Favorite Feel-Good Films
During grim times like this Covid-19 pandemic, I find myself thinking about movies that have made me feel good after watching them. Although there are too many to mention, the five films below (in alphabetical order) are my favorites – and I enjoy viewing them over and over again.
IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949). In this colorful period musical, “irresistible” describes Judy Garland’s performance. She plays a spunky woman trying to make good in a new job while carrying on a “secret friend” pen pal relationship with an anonymous co-worker, portrayed by Van Johnson who does his best ever acting as Judy’s co-star. The warmth of all the characters in this fun romantic comedy never ceases to surround me. And, of course, there’s Judy belting out “I Don’t Care!” which is one of the most exuberant numbers of her magnificent career.
PADDINGTON 2 (2018). This delightful sequel centers on our hero’s efforts to find the perfect gift for his dear aunt and what happens when the gift he chooses gets stolen. Paddington has to spend a bit of time in a London prison, and one of the film’s highlights shows how my favorite bear changes the entire prison for the better. Besides focusing on colorful characters, the movie emphasizes kindness, humanity, compassion – and the magic of marmalade sandwiches. I absolutely love it!
SEVEN CHANCES (1925). Buster Keaton starred and directed this silent slapstick comedy. It’s one my husband and I enjoy seeing every time TCM features it on TV. But by the end of the film, we are exhausted from laughing so much, which proves this offering is one of our favorite “feel good” flicks. Despite some bad taste sight gags, the movie always wins us over with Keaton’s comic stunts. He plays a man who needs a lot of money to keep him out of jail. When he finds out he can inherit 7 million dollars from his grandfather if he is married on his 27th birthday by 7 p.m., which is that same day, Keaton puts an ad in a local dally. Results? Hundreds of women end up running after him in one of the greatest film chases we’ve ever seen. I can’t help feeling good just writing about this one.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952). If I were told I could see only one more movie before I die, without hesitation my choice would be Singin’ in the Rain. I’ve watched this glorious musical many times, and each viewing seems as fresh and lively as the first day it sang and danced its way across the big screen and into my heart. I’ve never been able to spot one dull minute in the entire film. Based on the crisis Hollywood faced back in the 1920s when "talkies" came on the scene, the clever story by Adolph Green and Betty Comden zips along from beginning to end -- with captivating musical numbers (from songwriters Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown) performed by the great Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Cyd Charisse. A cinematic triumph, for sure!
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Yes, this classic movie features a Wicked Witch and scary flying monkeys, but the way young Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale handles herself after a destructive tornado drops her into a strange world warms my heart. And her humanistic interaction with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion makes her a role model to emulate. We all have a longing for home, so The Wizard of Oz always reminds me about the importance of family and friends. Plus, I can’t help being awed by the wonderful special effects in this 1939 movie. Everything about this magical motion picture comes across as timeless entertainment.
Be safe, everyone!
PHOTO: Judy Garland at her best in MGM's In the Good Old Summertime.