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These are in reverse order by year. I'll usually keep a top favorite at the beginning of list.
PS Sunrise (1927) is the oldest movie and only silent film that I love. I tacked it onto the end of this list because I didn't want to make a list with only one silent film;)
One of the best!
Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of my favorite Hallmark movies of all times! The writing, the chemistry between the two leads, the touching moments interlaced with quirky humor make this a can't miss movie. I keep it on my DVR, but it's also available at Prime, but they still show it in a tiny, early window of Christmas films as of 2019. I adore Autumn Reeser and Antonio Cupo in this movie and hope that Hallmark can learn from the older movies that this movie is a model for how to make a good movie no matter what time of year. Enjoy!
I Do, I Do, I Do (2015)
This is one if the best!
I do, I do, I do, love this fun movie! Autumn Reeser experiences her own type of Groundhog Day on her wedding day. She is adorable and her chemistry with Shawn Roberts is perfect. This is one of my favorites that I watch often and highly recommend!
A Christmas Detour (2015)
The detour is the way to go!
This Hallmark movie is one of my favorites because it is charming and funny. The entire cast is perfect and Paul Greene and Candace Cameron Bure have great chemistry. The typical clichés of the storyline are so over the top that they work. I highly recommend A Christmas Detour for any time of the year!
A Bride for Christmas (2012)
One of the best!
This is one of the best Hallmark movies of all time. It is so quirky and fun. Andrew Walker and Ariel Kebbel have made 2 fantastic movies together with this being their first. The entire cast is wonderful. I would love for Hallmark to revisit the magic in this film. There is not one from 2019 that I highly recommend. I enjoy watching the older ones best and this is a real Christmas present!
Snowed-Inn Christmas (2017)
Snowed-Inn Christmas is my favorite TV movie for 2017. It's rare that a Lifetime movie edged out a Hallmark film, but this one certainly did. Andrew Walker and Bethany Joy Lenz have perfect on screen chemistry that can also be seen in Hallmark's Bottled with Love (2019). The plot is refreshing and the humor and tenderness are well-done by the two leads. You have to suspend belief on this one, but it's a true Christmas treat!
Bridal Wave (2015)
Bridal Wave is wonderful!
Bridal Wave is one of my favorite Hallmark movies. It still comes on fairly often and I highly recommend thanks to the cast, chemistry, and humor. Andrew Walker always gives his best. Arielle Kebbel, especially when paired with Walker, is perfectly cast. I watch this one often and consider it a favorite. Highly recommend!
Bottled with Love (2019)
Best Hallmark film of 2019!
Bottled with Love is my favorite Hallmark film after watching (or trying to) every new Hallmark movie of 2019. It deserves a review and to be watched. Andrew Walker is my favorite leading man with his quirky humor, good looks, and perfect charm. Lenz, when paired with the right leading man and script, is always good, too. This is obviously modeled after You've Got Mail, but that is also one of my favorite films of all time. So if any of these positive points appeal to you, pop the cork and enjoy this fun film!
The Secret Ingredient (2020)
The Secret Ingredient is Sweet
This is simply a sweet Hallmark movie! Brendan Penny with his crinkly-eyed smile is getting better with each movie and age. Erin Cahill is lovely and these two had good on-screen chemistry. The formula was refreshingly different which is why I liked it. I think it would have helped to up the humor which would result in a higher rating. Worth a watch for Hallmark fans!
Bleak House (2005)
My favorite Dickens adaptation!
I've seen many adaptations dating back to the Golden Age of Dickens' works. I waited till 2018 to watch Bleak House which was an incredible oversight in hindsight, but it was so worth the wait. Every character is fascinating and played beautifully by this amazing cast. The pacing was perfect and the suspense was superior. It took me totally by surprise. I recommend that any lover of great literature and British period pieces make this a must see.
A man's show written by men for men and that's why I like it.
This is a totally different type of western with Taylor Sheridan at the helm, but it's definitely a fascinating show with all the well-developed characters and backstory, the breathtaking scenery, that amazing ranch, and a family that's so abnormal that it makes me appreciate my own even more. Yes, it's hard to hear and there is a bit much R rated material, but I think this is definitely a man's show written by men for men and that's why I like it. That's the same reason I like the classic westerns of the golden age. This is not a woman's world at all. Costner's John Dutton is still living in the past and plotting things to keep his world from becoming modern. I find it fascinating that as I watched the last episode of season 1 last night, I was rooting for the bad men. But who on this show is not a bad man? Yes, there's scenery chewing and a soap opera feel at times, but it's got all the elements of a modern revisionist western that had me hooked all summer and will hook me in again next summer for season 2.
