If I were to choose a genre of film that most nourished my soul, I would easily choose the classics.
In black and white or Technicolor, I enjoy the style, the writing and the astonishing power of the storytelling in many classic films. When you’ve exhausted the current film list and need a pick-me-up for your soul, here are some films that always make me feel better and come highly recommended.
I like to call this therapy “Netflix and healing for the vintage soul.”
For the Bittersweet or Broken Hearted
Hitchcock’s Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman
Watch this one when you and a lover misunderstand each other or never quite seem to say what needs to be said. This is a suspense-filled love story complete with Nazis, spies, adventure, and intrigue. (also great for The Incurable Romantic or A Night of Suspense)
Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Raines
Watch this one when thinking about the one who got away or when you find yourself a part of a star-crossed love story. This is a story with something for everyone, and it is my personal favorite. (Also great for The Incurable Romantic)
Now, Voyager with Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Raines
This is best for star-crossed lovers, but it’s also a great story of self-discovery and personal triumph over hardships. (also great for The Incurable Romantic)
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir with Rex Harrison and Maureen O’Hara
There’s nothing like a bittersweet love story between a widow and a ghost. It’s a fascinating tale with wonderful dialogue! (also great for The Incurable Romantic)
Sabrina with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn
What I love about this film is how the characters all discover something about themselves in the process of being a part of a love triangle. (also great For Finding Your Way)
For Finding Your Way
Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn
This is a great film about making our own way in life and living according to our own rules. It’s a comedy and a love story, too.
The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and James Stewart
This is a love story, but it’s also about self-awareness and discovering who we are.
It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart
This is a classic holiday film, but it’s a good one to watch any time we struggle with the choices we’ve made in life or when we begin to lose hope. Watch this one to see how George Bailey makes the right decisions even when they’re tough or mean sacrificing something he wanted for himself. It’s amazing to think how our smallest acts of kindness have far reaching effects. (also great For Struggles with Personal Integrity)
Harvey with James Stewart
This is another great film about being true to oneself, despite the criticism of others.This film is pure joy. James Stewart plays a seemingly simple-minded man with an imaginary rabbit for a friend. His life philosophy is indeed simple, but it’s also beautiful. This is the film to watch when you march to the beat of your own drummer. (also great For Wit and Pure Joy)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn
This is a good one to watch when we’re feeling a bit lost. It’s also a great story about reinventing oneself.
For the Incurable Romantic
An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
This is a classic love story about two very different people who find each other, lose each other and find each other again.
To Have & Have Not with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
Watch this one when falling in love for the first time, and enjoy watching the two main actors do the same. The real life love story with Bogart and Bacall is one for the books!
The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn
Two very different people find themselves together in an unusual situation, enjoying adventures and falling in love.
I’ll Be Seeing You with with Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple
This one is considered a holiday film, but it’s a lovely story about wounded people who find each other and rediscover hope. This isn’t your typical Shirley Temple film either; she’s a teenager filled with angst in this one.
For Reveling in the Macabre (A Night of Suspense)
Hitchcock’s lesser known Rope with James Stewart
Two friends decide to try their hands at murder and then invite the victim’s loved ones over for a party. This film is shot in almost one continuous frame, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time!
Hitchcock’s Rear Window with James Stewart and Grace Kelly
A wounded photographer believes his neighbor is a murderer. Is the boredom working on his imagination, or could he be right? This is a great film with a love story between two very different people.
Niagara with Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten
When a woman wants her husband dead to run off with her lover, how will she react when the tables are turned? Tune in to find out!
Shadow of a Doubt with Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright
A young girl suspects her favorite uncle is not what he seems. This is a great story about a young girl who finds herself faced with a tough choice!
Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, and Charles Boyer
If you’ve ever been in a relationship where someone tried to make you think you were crazy, this is the film to see! There’s an original version with Angela Lansbury as the saucy housemaid that’s also worth watching, but I enjoy the Boyer/Bergman remake the best.
For Wit and Pure Joy
The Maltese Falcon
I love the dialogue in this film! Watch this when you need a night of intrigue with snappy dialogue and characters who aren’t exactly what they seem.
His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell
This is another film with smart, quick dialogue. It tells the story of reporters who can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other. Enjoy this one when you find yourselves frequently at odds with the one you love.
How to Marry a Millionaire with Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable
Gold diggers find true love when they least expect it. Watch this one when you find your life veering off the course you planned. Sometimes what you want isn’t always what you need.
For Struggles with Personal Integrity
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with James Stewart and Claude Raines
Watch this one when struggling with your own personal integrity in the workplace. This is a great one about idealism in politics (and should, I think, be required viewing for all politicians).
High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly
This is the only western in my wheelhouse, but I love how one man stands up for what’s right, even when he finds himself standing alone.
12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda
Watch this one to see how personal prejudices often impact our judgment. This is an amazing film and not to be missed!
The Prince and the Showgirl with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier
While considered a comedy and unusual love story, this is one of my favourites because it highlights how we are all more than what we sometimes seem.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy
This film is known for addressing racism and interracial relationships. I love how all the characters learn about each other and themselves.
While this list is far from complete, it can get you started on a handful of classic films you may not have otherwise known about.
I hope you find it as nourishing for your soul as I do.
More film favourites:
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via fanpop