My Favourite Films

This will horrify you all. I am NOT a film buff. If critics rave over a new movie, the chances are I’d better not watch it, as it will be gruesome or upsetting, or probably both. I watch maybe two new films a year. The rest of the time, if I want to see a film (and that’s rare), I much prefer to watch an old favourite. And I crave old-fashioned movies, where actors are allowed to act and the script is not written by nineteen people and in consequence is coherent and witty and sharp. Take all your fancy CGI and drop it off the edge of a cliff, as far as I’m concerned; the fact a movie is in 3-D, for instance, will deter me entirely from watching it.

Thinking about it, I could probably have put together my ten worst movies easier than my ten favourites.  In the early days of dating Mister Litlove, his home town boasted a tiny arts cinema and he would often take me there, before he knew better. The turkeys I sat through! I will never forget Kamikaze, a French film about a madman in an attic who had created a special machine to shoot television continuity announcers on screen. Or the one about the gay Spanish architect, building a room on his house for his mother. When you are very squeamish, as I am, and dislike being confronted with images you are unlikely to forget in a hurry, you learn to tread very carefully with films, and for years I saw almost exclusively children’s movies, although they were differently disturbing as they made me weep buckets. Take away violence, take away tragedy, what have you got left, film-wise? Well, here are the ones I will gladly watch:

Rear Window

The dress is nice, but I really love those pyjamas


I don’t wish to count how many times I’ve seen this. It is my number one comfort movie, a tale of one invalid avenging another, with the gorgeous Grace Kelly and James Stewart proving that what you really need when convalescing is an absorbing hobby.






Bullets Over Broadway

I’m a big Woody Allen fan, and I also love Manhatten Murder Mystery and Alice. The fact that some of Allen’s best films are about creativity really pleases me. I even love Deconstructing Harry for all the interpolated fictional stories.


I could probably have filled the list up with Hitchcock and Woody Allen but I won’t. I have to include Vertigo,though, as I

Oh Kim, those eyebrows!

think it’s still one of the cleverest movies I’ve ever seen. Kim Novak sets my teeth on edge, but in a good way, if that makes any sense at all.




Much Ado About Nothing

Even Keanu was good in this one, honest!


Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson combine to make this one of the happiest most delightful films you are ever likely to see. It’s just so much fun, and so sunny and captivating. Shakespeare wears his smiley face.






Don Juan DeMarco

A lesser-known Jonny Depp film, in which Depp stars as a modern day Don Juan who may simply be a confused kid in need of psychiatric care. Marlon Brando is his concerned shrink, who begins by not believing a word he says and then gradually gets seduced by the stories of his romantic exploits. This is by no means a classic romance, but it’s the most romantic film I’ve ever seen. Big favourite with Mister Litlove, too.

James and the Giant Peach

Can you see New York yet, James?


I watched this over and over with my son when he was little. I’m not really a fan of Roald Dahl, but the fantastic animation worked so perfectly here with the quirky story.  Plus Miriam Margolyes and Joanna Lumley as evil aunts are a treat.





Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Okay, so the end always makes me cry, but I forgive it. Audrey Hepburn is utterly gorgeous and George Peppard is charming (who’d have guessed they loathed one another when they were filming?). I’d watch it just for those opening scenes of Audrey in her impossibly chic dress with the pearl collar and her hair in a perfect chignon.




Aren't they lovely?

While we’re with the old movies, I thought I’d put in this one starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman as sparring lovers. I really love the way that Grant is always urbane on the surface and yet glintingly crackers underneath. I could have added Notorious to the list, which I also love, and That Touch of Mink with Doris Day. Yeah, yeah, old-fashioned and not very feminist so bite me. I don’t care.





Tomorrow Never Dies

No such thing as a gratuitious Pierce Brosnan photo


I remember when I was a child watching my first Bond movie and thinking that I had never, ever seen anything so thrilling. Bond always makes me feel Christmassy too, in a good way, because there was often one on in the afternoons on those lovely restful days leading up to New Year. My son loved them, too, and we had good times watching them together. I am a Pierce Brosnan sort of woman, to Mister Litlove’s chagrin. Every time Brosnan comes on screen, Mister Litlove coughs ‘catalogue model’ not-so-discreetly.



Jean de Florette, Au Revoir les Enfants and L’Appartement

I wanted to have a French film on the list, but just couldn’t decide between these three. Jean de Florette has the wonderful Depardieu and is a tale of rural folk and thwarted love in the deep south. Au Revoir les Enfants is a touching tale of a little Jewish boy kept under cover in his boarding school while WW2 rages on. L’Appartement is a sort of fluffy-slick thriller about mistaken identities, starring Vincent Cassel whose bags under his eyes please me in a way I cannot explain.

Et voilà! I daresay I will be watching some of these yet again over the festive period.


34 thoughts on “My Favourite Films

  1. I suggest:
    Miss Pettigrew lives for a day
    Pretty Woman?
    12 Angry Men is a great courtroom drama of the old style.
    And totally agree with you re Breakfast at Tiffany’s. So beautiful. My Fair Lady?

