I am a big fan of movies from the 1930s and 1940s. Ask me about current television series, and I’ll give you a blank stare. But ask me to list some of my favorite films, and I guarantee that most will fall in the black-and-white pre-1950s category. The other evening I watched “Mrs. Miniver” for the umpteenth time (Greer Garson is pure perfection), and any time “The Best Years of Our Lives” is showing on Turner Classic Movies, I’m front and center in complete classic movie heaven.
My predilection for older movies began early for me. I grew up near Las Vegas, and in the 1970s one of the local stations aired a classic movie in the afternoon. The program was hosted by a local personality named Gus Giuffre, who would introduce the movie and offer interesting facts and commentary to viewers. I wasn’t able to watch it when school was in session, but summer vacations provided the perfect opportunity for me and my mom to plop down in our den and spend a blissful couple of hours watching classic films. If you’re wondering why I wasn’t outside playing, remember this was Las Vegas, where summer is like our winter. You spent most of your time indoors to avoid the weather — in this case, scorching heat.
I bring all of this up because while I was enjoying yet another viewing of “Mrs. Miniver,” I realized that part of the appeal of watching older movies is paying attention to the clothing and hairstyles, the types of vehicles being driven, the furnishings and decorations filling the movie-set homes. It’s a view into our past.
Something that seems to be popular no matter the decade or generation is embracing all things retro. Whether it’s a 1940s hairstyle or a 1960s dining room set, a 1970s muscle car or 1980s leg warmers, retro is cool and comebacks are king (although I hope that the oversized shoulder pads also from the 1980s fail to be revived). To prove that retro is hip and a huge influencer in the publishing world, I scanned the library’s catalog for retro-centric titles. No surprise — there’s a lot. So, in the spirit of celebrating the past — from watching 1940s movies (Thank you, Mom!) to redecorating your home with a “Mad Men” vibe — embrace vintage by selecting a title from the list below. If you don’t see something that piques your interest, remember that there is much, much more to be found at your local library.
Final thought: sometimes another person views something as retro when you don’t. This can be slightly depressing. When my husband and I recently took an Uber from the train station to our home, the driver — in his early twenties at the most — was listening to music from the 1990s. I made a comment about one of the songs, and he replied that he was the only one in his group of friends to listen to music from that decade. The 1990s, retro? News flash to self: I’m old. But I’m young at heart, which is totally tubular.