As much as I love discovering new films, there are many films that I consistently return to. They’re the warm, cozy, familiar blanket hiding within the abyss of my many hours of move-watching each month. The following are the first five of fifteen of my favorites classics to re-watch. (This is not a definitive list of the most re-watchable classic films ever. Just a list of some of my favorites.)
1. All About Eve (1950)
Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter
There isn’t a thing I don’t love about this film. From the Broadway-based drama to the catty dialogue to the phenomenal cast, All About Eve never fails to be completely engrossing no matter how many times I’ve seen it. I’ll watch Bette Davis in just about anything, but this is usually the first one I grab when I decide that I want to re-watch one of her films.
2. The Big Sleep (1946)
Directed by Howard Hawks
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
It’s a well-known fact that I love Bogie and Baby and consider them pretty much the greatest couple of all time, both on screen and off. They made four films together, all of which are highly enjoyable for multiple viewings, but this one is my absolute favorite. The chemistry between Bogart and Bacall is unbeatable, from the scene in which their characters meet to the film’s final scene, by which point they’ve fallen in love (of course). The plot is also ten kinds of complicated and I make new realizations every time that I watch it.
3. Casablanca (1942)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and my man Paul Henreid
As highly regarded as Casablanca is, it can also be a bit of a polarizing film. One one hand, there are fans who see it as the definition of a true classic and one of the best films ever produced; on the other hand, there are film fans who find it terribly overrated. I happen to be of the “Casablanca is wonderful” camp, and it is one of my favorite films to watch over and over again. I don’t think you could possibly put a better cast together: Bogie, Bergman, Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Viedt, Syd Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z. Sakall, and the list goes on! And on top of the top-notch cast, the intriguing mix of war drama and romantic drama keeps me hooked every time. This one is particularly enjoyable in public viewings. (My library has screened it a few times, and TCM/Fathom did a theatrical re-release of it in 2012.)
4. Forbidden Planet (1956)
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Starring Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis
Red block print nearly matching the size of the title itself reads “AMAZING!” on one of the poster designs for Forbidden Planet, and that poster certainly does not lie. This is the quintessential 1950s sci-fi film. It’s impossible not to enjoy yourself while watching this fun and colorful space adventure, and the script is extremely clever.
5. Funny Face (1957)
Directed by Stanley Donen
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire
This is not my favorite Audrey Hepburn film — that title is held by Charade, in which she co-stars with Cary Grant — but this is the one I end up re-watching the most. (I don’t own Charade on DVD, which is a real crime even though it’s available on Netflix Instant!) The fairly light plot of romance between Astaire and Hepburn as a photographer and his bookish-to-beautiful muse is about as sugary-sweet as they come, and the musical numbers are a lot of fun too.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for two more installments of this list! And if you’re interested in watching any of the films listed above, you can find them on DVD and for Instant Viewing on Amazon.