    • Readingwithtea – you are absolutely on my wavelength. I actually love Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and happened coincidentally to watch it on Friday evening! It’s one that makes me cry, though, not because it’s sad but because it’s touchingly happy. Happy can be worse for tearjerking than sad, I find! Pretty Woman I did used to love, haven’t seen it in a while, though. And 12 Angry Men sounds great! I love Audrey in anything (and have seen My Fair Lady as a child – it used to be on over Christmas).

  2. An awful lot of my favorite movies appeared on your list. I also love Holiday (Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn). It is a great movie for New Year’s Eve.

  3. Rear Window is great. If I were to make a list of my favorite films this year, it would look like this:
    1. Winter’s Bone (Granik)
    2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
    3. Le Havre (Kaurismäki)

    • Sigrun, thank you for that! So fascinating to see your list, and I’m sure that Jodie reviewed Winter’s Bone in a way that made it sound fascinating. I will maybe be brave enough to check that one out.

  4. Some of my favourites on your list – Much Ado and Jean de Florette. Would love to see both again. I also watch a lorra lorra kids’ movies, and have just come from a family screening of Nanny McPhee 2, which is rather brilliantly scripted by Emma Thompson. I laughed, I cried and there were no scenes of intolerable violence – a perfect film.

  5. What a fun list! I have not heard of many of these movies, but I am most definitely going to check them out. I love Annie Hall, and I sent you an email about that movie. I actually prefer movies that make me cry–who knows why? Some of my favorites are Life as a House, The Way We Live Now, and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yes, I know Barbra Streisand movies can have too much schmaltz, but I freely admit that I still like them! One of my favorite old movies is Now Voyager with Bette Davis. And the other two movies I have a sentimental attachment to are St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night. They are not exactly great movies, but I was such a huge Rob Lowe fan back in the day, that any movie showcasing him was a favorite of mine.

    • Ali – my mum is a big Barbra Streisand fan, so I have been brought up with her music playing and her films on. I actually think she’s pretty fab, too, and incredibly talented. I saw The Mirror Has Two Faces and loved it – she makes a fantastic lecturer! Oh and I also loved her in Prince of Tides. Your mention of Bette Davis reminded me of All About Eve, which I saw a while back and loved, too. The other movies you mention are mostly new to me and I must check them out. I will have to put my mind to thinking about weepy movies because I feel sure I have seen loads (be warned – I cry easily at films!). I’ll pass any titles onto you.

      • Thanks for the response, Litlove. I wrote The Way We Live Now instead of The Way We Were! I guess I am getting my Trollope confused with my Streisand! And don’t expect much from the Rob Lowe movies; they are not great film in any way! They just showcase his great looks!

  6. litlove,

    This is a good list, and I agree some of them are simply classics. I’ve wanted to watch Bullets Over Broadway but haven’t been able to find a copy. I’m a Woody Allen fan, highly respect his humor and talents. You’ll enjoy Midnight In Paris, it’s out in DVD now.

    To add to your French film list, I’ve one recommendation. (Not sure if you’ve seen it or not) It’s one of my all time best film: “Il y a longtemps que je t’aime” (English title: “I’ve Loved You So Long”) It’s written and directed by the French author Philippe Claudel, with my favorite actress Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s very moving, exceptionally performed, no violence, not gruesome, has great characterization and a most cathartic ending. If you’re interested, here’s a review I wrote on the film a few years back.

    Last but not least: keep the film posts coming! For a non-film-buff, you’ve seen quite a lot!

    • Arti – I think you more than anyone has encouraged me to watch more films. You have a knack of finding ones that I think I might be able to sit through! I have heard of I’ve Loved You So Long and would like to watch that. And I really want to see Midnight in Paris. It’s funny – I think I’ve hardly seen any films, but when I look back, I have in fact seen quite a lot. I guess that’s what 42 years on the planet do for you! 🙂

  7. I can’t make a Top 10 movie list, I would have to have 10, one per genre but then again, I see movies as much as an artform as books. Far off mainstream cinema, especially the independet movies have a way of story telling that is worth exploring and neither graphic nor gruesome. Sigrun has given excellent examples for this year. What I like about movies is that they speak to many senses. An artful movie will combine photography, music, story telling and a lot more.
    I would suggest, if you haven’t done so already to watch Jane Campion’s movies. She is my favourite film maker and I had planned to make a post on her soon.
    I need to re-watch some Woody Allen.

    • Caroline – the only Jane Campion film I’ve seen was The Piano, and I had to leave at the part where he chopped her finger off. I know you didn’t see anything really, but it was too powerful a moment for me, wimp that I am! Are there other movies by her that aren’t quite so… raw? I wish I appreciated film more. But I do love the old ones, and perfectly understand how rich a medium cinema can be when it’s used well. I think you’re right that independent cinema probably has a lot more to offer someone like me. I can’t bear the way that so many films -most of the mainstream ones – are essentially fantasies of one kind or another. Nothing that anyone is actually going to live in an ordinary way. I’d love to see your lists, even if they were huge!

