Wizard of Oz, Vertigo, Casablanca, And More: 13 Old Hollywood Movies To Rewatch ASAP
1/13 All About Eve (1950)
With a script befitting both cinema and theatre alike, this movie received 15 nominations and won six Oscars, including Best Picture. Starring the feisty Bette Davis, All About Eve, explores the relationship between Margo (Davis) and Eve (Anne Baxter) as they traverse the world of Broadway and stardom.
Trivia: One of Marilyn Monroe’s earliest movie credits.
2/13 Citizen Kane (1941)
Considered by many critics as the greatest film ever made (yes, you read that right), this drama by Orson Welles has been studied in academia as an exemplar for technical prowess. The script alone pulls you in. Citizen Kane may feel like a slow-burn, but with well-developed narrative tension and irony, it easily captivates viewers frame by frame. A masterclass at intrigue and storytelling, find out for yourself what exactly rosebud means.
3/13 Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Giving birth to the iconic ending line, “Alright Mr. Demille… I’m ready for my close-up”, this movie revolves around the eccentricities of protagonist Norma Desmond, an ageing silent film star. One of the most memorable noir films of its time, Sunset Boulevard captures Hollywood’s neurosis through the brilliant acting of Gloria Swanson as Desmond.
Trivia: The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version premiered in West End in 1993 (with Patti Lupone as Norma Desmond) and in Broadway in 1994 (starring Glenn Close), yet the preparations for a live version began almost immediately after filming the motion picture. Production hurdles delayed the musical for almost 40 years.
4/13 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
This movie is known for Marylin Monroe’s memorable rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend. Often parodied and copied, Monroe’s pink gown is just a drop in the bucket as to the stellar numbers to be found in this movie. A comedy musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows lead characters Dorothy (Jane Russell) and Lorelei (Monroe) who are con artists-cum-performers. Chockfull of sassy retorts and elaborate song numbers, this flick is always a fun watch!
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5/13 Casablanca (1942)
Humphrey Bogart’s most celebrated role! Winning Best Picture at the 16th Academy Awards, Casablanca exceeded expectations the world-over. Touted as just another romantic flick when it first came out, not many anticipated its legendary success. Critics considered this movie to be just another vehicle for Bogey’s typical leading man charm. Paired with the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, their on-screen chemistry catapulted this film into celebrity with the iconic line: we’ll always have Paris.
Trivia: Although Bogey seems larger than life on camera, he wasn’t the tallest leading man around. At 5’7, he had to stand on blocks or sit on cushions when filming a seen with Bergman who stood two inches taller. That’s Hollywood for you!
6/13 A Place in the Sun (1951)
Starring the incredibly photogenic couple (and real-life buddies) Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun is a thriller romance that propelled both actors into greater stardom. Here, Clift plays the mysterious George Eastman who pursues society girl, Angela Vickers (Taylor). The two fall in love yet George’s past creeps up on their relationship. A love story gone wrong, this film was nominated by The Academy for Best Picture for its exhilarating storytelling.
Trivia: Throughout his life, Monty Clift was hounded by the press who always questioned his sexuality. Widely recognised as a closeted homosexual, Clift battled drug addiction that would ultimately lead to his demise at 45 years old.
7/13 Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
This pop culture flick stars Hollywood’s bad boy gone too soon, James Dean, in his most captivating role. This quintessential film depicts the moral decay of America’s youth by problematising differences between generations. A coming-of-age film peppered with engaging dialogue and impressive acting chops by Dean, many viewers go back to this for its boldness and iconic scenes like the car chase at the Griffith Observatory.
8/13 A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
An adaptation of Tennessee William’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire portrays sisters Blanche (Vivien Leigh) and Stella (Kim Hunter) and her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando). Then-unknown actor, Brando would find huge fame due to his iconic scene in this film as he longingly calls for his wife, Stella.
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9/13 Vertigo (1958)
This noir psychological thriller by Hitchcock is definitely one for the books. Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, Vertigo brings together psychological elements that Hitchcock himself made exemplary. Capturing the epoch of mid-century horror, Vertigo explores the thin line between romance and obsession.
Trivia: Known for its scintillating soundtrack which was written to echo the fanatical theme of the movie. Listen to it here: Vertigo OST.
10/13 Gone With The Wind (1939)
Set in 1861 (on the eve of the American Civil War), this classic directed by Victor Fleming is largely remembered for Clark Gable’s legendary line: frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. A young Vivien Leigh stars opposite Gable and gives us a performance of a lifetime as Scarlett O’Hara. Gone With The Wind also features stars like Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard. Despite its success, many critics fault this movie for its illustration of slavery. Ironically, for her supporting role in the film, Hattie McDaniel took home the very first Oscar awarded to an actor of African-American descent.
Trivia: Total run time of almost four hours (including exit score and credits).
11/13 Roman Holiday (1953)
Although many remember Hepburn for her inimitable performance in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her Best Actress credit for this movie makes it one of her most memorable roles! Playing the naïve yet hopeful young princess Ann, Hepburn explores Rome through the eyes of a commoner as her willy character escapes royal duties. Ann meets Joe along the way and they develop a friendship that will inevitably come to an end.
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12/13 12 Angry Men (1957)
Recognised as one of the most important courtroom dramas ever made, 12 Angry Men, makes it to our list for its strong critical acclaim. The premise is simple yet it makes for an incredible exploration of morality, ethics, and justice. A jury of a dozen men decide on the fate of a Puetro Rican teenager accused of murdering his abusive father. Its timeless story resounds today as numerous remakes, adaptations, and tributes continue to pop-up left and right. This includes several comedy spins like episodes from Inside Amy Schumer and Family Guy.
13/13 Wizard of Oz (1939)
We would be remiss if we didn’t include Victor Fleming’s adaptation of the classic coming-of-age story of Dorothy (played here by Judy Garland). This movie became a turning point for cinema the world-over as the first official movie in Technicolor. Relive your childhood fancy as you walk along the yellow-brick road and sing along to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Don’t miss out on adorable cameos by Dorothy’s dog, Toto!
Trivia: One out of four of the ruby slippers Garland wore on set were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum, only to be found in 2018 by the FBI.
Read More: Hollywood’s Leading Men—Then and Now