Some of the best Classic Views out there, in my humble opinion. In no particular order.
1. All About Eve, 1950
The intrigue runs deep when the ambitious young actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) nestles her way into the closed circle surrounding the aging broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Eve’s presence grates on Margo’s already fraught nerves and creates ripples through Margo’s personal relationships. The story is told by writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Julius Ceasar, Cleopatra) with wit and expert pacing, setting youth against age in a brilliantly woven, character driven plot. And seated in the back of the picture between Bette and Anne is indeed Marilyn Monroe, nowhere near the enigma we know her as today: the small roll of the naive Miss Casswell is her first onscreen appearance.
2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961
This beloved classic stars Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in what is considered by most to be her parade role. Holly is a girl with her mind set on marrying rich and gaining the life she has always dreamed of, for herself and for her brother Fred, but when the young writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard) moves into the apartment above hers Holly’s carefully laid out plans begin to blur around the edges. The script was written by George Axelrod (The Seven Year Itch, The Manchurian Candidate) and the film was directed by Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther series). It’s considered a romantic comedy, but it has a depth of character and story that goes well beyond the conventional notion of what a (modern) romcom is. The film won an Academy Award for Best Song with Moon River, performed by Audrey Hepburn as depicted above.
3. The Apartment, 1960
This charming comedy-drama stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine as the busy working bee C.C. ”Bud” Baxter and the witty elevator operator Fran Kubelik, respectively. Bud has the ambition to rise in the ranks at the insurance company where he’s working and to do so he’s getting into the habit of lending his apartment out to the big bosses, who use it for their numerous flings. Fran, whom Bud has warmer feelings for, is the fling of big boss numero uno and, of course, things get complicated when Bud realizes his crush has been in his apartment and that she’s been there with another man. Written, directed and produced by the formidable Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, Sabrina) and with a script I would recommend any screenwriter
finds and reads immediately, this film is a simple feast in movie making, be it classic or contemporary.
4. Rear Window, 1954
I cannot do a classics edition without mentioning the master of suspense, Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. Rear Window is one of my favourites in his catalogue of masterpieces. Stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, L.B. ”Jeff” Jeffries overlooks the small courtyard of his building and observes the daily ongoings of his neighbors. All seems fairly mundane, until one neighbor’s wife suddenly disappears and Jeff starts to suspect murder. With Grace Kelly playing Jeff’s girlfriend Lisa Fremont, who becomes Jeff’s much needed legs in the investigation into his suspicions, the suspense is kept until the very last frame. A simply gorgeous thriller.
5. Top Hat, 1935
This is a truly funny, uplifting and romantic comedy starring the unbeatable dancing duo Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The movie contains several memorable moments, the most recognizable possibly being the pair’s performance of the Cheek to Cheek number (pictured above). The humour is warm and engaging, built on a case of mistaken identity as dancer Jerry (Astaire) falls in love with and pursues Dale (Rogers) after a formidable meet-cute involving Jerry tap dancing on the floor of his hotel room – which happens to be the ceiling of Dale’s. With a score by Irving Berlin the 1930’s don’t get much better than this.