Look What’s Under the Tree!

Merry Christmas Girlfriends!  I have a surprise for you!  Look under the tree!  And Come and Get your Happiness.

S  U  R  P  R  I  S  E  ! ! !  It’s  

I wanted to give you something that everyone would like . . . something sort of like a subscription to the flower-of-the-month club, a gift that would keep on giving.

You all know by now how much I love old movies; I’ve been recommending them in my books and calendars forever.  I know you love them too, so I thought I’d give you a list of my very favorite movies — hoping they’ll bring you happiness and give you a very wonderful winter 2012!

I’m not an expert, there’s no rhyme nor reason to this; please forgive me if I’ve left your favorite out.  I didn’t include lots of really good movies, like Sound of Music for example, or An American in Paris, Mildred PierceFunny Face, or even My Fair Lady . . . and I’m sure there are plenty I’ve simply forgotten.  But this is still a really good start.  These are films I never tire of.

Many of the movies I love best were made before I was born, and I saw almost all of them on the TV.  Wonderful, romantic, beautiful, magical, touching, funny and charming movies (like The Bishop’s Wife for example) that, because they’re in black and white, lots of people have just never seen. But that’s why I’m doing this . . . a cozy afternoon on a freezing day, with a cup of hot chocolate and one of these movies is my idea of the perfect Christmas present.  They are soul soothers, inspiration-givers, joy spreaders.

I came by my love for these movies naturally, my mom started me very young.  She’s the same age as Shirley Temple; she fell in love with Shirley when she was a little girl.  By the time I was old enough to be propped in a chair, she made sure the Good Ship Lollypop was tap dancing its way into my heart.  She and I know the words to all of Shirley’s songs; we sang them while we did dishes.  I still love Shirley.  If there was ever anything cuter or more adorable than Shirley Temple in Baby Take a Bow, I don’t know what it is.  All my life, I could be having a bad day, turn on Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, hear Shirley sing “Come and Get Your Happiness,” see the darling curtains at Aunt Sarah’s house and the roses on Tony’s Porch, and cheer right up.

From Shirley Temple, it was natural for me to move up to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies; they were made about the same time.  I think they’re sort of the grownup version of Shirley Temple, sweet, innocent and charming; the fabulous genius-inspired dances they did (like this one in Swing Time); the creative visuals their early movies presented in the height of 1930’s fantasy fashion, elegant clothes, beautiful furniture and architecture, not to mention the music!  It was magic!  A world of inspiration; a feast for the senses!

By the time I was old enough to live out on my own, I was half-formed about what life was going to be like, and all of it, for better or for worse, was based on books like Pollyanna and Little Women and wonderful old films, most of which I saw on the Million Dollar Movie on television.   I had already come to the conclusion that if you wanted a roses-on-a-picket-fence sort of life, it would be easy, just get a picket fence, and then plant some roses next to it!

I moved from my parents into an apartment with my best friend.  Her mom loved old movies too.  I’ll never forget us, lying on the floor, watching TV at two in the morning; A Farewell to Arms had just ended with Jennifer Jones dying, we were both sobbing hysterically, I had to get up and go into the other room.  Oh we loved it!  Janet called me Sue-Sue Applegate after the Ginger Rogers character in The Major and the Minor. (We called her Natasha after Boris’ wife.) We would get in her huge old car and go to the drive-in movies, wearing our jammies with big coats over them so we could go to the snack bar; we saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in French with English subtitles, and sobbed all the way home.  We really loved to cry at movies!  Splendor in the Grass almost killed us. (You can tell by these photos, we’d been looking at too many fashion magazines. 🙂 Legends in our own minds.)

Old movies shaped my dreams:  they showed me what I wanted my houses to look like, how I wanted to dress, what kind of a person I wanted to be; those shipboard romances in An Affair to Remember, The Lady Eve, Sabrina, and Shall We Dance; rose covered cottages in Father of the Bride and Love Letters; houses with darling curtains and wallpaper like in Dear Ruth; the train rides in The Palm Beach Story, Some Like it Hot, North by Northwest, and Brief Encounter.  I dreamed of fields of bluebells as high as my knee, like the ones I saw in Howard’s End and one day, I went to England to see them. 

You could go around the world, even from a one-bedroom apartment, with The Quiet Man, Roman Holiday, Mrs. Miniver, Ninotchka (prettiest dress in the movies is in Ninotchka), Out of Africa, Two for the Road, and A Room with a View.

I planted flowering trees because of the tree-lined road Anne Shirley (of Green Gable fame) drove through, the petals flying, in the buckboard with Matthew just after she arrived on the train.  Remember?

Miracle on 34th Street made me decide to never grow all the way up.  I could see that the fairy-tale life was the life for me.  I knew there was much goodness in the world, I saw it in movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, Margie, and The Secret Garden.

When 9/11 happened I was glued to the TV like everyone else, but after a while, the intensity was too much, the grief, sorrow, anger, pain; it was unbearable; the real world was just too real.  I couldn’t sleep, thinking about man’s inhumanity to man; the TV news was unrelenting; I felt like it wasn’t healthy to hear it anymore. I finally turned it off, and began feeding my soul with childhood favorites . . . at first it was all Shirley Temple movies. When I saw Cary Grant, cutie pie Walter Pigeon, gorgeous Gregory Peck, Jeanne Crain, Barbara Stanwyck, or Myrna Loy — the laughter, beauty, whimsy, and charm, my troubles just floated away.  It took a few weeks for me to find my equilibrium and remember that the overwhelming majority of people in this world are good; those movies really helped.  One big bad apple had upset the balance.  I think if Osama bin Laden’s mom had given him Shirley Temple to watch when he was young, we wouldn’t have had this problem. Judge Hardy wouldn’t have put up with any of his shenanigans either.

