Today is Grammy’s (my grandma’s) birthday. She was born in 1942 and would have been 73 this year. As you may recall if you’re a regular TMP reader, she passed away in August. I’ve written quite a few times on this blog about how influential she was in my becoming a classic film fan. So to pay tribute to Grammy, today we’ll be looking at some of my favorite films from her birth year.
I’ll save you my usual spiel about how the many years that are just as great (or better) than 1939, and just cut to the chase: 1942 was a damn good year for film!
On the Stanwyck front, TMP’s favorite actress and star of the Barbara Stanwyck Filmography Project released two films, The Gay Sisters and The Great Man’s Lady. The Gay Sisters blends comedy and drama in a story about a woman determined to save her inherited house from sale, fulfilling her father’s dreaming of keeping the family land in the family name. The Great Man’s Lady tells the tale of Hannah Hoyt, who recounts the story of her life to a young biographer working on a book about her former husband, legendary pioneer Ethan Hoyt. Both films are good viewing (The Great Man’s Lady being the better of the two) and feature trademark strong-willed performances by Stanwyck.
TMP’s favorite leading man, Cary Grant, also released two pictures in 1942. The Talk of the Town has long been one of my absolute favorites from Grant’s filmography, and was one of the first of his films that I saw. He stars as Leopold Dilg, accused arsonist. Running from the law, he finds refuge at a cottage owned by Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur), who allows him to hide in the attic as the cottage is being rented to a law professor (Ronald Colman). With a nice script and a great cast, The Talk of the Town is a great watch, both funny and thrilling. My dearest Cary also starred in Once Upon a Honeymoon alongside Ginger Rogers in 1942.
Those Stany and Cary films are just the tip of the 1942 iceberg. Hold on to your hats, folks, because here’s one doozy of a small selection of fantastic pictures released in that year:
- For Me and My Gal, Gene Kelly’s movie-musical debut and one of Judy Garland’s most enjoyable films
- To Be or Not to Be, Carole Lombard’s final film, and one of her funniest
- I Married a Witch, the fun rom-com that continues to turn movie lovers into Veronica Lake fans
- The Palm Beach Story, one of the most beloved classic comedies
- The Magnificent Ambersons, a “magnificent” family drama from the great Orson Welles
- The Pride of the Yankees, the film that changed my mind about baseball (which used to be my least favorite sport) and home to one of Gary Cooper’s best performances
- Now, Voyager, a stellar romance of Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and two cigarettes lit at once
- Woman of the Year, a Tracy-Hepburn collaboration
And on top of that, there are several other TMP favorites: Keeper of the Flame (hated by many but loved by me), Random Harvest (a near-perfect sentimental tear-jerker), My Sister Eileen (a charming Roz Russell comedy of sisters conquering the big city), and Cat People (a Val Lewton masterpiece).
From the true classics to the cult hits, 1942 was a year that saw the release of many a wonderful watch!