Wednesday, 9 May 2012

My Favouritest And My Best: Historical/Period Flicks, Part 1

I love History. If I had to name three favourite subjects, then I would choose Drama, English and History. Probably in that order. History is fantastic. You get to learn about people and times gone by (sounds like a classic film blog description!) and I actually understand it! Actually, I understand most of my lessons, then just drop me into a Latin or Chemistry class and I just go:

It ain't good, people... It ain't good... But yes, Historical movies. LOVE THEM! I've seen quite a few, but here are my favourites, of course in no particular order! {By the way, I class this genre as anything set in a "time gone by", so classic literature adaptations count too!}

The Lion In Winter (1968)

I love The Lion In Winter. It's very dramatic and still manages to be quite funny at the same time:
Eleanor of Aquitaine: How kind of you to let me out of jail.
King Henry II: It's only for the holidays.
It's a great film and has loads of great performances in it, especially from Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. When anyone mentions Historical films, this one immediately springs to mind. The script is amazing, the location is amazing and so is the direction. Plus this film officially has all of the best put-downs in history ever. Definitely one that you need to watch.

Gone With The Wind (1939)

It's true that I really haven't seen Gone With The Wind as many times as I would like to, but the time I did see it, I remember being quite blown away. Clark Gable as Rhett Butler? Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara? Come on! It had to be awesome! And I actually got really super upset when they Bonnie died. Anyway, I can't really say anything about GWTW that anyone hasn't already said, so I'll just say that I really liked it :-)

Jezebel (1938)

Jezebel is a really fantastic movie. I love Bette Davis always anyway, and when you put her in a southern town with Fay Bainter, Donald Crisp and Henry Fonda then it's just double the fantasmagoricalness isn't it? YES! And she keeps going "Pres, Pres!" But really it sounds like "Preeays? Preeays?" I don't care how interesting her southern accent is, she gives a great performance. I'm not exactly sure how historically accurate it is, but there is a lot about the "Yellow Fever" and they don't really hold back on anything, it's quite melodramatic and sad. It was so awful how they just completely negelected the people with deseases and sent them to the lepers island.

Pride And Prejudice (1940)

Pride And Prejudice is one of my favourite films. It's just one of those films you can watch over and over again and never get bored of. Greer Garson is wonderful as Elizabeth Bennet, and Lawrence Olivier is completely fantastic as Mr. Darcy. The costumes are all gorgeous, and the script is really cute. This was the first Greer Garson film I ever saw and it really got me into her films more. Plus, you gotta love some classic literature when it's adapted into a classic film. I have to say that the modern ones are a great deal more hit and miss.

Wuthering Heights (1939)

Wuthering Heights is probably my favourite gothic film and one of my favourite films from Hollywood's "best year", 1939. Lawrence Olivier fits Heathcliff like a glove. I can't find a thing wrong with his portrayal of him. Contrary to what seems to be the general consensus, I really like Merle Oberon as Cathy too. Of course there were probably other actresses who could have played her better, but I can't think of one off the top of my head. At first I thought that Greer Garson would have played her, but then I remembered how completely prim and proper she was in almost all her films and I couldn't imagine her playing someone as wild as Cathy. The direction from William Wyler is also genius, even if they only used the first half of the book.

Blossoms In The Dust (1941)

I watched Blossoms In The Dust for the first time the other day and was completely amazed. It was so good. I could hardly pick any faults with it. The entire plot is about a self-sacrificing woman whose child  died when it was only a child who was then told she could have no more children. She decides to start an orphanage and fights for the word "illegitimate" to be stricken from the birth records. I love Walter Pedgeon, too. He doesn't just "support" Greer Garson as I imagine many other weaker actors of the time might have done (George Brent with Bette Davis anyone?), he is actually a great actor all by himself. Well, not all by himself, that makes him sound lonely, I mean, in his own right.

So there you go! My favourite Historical/Period movies and why I love them!



Vintage Living Magazine said...

I share your loves, Bette. Thanks for a post that brought back some great movie-watching memories! :-)

cinemarion said...

Wonderful collection!

Lambfam said...

Great picks. This Pride and Prejudice was definitely the most witty version, and I loved it. I watched all of these movies this year except Jezebel.(I'll get to it soon) Loved these movies. Thanks again for the post.

Sadie Heldberg said...

You have a wonderful collection here Bette, and I have to pay honor while I'm here to a movie close to my heart. Ever since I was a little girl, and my Mom introduced me to 'Gone With the Wind', it's been my favorite movie. "Oh Ashley I love you, I've never loved anyone else". – Scarlett O’Hara. Both I and my friend and colleague, who works with me for Dish, feel similar about the classics. They don't make movies even relatively close to the same galaxy, as the time-honored films of the past. Weekly we get together, and enjoy a movie that honors the true beauty of film. I subscribe to Blockbuster @Home specifically for this purpose, since the selection is varied and huge. Then we turn my living room into a mini theater, complete with popcorn and reclining seats, and relax to my huge HDTV.

silverscreenings said...

Glad you included "Jezebel" (LOVE!) and "Pride and Prejudice". Great flicks.

Martin Turnbull (the Garden of Allah novels) said...

BIG BRAVOS on your selection. Clearly my list would almost be identical...except perhaps for "Blossoms in the Dust" but only because I've never seen that one. (And as a Greer Garson fan, I hang my head in shame.) Your excitement for "Jezebel" has made me want to re-watch that one. It's been *far* too long!

KimWilson said...

Pretty good films--still as an actual historian I can't go as far as you and classify them as historical. Blossoms in the Dust and The Lion in Winter sort of fall into that category, but there are many artistic licenses taken. LOL

BTW, while I like Garson's Pride and Prejudice, Keira Knightley's 2005 turn as Lizzie Bennett is by far the best ever.

Kate Gorman said...

Gone With The Wind is one of my favourite classic films and has been since I was 12! I love it! :) xx

Sophie said...

Blossoms in the dust appeals to me so much! I just don't know how to get a copy of it in the UK

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