Valentine’s Day is just round the corner, mere hours in fact! Somehow it always takes me by surprise how quickly after New Years it is, even though I know it’s coming. If you’re like me, and by that I mean tardy, and you’re still looking for a romantic night with your amour: you’re in the right place. I’ve chosen my top five romantic movies from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, along with ways stream (I’ve got your back), to bring some Golden Age of Hollywood glamour to your 14th February.
1. The Ghost and Mrs Muir
This is the movie where I fell in love with old Hollywood. It’s a romance but don’t expect too much on the comedy front: a young widow (played by the beautiful Gene Tierney) falls in love a salty mariner (see what I did there 😉) played by Rex Harrison. He falls for her too. The only obstacle is that he’s dead and is now a Ghost haunting her house.
I defy you not to cry.
Google Play: (£7.99/£3.49) https://play.google.com/store/movies/details?id=wJN3jV7y96o
YouTube: (£7.99/3.49) https://youtu.be/wJN3jV7y96o
Apple: (£7.99/3.49) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/the-ghost-and-mrs-muir/id1021423181
Amazon Prime: (£7.99/£3.49) https://amzn.to/2Sevlmt
2. The Lady Eve
Romantic comedy, for me the quintessential RomCom, from the 1940s starting the great Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. Yes, there are moments when Stanwyck’s English accent falters but it doesn’t detract from the caper of swindler falling in love with her victim. It’s glamourous (Stanwyck’s wedding gown, designed by Edith Head, was copied by brides all over America) funny, touching and utterly brilliant. Plus we get to see Fonda doing slapstick.
There is some innovative and enjoyable shot-making by Preston Sturgess – the mirror scene at the beginning is fabulous – shot we still see all over the place now.
Google Play: (£5.99/£2.49) https://play.google.com/store/movies/details?id=pMuRAcWwuoY
YouTube: (£5.99/2.49) https://youtu.be/pMuRAcWwuoY
Apple: (£5.99/3.49) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/the-lady-eve/id292493637
Amazon Prime: (£5.99/£2.49) https://amzn.to/2TzrZXZ
Yes, it’s a silent, and consequently not for everyone, but this is still so fresh and Clara Bow’s It girl is the sort of person I want to spend a night out on the town with.
A romantic comedy about a Shop girl in love with her boss, sounds typically 20s enough, but don’t be fooled: it isn’t. There’s prejudice and scandal, single mothers and sisterhood. This seems waaaay ahead of its time and Bow is, I feel, at her ebullient best.
I challenge you to not adore her.
It isn’t available on any streaming service!
On DVD: (20.99, region 2) https://amzn.to/38kP1sU (£63.17, region 1) https://amzn.to/31MCsEt but to be honest, I’d just watch the free bootleg on YouTube: https://youtu.be/S4MOQSRC_bM
4. It Happened One Night
A recent discovery of mine and I can’t think how I’d missed it for so long. Starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable it’s a classic RomCom about a runaway heiress and down at heel newspaper man on a clandestine bus trip across America. Her to avoid her controlling father stopping her wedding; him to make sure he’s the one who claims the reward for finding her.
This one does come with a small warning though: There are a few moments where its age shows. There’s more than one mention of forcing the woman into submission and using violence is mentioned (I think) once. I guess we can’t expect something to exist outside its time and anticipate advances made in the next 85 years. However, if that trigger warning is acceptable, it’s a funny, warm and exceedingly well acted movie.This is the film that converted me into a Gable fan, yes, I’m new to the tribe.
Google Play: (£7.99) https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/It_Happened_One_Night?id=3ugxBTzMUIo&hl=en
YouTube: (£7.99) https://youtu.be/3ugxBTzMUIo
Apple: (£3.99/3.49) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/it-happened-one-night/id553389469
Amazon Prime: (£7.99/2.49) https://amzn.to/2vtdYDQ
For my final pick, I have two of the all time greats lined up. Do I choose Greta Garbo historical epic Queen Christina or Bette Davis in the 1940s classic Now, Voyager?
5. Queen Christina
Sorry Bette fans, The Great Garbo won by a whisker. Another romantic film that isn’t a comedy. It’s the story of the 16th Century Queen Christina of Sweden who insists she will reign alone and refuses to marry, until she falls for a non-royal whom, according to tradition, she can’t marry. As a little side factlet, her co-star, John Gilbert, was her one time real life lover – she left him at the alter.
There’s some lovely scenes with Garbo masquerading as a man tofeel true freedom and some very modern sentiments. I’m in love with the final, iconic image of this 😍
Google Play: (£9.99/3.49) https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Queen_Christina?id=6o9yA26bP_g&hl=en
YouTube: (£9.99/3.49) https://youtu.be/6o9yA26bP_g
Apple: (£7.99/3.49) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/queen-christina/id600090185
Amazon Prime: (£7.99/3.49) https://amzn.to/2SD4Btf
Choose a flick, or two, grab some salted caramel popcorn and maybe a cocktail (a Bees Knees is an easy, authentic option – just honey, gin and ice, recipe on trusty YouTube https://youtu.be/Ktwcn0BCHmY, or Dark ‘n’ Stormy – rum and ginger beer served over ice with a slice of lime) and enjoy the power of love through the decades.
If you’d like me to plan your old Hollywood Movie Night In for you, complete with trivia and food and drink recommendations, you can find out more, or hire me 😉 here.
P.S. This page contains some affiliate links. Which means that should you choose to purchase through my link, the vendor kindly gives me a small amount. And there’s no extra cost to you!