      • You could try Bright Star and Portrait of a Lady and her adaptation of Jane Frame’s An Angel at My Table. I find that scene in The Piano horrible to watch as well but it’s one of the movies with the most beautiful cinematography and score. I do watch the odd mainstream movies but they are like genre novels (not the top range usually). I just think it’s to bad that people reduce cinema to them while so-called “author cinema” offers a lot that could movie making offers. Sophia Coppola is another favourite (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides). I also like ciema from other countries a lot. Chinese and Korean.

  8. Great list, Litlove. I love Jimmy Stewart’s pajamas too, but as a person who sews and knits, I do pretty much swoon over Grace Kelly’s wardrobe in Rear Window. That black & white dress that Jimmy Stewart looks askance at and she casually remarks “Oh, we sell two or three in this price range every week.” So beautiful. I love To Catch a Thief for that reason too, especially the coordinated dusty rose driving suit she wears for their jaunt in the convertible, where her hair stays perfectly coiffed and you get to see her coordinated open-toe heels when she brakes the car unexpectedly. 🙂 Hitchcock paid so much attention to clothes, it makes his films that much more enjoyable for a fiber-arts nut like me.

    • Oh Emily – what a wonderful partner you would be for a session of costume dramas! Actually, I completely agree with you about Grace Kelly’s wardrobe in Rear Window. I love her leaf green suit with the cream halterneck blouse. I haven’t looked closely enough at To Catch A Thief (which gives me a lovely reason to watch it again), but I will make sure to look out for the open-toe heels! I hadn’t thought about Hitchcock and wardrobe but you’re right – he needed his ladies beautiful and perfect so that he could mess them up properly!

  9. Pingback: Watching A Movie Over And Over And Over… « Broadside

  10. Lovely list! I’m a big fan of Hitchcock movies and Carey Grant in anything *sigh*. I was brought up on all the old classics and am always a little bit flummoxed to find out people haven’t seen big epics and black and whites. If you’re a Pears Brosnan fan (I like those Bond films, although not as much as the Daniel Craig ones) might I suggest the film version of Mama Mia? Very light, fluffy and funny.

    • Oh how wonderful to think of you as an old movie fan! Do you remember an old black and white which I’m sure was called The League of Gentlemen? For years I was really confused about its relation to the tv series. But I saw the old film one weekend and just loved it. And Cary Grant is just a treat. I did see Mama Mia once, a long time back and I enjoyed it. Well, Pierce Brosnan AND Colin Firth – what was there not to like? 🙂 I would love to see it again.

      • I’ve never heard of this film, but Richard Attenborough! Putting it on the Lovefilm list now (although it’s not so good for old films sadly).

  11. I don’t watch many new movies either though I enjoy popping in a video when I am stitching on weekends. And I agree–Love old Doris Day movies and That Touch of Mink is my favorite. Not a feminists dream movie, but it cracks me up to no end (especially the scene with the liquor bottle attached to her toe–hilarious). I also love just about anything by Alfred Hitchcock–I know nothing really about films, but I have to say he is my favorite director. I just watched Vertigo again over the Thanksgiving holiday but Rear Window is also my favorite–isn’t Grace Kelly marvelous?

  12. Oh yes!!! Grace Kelly is fabulous. Did she make (excuse my ignorance here!) many other films that weren’t Hitchcock? I should seek them out, if so. I love Hitchcock so, though, and really like the thought of you watching Vertigo over Thanksgiving. I could watch his films over and over (Dial M for Murder is another of my favourites, with Kelly again). And how lovely to find another Doris Day fan. I really like her. I don’t know why, particularly, but she’s sort of special to me. It was nice to be reminded of that scene of her with the bottle on her toe (lol!). I may have to stick that one in the DVD player tonight. 🙂

  13. YES Don Juan de Marco! I feel like so few people have seen that film and I am really awfully fond of it. And the film version of Much Ado is one of the first, if not the first, exposures to Shakespeare I ever had. I have the world’s hugest ever crush on Denzel Washington in this movie. I thought Emma Thompson was crazy sauce to say no to him. :p

  14. I am not a filme person either but my husband likes to watch movies so I end up watching far more than I would otherwise. Vertigo is excellent i do agree. I have not see the Much Ado film or the one with Johnny Depp you mention. Will have to see if I can get them from netflix!

  15. Litlove, I’d like to suggest the french films Amelie, and The Women on the Sixth Floor; Lars and the Real Girl; and Uncle Vanya on 42nd Street. Plus, A Night at the Opera (Marx Brothers) and Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks). Considering the Doris Day-Cary Grant theme, you might also like Down With Love, with Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger; and, separately, Far From Heaven, with Julianne Moore.

  16. One of my favorites is The American President with Annette Bening and Michael Douglas. Fun and smart. Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox are supporting actors. Another of my favorites is When Harry Met Sally with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s