s but Blue Hawaii’s from 1961, so it’s close enough! This is probably my favourite Elvis movie; it’s basically an excuse to showcase the songs from Elvis’ album of the same name with a gorgeous Hawaiian beech in the background.

The plot follows Chadwick (Elvis) as he comes out of the army and reunites with his girlfriend Maile (Joan Blackman). His overbearing mother, played by Angela Lansbury, is hilarious throughout as she tries to convince her son to join the family’s fruit company. He rebels by becoming a tour guide and enjoys showing a group of young women around the island. 

4. Cover Girl

‘Cover girl’ comes from 1944 (okay so I’ve picked one too late and one too early, so it balances out!). This is a musical staring Rita Heyworth and Singing in the Rain star, Gene Kelly.

The story follows Rusty (Heyworth) as she goes from a small time nightclub performer to a huge star by winning a spot on the cover of a magazine.

If you like old-school musicals Cover Girl is brilliant, with it’s all out garish 1940’s, showgirl attire. My favourite song is definitely ‘Poor John’, in which Rusty mocks her soon-to-be mother-in-law. 

3. April In Paris

As a kid I must have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours watching ‘April in Paris’ which stars the amazingly talented Doris Day. It has got to be one of my favourites. Most of the time Doris Day’s love interests were usually huge stars like Rock Hudson or Cary Grant but not in this case. Here she ultimately falls for awkward politician, Winthrop, played by Ray Bolger who’s probably best known for playing the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

Winthrop is in charge of organising a prestigious festival in Paris but accidentally invites an unknown chorus girl (Day) to be the headline act.

One of my all-time favourite film scenes comes half way through the film when French waiter, Philippe, managers to get Day, Bolger, and all his colleagues totally drunk in a restaurant kitchen. Trust me, it’s brilliant! 

2. With A Song In My Heart

While this 1952 musical isn’t as funny as the others I’ve listed, it’s an absolutely gorgeous film. It’s a biopic of the actress, Jane Froman, played by Susan Hayward who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Starting at the beginning of Froman’s career, the film follows her through a rocky marriage to her agent, her European tour and a devastating plane crash. Yeah, this one may make you a bit emotional.  

1. Pilllow Talk

‘Pillow talk’ filmed in 1959, is one of the best films of the decade (probably!). Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Tony Randell are an absolutely hilarious trio on screen and this film is definitely them at their very best.

The plot is basically a farce. Day and Hudson have never met but are forced to share a telephone line. Hudson is constantly flirting over the phone with his girlfriends which means that Day can’t make any of her business calls. Through their mutual millionaire friend, Randell, Hudson decides to try and seduce her by pretending to be a naive tourist from Texas.  

So why not sit back and relax with food of your choice and watch one of these (or all of them) classic Hollywood musicals. 

Linguistics Student at Lancaster University
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