If you’re starting from scratch, trying to learn more about old movies, it’s hard to know where to start. So here is my list of favorites, many times tried and always true.  I added links to some of the trailers for these movies — I didn’t do them all, I’m sure you aren’t going to want to go through all of them, just want you to know that the ones without the links are just as good as the ones that have them!  You can get these movies sent to your house from Netflix or buy them at Amazon. You can find them at your public library!  You can look them up on Google to find out more about them; some of them are even free and run in full length on Youtube.  So here we go!  Merry Christmas and Happy 2012 to you all!  Enjoy!  Here’s the list:

This is a list of newer movies that I love as much as the old . . .


Now take an extra minute, go to the top of the next post.  I don’t know if you did this, but something fun is to click where the link says “It’s that time of year” — come right back to the blog, letting the music play.  Now, scroll down a few more lines to the words that say THE MAGIC OF SNOW …. click on that and watch, you can listen to the music and watch the picture at the same time . . . . a little bit of heaven . . . . XOXO

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396 Responses to Look What’s Under the Tree!

  1. Wendy says:

    Weeeeee! Your timing is perfect. Thank you so much for this list, Susan – I’ve been becoming more and more intrigued by your old-movies infatuation since I started reading your blog. Now I have an extensive list and I’m not afraid to use it! Will be watching several of these this winter!
    It’s funny…up until recently, I have had zero interest in movies that were filmed earlier than about 1995. So now I’m very eager and excited to delve into them. Thanks again!
    Glad you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a truly blessed new year! xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a whole new world! I almost wish I hadn’t seen them, so I could see them all for the first time again! Have fun!

  2. Nnacy Jo says:

    So many great movies!! Got the Book WHERE WOMEN COOK CELEBRATE. AND YOU MADE THE FIRST PAGES. YEAH!! Love the pictures.

  3. Aggie says:

    Saw a lot of my favs on your list…had a smile when I saw The Full Monty 🙂
    Pride and Prejudice I happened upon a few days ago on cable…hubby pops his head in as he’s heading out…”watching Little Women?”. Gently corrected him…

  4. Wow! It’s taken me forever to go through this blog! Had to read all the other movie suggestions, had to write those down to go with your list that I will keep coming back too! Love your beautiful CHRISTmas tree, what a wonderful keeps on giving gift under that tree! SO many movies, some I’ve never heard of, some I remember fondly. My older son and I can quote so many lines from ou’ve got Mail! I have to add my favorite that I did not see mentioned in yours or others list. Tammy with Debbie Reynolds. Just loved that movie! Finally saw it again this year on TMC! So many wonderful movies, can’t wait to check out my local library to see which ones they have!
    That was a sweet comment from you Dad! Isn’t it wonderful to be so connected by cyber space?
    Thank you for my present Susan, I have loved being a part of this wonderful blog for the last half of 2011, and look forward to a whole 2012 with you!
    Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Jeannie! I just love Tammy too, especially I loved that song! My dad is a doll, it’s wonderful to have his comments here!

  5. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ♫♪♥ Merry Christmas Sweet Sue…I am Twirling to Frank singing The Christmas Waltz Luv The Horse Drawn Sleigh in all that Snow!…I’m looking out the Window…it’s in the 60’s gray misty cloudy…Looks like “Snow”…(In My Christmas Winter~Wonderland Dreams).. so How was Your Christmas Eve & Christmas Day?…Ours was Magical Scrumptious…filled with lots of Laughter & Love…(always counting My Blessings)…Amen…I Adore Your List of The Best Movies….The Apartment…amazing…L♥ve Little Women…all versions…Love The Christmas Scene when the Girls exchange their Gifts so they can give Gifts to Marmie…ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….Shirley Temple…One of a Kind…Splendor in The Grass…I always Weep….It’s A Wonderful Life…Christmas Perfection…The Enchanted Cottage…Oh My…etc..etc..etc…& Sweet Sue…The Photo of You & Janet…You Both Look like “Movie~Stars”…..Thank You for this Christmas Gift Dear Sue…I’m Basking in The Glow of Christmas…as we count down the Last Days of 2011 & Welcome in 2012…I Hope Everyone’s Christmas Wishes Came True…I always Sing The 12 Days of Christmas This Week…to Savor The Holiday Spirit….so Merry Christmas ♫ to All & soon…10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…Happy New Year!…L♥ve…Hugzzz….Friendship….& Lots of Holiday Pixie~Dust! Yay! xoxo Poof!♥

  6. LOVE this list!! Thank you so much. I have seen many of these movies, but some are new to me so I know if you like them then I probably will too! What a lovely gift to take the time to list these for us. Smooches.

    Over the past few years I’ve given a lot of these movies as gifts to my eldest daughter (she’s 25) to start her own collection. In fact, I bought her The Bishop’s Wife this year and I wrapped gifts while watching An Affair to Remember, though I had to stop several times to wipe tears away.

    Happy sigh. They just don’t make them like that any more.

    • sbranch says:

      Every once in a while we get lucky, but no, not really!! Not very many angel movies anymore that’s for sure!

  7. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good afternoon Susan & girlfriends~
    I have a few movies I don’t think were on your list that I love! I sure I’ll be back to add a few more!
    How Green Was My Valley
    Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
    The Grapes of Wrath
    The Straight Story
    Meet John Doe
    All the Sarah Plain & Tall Movies
    North by Northwest
    Our Man Godfrey
    Cool Hand Luke
    Cactus Flower
    Yours, Mine and Ours
    Murphy’s Romance
    Tender Mercies
    Mr. Mom
    Lilies of the Field
    I’m sure all be back with more!
    Enjoy the day!

  8. Lynn McMahon says:

    Back already with:
    Fighting Father Flannigan
    Sunset Boulevard
    The Out of Towners (Original)
    All The Pink Panther movies
    The Sting

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I forgot Funny Farm with Chevy Chase. I especially love the scenes when they are having an old fashioned Christmas in their little town! Love that movie!

