10 Classic Films Worth Being Thankful For

#10: Dark Victory (1939)

Bette Davis' Oscar winning performance, anchors one of the sudsiest, black and white movies ever. Davis plays the free-spirited and indulgent, Judith, whose carefree life comes to a halt when she is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

After falling in love with her doctor (George Brent), she discovers that he and her sister have engaged in subterfuge over her condition. This is an enthralling drama that keeps you guessing. Despite being an old-timey weeper, the subject matter focuses more on living than dying, which is a pleasant detour for these types of films.

#9: Giant (1956)

When east coast, rich girl Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) meets Bick (Rock Hudson) a wealthy Texas rancher, sparks fly and romance becomes a foregone conclusion. “Giant” follows this pair of fiery lovers as they fight hard and love even harder, over the course of their lives together.

Leslie brings her social enlightenment to the southwest and Bick attempts to tame a woman, he loves for the very reason he can’t. Rock Hudson brings his unparalleled screen allure to the silver screen, in a true showcase of his talents. James Dean stars as the bane of Bick’s existence, in his last role as a leading actor before he passed away.

#8: Tammy’s Tell Me True (1961)

The country girl living in the big ole’ city storyline, receives a cleverly heartwarming spin. Romance encapsulated in its purest and most innocent form, a Sandra Dee movie. When the down river sweetheart, Tammy (Sandra Dee) heads to college, she soon becomes embroiled in a relationship with Tom (John Gavin).

Dee takes over for Tammy's original portrayer, Debbie Reynolds. The Tammy movie series provides a nostalgic step back into the time of wholesome cinema. The always delightful Dee; uses her fresh-faced spunk to great effect, along with her unique blend of humor, this time with the added spice of a country sparkle.

#7: War and Peace (1956)

Despite Henry Fonda being way too old to play the role of Leo Tolstoy’s young hero, Pierre, and none of the actors sporting the requisite Russian accent of their characters, 1956's "War and Peace" is an appealing watch. King Vidor’s sweeping epic, spares no expense on exquisite costuming or lavish ballroom regalia.

The saga of a family’s survival in wartime provides melodrama for the ages. Tolstoy’s meaty novel is boiled down to the essentials and the characters don’t make it through unscathed, most of them coming short of any moral glory. All of these years later, it is still an engaging study on people and how they react in the pressure cooker of life.

#6: A Place in the Sun (1951)

This is a movie that’s tone feels like it is going one way, when it surprisingly fishtails into a completely different direction. When the economically challenged George (Montgomery Cliff), gets a leg up working for his wealthy uncle, he meets and falls in love with two different women. One a socialite (Elizabeth Taylor) and the other an assembly line worker (Shelly Winters).

Who he settles on and how, sets off a compelling and unforeseen chain of events that spirals into some highly controversial terrain for a film from 1951. Cliff’s clean cut looks, Taylor’s dazzling beauty and Winters’ warm demeanor purposefully play on the audience’s preconceived notions of what might transpire. Prepare to be surprised.
 

#5: Charade (1963)

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, the reigning royals of Hollywood’s golden age, offer up the thrills in this suspense caper. When a widow (Audrey Hepburn) is pursued by her dead husband’s associates looking for the stolen loot her husband took, she finds herself in the crosshairs of danger.

Easily mistakable as the work of suspense maestro Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Donan is actually at the helm of this clever “Charade” that keeps you spinning with one whirlwind twist after another. It’s a thriller well worth its salt and the sharp dialogue between Grant and Hepburn is classily pensive. For a chic and timeless wardrobe, look no further than Hepburn’s Regina, as she prances around 60’s Paris in the era’s highest fashion.

#4: Wait Until Dark (1967)

Audrey Hepburn stars as Susy, a blind woman whose home is invaded by a menacing robber (Alan Arkin) and his two thugs. The tension the film provides hasn’t faded or dulled with age, it is as taught and effective as ever.

"Wait Until Dark" stays true to its stage play roots, as the claustrophobia felt by the audience as it remains in one location, is similar to the inescapable darkness that permeates Susy’s existence.

Hepburn and Arkin both shine respectively in the furnace of this intense thriller. Hepburn’s portrayal of the film’s heroine is magnificent as she reels us into the plight of a woman whose predicament is rife with anxiety. Without Alan Arkin behind the tension, it wouldn’t have achieved quite the same result.

#3: To Catch a Thief (1955)

Hitchcock’s cat and mouse European adventure is a stunning work by the master of suspense. The title explains the plot, quite adequately. The astonishing Grace Kelly and suave Cary Grant make their clever banter work with charming ease. The vibrant Technicolor cinematography, exemplifies why movies shot on film are a timelessly radiant breed.

Kelly and Grant bring a twinkling magic to the scenery. Kelly with her striking ability to bring elegance to eating at a car picnic and Grant with his distinctively debonair flair. Two of Hollywood’s greatest icons have never been better, as they glisten in the glow of intrigue.

#2: Gone With the Wind (1939)

There are epic films and then there is “Gone With the Wind”, the David O. Selznik-produced drama is mostly recognized for the iconic romance depicted between Rhett (Clark Gable) and Scarlett (Vivien Leigh). Personally though, it’s the dynamic between Scarlett and her sister-in-law Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) that sets this film's narrative apart. Scarlett, the urchin temptress desperate to survive the war, embodies all that ruthless grit has to offer.

Meanwhile, the loving and frail, Melanie, dotes on her sole hope for survival, blissfully clueless to her machinations. While the actions Scarlett takes to survive and thrive are often reprehensible, one cannot help acknowledge they are actions Melanie would not be willing to take, but no doubt benefits from. It’s the relationship between these two very different women that all these years later still resonate as its most thought provoking aspect.

#1: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Director Sydney Lumet, turns up the heat of human drama, ablaze in a furnace of ego, righteousness and standing up for what’s right. Set in the sweltering heat of a private room, most of the jury thinks the decision is a slam dunk. That is until, a lone, brave soul (Henry Fonda) stands up and dissents with their one “not guilty” vote.

What transpires next is a powder keg of raw masculinity, as the debate over what will become of the accused gets personal. Starring an all-star cast of talent, the performances are all top drawer and Henry Fonda’s portrayal of Juror 8 is fearlessly riveting. This is truly one of the most important movies that has ever been made; period.

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