So they say they don’t like old movies. Well, here are ten classic movies for people who don’t – or think they don’t – like them.
When you’re looking to make your spouse/child/family/best friend an old black and white movie convert, the key is to find a flick that everybody will fall in love with.
Most people who say they don’t like old movies are either lying, or they haven’t seen a good one. Luckily, there are plenty of great classic films out there to change their stubborn minds. Let’s look at a few!
10 Old Movies for People Who Don’t Like Old Movies
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1. REAR WINDOW
Most – if not all – of Hitchcock’s classic thrillers are a great way to introduce someone to old films. They never go out of style … I mean, look at Grace Kelly; she’s a knockout in any day and age.
This nail-biter all takes place in an apartment building, where our hero, the flawlessly awesome Jimmy Stewart, is cooped up with a broken leg.
Becoming more bored by the day (he had no social media or anything to binge watch. This was way before Netflix and chill), he alternates swapping barbs with his housekeeper, sarcastically quipping with his girlfriend, and using his professional photography equipment to spy on his neighbors (don’t pretend you’ve never done that).
Hitchcock is brilliant at portraying everyday people. From Miss Lonely Heart, to Miss Torso, to the newlyweds, to … what’s this? Is his quietly creepy neighbor murdering his wife?
You won’t be sure either, and that’s half the fun.
Once the girlfriend and the housekeeper are convinced though, it’s a game of cat and mouse as they try to prove Mr. Thorwald is a cold hearted killer, and poor Mrs. Thorwald may be pushing up daisies.
It’s a sexy romp, too, with lots of make-out sessions between Kelly and Stewart, and you’ll be shocked at how edge of your seat a movie with no gore can be (like most of these films).
2. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
One of my top 5 movies of all time (in ANY genre or time period), this witty classic is one of the most quotable films ever made.
I probably can’t go a week without randomly quoting some of these lines. If I started a Swear Jar where I had to put in a quarter every time I quoted this movie, I’d be broke by February.
The whole cast of characters (and are they ever characters!) are spot-on hilarious, from the murderous aunties who consider their grave deeds a charity, to the crackpot uncle who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, to the chatty cop who is writing his autobiographical screenplay, to marriage-minded Mortimer, to his new wife next door, to Johnny, Mortimer’s serial killer brother with a face like Boris Karloff.
And don’t forget Dr. Einstein, the German plastic surgeon who tries without much success to save Mortimer from Johnny’s evil plans.
Oh, and did I mention I rented a house strictly for the windowseats?
It’s a hysterical film that will have even the crankiest curmudgeon cracking up.
3. BRINGING UP BABY
Speaking of Cary Grant! My dudes, that guy was such a gifted comedic actor.
Anyway, this gem of a classic film centers around the witty rapport between Grant and Hepburn; moments like this one,
Chasing a runaway leopard while wearing a fluffy negligee has never been more fun!
4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Onto something more serious, this classic Gregory Peck film, based on the beloved novel by Harper Lee, is a must for any American.
Atticus Finch (and Scout) are some of the bravest storytellers, who teach us lessons never to be forgotten.
Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.To Kill a Mockingbird
Learning through your tears about racial injustice is actually a really good way to spend an afternoon.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.To Kill a Mockingbird
5. THE SHAGGY DOG
I love classic Disney live-action flicks, and I love Fred MacMurray, so when they come together (like they did so often), it’s a recipe for nostalgic happiness.
I had a bit of a crush on Tommy Kirk, who plays Wilby. He is just too adorable! Too bad he played half the movie as a dog…
That’s right, the movie is about a boy who turns into a dog. And it’s hilarious.
Just good, old-fashioned fun that everyone in the family will love. The slapstick, physical humor is great, and you’ll be surprised at how good the special effects are.
6. THE AFRICAN QUEEN
Earning Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar, this 1951 film is perfect for family movie night. Hepburn plays a straight-laced, prudish missionary, who is determined to do her part for the War (WW1), and also possibly to avenge her brother’s death. Bogie is Charlie, the unshaven, uncouth, boat owner who finds himself roped into the adventure of a lifetime as they attempt to sink a German warship, the Louisa.
Who will win, Louisa or the humble African Queen?
And even more importantly (haha), will Rose and Charlie learn that opposites attract? The scene with the leaches is one you’ll never forget. Shiver!
Funny trivia on the making of this flick: everyone on the crew got horribly sick, including Hepburn who got a raging case of dysentery due to her staunch and stubborn refusal to drink anything but water. Everyone, that is, except for Bogie and the director, who drank copious amounts of Scotch whiskey and baked beans. “The flies took one bite of us and dropped dead.”
A true classic, even for people who don’t like old movies.
7. MY MAN GODFREY
This crazily quotable comedy is what cemented Carole Lombard as star (and gave her the highest paid salary for a woman actor of her time, to boot).
