Claudette Colbert strikes it rich. Image: The Film Spectrum

Do you have “comfort movies” you turn to when you feel off-kilter?

Comfort movies are like comfort food. They may not solve the world’s problems, but they fortify you enough to take another whack at the obstacles you face.

We (yours truly) have a lot of comfort movies, but when we sifted through them to see which ones mattered most, we noticed something strange.

Many of our choices were released in 1942.

There’s something about films released in this year that appeal to us. Although 1939 is considered Hollywood’s Golden Year, we find the films from 1942, overall, far more fascinating.

Here are five of our 1942 comfort films, in no particular order.

In This Our Life

Olivia de Havilland (L) contends with a difficult Bette Davis: Image: The Old Hollywood Times

Bette Davis stars as – wait for it – a spoiled, headstrong woman who brings misery to everyone she knows, including her sister (Olivia de Havilland) and her creepy sugar-daddy uncle (Charles Coburn). This film may seem like an odd choice, but we’re always so glad we don’t have these characters’ problems.

Why It’s A Comfort Movie: In This Our Life has a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. While Davis is theatrical and fabulous, de Havilland is sheer inspiration. She plays a woman cheated out of Everything, yet discovers strength in forgiveness.

You Were Never Lovelier

Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire, and a forbidden romance. Image: Alamy/Pinterest

You Were Never Lovelier takes place in Buenos Aires, where everyone is beautiful and wealthy. Fred Astaire is a dancer who tries to wangle an employment contract with a swanky hotel owned by Rita Hayworth’s father (Adolphe Menjou). Astaire and Hayworth dance, and fall in love, despite Menjou’s furious objections.

Why It’s a Comfort Movie: Very funny lines, and Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.

The Palm Beach Story

Joel McCrea (centre) can’t keep up with Colbert. Image: The Criterion Collection

Claudette Colbert leaves her husband (Joel McCrea) and travels to Florida so she can get a divorce and marry a rich man. But Colbert’s motives are altruistic: She wants to secure funding so McCrea can build an airport. If you like witty films with quirky characters, The Palm Beach Story is for you.

Why It’s A Comfort Movie: You’ve probably guessed this is a Preston Sturges screwball comedy, with over-the-top costumes and sets. Get in and hang on!

Reunion in France

Step aside, John Wayne. Joan Crawford is in charge. Image: John Wayne Message Board

Joan Crawford is a wealthy, self-centred Parisian who loses her home and her boyfriend when the Nazis invade France. Her extravagant lifestyle was stolen, but when she decides to work against occupying forces, she does so for her country, not her lost fortune. John Wayne also stars, but our Joan is the Hero du jour.

Why It’s a Comfort Movie: Crawford knows how to cultivate our sympathy, and she makes us believe we could be resistance workers, too, if the need arose. There are many similarities between this film and the one below, yet Reunion in France doesn’t feel like a knockoff.

Casablanca

Of all the gin joints in all the world… Image: Niagara County Entertainment

Humphrey Bogart is the owner of a nightclub/casino in the Moroccan desert, a place where European refugees haggle and dream of boarding the Plane to Lisbon whilst sipping cocktails. When Bogart’s ex (Ingrid Bergman) unexpectedly arrives, he realizes there’s more At Stake Here than financial gain.

Why It’s A Comfort Movie: Casablanca is not perfect, but the experience is so engrossing you don’t care. Also, Claude Rains has some of the best lines in classic film.

What are your comfort movies?

This post is part of the CLASSICS FOR COMFORT SPRING BLOGATHON, hosted by the CMBA.

Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

52 Comment on “Classic Movies as Comfort Food

  1. Pingback: Classic Movies as Comfort Food — Silver Screenings – Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival

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