For this week’s post, I’m publishing a bit later in the week than I normally do because I’m participating in the Classic Movie Ice Cream Social blog-a-thon, hosted by Movies Silently. While I must confess that I haven’t watched a great many silent films, I thoroughly enjoy reading the blog, and I’ve learned a lot about the art of storytelling as it’s done through the vehicle of silent film.
A good story is a good story, in my opinion, whether it’s a book, a musical, a comic, a silent film, a poem, or a song. So for this blog-a-thon, I’m sharing two of my favorite classic films that I think not only tell a good story, but just plain make me feel happy.
The Wizard of Oz
I’ve blogged about The Wizard of Oz numerous times before, because, well, it’s The Wizard of Oz. I love all of Baum’s Oz books, and I love the musical Wicked, but for me what started it all was watching the classic 1939 movie on TV as a kid. I know I’m dating myself here, but when I was really little, The Wizard of Oz would air on network TV once a year, and the whole world (or at least my family) would drop everything for the evening and watch it. We had two television sets (I know, we were big time), and thankfully one of them was a color set. Ah, that magical moment when Dorothy opens the door of her dingy house into the brightly colored world of Oz! Of course I now have the movie on DVD and can watch it any time I want, but it always takes me back to the special days when it was a rare treat.
So what makes this movie both a good story and a joyous experience?
- The Yellow Brick Road. Who doesn’t want to follow a bright yellow paved pathway through a magical land?
- The songs. Music can tell a story all by itself.
- It tells a classic story of good versus evil, and heroine who discovers herself along the way.
- While the Ozian characters may represent valuable human principles, like wisdom, love, and courage, those characters are first and foremost Dorothy’s friends. Any story with pals like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion is a great feel-good story.
The Gay Divorcee
This classic movie is another film that never fails to make me laugh and keep me entertained. First of all, it stars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – what’s not to love? I don’t have any nostalgic childhood memories for this movie the way I do for The Wizard of Oz, because I didn’t actually see it for the first time until pretty recently. But The Gay Divorcee quickly has become one of my favorite go-to movies for when I just want to relax and enjoy myself.
So what makes this movie a good story and such fun to watch?
- It’s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers singing and dancing. Need I say more?
- Snappy dialogue and witty banter the whole way through. Fred and Ginger’s characters trade barbs throughout the whole movie. And with more comedic lines added in by their frequent co-stars of Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, the film is just chock-full of good lines.
- The plot is actually a bit far-fetched, almost to the point of absurdity. Nobody ever accused a romantic comedy of being realistic, but the plot for The Gay Divorcee involves so many mix-ups, mistaken identities, and generally poor decision-making on the part of all the characters that it’s ridiculous. At least it’s consistently unrealistic, though, and so consistently funny that plot holes are forgivable.
- Did I mention the dancing? In my opinion, the dance number “Night and Day” tells a better story than the movie itself. This dance sequence is a masterful romance and seduction story, all told through music and a completely G-rated dance. If you want hilarity, watch the whole movie; but if you just want a sweet romance story, watch this dance.
What’s your favorite feel-good movie?