His Girl Friday (1949) – Prime
This Cary Grant classic which sees him playing a newspaper editor trying to sabotage the relationship of his star reporter so that they won’t leave and get married. This film was based on the earlier movie The Front Page (1931)but with a twist. In the original the leaving reporter was male, while in Grant’s version they are female, adding an additional layer of romance and complication to the story.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – Prime
You don’t have to wait until Christmas to re-watch this Jimmy Stewart classic about a man who is given the opportunity to see what the world would really be like if he had never been born. Perhaps a little overly sentimental, there is still something about this film that just keeps bringing you back.
Let There Be Light (1946) – Netflix
A documentary film made by Joh Huston while he was serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, it was intended to educate the public about post-traumatic stress disorder. Something we will all have to worry about once this pandemic is over. It looks at the treatment of this mental disorder in returning veterans. The U.S. government was so unhappy with this portrayal that it banned the film until the 1980s. Just one more reason to watch.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – Netflix
One of Orson Welles’ lesser-known greats, it is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington. It looks at the declining fortunes and a wealthy family due to the rise of the automobile. One of the reasons this is one of his lesser-known works is that he lost control of the film at the editing stage, and he felt that the studios ruined the film at that point. Moreover, the cut portions were destroyed, so we can never know what Welles’ original vision looked liked.
Mughal e Azam (1960) – Netflix
The newest film on the list, this Indian movie tells the epic love story of a Mughal prince and a court dancer, before he became king. The relationship drives a wedge between the prince and his family, and he is forced to choose. This film took 15 years to make, with development beginning in 1944.
My Man Godfrey (1936) – Prime
This classic American Hollywood comedy of the day stars William Powell and Carole Lombard and tells the story of a climbing socialite who hires a homeless man to act as her family’s butler. She then proceeds to fall in love with him. Interestingly, the two stars had briefly married and divorced not long before filming.
Of Human Bondage (1934) – Prime
Bette Davis stars alongside Leslie Howard in the film that is widely believed to have made her a star. It tells the story of an underconfident young man that falls for a woman who has no interest in him, but is happy to use him to her own ends. We watch as their lives touch and separate, and one of them eventually meets a tragic end.
The Stranger (1946) – Netflix/Prime
Starring Edward G Robinson, Loretta Young and Orson Welles, this is Welles’ third feature film about a war crimes investigator tracking a Nazi fugitive in America. It was the first American film to present documentary footage of the Holocaust. The film was not only acclaimed by critics, but was Welles’ most successful in terms of the box office.
Strangers on a Train (1951) – Netflix
This Alfred Hitchcock classic has been imitated many times, but nothing touches the original. Farley Granger, Ruth Roman and Robert Wagner star in this film about two strangers who meet on a train and hatch the perfect crime by exchanging murders. But it seems that one of them was more serious about the pact than the other.
The Third Man (1949) – Netflix
Based on a story by Braham Greene, Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli and Orson Welles star. Set in post-World War II Vienna, it follows a man who is given a job in Vienna by a friend, only to arrive and find his friend dead. As he tries to figure out what happened, he finds himself caught up in something much bigger than he imagined.