We’ve gained a lot in terms of what we see in a movie. We can capture action like never before, add computer images that look practically real, plots that are hybrids of multiple earlier plots, generations of Indies that rebelled against the status quo of their time.
And I’ve loved almost all those developments, except CGI. CGI can sometimes go stuff itself.
But there has been something lost because of these too. It’s the reason why movies like Drive are such a shock to the modern viewer’s system.
When we see a movie that doesn’t use any of the ‘crutches’, it can lead to a purer experience.
That’s my roundabout pitch for a list of gifts for old movie lovers on the market. Some gift ideas to relive those memories like Blu-Rays or streaming the movie themselves. Maybe even a themed flask or two for the Westerns.
I’ll start with a few of the oldies that I’ve watched. Then maybe look at some of the gifts based on these movies.
But here’s a list of excellent merch related to the movies, before the scintillating movie commentary:
Top Gifts for Old Movie lovers
Some Like it Hot is an iconic movie featuring all-time screen greats like Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis. In the book, Tony Curtis shares his memory of the time spent making this gem of a movie.
Singin in the Rain
The one that taught me musicals don’t have to be crap. That is an awful thing to say. But you see where I’m from, musicals are the norm, today.
So in my mind, 40 years of not deviating from that formula should’ve taken my regional industry to a higher level of musicals. Or at least desensitize me to the classics.
I was wrong. I got a face-full of movie magic and learned of Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly.
Some like it Hot
This Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon movie, starring a certain Marilyn Monroe, is one of the great classics of comedy.
Other than being great fun with a suitably silly plot, it was also controversial due to the then taboo idea of cross-dressing and nods at homosexuality.
This Billy Wilder directorial featured Marilyn Monroe at her absolute peak. Sometimes the best gifts are just pure entertainment-oriented cinema.
It Happened One Night
Possibly my favorite from the bunch, the fall of the walls of Jericho.
A breezy romantic plot, with twists, turns and detours supplemented with pure star power. And some very quotable lines, generally seen fired in quick succession by the actors.
Inspired a lot of future rom-coms with the general vibe it maintained throughout the runtime. A great last-minute gift if you were ever to find yourself in that position.
Gone with the Wind
The one I was obliged to add. It is the greatest movie when you take inflation into consideration or something.
5 years after Clark Gable starred in the immortal It Happened one Night, he starred as Rhett Butler in the immortal Gone with the Wind. Loads of awards and nominations.
Monstrous box office for its time. Mentioned in all the big, fancy movie lists. The legendary Vivien Leigh played the annoying but radiant Scarlett O’Hara in this epic.
Honestly, I am sick of all the big words that are attached to the movie. It is based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel of the same name. Good luck getting through that one.
If your reaction to Scarlett O’Hara (oh boy), you might want to check out this candle. It is claimed to be Scarlett. I believe the dress seals that argument.
There’s a mosaic of Scarlett O’Hara turning on he star power with her many memorable quotes included. They’ve helpfully printed the quotes so small, that you could barely read them.
Or one of many iconic stills from the movie could adorn your wall in black-and-white.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
This Sergio Leone western is possibly the most well-known piece of cinema in the world. I’m cool if the most well-known movie of all time isn’t Gone with the Wind.
Starring Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name, Lee van Cleef as Angel Eyes and Eli Wallach as The Rat. There are few character rosters more popular in cinema.
Also, the original Italian title sounds way cooler. Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il cattivo. Iconic music, iconic shots, and an iconic standoff, I believe is the translation.
This was the third in the Dollars Trilogy, or at least was marketed as such. The Dollars Trilogy itself is cinema history you can own if streaming is too hard a concept.
It’s not much of a statement to say that this is the greatest of all Westerns and the one to inspire mood-building, mysterious characters and ramping up the tension for decades to come.
Speaking of iconic characters in iconic movies inspiring future generations, Buster Keaton and The General.
One of silent cinema’s greatest names, Buster Keaton is considered the greatest actor-director to ever work in cinema.
Armed with the expression of a man seriously considering which cereal to buy at the store, Keaton took his audience through wild ride after ride.
Each of which exploded with ingenuity and even a little depth. He is responsible for the best silent cinema has to offer.
And the peak of this ingenuity was seen in The General. Every scene in this 75-minute thrill ride is a treat. Just good-natured, raw entertainment.