  9. Laura Croyle says:

    W0W! Thanks for such and extensive list!! What fun! I Love old movies!They really knew how to make a good movie back then! I got the “The Bishop’s Wife” for Christmas! I’m curious, does Joe watch these movies with you?? My husband will watch a few “chick flicks” with me, but he can only handle a few before he wants to see more action-packed, fast-paced fare. (Of which, I can only handle just so much!! LOL!)

    • sbranch says:

      Joe loves the old ones as much as I do . . . but he also likes movies that I won’t watch at all, so I know what you mean!

  10. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Thank you for the list Sue! What a wonderful Christmas gift to all of us!! I have printed it off, and next going to Netflix online, to make my new list! =) We just watched, ‘An Affair to Remember,’ and tonight we will see ‘The Bishop’s Wife.’ I love to ‘get lost’ in these movies, like I am right there with them!

    Just a note about Shirley Temple….. My grandparents owned a beach home on Balboa Island back in the 40’s-60’s, (LUCKY! Wish they had held onto it, but sold it to the actor, Denver Pyle…..) and Shirley Temple’s parents owned a home just around the corner from their beach house. My mom got to play on the beach with Shirley as a young girl! She even got her autograph in her red autograph book, and I have it sitting right here on my shelf. =) My mom received a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas one year, which was her favorite possession. When she went away to college, but Grandmother gave ALL of her childhood treasures away, including her Shirley doll, and her record collection! (Can you imagine??) My mom still talks about how sad she was to come home, and find it all gone! But her memories are still alive, and we still love to hear her tell those stories of her girlhood, and her play days with Shirley Temple. =)

    • sbranch says:

      What a great story!! I met her when I was eight! She was Shirley Temple Black by then. I was so excited I was dumbstruck. She still had those dimples. I recognized her right away!

      • Bonnie Crawford says:

        How fun! Where did you meet her? Did you get her autograph? =) She still has the family home on Balboa by the way…..

        • sbranch says:

          I went to NBC Studios with my girlfriend and her Dad who worked there. She came down the hall we were walking in!! I did get her autograph, but of course I lost it!

  11. Patty Opaczewski says:

    You are the best Susan!! Do you know how much happiness you bring to people? Your posts always make me smile, make me see how much I have to be thankful for, make me appreciate how much I am blessed just by looking at the things around me. God bless you and yours with a beautiful Christmas and a most Happy and Healthy New Year!

  12. Cindy Garner says:

    Merry Christmas!!!
    Just thought I’d let you know, I managed to watch “The Bishops Wife”… It came on Satellite the other night while I was taking some much needed down time….
    What I nice movie…..The only stress was the cranky old women who eventually softened to a lovable women…No swearing, No violence, No nudity….just a wonderful story, thanks for the suggestion….(I still love my action packed movies, but sometimes a girl just needs to listen and relax) :0)

  13. Sandra Gillanders says:

    Wonderful list Sue, thank you! I just adore old movies and most of the time they are better than the new ones. I remember how much my mother adored Shirley Temple and even sent away for a blue creamer with Shirley’s image on it. ( I have it now) Enjoying the movies with my mom and singing the “Good Ship Lolipop” with her brings back many sweet memories. Going to watch some of these that I haven’t seen. Thanks for the wonderful gift! The gift that keeps on giving, lol!
    Happy New Year!!!

  14. Jack says:

    And for the young at heart we would suggest “The Drum” 1938 with Sabu and Raymond Massey —the story of a boy prince in Colonial India …….not everyone wants to cry…..

  15. Jenny says:


    You must see “Only You” with Marisa Tomei! Directed by Norman Jewison and filmed on location in Italy. We also have the soundtrack and it is beautiful.

    Happy New Year!

  16. Nina says:

    Merry Christmas Sue! Or should I now say Happy boxing day! Great list a few I have seen and love and a few more I will make a note to watch! Hope you and Joe had a fab day! xxxx

  17. mel cunningham says:

    just cued up some great movie choices in my Netflix account! thank you Susan!

  18. Jacqui G says:

    Hi Susan, My Mom introduced me to old movies- and I grew up watching them and loving them with her. Not too long ago, we went to visit old friends and they hosted a “Movie Party” where each group of guests brought their favorite old movie – 4 in all. We started with breakfast, showing a movie between each meal and ending with an after-supper finale. We were instructed to dress as a character in the movie we brought. Mom dressed as Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver, and I dressed as Amy (Elizabeth Tayler in her blond wig) for Little Women. Yes, it was an all-day affair, but so much fun! Mom is hosting the next “Movie Night” – wish you could come ’cause you would LOVE it 🙂

  19. Janet says:

    Wow, Susan! No kidding but you must be the ONLY other person on earth who has seen “State of the Union” – which has always been my very favorite Tracy-Hepburn movi ever. My sister – who is absolutely in love with that duo – had never even heard of it! It’s NEVER on TV & I looked for years for a DVD – finally getting it about 2 years ago. I’ve never known anyone who’s heard of it before your list. So good to know there’s another fan out there! Your list parallels mine closely except that you have a LOT more on your list. PS – next time you want to see something new, I strongly Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show.” He’s not in it, he directed it… & he is one terrific director.

    Speaking of lists, in our family we keep “running” lists of people we’d need to meet – and have lunch, drinks, dinner with sometime. ANYONE can be included – the famous, historical figures, the no-longer-with-us etc – just anyone. It’s really fun to do & I’m always adding new people to my list – which includes FDR, Beethoven, Tom Brokaw… and YOU by the way. Hope you & Joe had a great holiday – have an even better New Year!

  20. Janet says:

    Correction to earlier comment – please change “lists of people we’d NEED to meet” to “lists of people we’d LIKE to meet.” And now it makes sense. Thanks!

  21. Laura says:

    OMG people…..I have one thing to say about movies today…if you cannot handle war movies or animals in peril…DO NOT SEE WAR HORSE!!!!! Not that it wasn’t profound and filled with beautiful lessons on the triumph of the spirit, BUT I cried from the opening scene straight thru to the bitter end and now I have an awful headache behind my eyes…poor horses. It did make one point perfectly crystal clear….war is not the answer.

