I really hope I'm watching a black and white movie today
The bit between Christmas and New Year is for watching old movies, and i wont hear anything about it.
Last year, after all the presents were opened, all the deviled eggs were scarfed and my grandmother was safely parcelled onto her plane, under the glow of the Christmas tree lights, Mum and I stumbled across a showing of My Fair Lady on Channel 5. Afterwards, we made it an Audrey Hepburn double bill moving on to Charade.
Night after night, we followed the same formula, scrambling through streaming services for anything pre-1970, we came across some gems, most of which I do not recall the name of. Films starring a very young Elizabeth Taylor, excellent mid-century costumes and my very first viewing of the best film about journalism which is none other than His Girl Friday. Rosalind Russell’s back catalogue is a reason for living, let me tell you.
If you told child Clara and her and mum would together sit and have a movie marathon, she’d be SHOCKED! Growing up, TV time was incredibly limited. We got one hour a day, and then it slowly went up to two. That was only after we had a television. For a few years, THERE WAS NO MEANS OF WATCHING TELEVISION IN MY HOME. What, I hear you exclaim, how did you cope? Well, honestly, I have no clue. What does not kill you makes you stronger. This restriction might be why my addiction spiralled when I left home, or it could be for myriad reasons. Apparently, as a baby, I WAS OBSESSED with watching telly. there was a lot of pointing at it and demanding it switched on. Destiny made me dependent. I accept it and I live with it being something I was born with.
If you are blessed enough to know my mother, you might be aware that she is constantly busy. She is always doing things; worrying about her students, planning lessons or fumbling through IT issues that only my brother can solve. When asked why she was putting up with all these old movies, movies I love and she usually cannot abide, she just said they were gentle, a break, a well-deserved one for her.
They were light on the special effects, sometimes so simple they seemed like filmed plays, rather than cinematic masterpieces. As long as they are not musicals, mum is generally on board. She did have an unfavourable reaction to the excellent Bringing Up Baby the other day. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant? Together? A leopard? I AM THERE!
I have to agree with her general assessment of old movies, which possess particular magic. The sets are a personal favourite of mine; Anastasia (1958) has this one scene in a Copenhagen hotel room, and in the background is a train. It’s clearly a supped up toy so it just goes round and round and round. It’s nothing like modern movies, who rely on CGI special effects, while this one relies on backstage crafts.
A special shoutout should also go out to Mary Poppins, while it might be a bit garish for my mother dear, but it does fit the homemade set criteria. The houses on Cherry Tree Lane are made up of the same canvases school plays backdrops are painted on. One year, I caught it on the BBC on the 27th December, and its a tradition I continue if Mum is uninterested in lounging in front of the telly.
These movies meets up with the general hand in a box of Quality Street, lounging in jammies vibe of the festive interim period, the dying down of the hubbub of Advent. A screwball comedy is perfect for rainy weekends. In lockdown, days that feel dreich without a single drop of precipitation, they have a way of bringing light. After watching titles such as Top Hat and My Favourite Wife, there’s a bit of nostalgic silly glamour.
This desire allowed me to create content for my MA Journalism in some of the toughest working conditions; the first lockdown. I created the online magazine Screwball as part of the magazine project, motivated by that need for escapism, to go to a different time for a while.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE OLD MOVIES TO WATCH AT CHRISTMAS
This based on the book of the same name by Patrick Dennis, and I dip into it whenever I need a little lift. A true comfort classic
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
This always seems to come on at Christmas, and I have no time for people (my brother) who point out its regressive. It’s like pointing out Donald Trump is bad, NEXT POINT!
The Sound of Music
Really anything with a Rodgers and Hammerstein score, bar a few exceptions (if you know, you know) A true gem, if not a bit long. Captain Von Trapp is an antifa daddy.
Some Like It Hot
People who don’t like this film? Weirdoes. The best gangster film of all time, sorry not sorry, Martin Scorsese.
Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra in one motion picture? Stick and fork in me and call me your grandma because this film is everything.
I hope you are having a Merry Christmas :)