Tuesday, May 19, 2020

CMBA Spring Blogathon: Classics for Comfort

The Classic Movie Blog Association is holding its Spring Blogathon this week, and the theme is Classics for Comfort, which we could all use right now! CMBA members are posting their "Top 5" comforting classics, which means we'll probably be picking a lot of comedies and musicals, but I'm excited to see what everyone else picks. As for me, I have definitely been going back to my comfort zone for movies since the pandemic sent us all into crisis mode back in March. I don't want to watch anything that makes me more anxious than I already feel, but my comfort zone encompasses both classic musicals and comedies, classic Disney films, and fair bit of science fiction (especially Star Trek - I have watched SO MUCH Star Trek lately because it always gives me hope for humanity's future). In keeping with the CMBA theme, here are my top five go-to classic movies for trying times, presented in chronological order because I really don't want to try to rank these favorites!


I absolutely adore everything about this wacky screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. I've seen it many, many times, and it still makes me laugh, even though I can recite almost all of the dialogue from memory. I love life-affirming, joyful comedy, which means the screwball genre is far and away my favorite, but this one holds a special place in my heart for being my childhood introduction to Katharine Hepburn. Hilarious physical comedy and outstanding supporting players keep the laughs coming from beginning to end. I especially love to show this one to kids because the leopards and the dog are chaos agents that really young viewers can appreciate, even if they don't grasp the romantic themes.


Errol Flynn's swashbuckling classic is another great choice for kids, but it holds plenty of charm for adults, too. The gorgeous Technicolor cinematography carries me away to Sherwood Forest, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score is absolutely perfect. I love its stars and its supporting cast, especially the delightful chemistry between Flynn and Alan Hale and the hilarious character comedy of Una O'Connor and Eugene Pallette, but Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone are also brilliant as the bad guys. Although many other Robin Hood films have been made, this one is the cornucopia of delights that I love best, and if you haven't shown it to your kids you should put that one your to-do list right now.


I'm sure this iconic musical will turn up on a lot of the CMBA bloggers' lists, but I have to include it here for the sheer joy it always fills me with when I watch it. My kid was a huge Gene Kelly fan when she was little, and this was her favorite movie, so much so that she sometimes ran around the house impersonating Lina Lamont. Debbie Reynolds' energy and pep are irresistible, and you just have to grin watching Kelly and Donald O'Connor dance. I'm a big fan of the colorful, upbeat musicals of the 40s and 50s in general, but this one brings the perfect cast together in such a blitz of wonderful numbers and hilarious comedy that it definitely deserves its place in movie fans' hearts. Once again, this is a great classic movie to show kids; just be prepared for the Lina Lamont impressions and tap dancing likely to ensue!


I'm not much of a Disney princess fan, although I love the gorgeous animation of Snow White (1937) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). I'm much more enamored of Disney's classic animal tales, and Lady and the Tramp is the one I especially love to go back to for its sweet, soulful depiction of a dog's life. The charming setting, the lovely animation, and the wonderful voice performances all delight me with each new viewing. I find most of Disney's classic animal movies comforting because I loved them as a kid and then loved watching them with my kid, but this one remains a favorite with both of us, and we almost always watch it when one of us is sick and needs something familiar and cheerful to watch while convalescing on the couch.


I realize I'm skirting the definition of "classic" for some people, but the original Star Wars trilogy holds a deep and special place in my heart, and I will almost always go back and watch A New Hope again when I need a serious morale boost. Just a few bars of John Williams' powerful score can send me into a reverie of memories and feelings about a galaxy far, far away. The movie itself is full of hope and courage and self-sacrifice, but it also connects me with my younger self, the lonely, hopeful farm kid I used to be, who also dreamed of escape and a different life. I return to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo as old friends, familiar if frozen in time on the screen, and the sorrows of the time that has passed (how we miss you, Carrie Fisher) make the experience sweeter still.

 I guess from this list you could probably deduce that I take a lot of comfort in music, color, adventure, and happy endings if not outright comedy. For comfort I gravitate toward movies that are gentle enough to watch with the family but exciting enough to keep the plot rolling, and romance is a welcome part of the equation as long as the heroines are plucky. These are all movies that make me feel happy when I watch them; they remind me that joy, friendship, laughter, and courage all exist in the world even when things look bleak. I'm sure my fellow CMBA bloggers will have lots of interesting choices on their lists if my five picks aren't your cup of tea, so make certain you check out the rest of the blogathon posts!