    • sbranch says:

      That was what I was thinking it would be for me too . . . can not take suffering animals!!

      • Karen Saunders says:

        then don’t EVER see the old movie ‘Smoky’. SO SAD even tho it ends okay. TALK ABOUT CRYING!!!!

        • sbranch says:

          No animal movies for me . . . there was one about lost animals, where I think the cat was limping, they kept showing the trailer on TV — terrible!

          • Cindy Garner says:

            Whew!!! glad I read this first….I had a feeling War Horse was a movie I DIDNT want to watch…..I can’t do animals in trauma AT ALL…. Don’t watch Eight Below, a movie about huskies left on their own in the arctic…..the WHOLE theater left in tears….:0(

          • sbranch says:

            This is making me laugh . . . we’re so not watching sad animal movies!!! I hope Stephen Spielberg isn’t reading this blog! 🙂

          • Karen Saunders says:

            That movie was called the ‘Incredible Journey’ and it was a TRUE story. In Canada. A golden retriever, an old bull terrier and a siamese cat. They left to follow their owners, the dad had the retriever, the boy the BT and the little girl the cat. It was an accident because they had someone taking care of them but they wanted to be with their owners. It was by Walt Disney and it really was a good movie…not really sad, just amazing how they all stuck together. We had a Bull Terrier named ‘Hoover’. He became the mascot in my husbands pilot training class in the A.F. and at the end of the class when they had their pictures taken in front of the jets he had his own picture on the runway standing on a parachute!! So funny!! He was the sweetest dog we’ve ever had, everyone loved him and he loved EVERYone.

          • sbranch says:

            The love in dog’s eyes!!

        • Laura says:

          AND SUSAN…to make it absolutely the worst thing ever….War Horse’s real name is…….JOEY!!!!! Gasp!!!!!

        • Laura says:

          and Hatchi…..such a beautiful movie, but my husband and our two girls and I cried thru a WHOLE box of tissues…shhhh…don’t tell my husband I told you that..poor Hatchi waiting at that train station for years on end for Richard Gere to come home…Hatchi sleeping in the cold in the snow under the trains and getting all old and dirty and limping….and it was a true story…eeeee gads!! Oh, and in Incredible Journey when the old golden retriever falls down into that muddy hole and can’t get out…OMG!!!!

          • sbranch says:

            You’re making me laugh — I don’t know why, I guess because we see the horror in all of this!!! Old golden retriever in a muddy hole and he can’t get out??? What kind of person would make a movie like that????

  22. Ruthie P says:

    Thank you so much Susan! I’ve already downloaded much of the music you have featured on your blog,now to have this list of your favorite moves is so much fun!!!! You are so kind and sweet and wonderful to do that for us…..I am doing a happy dance because we have a Susan Branch in our world

  23. TJ says:

    Merry, Merry Christmas!

    Love your movie list…we have the exact same taste. So my present to you is “Like Water for Chocolate” the movie version in Spanish with English subtitles. It takes just a moment to get use to reading the titles before you are totally submerged in the story and the humor. It’s truly delightful and you will laugh, laugh, laugh.

    I’m going to enjoy sharing Shirley Temple movies with my 7-year old granddaughter. We both fell in love with the two “Eloise” DVDs; the little actress who played Eloise was cast perfectly.

    My granddaughter and my niece went ice skating today, and this evening we are watching “A Christmas Story” snuggled in our jammies and blankets with bowls of ice cream.

    Happy Holidays!


  24. Pippa says:

    Love your list and printed it out so we can go through, movie by movie to be sure we have seen them ALL!

    One movie that I didn’t see listed is a favorite of ours from 1940 – Remember the Night with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck along with Beulah Bondi. It’s fantastic: heart-warming, witty, smart, and sprinkled with oodles of love like fairy dust! It’s a must see – available sometimes to watch on TCM, but also on DVD now. Hope you love it was much as we do!

    Hugs, Pippa

    • sbranch says:

      I think that’s the one where he’s a lawyer and he takes her home for Christmas? She did something wrong? Is that it? If so, you’re right, that’s a good one, I forgot about it! Thank you!

      • Pippa says:

        Yep, that’s it – she gets arrested for shoplifting and he’s a DA who takes her home to Indiana to his mother and aunt to spend the holidays. Ohmygosh, it’s got such great scenes and costumes from the glam 40’s stuff to some old fashioned outfits for a hoe-down in Indiana. The house is very quaint with gas lights and fireplaces a-glow, and the gentle way the mother (Beulah Bondi – fantastic role!) says that maybe she (Stanwyck) was never shown love and understanding. It’s a real treasure – IMHO!

        And Fred MacMurray looks very dashing too – boy, he was handsome!!! Just love these old bl/wh holiday movies – they may not have had all the special effects, but they sure did have fantastic scripts! Enjoy!!!!

        Hugs, Pippa

  25. Julie Jenkins says:

    So many movies I love, so many great suggestions, thank you!! My only point of difference is Parent Trap ~ don’t know how you could recommend Lindsay Lohan over the original with Haley Mills. I loved the original!!!

  26. hmbalison says:

    I have a new one to add to your list that I just saw yesterday. You will LOVE it:

    Letters to Juliet. Romantic, set in Italy, with Vanessa Redgrave. SO romantic.

    Let me know if you watch it.


  27. Karen Saunders says:

    I will never forget when I was in the 4th grade our parents let my brother and I stay up late for the first time and watch Mrs. Miniver. We were so excited, got our jammies on, all snuggled on the couch with our parents and watched the movie in the dark. Just staying up late was a treat in itself. Sometimes we would sneak out of bed and watch Alfred Hitchcock for as long as we dared. That was in 1957. It’s funny the things that stick in our minds. That movie will always remind me of that special time. I guess that’s what movies do, remind us of when and where. That’s why I love ‘Christmas Story’… it was a little earlier than when we were growing up but I remember by brother wearing those same clothes. Memories are what we’re made of and they make us feel good. Good times!!

