Watching classic movies are one of the great ways to ease your wanderlust during the coronavirus pandemic. Not only will you be able to enjoy memorable films, you’ll also be able to take your mind off things. What’s more, the classics can take you to places you’ve never visited before. Even further, it can capture the essence of a time when life was simpler. If that’s not enough, you will have better appreciation for what’s in store when the pandemic is over. Here 10 of the best classic movies that will transport you all over the world.
African Queen (1951)
A 1935 novel from C.S. Forester, The African Queen is a World War I-era classic movie that takes place in Africa. The movie classic stars Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut and Katherine Hepburn as Rose Sayer in lead roles. None other than John Huston is the director. Rose and her brother are British missionaries in what was then known as German East Africa. After her brother is killed, Rose escapes from German soldiers on the river steamboat African Queen. Despite Rose being a missionary, she develops an unusual relationship with Charlie.
Related: Travel Movies To Watch If You’re Stuck At Home
An Oscar For Humphrey Bogart
Earning a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The African Queen earned Humphrey Bogart his first and only Academy Award, winning the Oscar for Best Actor. Although Bogart is often known for other classic movies, like Casablanca, the African Queen is a masterpiece.
Around The World In 80 Days (1956)
A 1872 novel by Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days is an epic comedy-adventure film. What’s more, it features several of the finest actors of its day. For instance, David Niven is in the lead role as Phileas Fogg. Niven’s character is a dapper 19th century British citizen and member of London’s Reform Club. Once at the club, he places a wager that he can circumnavigate the world in just 80 days. Fogg and his hired valet (Cantiflas) then embark upon the incredible journey. In detail, they must travel to far distant places, by using trains and steamships. That’s not to mention the iconic balloon early on. The classic film also stars Shirley MacLaine as Princess Aouda and Robert Newton as Inspector Fix. However, 182-minute movie also has more than 40 famous people in cameo roles.
Among cameo appearances are Charles Boyer, José Greco, Marlene Dietrich and Peter Lorre. If that’s not enough, Frank Sinatra, Hermione Gingold, George Raft and Buster Keaton also appear. Around the World in 80 Days had eight Oscar nominations and won five. Of those five was Best Picture while beating out other blockbuster films like The Ten Commandments and The King and I. Indeed, the contenders for Best Picture might be among the finest of all time.
One of the greatest classic movies ever, Casablanca is a romantic drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Bogart stars as Rick Blaine an American expatriate who owns a nightclub in Morocco during World War II. His former lover Ilsa Lund (Bergman) reappears at his club with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Laszlo is a Czech Resistance fighter against the Germans. Torn between his love for Ilsa and helping her and her husband escape to America, Blaine has to make a critical decision. The rest, as they, say is history.
Famous Movie Lines From Casablanca
The iconic film has some of the most famous lines in classic movie history. For example “Here’s looking at you, kid” and “Play it Sam. Even further memorable lines are Play “As Time Goes By” and “We’ll Always Have Paris”. Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three, including Outstanding Motion Picture. It also gave Michael Curtiz the Best Director award. Although the final scene is in Morocco, it’s actually at Van Nuys Airport, in the San Fernando Valley. That’s about 15 miles from the heart of Hollywood, California.
Flower Drum Song (1961)
A 1957 novel by Chin Yang Lee and a 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, Flower Drum Song was controversial. In fact, it’s controversial in more ways than one. The first major Hollywood movie to have a majority Asian cast about Asians. That in itself, was controversial for its time. Furthermore, it also features two Japanese-American actors in lead roles. However, their roles were as Chinese-Americans causing yet another controversy. The contemporary story is about life and romance, while embracing the American culture in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Awards For Flower Drum song
The lively and colorful musical was a success, earning five Academy Award nominations. What’s more, this engaging classic movie helped popularize several Asian cast members. This includes, Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Miyoshi Umeki, Jack Soo and Benson Fong. Among the most enduring songs of the film are I Enjoy Being A Girl, Chop Suey and A Hundred Million Miracles. Flower Drum Song continues to appear on Broadway revivals.
Related: Rock Songs to Listen to While Sheltering In Place
Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is a British war drama based upon the memoirs of Colonel T.E. Lawrence. Set during World War I, British officer Lawrence leads members of the Arab Revolt to battle against the invading Ottoman Empire. Although this epic classic movie is exceptionally long at either the three or four-hour version, it’s among the finest British films of all time. What’s more, it earned Best Picture of the Year at the 1963 Oscars. With Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole became international star. Indeed, Lawrence was his most iconic role ever.