The Affair (2014)
Keep watching because it just gets better!
I've watched this show from the beginnieng, and each season prior to season 4, I considered giving up on it. Sometimes it was a bit boring, oftentimes way oversexed, and definitely just plain weird. However, all that was needed for the development of the entire show, and I'm so glad I stuck it out because season 4 is hands down the best season of them all. Each season is a build up and this season actually is where we see all the characters finally intertwine in a brilliant way that I laughed and cried with them and didn't want it to be over. It's like the cake was baking all this time and now it's time for the icing. I'm so glad there will be a 5th season to bring a resolution to characters that have been so well-developed that I actually care how it all plays out for them.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017)
I am late to the party on watching it, but with awards season buzz, I decided to tune in and once I did, I was hooked. The writing, the costumes, the scenery, the late 1950's time period, and the supporting cast are all wonderful. In addition, Rachel Brosnahan embodies the funniest and freshest character I've seen on any show in ages. With a strong female lead and being created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, this actually is something I'd recommend to my female friends for sure. I'm almost jealous of myself that I can't see it for the first time again, but thankfully there's a season 2 coming soon. Also, to all those who don't get it, it's one of those shows that you either get or you don't. If you do get it, then from beginning to end, it's absolutely marvelous in every way!
Pearl in Paradise (2018)
This was definitely a real gem!
Thank you, Hallmark, for finally making a romcom worth recommending and definitely worth watching again. I am happy to say that this is a long time coming second movie that I've added to my Hallmark favorites list this year in addition to The Beach House which was a well done Hallmark Hall of Fame drama. Kristoffer Polaha and Jill Wagner are two of my favorites in the Hallmark family and their chemistry and comic timing was spot on. The scenery was gorgeous while in Fiji again, but this was the first of the summer movies this year that had a well-written script instead of just relying on the exotic locations (which have definitely been a real treat all summer) to amp up the stories. Finally, it was just wonderful that there was no jealous, overbearing boyfriend showing up at the halfway point. This is still mostly predictable, but it's a fun, adventurous, romantic journey and my favorite Hallmark film this year...so far!
Romance in Manhattan (1935)
A new classic film favorite!
I have seen over 2,000 classic films in the last 6 years, and somehow I let this one slip by me. It is rare that I uncover a new classic film favorite, but I did with this film.
"Romance in Manhattan" works so well thanks to the wonderful performances by Ginger Rogers and especially Francis Lederer. I would have loved to see him hit stardom, but he had a long career and lived 100 years despite not becoming a household name. Lederer is so charismatic and handsome in this film with such an exuberant spirit. A young Ginger Rogers is lovely, has great chemistry with Lederer, and is a loving sister.
There are two subplots, but this is mostly about a man coming to America to live the "American Dream" which he does while finding romance along with it. If that appeals to you, then I highly recommend this delightful little gem.
Anna and the King (1999)
Quickly became one of my most romantic films of all time!
I have seen "Anna and the King of Siam" with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison and loved it! Totally recommend it to classic movie fans! I was never a huge fan of "The King and I" though it is lovely to look at and I love Deborah Kerr. I've intended to watch "Anna and the King" for some time, and it happened to come on HDNET movies this weekend. Thankfully, I recorded it.
On the first watch, it quickly became one of my most romantic films of all time! I know it's much more fiction than fact, but good movies usually are to me. This was lavish, beautifully photographed, had a lovely score, had enough action to build suspense, and, wow, did Jodie Foster and Yung-Fat Chow (they've reversed his name) have palpable chemistry. Loved everything about it!
I've watched it again several times already. I rarely do that. I also rarely give a film a 10, especially right away, but this one gets one for all the reasons above and more. I recommend it to anyone who loves period pieces, especially romantic ones.
Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)
Nancy steals the show in Rio!
This is a delightful early Jane Powell film. It reminds me a bit of Holiday in Mexico with the crush on the much older man not stopping spunky Jane! She's also as precious as she is in A Date with Judy. Young Jane couldn't help but light up the screen with her fun performances.
It's Ann Sothern month on TCM and I'm not sure I'd have had the chance to see how delightful she is otherwise and am so grateful they have honored her. This is one of my favorites I've seen. Jane and Ann look very much like mother and daughter and both have lovely singing voices. I have to confess I skipped through the Carmen Miranda numbers (I think you either love her or you don't as a singer, but I liked her acting role) but I loved all the others. I particularly loved the chemistry with the tall, dark and handsome Barry Sullivan as a rare lead and Louis Calhern as the witty and fun grandfather.