    • sbranch says:

      When that little boy fell down in his snowsuit, and couldn’t get up, I was crying with laughter in the theater . . .

  28. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Thank you, Dear Girl!! I own so many of these titles but there are lots of new ones too. Netflix is going to be busy!! Don’t you love Netflix!! They have anything I ask for. I have yet to stump them. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I sure did….re-read “The Help” and then watched the movie twice. Amazing! Knitted, cooked and napped! I couldn’t have asked for more. Hope of you had a great time. Happy Tuesday, Girls!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve stumped them — but not often, and I love having them there!! But they don’t have Margie, or Enchanted Cottage! Sometimes I want to call them up and ask what are you thinking! Happy Tuesday!

      • Laura says:

        Enchanted Cottage….that sounds so good! What is the storyline?

        • sbranch says:

          About a couple who meet at an enchanted cottage and fall in love — but how it all happens is kind of a complicated story —If you click on the title on the blog, it will take you to a trailer that can show it better than I can tell it. Just perfect for a rainy day.

  29. And let’s not forget Shirley in Heidi ! Had to buy that this year after seeing in on TCM.
    Yes I must agree old movies have such a charm and romance . The Preachers wife was a remake with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington of the Bishops wife . Check it out

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve seen it, but the cab driver in the original is enough to make it my winner! And yes, when Heidi starts calling “Grandfather, grandfather!”

  30. Pamela Jo says:

    Just love your list of films! So many are my favorites, too! I really enjoy old movies and have to say that Gone With The Wind and Little Women (the one starring June Allyson and Liz Taylor) will always be at the top of my list. I also love anything starring Cary Grant. My Nana was a huge fan of Clark Gable and whenever one of his films was on TV she stopped whatever she was doing and watched the movie. I remember she always said “He could put his shoes under my bed anytime!” to which my Pop-Pop would say “Geez, Sallie! Do you always have to say that?” In the innocent days of my childhood, I also remember that I always wondered “Why in the world would Nana want Clark Gable’s shoes?” LOL!!! Oh, to turn back time and relive those days! Susan, your blog always allows me to feel I have turned back time, if only for a few moments. Thank you so much for that! ~xoxo~

  31. Denise says:

    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir <3 I
    also loved the TV series and managed to get it on DVD. Doesn't get much better than Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare and beautiful Gull Cottage. : )

  32. Liz says:

    Happy Holidays! I recommend the Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn movie Holiday.(It’s on You Tube, too). I just watched the final episode of Vicar of Digley(laugh out loud fun for me) and Breakfast at Tiffanys(love Cat/the one scene breaks my heart). Best Wishes, Liz

  33. Julie says:

    May have missed it but didn’t see any mention of
    the “Summer of 42″…..filmed on YOUR beautiful island.
    Gorgeous music, setting and faces-
    Everyone had a “Hermie” who lived in their small town
    and every young guy was on “hormone alert”,
    including my brothers who dreamed of running into
    Jennifer O’Neill in the grocery, only to help carry her bags the same way
    Hermie did in that wonderful, quirky scene.

    Is that lovely cottage still there ?
    It’d be great to snap a photo or video of it-
    just to remind us of the scene where Hermie & friend would crouch
    over the dune just to spy her coming, going & hanging out her laundry.
    The scene when she receives the letter about her husband still makes me cry.

    The other one which I always loved was “The Great Gatsby”-
    Redford was wonderful as Gatsby but I’ve always by-passed the lead actors
    for the secondary, character actors, that would be Sam Waterston-
    no matter what he does…he sends me….wouldn’t mind helping HIM with
    his bag of groceries….ba’ da’ boom….oooh, ouch…sorry…… truthfully, I’d
    be stammerin’ & a’ stutterin’ just like Hermie…a complete mess !

    Thanks for posting the Beatles podcast……have reserved an hour later
    tonight to re-listen.
    I’ve bookmarked it and will definitely share.
    It’s a great treat when gathered with friends for a
    weekend of Beatlemania & juvenile delinquency !

    Enjoy the last week of 2011, Susan….make every minute count !

    • sbranch says:

      I hate to say this, because I wish it was filmed here and then I could go to that beach! But it was actually filmed in Mendocino, California! I think near the same place The Russians are Coming was filmed, another really wonderful movie I forgot about!! You’re welcome for the podcast! Have a wonderful day Julie!

      • Oh! I love Mendocino! My Husband and I spent our 1st anniversary there 40 years ago! Loved the Sea Gull Inn and the whole town, picking blackberries near all the picket fences, delightful! The Murder She wrote tv series was also filmed there!
        Going back to all the sad animal movies, My dear Husband won’t watch Bambi, or let our Grands watch it! How sweet is that!

        • sbranch says:

          He probably remembers how he felt when he saw it! What was Uncle Walt thinking?

          • Lisa Muncy says:

            And don’t forget The Lion King!! I cried like a 6 year old! Simba prodding his nose against his daddy’s lifeless body, trying to wake him up, made me burst into tears!!!

  34. Jolene says:

    Susan,I must say at first, when I glanced down at the photo of you and your best friend while reading the blog, I thought it WAS a photo of some models!! Until I got to it and saw it was YOU & your friend! Wow…you two were some stylin’ chicks, especially with that scarf in your hair!!If that were me I’d have that dispalyed out on my mantle or table for all my friends and family to see! Also I love your movie choices…pretty close to what mine would be ,only that my favorite version of “Little Women” is with June Allyson. Thanks for the recommendations.And, real quick I wanted to share one of my Christmas gifts I recieved. I’ve wanted some type of record player or stereo to play my old records on, since I had gotten rid of my old cumbersome stereo with the HUGE floor speakers, since I moved. I never expected to get one as a gift, I’d actually been searching the Goodwill stores and Salvation Army stores for an inexpensive one so, I was surprised to find my brother-in-law found one, in all places…Khol’s Dept. store. It will fit on my dresser in my bedroom, but the best thing is it looks like an old time radio! But it plays CD’s & records and has a radio. The first album I put on was my Dad’s old Nat King Cole “Unforgettable” album followed by my Perry Como Christmas album I bought years ago for $1.50 @ a flea market! Ahhhhh, the sound of those records, the crackling….there is no sound quite like that. I may be 47 but I love ALL kinds of music and thought Nat should be the one to christen the new record player! Felt like a little part of my Dad was here with us on Christmas morning.Just wanted to share 🙂 I hope you and Joe have a fabulous New Year!!