William Powell is always hilarious (we’ll check out at least one more of his films before we’re done here), with his tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and dry delivery.
The story goes something like this: slightly ditsy socialite, Irene, is off on a high society scavenger hunt with her pals and her evil sister, Cornelia. Cornelia always wins at everything, probably because she sold her soul to Satan, and Irene is determined to beat her at something.
Mind, this movie is set and filmed during the great depression, so there’s a lot of jabs at the ridiculous lives of the rich.
Part of the hunt is to find and bring back to the party a ‘Forgotten Man.’ Basically, a hobo, which aren’t exactly in scarce supply.
Cue Powell as Godfrey. Cornelia gets to him first, but he sees through her and pretty much tells her where she can go. Irene, however, while somewhat airheaded, makes a slightly better impression, and he agrees to go with her to her party.
There, he makes a scathing commentary on high society and trades some witty barbs with the guests.
Irene realizes she’s humiliated Godfrey and promptly asks to hire him as a way of apology. Soon, Godfrey is the new butler, in a mansion of kooky oddballs.
Of course, Irene falls for Godfrey, in a overly-dramatic and hilarious way, but it’s a while before Godfrey comes around to the idea.
The writing is super funny, the cast superb, and if all else fails, you can watch it for the costumes and set design alone. Those pajamas, Irene! Swoon.
Fun fact: Powell and Lombard were divorced quite amicably when making this movie. Both only agreed to the film if their ex could play opposite them.
8. THE THIN MAN MOVIES
When it comes to snappy dialogue however, The Thin Man movies (there are a total of six) can’t be beat. Nick and Nora, created by Dashiell Hammett, are two of the most adorable, sarcastic, quick-witted couples to ever grace the silver screen. Along with their dog, Asta, they cheerfully solve crimes, mostly for the fun of it and probably for something to do between cocktails.
Myrna Loy is deadpan and always right-on, and Powell makes the most ridiculous faces all while remaining dapper and a bit of a smart ass.
Nora: You know, that sounds like an interesting case. Why don’t you take it?
Nick: I haven’t time. I’m much too busy seeing that you don’t lose any of the money I married you for.
They’re cheeky and funny, and every movie in the series is worth your time.
- Watch The Thin Man here
- Watch After the Thin Man here
- Watch Another Thin Man here
- Get the complete collection here
9. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
Claudette Colbert, with her tiny, pixie features and cherub hairdos, is one of my favorite comedic actresses. And paired with the dashing, ever-so handsome Clark Gable? Well, you have what’s widely considered to be the granddaddy of all Roms-Coms, and also the very first “screwball comedy.”
The day men’s fedoras come back into everyday wear is a day I will treasure forever. Not even kidding.
Funnily enough, Bugs Bunny was based on Gable’s character in this movie. The fast-talking, wise-cracking man in a hat, chomping on a carrot became the animated bunny we know today. Pepe le Pew and Yosemite Sam were also drawn from the sidekicks in It Happened One Night.
The tale of a spoiled socialite on the run and the reporter who follows her for the story is still funny today.
Reportedly, Colbert hated the film and wasn’t even going to attend the Oscar ceremony, where it (and she) were nominated in five categories. She had to be summoned from the train station when she won for Best Actress.
Gable too, was not happy to make the film, and showed up drunk, disorderly, and rude to Frank Capra (later they became friends). It was probably due in part to him being loaned to Colombia (not a prominent company in 1934) from MGM as a punishment for messing around with Joan Crawford.
10. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
I’m putting this one in against my better judgment.
It’s my parent’s favorite film.
Which tells you something about my parents.
Anyway, I’ve only seen it once and I was great with child at the time. I thought it was TERRIBLE.
But I was full of the hormones.
It’s widely considered to be a phenomenal thriller, and I’m confident if I were to watch it again I’d love it. However, I can’t, because I stubborn and I like arguing with my parents about it and threatening to put them in a shady old folk’s home if they ever pop their worn-out VHS copy in the VCR again.
Robert Mitchum plays an evil preacher with a pesky murder habit. Bumping off old rich widow’s is his specialty, but he doesn’t do with the righteous hilarity that Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha do it in Arsenic and Old Lace. Nope, this guy is pure evil and is menacing enough to keep you up at night.
Don’t he never sleep?
The atmospheric directing is creepy, dark, disturbing, and this film is on nearly every critic’s Best Horror Films lists.
It’s also featured in this list of 21 Classic, Creepy, and (Mostly) Family-Friendly Thriller Films over at All Gifts Considered, so you know it’s good.
Just don’t watch it when you’re pregnant.
Well, have I convinced you to try some black and white classic movies next time you’re reaching for the remote control? Give one a try, you won’t be disappointed. Pinky promise.