Lovely Technicolor and costuming, fine acting, good chemistry, the Brazilian influence on many of the musical numbers, and the precious romantic comedy script made a rainy afternoon just perfect!
Quality Street (1937)
A delightful play literally put to the screen!
I appreciated this as a delightful play literally put to the screen. It was a bit of a mix of Jane Austen's Emma and perhaps Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford with a touch of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Of course, as written by James Barrie it had its own twist on British society as set in the early 1800's on Quality Street where every woman on it knows everyone's business.
This is more of an endorsement and less of a plot review, though. I rarely love Katharine Hepburn. I appreciate her as a fine actress, and it was nice to see her acting feminine without fighting for feminism. She was sweet and restrained with just the right amount of tears, smiles, and feminine wiles. This is not something we see much of or at all after this film. This is definite a 1930's version of a chick flick.
The supporting cast shines all the way. I adore Franchot Tone and love seeing him in the lead. The women on Quality were written and acted so well but with the satiric and comic flare to make this a fun little romp. I particularly noticed they got the costuming right with the Empire waist gowns and not the hoop skirts used in 1940's delightful but totally inaccurate as to wardrobe in Pride and Prejudice.
Just as the above authors' work still holds up today, so does this delightful little film.
Down to the Sea in Ships (1949)
Two full hours of exciting sailing!
There's no one who plays the salty old sea captain quite like Lionel Barrymore. And few child stars had the love of the camera and the audience like Dean Stockwell (who's still acting even now, well into his 70's). I've never been a huge Richard Whidmark fan, but I've never made a point to become one. Now I see what all the fuss was about as he embarked on his early leading man career as the (top-billed) first mate and book-learned master seaman of a whale boat out of New Bedford, MA in the late 1800's.
The three main characters are on a consistent wave of hooking each other where it hurts when ultimately it's their pride and inability to get along as the order of a ship must prevail over the lives of the men. These are hard lessons for a boy who is in the school of whaling, book-learning, and life while on board. Ultimately, he learns all of his lessons and then some in this bittersweet story that will make you watch and root for the whole crew. We see a bit about whaling, but this is really about a boy becoming a man and the men who help him. The supporting cast couldn't be better as many of the greatest character actors help pull this ship successfully out to sea.
Is this as good as Captain's Courgeous? Well, it's not really fair to compare. If you don't expect Captain's Courageous, you'll hopefully not be disappointed. If you expect a fine character driven story while set on the sea in ships, then you'll hopefully enjoy two full hours of exciting sailing.
Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
Bellamy and Garson make a truly convincing team.
I'm a fan of biographies, but most I never want to watch again even if they were pretty good. SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO is an exception to my usual rule. This is such a complex and emotional film that it's worth seeing at least once.
Ralph Bellamy repeats his successful stage role and does so with great aplomb. But the real bravo goes to Greer Garson. She's barely recognizable as Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm sure she gave Meryl Streep a lesson or two in becoming a real life character vs. portraying one. Both are fine actresses, but I'd say Garson accomplishes this goal even more so than Streep in THE IRON LADY. However, there's no need to have a competition. My point is that the great actresses of today clearly were influenced by the great ones of yesteryear. Garson, though nominated, didn't win the Oscar. Elizabeth Taylor did for BUTTERFIELD 8. This film is an example of an actress who might have won in a less political year. But the Oscars aren't the litmus test for all films.
Garson's Eleanor Roosevelt champions Bellamy's FDR, overcomes his and her own adversities, raises a large family to boot, and is still one of the most famous women in history. Garson has no trouble whatsoever in accomplishing this great feat of portraying so adeptly this powerhouse of a woman. If you like American history (tweaked of course to pass the Hays code), biographies, or Bellamy, or especially Garson, then watch this engrossing film and be transported to another era where even the rich, famous, and powerful people have problems, yet they lead by example and overcome the necessary obstacles together that cover the steps (literally) which eventually lead to their place in political history.
The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
A surprising little gem
The first time I saw this film, I was so undone by the underhandedness and unfairness, that I swore it off for future viewings. Then it rolled around on TCM's schedule again, and I had forgotten most of the plot. On this viewing, I paid closer attention to every little detail, and I totally changed my mind about this surprising little film. It had little elements of hilarity that I had forgotten or totally missed the first time. Cagney is quite like that in his comedic roles, I've noticed, and De Hvilland is, too.