Even The Sound of Music did not give me the same gust of movie magic that The General gave me. Where else can you see a train chase scene? A train chased by other trains!
If you’re a Keaton fan, and you will be after watching this, you owe yourself more gems from the mind of Keaton.
And if you’re a serious fan and collector, there’s a biography that doubles up as a study of this legend. It has everything from his vaudeville days to his earlier short films to even his work on sound cinema. It does justice to the colossal entertainer that he is.
The Gold Rush
From one icon of the silent movie era to another. Much like Keaton’s filmography, there are many Chaplin features to choose from. But The Gold Rush is freshest in my memory.
This 1925 classic stars Chaplin as a down-on-his-luck Tramp as a gold digger during the famous Klondike gold rush.
One of the things that distinguish this particular movie is the fact that it is also based on a rather horrifying account of prospecting gone wrong. Though there is no cannibalism, there is a certain darkness lurking in the script.
The fact that it is out of the usual city or town setting also makes it a different experience to the usual Charlie Chaplin fare.
You can get an account of the Chaplin story from the mind of the man himself. It is a heartfelt look at his journey and has the advantage of being filled with first-hand events.
Also notable is how the dizzying success is boiled down to something more matter-of-fact.
You can get a poster of Charlie Chaplin yawning as the Tramp. No other poster captures the spirit of the Tramp better.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
I can’t have a list of classic/old movies without a mention of Audrey Hepburn. I had to choose between Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady or Tiffany’s.
Though I like Roman Holiday better as a fun watch, Audrey as Holly Golightly is just amazing.
The tragic backstory, the viewer’s reaction to revelations about her and one of the all-time great rain scenes.
Holly Golightly is also a pivotal character in terms of representation of a leading lady. Here was a woman who lived life to her own beat. Flawed, but on her own terms.
There’s even a book that makes the connection between Audrey’s heroine and the advent of the modern woman.
And if the movie leaves you in awe of the actress, check out the book on the best years of her career. The years where she was without peer when it came to fashion and elegance.
There are excellent portraits of this legend throughout the book.
Other gifts for old movie lovers
Outside of the movie-specific or actor-specific stuff, there are more general gifts to choose from.
There’s no better place to look than the Criterion collection. The best at curating classic cinema from all over the globe.
We start with Russia and War & Peace. Criterion also has taken it upon themselves to restore old prints. And they did a bang-up job restoring this Russian masterpiece.
Alfred Hitchcock has been a rather obvious omission so far. Fear not. Or do. Because Criterion gives us 4 of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest.
3 of which are from the time he was still working in England in the 1930s. Well before he became the global phenomenon that he is now. So chances are you might not have watched these.
Sticking with horror, but of a more slow-walking kind, Criterion also has the movie that started the Zombie genre. So now we know who to blame. George A Romero.
It is shocking how much of the stuff that still works in zombie movies came from this 1968 classic.
I’m particular about tracking my movies. I like cataloging them and finding out new movies.
2 sites I can recommend are SIMKL and ICheckMovies. ICheckMovies are for movies only. You sign up for a free account and then start checking movies that you’ve watched already.
For instance, if I check 5 Hitchcock movies, based on the ‘Best of’ lists it’s part of, I can find other movies that are in the same genre or loved by the same people.
SIMKL is for movies, shows, and anime and it also tracks the time you spent watching these. 336 days.
ut for a more organic feeling, Enno Vatti has scratch-off poster for movies. It features 100 of the most critically acclaimed and globally loved moving pictures.
You can start scratching randomly and if the newly revealed movie isn’t something you watched, you can get started on it right away.
I love the icons they use. Instantly recognizable for even the casual movie buff.
I hope that got some of that sweet, sweet nostalgia flowing. It certainly did for me.
It takes making a list like this to relive the experience rather than just remember the plot and actors and performances vaguely.
I’m cautiously optimistic there was something for everyone. Either as nostalgia or as a viewing recommendation.
I got so excited about the whole classic thing that I was concocting one about classic TV shows. Then I realized I hadn’t watched any and never intend to.
So it’s just classic movies for this guy.
Let me know if there were obvious omissions. I’m sure there where. Or if any of the gifts were exactly what you were looking for.