Movies and an Unmanageable World

Dear readers, if you’re at all like me, you’ve been having a hard time with the news lately. Unimaginable things are happening in this country and the world, and in our current digital landscape, there seems to be no escape. Each day we’re bombarded with images, sounds, and feelings of helplessness, as we come to terms with a world over which we have little control.

In previous posts, I have discussed the power of movies to heal and to transport. Many of us have been feeling the past few weeks very strongly, and protests, marches, and demonstrations are frequently followed by desolation and depression when nothing happens. In view of this, I polled “classic film Twitter” to learn people’s comfort movies, to help with feelings brought on by the powerlessness we have in our world today. Here are some suggestions from the classic film Twittersphere.

My question: “Classic film fans–what are the movies that you watch to cheer up, and why? Mine is THE THIN MAN. No matter what’s going on, it always makes me happy.”

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@Shannon_Of_Oz says:

The Wizard of Oz. Always. It meant so much to me growing up. And at 32 it still does. Heroes can wear ruby red slippers and you can always go home again. Everything about it is absolutely superb, even the mistakes. I could go on and on about Judy Garland too.


@celluloidsoul says:

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) Anxiety, stress, pain, (multiple viewings while recovering from surgery)… there’s no balm more calming than ’s voice in this performance. The entire cast is perfect. It just takes me somewhere else whenever I feel lost or distressed.


@Scifilia says:

Thin Man as well. It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby, Philadelphia Story, My Man Godfrey, Arsenic and Old Lace. So I guess movies where clever people say clever things, wear fabulous clothes, perform some physical comedy, and live happily ever after. It’s like comfort food.


@earnehaffey says:

The Gay Divorcee leaves me with that wonderful carefree feeling of being on vacation. And just once I want to go to a gala night on the esplanade 😁


@NancyEB says:

I go for the comedies: the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, the Road pictures with Hope and Crosby. My dad, who has since passed, introduced me to the classic comedians and I feel like he is still with me when I watch these movies.


@scarlettboulev2 says:

Bringing Up Baby. Can’t watch that without laughing!

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@awellreadsnark says:

Princess Bride because it’s hilariously funny, sweet, has amazing sword fights, and in the end good triumphs over evil and true love wins. What could be more delightful?


@claresmith1888 says:

His Girl Friday. Funny, smart, poignant and the gorgeous Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant. Makes everything better.


@EmilyJS7 says:

When Christmas stress is getting to me, I watch The Bishop’s Wife with David Niven, Loretta Young, and Cary Grant. The overall message is so important but there are so many little things to make you smile like the refilling bottle, decorating the tree, and skating in the park.

Annex - Grant, Cary (Bishop's Wife, The)_NRFPT_01

@Decervelage says:

I grew up in an era where WPIX in NYC’s Sunday line-up was Sherlock Holmes, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chan, Abbott & Costello, the Bowery Boys, Universal or Hammer horror films, and then Kung Fu Theater at noon. Glorious times for a young film nerd.



In polling Twitter, I was fascinated by the repeat film suggestions. The two most suggested movies for when you need a boost of spirit, given no parameters by decade or genre, were The Thin Man and Bringing Up Baby, two screwball comedies from the 1930s. This is, perhaps, not surprising. In the midst of the Depression, movies aimed to do exactly that–provide a means of escape from a reality that was grim, and a future that was uncertain.

I don’t know how to fix what’s happening, but let’s start by caring for ourselves and each other, with the help of the movies. I hope that your favorite movie will inspire you to take action against what is going on–you can start here.

Now I open it up to you, readers–what are your favorite movies to watch when you need to remove yourself from the chaos of the world? I look forward to hearing from you!