    • sbranch says:

      Love that record player . . . amazing that it plays albums and looks like a radio and fits on your dresser! What a find! Nat King Cole, with crackles, reminding you of your dad, what a wonderful thought!

  35. dee says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful list! We have a movie theater in our city that was built in the 50’s and has stayed very much the same. (more comfy seats though!)They showed “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” back to back for 3 evenings last week. Totally sold out and everyone clapped and cheered at the end. Remember when that always happened? My hubby and I dressed in 1940’s attire and had a great time.

    • sbranch says:

      I hear about that more and more — showing the old movies on the big screen. Such a fun Christmasy thing to do!

  36. Cathy Dunn says:

    Bless you for this wonderful list of movies! I love most of them too, and I’ve done things too (such as plant flowers, or acquired a dress) because of movies and books. Several years ago I found a wonderful long black winter coat with a mandarin collar that fastens with a row of buttons down to about the waistline. Just reminds me of Dr. Zhivago, or any Chinese movie I’ve ever known and loved! Merry “after” Christmas to you, Susan. Hugs, Cathy

  37. Glenda says:

    Oh Susan, thanks so much for this list. Is it possible you could have printed it before as I think I have it somewhere….
    I grew up in an elderly neighborhood with some of the dearest ladies and one gentleman. My grandmother and I “shared” a room for a time when I was a teenager (loved your Christmas story of your grandmother sharing your room with you) and my mother in law came to live with us when I was very young. I have watched so many of these old black and white movies over and over again and never get tired of them. As I told you before, I bought The Bishop’s Wife this year. Everyone was busy and I finally saw a break and asked my son in law if he wanted to watch a movie with me. We started watching it and then my husband came in and my daughter and grandaughter. We all liked it so much. My grandaughter said she sure wished women dressed like they did in those old movies. Neat clothes! She is a teenager too! 🙂 You introduced me to Enchanted April and Shirley Valentine many years ago. Still two of my favorite movies. You probably have seen these but if not I would like to recommend them to you – Chocolate (Johnny Depp, Juliette Bionaha, Calendar Girls (Helen Mirren), and Girl with a Pearl Earring (Colin Firth, Scarlett Johnsson). You mentioned Baby Boom with Diane Keaton and love love it. When we first bought the “farmette” I was so inspired to make something with all the apples from our orchard, but just never could get anything made to sell but oh what fun to dream….I laughed when you said how much some of these movies had influenced your choices in lifestyle. Me too. I am going to put your list where I can find it and hope to watch the ones I’ve missed. Thank you….

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome! This is the first complete list I’ve ever done . . . I put a list of maybe 10 in the Girlfriends Book — also, in my Love Book. But this is my first “everything” list. When I was a teenager, I got lots of my ideas about how to dress from movies! So I totally get it! Happy you all got to see The Bishops Wife together! Such a charmer.

  38. Silvia Niomi says:

    Happy! New! Year! Susan,

    What a neat Christmas gift. Thank you:<) Thank you:<). I love this gift. I've been reading your blogs for a few months now. I really have been enjoying them…. it's been a fun way to start my day – which not unlike many other people- my days are normally so very hectic. Now, when I was young, I watched some old movies but they were mostly from the late fifties through the seventies. I really did not watch anything made earlier than that. So when I noticed that in your blogs often you'd mention an old movie, I thought wouldn't it be fun to watch these old movies. I started to write them down with the intention of watching them when I got the chance. However, this Christmas gift is a game-changer. I don't have to do that, yeah. I can now devote my time to watching them to my heart's content. Thank you…. how fun:)

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll live vicariously through you — it’s amazing to see these movies for the first time, prepare to fall in love!

  39. It really tickled me to hear you refer to Walter Pidgeon as a “cutie pie” because I too, think he’s adorable. I sometimes see a raised eyebrow or two when I list him as a favorite, with more classically handsome leading men. But oh my, he had way! Who wouldn’t want to be Mrs. Miniver?

  40. Christine Anderson says:

    Love the list as I love old movies too!!
    I would have included ” Ladies in Lavender”. Wonderful story but a great location on the coast of England, transport me there!!

    I so look forward to your blogs! 🙂

  41. Karen Saunders says:

    one more comment and i’m done!! did you have ‘Flower Drum Song?’ and i don’t know if you’ve ever seen ‘Come Back Little Sheba’ with Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth but it’s good. I bought it off of Amazon.

  42. SuzK says:

    Love your list – Random Harvest is my all-time favorite movie, although anything with Greer Garson in it is wonderful. Have you seen Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp? another wonderful one!

  43. deborah says:

    Wow, Susan!!!! This is truely a gift! I have the whole week off and in the back of my mind (as an old film buff like you) I was hope to get in front of Netflix for a few movies I have yet to see, and here you provided this incredible list!!! It also reaffirms my believe we are related in a past life, as so many of my own fav’s are on yours! I hope you have some room on your own list to add some to watch, because I just HAVE to recommend to you the following:

    Mrs. ‘arris goes to Paris. The 92 version with Omar Sharif and Angela Lansberry, you will love this! It is just such a feel good, quaint, and cozy movie! One fav line: Mrs. Harris is sitting at the kitchen table and is just served a cup of tea “ah, that’s a good ‘cuppa”!

    You do have Moonstruck, which is one of my all time favorite (the line towards the end Olympia Ducaukis) “What you don’t know about women,…..Is a LOT” Love it!!!