After getting to know James Cagney and Jack Carson a bit better through numerous other films, I began to have a newfound attachment to this film. One main reason is that it just makes better sense when you pay close attention. Once that all happens, you see De Havilland is quite charming and her understated attractiveness totally envelops the cheap tramp ways of the usual bombshell, Rita Hayworth.
The only thing that bothers me is the eight years it takes Biff (Cagney) to exact his revenge. Eight years is a long time, but it's a movie and it does fly by! And revenge is exacted. Just as romantic comedies go, there is a very happy ending. The best part is it is totally not formulaic and, therefore, a real surprise. De Havilland and Cagney have one of De Havilland's cutest scenes caught on film as the movie ends. It's a great ending and a surprising little gem made larger and greater by fantastic writing and a superior cast.
Dial M for Murder (1954)
I don't love it, but I'm still drawn to it.
DIAL M FOR MURDER is not my least favorite Hitchcock film, but it also isn't my favorite. However, it has grown on me with repeated viewings, so I'm updating an old review I had deleted which I originally wrote after my first viewing. It's definitely a film I still want to revisit. I appreciate the stylization and simplicity of the set. Since this was originally released in 3D, that explains why the less is more approach works. The plot is plausible. Grace's wardrobe is simple yet lovely, and Grace herself is as beautiful as always.
My issues were and still are with the casting and the acting...two pretty big issues. I don't believe for one minute that Grace Kelly's character would love, much less marry Ray Milland's. I also don't believe that she would become romantically involved with Robert Cummings. Fine actors on their own, they are not credible to me as love interests for such a young beauty. That element weakens the whole plot.
The acting leans toward the over-the-top melodrama of the Golden Age. This is quite unusual and unnecessary in a Hitchcock film. Grace is guilty of it herself. Her accent bothered me originally. She sounds a little British and a little bit of Hollywood vocal polish. Milland, who can be very charming, is almost too bland and his clipped speech drains away his emotion to such a point that it is hard to connect with his character at all and to see how Grace ever could have fallen in love with him. Robert Cummings is pure American Pie, which he really is, but he doesn't seem like someone who would attract Grace Kelly away from her debonair yet older husband. None of the characters seem full of enough emotion to be caught up in a love triangle much less a murder plot. I am plenty capable of suspending belief, but if this movie is going to be so highly ranked in the IMDb 250 out of all the movies in the world, then I find it quite surprising and tend to wonder if guys are so stuck on Grace (in clothes or even in a nightgown) or loyal to Hitchcock that the implausibility of the plot with all of its flaws with the main characters is accepted without question.
I have loved both of these main male stars as well as Kelly in other films. Sometimes I'll watch a film just to get to see these actors act. This one, even after repeated viewings, still bugs me, but I still find myself drawn to it regardless. I've finally realized that it plays like a play. it is simple and the supporting cast and mystery really drive the plot. That is a testament to Hitchcock's ability to pull together a film that doesn't compare in dramatic content to most of his other films, yet it still envelops and endures almost 60 ears later. I'd still say if you are stuck on a Hitchcock picture with Grace Kelly, then go for TO CATCH A THIEF or, even better, REAR WINDOW, but if you are determined to a less action-packed mystery, then DIAL M will draw you in every time.
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
The best version of them all!
I watched this film because I'm such a fan of Irene Dunne, particularly in her light-hearted romantic and screwball comedies. There are some amusing situations, but this is ultimately a drama and certainly not a lavish musical. It still, to me, is the best version of them all.
This film hits hard right out of the gate with Anna and her son caught in a situation that neither quite expect. Rex Harrison plays the King surprisingly well despite not looking as exotic as Yul Brenner or as truly authentic as Yun-Fat Chow. Dunne's determination and caring for her son spur her on and make her brave and strong in an understated fashion as the film progresses. The main characters repartee is a delight to witness. Their chemistry is just right, and they do not have the luxury of lavish musical numbers to draw them together. One just knows they have a great respect for each other from very fine acting.
I will say that I found this version the most emotionally charged of the three motion pictures, yet it is not a Peyton Place melodrama. Maybe that's why I love it so. It's so well-made in every aspect that it really packs that emotional punch for me. I didn't even recognize the usually very recognizable Lee J. Cobb and somehow missed his name in the credits the first time.