17 responses to “Movies and an Unmanageable World

  1. ‘The Shop around the Corner’ with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan is definitely one of my comfort films. Despite all the setbacks their love for each other is palpable and you get the impression that – once they finally acknowledge their mutual attraction – they will stick together through thick and thin. I also go to ‘Whistle down the Wind’ with Hayley Mills at her extraordinary best. I like the way Bryan Forbes, the director, treats the children with such respect. I’m roughly the same age as Cathy, Hayley Mills’s character, and was brought up in England (though a large city, not the Lancashire countryside) and there is a nostalgic aspect, as the children wear similar clothes and read the same comics that I did. However it’s the profundity of the film, not the nostalgia, that makes this so special to me.

  2. The movie I tend to watch to help me through tough times and to make the darkness seem just a little brighter is Hitchcock’s ‘The Lady Vanishes’ always so much fun to watch and never fails to make me smile.
    I am in the UK and am finding these awful times we live in so tough and disheartening I can’t imagine how soul destroying it must be for so many in America at the moment.

  3. Great choice! And yes, thank you. These are difficult times for many of us.

  4. Sometimes those nostalgia films, especially if they’re profound like Whistle Down the Wind, really give the most comfort. It’s a retreat into times where there were no real worries.

  5. “My Man Godfrey,” to my mind the greatest screwball ever made. Its view of the classes should’ve made it an anthem for the Occupy movement.

  6. Absolutely. “And they lived happily ever after on an ash pile!”

  7. I have a tough time disconnecting, as you know 🙂 so I tend to go back to CASABLANCA a lot and just angry-cry along to The Marseillaise… !

  8. My stress buster go to romance film is “Honeymoon in Bali” (aka “My Love for Yours”) starring Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. BUT my 100% escapism from reality film is the original “The Parent Trap” starring Hayley Mills. I think I have Brian Keith’s house decor completely memorized.😉❤️❤️❤️

  9. I have too many comfort movies to list! The Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Yellow Submarine would be among them, as well as The Thin Man, The Wizard of Oz, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The President’s Analyst, Dr. Strangelove (I know that is an odd choice given the subject matter…), and many many more!

  10. That one twitter follower is right I was raised by KTLA 5 KTTV 11 and then KHJ 9 I always count on old movies via Godzilla to Marx brothers and Sherlock movies during late 1970s and early 1980s no soap opera watching for this GenerXer LOL! in the 1980s especially coming home in summer months and minimum days at high school

  11. I think my confort movie depend on my mood if I am want cry in a movie I put on Bette Davis movie or Greta Garbo if I want be siily I hate to say this Marx Brothers and Laurel and hardy especially it was on KTLA 5 only on the weekend before and after then the 1970s and early 1980s Angels game this when Nolan Ryan still pitching No hitter for Angels back in da day LOL!

  12. The familiar friends, from Laurel and Hardy to Charlie Chan to Hopalong Cassidy always seem to do the trick.

  13. You know what there is tv station here in SO CAL called Retro tv for while they were showing old Hopalang Cassidey tv series then went to Cozi tv then now on Starz Encore on demand I know what you thinking Patricia some of the old shows are making comeback on OTA Classic tv channel fr while METV was play Laurel and Hardy shorts on Sunday morning I ususally dvr it

  14. carole macleod

    I love everything mentioned above, and I’ll add Gilda, Some Like It Hot, anything where Rita Hayworth dances, and the Kieslowski trilogy: Blue, White, and Red. I use movies to escape reality too, for a short period of time. It always makes me feel better. I love your site-thanks for keeping things on a positive note.


  15. Nice concept! When my mother had her accident I watched It’s A Wonderful Life, which is THE feel good movie. Otherwise, any good comedy works for me.

  16. Harold and Maude: Funny, irreverent, and life-affirming too.
    Also, the endlessly magical Ruth Gordon. Bud Court at his tortured best & the perfect time-capsule of a soundtrack.

  17. maddylovesherclassicfilms

    Some wonderful films listed here. A few that I turn to are Top Hat, A Patch Of Blue, How To Steal A Million, The Blues Brothers, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, It Happened One Night, It’s Great To Be Young, White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife. TV series such as Star Trek, Only Fools and Horses, Frasier, Taxi and Cheers are comfort watches too.

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