In many cases, classic films are not realistic. And when, plot-wise, they are, it is still true that normal people would not have looked like old movie stars in the same situations. This glamorous haze of classic film can be a dangerous, manipulative thing, especially if you are an impressionable, sentimental pushover like me. And I think most of us classic film buffs are alike in that many of us probably like the idealized images of life in many classics. We don't want realism, we want magic. Or good old magical realism, so often absent in modern films. Some movies are so idealized they can convince you certain situations are wildly romantic and dramatic...and very desirable. (See the danger yet?)
These are the ones that do it for me:
His Girl Friday: Every time I watch it, I start considering becoming a reporter. Because, of course, my boss will be Cary Grant and suddenly I'll start speaking the fastest dialogue in motion picture history. Isn't that enough incentive for anybody?
Bringing up Baby: This one makes me want to be a nut al a Susan Vance. Blondes don't have more fun, nuts do!
Vacation from Marriage: This is a less well-known movie about a dowdy British couple that joins the armed forces during WWII and undergoes miraculous transformations. At the end of the war, each remember only how the other was before and decide before they reunite that they should get a divorce. Then they meet each other. Doesn't just the plot make you want to join the army? Even if it wasn't portrayed almost like a finishing school?
A Place in the Sun: The theme "Men kill for pretty women" is one of many reasons to avoid this depressing fare. I didn't think Shelley Winters was all that bad looking, but there is a distinct feeling to this film that unless you're Elizabeth Taylor, you're nobody. This is the "make yourself want to be a perfect beauty" film. Since in most cases there isn't much you can do about that, it get's classified as a depressant. A strong depressant.
Splendor in the Grass: The perfect film to convince you your eyes are too small.
Rebel Without a Cause: It makes you want to be a rebellious, victimized teenager. Judging by the stories of teenagers after its release, the effect is somewhat universal. Luckily, the plot of the film is good at convincing you you have a great life.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: The best advertising for New York ever! And who doesn't want to be Holly Golightly at some point in time?
Which ones do it for you??