    A Walk in the Clouds (Kenau Reeves, Anthony Quinn)

    Lost in Yonkers (Mercedes Ruehl, Richard Dreyfuss)

    The Women (Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leashman, Meg Ryan, and tons of others great women!) This is a watch with girlfriends movie!

    When a Man Loves a Woman( Andy Garcia, Meg Ryan)

    A Good Year (Russell Crowe)

    Wow, I got to get busy here!!!!!break out the popcorn!

  44. Debbie '51 says:

    Hi Susan!
    When I read this entry yesterday morning I was positively thrilled*!!* Thank you for such a wonderful gift – truly one of the best I’ve received! Sure wish I could give back to you as you are always giving to us 🙂 I’ve already ordered several of the movies from my library. Some are my old favorites that I haven’t seen in forever, some I haven’t seen at all and just know I need to!

    As a child, whenever I was sick and had to stay home from school, my Mom would snuggle me up under warm blankies in the living room, keep my glass full of Vernor’s (ginger ale), and turn the tv to the Million Dollar Movie. I loved being sick!! (sort of) Nothing can make me feel cozier now than bundling up with a warm blankie, a snuggly dog and cat who are so happy I’m home, a steaming cuppa, and watching those romantic movies and musicals. aaahhhhh…

    Here I go, being all nostalgic again. You do have a way of doing this to me.

    Thank you, Susan, for all you do for us.
    As always, can’t wait for your next entry.
    Stay well!
    P.S. I LOVE the pictures of Jack! He seems to be behaving quite well – for a kitten 😀

    • sbranch says:

      I loved being sick too. 🙂 Jack is the light of my life — I just adore him. He’s bad, but he doesn’t know it, so how bad can he be? He throws all my papers on the floor if he wants to play and I’m working. He is so smart! I’m almost trained now.

  45. Holly says:

    It’s SNOWING in Indiana!!!! Maybe it will make it to you!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh boy, we’re waiting. We actually got a few little flakes on Christmas Day — but it didn’t turn anything white, so we’re waiting for that. Thanks for the update!

  46. pat addison says:

    hello Susan, back again with a bit more of trivia about my grandpa, hal .c. kern. he was nominated twice more back to back from 1940 -42 for the oscar for best film editor, rebecca, and since you went away and for spellbound. he also worked on the prisoner of zenda, a star is born (1937 version), the paradine case, i’ll be seeing you, little lord fauntleroy, abraham lincoln, was an assisant to the producer on 1955 seven little foys, and again on 1959 lil abner. he also worked closely with the producer on houseboat (1958). he was a wonderful person, loved his work and loved his family. he died in 1985 when he was 90 years old. i still miss him to this day but enjoy the films he worked on.

    • sbranch says:

      Such a wonderful history! Loved hearing about it!

      • pat addison says:

        thank you Susan, he was a wonderful man. every now and then i still catch since you went away or Lil abner and i have to laugh at the thought of grandpa doing anything with that movie but he had fun doing it. that was also his favorite comic strip!!!

  47. Sue says:

    Please, please watch 84 Charing Cross Road. It’s my very favorite movie. I have loaned my copy to several friends who have loved it too. If you love ‘things’ English or British, I’m confident you’ll like it too. If you haven’t, the series Lark Rise to Candleford is unbelievable as well as Downton Abbey. Even though I’ve been to Germany & Italy three times in five years (three long stories), going to England is on top of my bucket list. I own all of your books and love, love your blog! I’m so looking forward to your new book. Happy New Year! Sue

  48. pat addison says:

    just thought of a few more really good old movies, anna and the king of siam with rex harrison and irene dunne, i remember mama with irene dunne, life with father with william powell and irene dunne and a very young martin milner. love is a many splendored thing with jennifer jones and william holden, flower drum song, drums along the mohawk with henry fonda and claudette colbert. we are getting quite a list here. do we all watch TMC????

  49. Melanie E. says:

    Hi..I’m back again..here to recommend a NEW movie that I think will be a classic..The Help. Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet..it’s a MUST. I absolutely loved the book (could not put it down) and usually I’m disappointed by movies that have been made from novels..but not this one. Every actress is perfect in their role. Another movie that I think is very cute – Nanny McPhee..love Emma Thompson in anything she’s in, and Colin Firth..all I can say is SIGH. Enjoy!

    • sbranch says:

      Adore Colin Firth . . . Doesn’t happen often, but I thought the movie of The Help was even better than the book!! It was wonderful. Thanks Melanie!

  50. Rebecca says:

    Hello Susan,
    Just wanted to say thank you for being so wonderful! I love your blog and get a warm glow of happiness with every new one I read. I’ve been meaning to comment on your past blogs (especially to tell you about my own bird tree – a white bottle brush tree with antique glass birds and a pink feather boa!). I knew I just had to write you a little hello after seeing your last post about your favorite movies because so many of them are MY favorite movies too! Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Roman Holiday, A Room With a View, Swing Time, Pride and Prejudice, Meet Me in St. Louis – I could go on and on. They are all so happy and romantic and optimistic and true. It really made my day reading about how you love these movies too. Thank you for being yourself, doing what you do, loving life, enjoying the simple things and bringing so much happiness and beauty into the world – it really does make a difference! You are a kindred spirit.
    Love, Rebecca

  51. Hello Susan, are you recovering from your Holidays’? I haven’t read anyone’s plans for New Year’s Eve?? Jim and I do not go out anymore to hoot and holler, so it might just be a great time to watch some of your favorite movies? I hate to admit this; but, it is really getting harder to even stay up and watch the Ball/Apple drop at midnight!!! UGH Just wanted to check in and see what you, Joe, Girl/Jack are up to. My niece came in from Chicago last night and we are going out today to Menard’s to start getting a plan for remodeling this 56 yr. old kitchen. I have my color scheme (sage green) now the flooring, cabinets, etc. what an overwhelming job. Wish me Luck!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Was talking to my girlfriend the other day, she loves to go out, she’s very social — but she said she wasn’t going out on New Year’s Eve!
      I said, “You? Of all people I thought you’d go out for sure!”
      She replied, “Oh, I never go out on New Year’s Eve, New Years is for amateurs!”
      I laughed. I’m definitely an amateur, but we’ll be going to dinner at friend’s house. Right now though, I’m working on the Blotter calendar for 2013 — want to have it done before the New Year!

