When I was 13, I read Gone With the Wind and visited Atlanta, GA not long after in an attempt to find remnants of Margaret Mitchell’s Southern tale. I waited until I was finished with the book before I would watch the movie version. After which, I proudly reported that the Hollywood adaptation diverged from Mitchell’s version when Scarlett O’Hara had only one child, not three.
Nevertheless, it was my gateway film to a deeper appreciation for old movies. The detailed costumes, the spunky characters with a penchant for sarcasm, those amazingly Technicolor pink cheeks.
TCM is on Gone With The Wind for one of it’s 31 Days of Oscar series. I was pulled in on the third day with Rebel Without a Cause and have been gorging myself on old movies for the past few weeks now. They have a really good line up, 85% full of those movies I’ve always intended to see but never got around to doing so, including:
I’m absolutely in love with Ginger Rogers as Francey in Vivacious Lady. She’s tough, strong, smart, and feminine all at the same time. If only I could have the chance and the guts just once in my life to pull a line like:
Helen: I’m going to give you a piece of my mind…
Francey: Oh, I couldn’t take the last piece!
2. Auntie Mame
This was on my “To Watch” list for, frankly, 10 years now. Rosalind Russell is so enthusiastic and so hilariously makes fun of bourgeois attitudes with her zany parties and moveable seating (watch and you’ll see).
How on earth did I not know Gypsy was about Gypsy Rose Lee? Growing up, whenever we’d see a picture of or movie with Natalie Wood, my mother would declare, “She was just so pretty.” I’ve always had a soft spot for Ms. Natalia Zacharenko, and she’s so delicately mature as the young Gypsy Rose in this movie.
Shirley MacLaine is just fantastic, isn’t she? MacLaine and Ol’ Blue Eyes make an adorable pair in Paris in the late 1800s, breaking the law, one Can-Can at a time.
5. Viva Zapata!
I’m halfway through The Grapes of Wrath right now, and growing increasingly intrigued by John Steinbeck. I’ve loved Elia Kazan since I first saw East of Eden, and, of course, Marlon Brando is just Marlon Brando. It’s a pretty revolutionary film, especially for the time period, and adds to my ever developing appreciation for Steinbeck’s political views.
Bonus: Sadie Thompson
Not an Oscar winner, but I just watched Sadie Thompson the other day. I’m still consistently surprised when I watch silent films with these really progressive themes. A young woman, targeted by a Christian reformer, is then born again and subject to advances by the very man who “saved” her? Pretty heavy, and contemporary, stuff.
Photo of the original lobby card for Sadie Thompson from Wikimedia Commons.