I think this is about as fine an epic drama about forbidden romance and opposing cultures as I've seen. I give most of that credit to the wonderful performances of the leads and the incredibly adept script. It entertains, tugs at your heartstrings, and doesn't disappoint. I highly recommend it as the best version of them all:)
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Watching Julia misbehave is a real treat:)
I adore this nutty little film. I love Garson, Pidgeon, Taylor, and Lawford in almost any movie and particularly teamed together. Cesar Romero also adds flavor in a comedic supporting role. I enjoy classic and screwball comedies and have a long list made of those (this one is on it). Is this the best of the best? No, but it's fun and well made. That's a prerequisite for my list. I own it and still watch it each time it comes on TCM.
Elizabeth Taylor, as the mutual daughter and young bride, is so young and lovely. She still has an innocence to her performance at this stage that I enjoy. Peter Lawford is young, suave, and cocky. Walter Pidgeon is typical Walter Pidgeon. But it's Greer Garson's movie and in it she shines. She produces screwball romantic comedy antics worthy of Irene Dunne or Jean Arthur.
This is a must see for Garson fans. I highly recommend it to fans of any of the cast or of the genre. It's not perfect, but it sure entertains. And isn't that the point?
Strange Lady in Town (1955)
Worth a watch
I originally watched this because I'm a fan of Greer Garson, Dana Andrews, period pieces, and westerns. These are still all great reasons to watch this film. I gained a few others, too, like the well-done portrayal of Spurs by Lois Smith, the rival doctors in a small town drama who are, of course, Garson and Andrews, and the lovely Technicolor where we get to see Garson in all her true, red-haloed glory.
This isn't an awful film. I might even watch it again someday. However, all of the positive elements failed to add up to equal the caliber of film both of these actors had made many times before. Also, Dana Andrews looked a bit too young for Garson as he often did with a costar who wasn't at least 5 years younger or more. He had a young face even for a man with a drinking problem. I adore both of these actors, but this might have been a good time to match Garson with Pidgeon one more time. You can hardly beat that teaming;) They could have added some humor and it might have turned out to be more than "worth a watch" for me. Also, I chalk it off to poor writing, Cameron Mitchell's usual overacting, and not much romantic tension between the leads (bad casting there as I really like each actor separately).
If you are a fan of these actors or westerns or bored and prefer classics to other films, then I recommend watching it purely on the fact that it is beautifully shot and Greer Garson, with her gentle demeanor and lovely beauty and voice, can make even a fairly bad picture better:)
Mr. Lucky (1943)
It's one of those movies that is so good, I wish I could see it again for the first time!
Cary Grant is my favorite actor. I've had a crush in him since seeing his movies on TV as a little girl. Most of my very favorite movies star the great Cary Grant and his plethora of beautiful leading ladies. So with an almost 40 year crush on Cary Grant and having seen almost all of his films, imagine my surprise when I discovered a new Cary Grant film which jumped near the top of the list of my favorite Grant movies of all time on my first viewing!
MR. LUCKY is a delightfully complex film. It has crime, drama, war, con-artists, socialites putting on charity balls, gambling, drama, romance, comedy, knitting, cockney rhyming slang, and most of all, heart. It's a redemption story told against the backdrop of the home front efforts in World War II. The men have a plan and the women have a plan. You'll have to watch to see who prevails, but it is a romantic comedy after all, so the answer is pretty obvious.
What isn't so obvious is Mr. Cary Grant. If you think you know Grant from his numerous comedic and occasional tough guy roles, then you're in for a real treat as you experience this film for the first time. It's one of those movies that is so good, I wish I could see it again for the first time. Grant is spot-on perfect as the crooked gambler Joe. Laraine Day is unusually perfect as his leading lady. I wasn't sure how I'd like her paired with Grant, but they have marvelous chemistry and delightful repartee. Two of my favorite character actors are Charles Bickford and Gladys Cooper who shine in their supporting roles. But ultimately, Cary Grant, as he always does, steals the show. He can't help it. He's Cary Grant. However, he's not playing the perfectly suave ladies' man. He's a tough guy who learns through his crooked dealings with some kindhearted women that he has a heart, too.
As a drooling admirer, I'm not sure he ever looked as good as he does in this film (especially in his early years as an actor). He also let's a little bit of his Mid-Atlantic accent go and gives us a touch of his British side. It's endearing and unusual for Grant. If anyone ever thought Grant was underrated as an actor, then here is a case for it. You don't even realize you're watching Cary Grant, and that's hard for almost any fan to forget despite his wonderful acting and diverse roles. He's fully transported into the character and he brings us right along for a real surprise.