  52. Barbara says:

    I adored Hayley Mills growing up so the movie Trouble with Angels is an all time favorite. Have you seen it Susan?

  53. pat addison says:

    good morning, just thought i would add a few more to this long list, since you went away with claudette colbert and jennifer jone and shirley temple, that Hagan girl with ronald reagan and shirley temple, the black narcisuss with deborah kerr; that hamilton woman with vivian leigh; the seven faces of dr. lao with tony randall, pillow talk with doris day, rock hudson and tony randall; now voyager with bette davis; pocketful of miracles with bette davis; private lives of elizabeth and essex with bette davis and errol flynn; the adventures of robin hood with erroll flynn and olivia de haviland; ivanhoe with robert taylor and elizabeth taylor; showboat with eva gardner and kathryn grayson; the virgin queen with bette davis and joan collins; young bess with stewart granger, jean simmons; mary queen of scotts with katherine hepburn; do we have enough yet to get us through new years???? Happy New Year everyone!!!!! hugs…….. 🙂

  54. Loved all of your movies Susan!

    Thanks to TCM I have become a bit of an old movie buff!
    I love Myrna Loy (The Rains Came), Claudette Colbert (Since You Were Away), Marlene Dietrich (Witness for the Prosecution), Gary Cooper and so many more!!
    I love Holiday Inn (the orginal White Christmas) with Fred Astair!! Move over Darling (with Doris Day & James Garner) Rio Bravo!
    and the list goes on and on… some more modern movies are just as good as the classics….
    Cousins (with Ted Danson & Isabella Rossellini who is the spitting image of her mother Ingrid Bergman)!
    Roxanne (with Steve Martin), Murphys Romance is also one of my favorites, The Notebook, Romancing the Stone, Bridges of Madison County….
    The Holiday : Marvelous Movie!!! You’ve Got Mail- which of course is a remake of another great oldie!
    Cold Mountain (this one is a hard one to watch)
    One of my most recent favs is UP! and Despicable Me (not a traditional love story, but a Love story of sorts).
    I am also a fan of the Star Wars series, and of course… Pirates of the Caribbean!
    Happy New Year Girlfriends!!
    Amy Lynn

  55. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    Do you remember seeing “The Trouble with Angels” with Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills? I so enjoyed it back in my teenage years. So nostalgic for me – especially when she stays up late at night “sewing”.

  56. Lynn McMahon says:

    Hi Susan & girlfriends~
    I KNOW I said I wouldn’t be back…..but I found something to share that was too exciting & interesting not to pass on in light of this blog!  The National Film Registry  listed their 25 picks for the registry this year. I don’t know if you are familiar with them, but since 1989 (on an Act of Congress) the National Film Registry adds films each year from many genres (including home videos) into the registry. So far there are 575! Guess we girlfriends will be busy!! An interesting entry this year is a documentary on the manufacturing of fake fruit! Can you believe it??
     I’ll let you go so you can get busy checking the site out! 

  57. Sandra says:

    What a wonderfully fabulous list; thank you! Some I’ve never seen so am going to try and find them locally so I can enjoy them this winter. Rosalind Russel in The Mrs. Polifax movies are SO hard to find but such fun. The Big Fish is a classic, at least in my mind -smile- and Little Shop of Horrors is campy fun. It’s one of Steve Martin’s earliest, I believe.

  58. jane zamudio says:

    dear susan- i just had to add a little movie i found by accident this Christmas. Its called “A Dog Named Christmas” amd i found it on the Hallmark channel. I instantly fell in love. So much so that im heading to town on payday to pick it up from my local Hallmark store!! If you get the chance, please watch this charming and feel-good little gem!!!

  59. pat addison says:

    one last movie and its a big favorite of mine as Easter is not Easter until this movie comes on, The Easter Parade with judy garland, and fred astaire. i adore this old movie and i love when fred does his song and dance in the toy store to get the kid to let go of his stuffed bunny toy!!! also love summer stock with judy garland and gene kelly..i love the happy harvest song she sings while driving a tractor.

  60. Jennie Lavezzo says:

    Wonderful idea, the movies! Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck etc swoooon they just don’t make them like that anymore. The ladies were fabulous too. You reminded me of some, can’t wait to see if my library has any.

  61. Linda Trokey says:


    If I lived close to you, I think we would have a blast together. Your movie list was so close to mine, it was uncanny. And the picture of you and your best friend made me giggle. I had those same headbands in various colors and how much time did we spend “ironing” or “wrapping” our hair? Some day I will send you a picture of myself that is almost identical to the one on your blog – I had the same perm and toothy grin as you. I still remember the smell of the ammonia permeating our kitchen as my mom and grandma “permed” my hair. My sister was lucky as she had naturally curly hair so she escaped the smell, towels and clips that came with the hair treatment.
    Need to add “Rear Window” and “Penny Serenade” to your movie list – two classics and who was more gorgeous than Grace Kelly?! She sure got the perfect name for her.

    Happy New Year!

    Linda T

  62. Jeff Turner says:

    I fell in love with Susan when she illustrated recipes in Country Living Magazine. I then started collecting her books whenever I saw them and gave them as Presents. Does anyone know what year the the illusrated recipes were printed? Thanks!

  63. Mary Whiting says:

    Hi SUsan,

    I have almost all of the older movies on your list. Two I don’t think you mentioned unless I missed them that are WONDERFUL…
    “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse (Cary Grant/Myrna Loy) and “The Man Who Came To Dinner” (Betty Davis). Enjoy.

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