Awards For Lawrence of Arabia
The film also features a marquee ensemble of actors. In further detail, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, José Ferrer, Omar Sharif and Claude Rains. Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for 10 Oscars and won seven. Of those seven wins was Best Picture and Best Director for legendary British director David Lean. Although O’Toole did not win the Best Actor award, he became a household name. He eventually was nominated seven more times, finally earning an Academy Honorary Award.
Related: Feel Good Movies If You’re Stuck At Home
Roman Holiday (1953)
With sweeping views of the city, Roman Holiday is a romantic comedy movie that can be enjoyed multiple times. The film stars Audrey Hepburn in her breakout role as Ann, a European princess. Also in a lead role is Gregory Peck, an American reporter and soon-to-be love interest. On an official state visit from an unknown country, Princess Ann is bored with her regular routine. At night, she decides to slip out and visit Rome on her own. However, she does realize she was given a prescription to relax. Joe finds her asleep on a park bench, thinking she had been drinking. Not realizing who she is, Joe takes her to his apartment so she could “sleep it off”.
A Developing Romance
Joe and Princess Ann meet up again and developed a romance while taking in the iconic sites of Rome. For instance, you will see the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. If you watch the movie, see if you can spot other familiar spots in Rome.
Awards For Roman Holiday
Directed by William Wyler, the Roman Holiday was a monumental success at the box office. In fact, it received seven Academy Award nominations. It went on to win three Oscars, including Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn and Best Writing for Dalton Trumbo. At the time, Ms. Hepburn was a relatively unknown actress. You may recall the 2015 Trumbo film, starring former Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston.
Related: Five Places To Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The King and I (1956)
A longtime family favorite, The King and I is one of the finest musicals of all time. A Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, this enduring movie chronicles the story of an English schoolteacher and the King of Siam. In fact, much of the film portrays a true life event. The filming takes place in Bangkok and stars Yul Brynner as the King Mongkut and Deborah Kerr as Anna. Anna is the fictional schoolteacher who instructs the King’s 15 children.
Awards for the King and I
The musical was both a critical and financial success. In fact, had nine Academy Awards nominations, including nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress and Best Director. What’s more, it has a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yul Brynner won the Oscar for Best Actor and it made him an international movie star. Among the most memorable tunes from The King and I are I Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance and the very memorable Overture.
The Sound of Music (1965)
With breathtaking views of Austria’s Lake District of Salzburg, The Sound of Music tells the story of the Von Trapp Family and their daring escape from the Nazis. A 1938 novel and 1959 stage musical, The Sound of Music stars Julie Andrews in the lead role as Maria Rainer and Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. With music written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the family friendly movie showcases several well-known songs. For example, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, and Edelweiss. Of course, the most popular is the theme song, The Sound of Music.
Awards for the Sound of Music
Running nearly three hours long, The Sound of Music was a box office success and nominated for 10 Academy Awards. It went on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Robert Wise.
To Catch A Thief (1955)
With white sandy beaches and warm waters, any who’s ever been to the French Riviera knows how magical this place can be. To get a 1950s glimpse of this enchanting region in southeastern France, To Catch a Thief is one of the best. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the romantic thriller starred Cary Grant as John Robie as a former cat burglar and Grace Kelly who portrays, Frances daughter of a wealthy socialite. The local authorities believe Robie is behind a series of jewelry heists. As a result, he has to go after the real burglar himself. During this time, he and Frances develop a romance.
Awards for To Catch A Thief
Successful at the box office, To Catch a Thief won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. What’s more, it inspired the 1968 TV series It Takes a Thief, starring Robert Wagner.
West Side Story
A 1957 book and subsequent Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is love story. In fact, its inspiration is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The acclaimed film takes place in New York’s West Side and centers around the Jets, a white American gang and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang. One young man and woman from the families opposite gang members fall in love, creating more tension between the Jets and Sharks.
The film stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the young lovers Maria and Tony. The film also stars Russ Tamblyn as Riff, the leader of the Jets, George Chakiris as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks and Maria’s older brother. In a prominent accompanying role is Rita Moreno as Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend and Mari’s close friend.
Awards for West Side Story
Arguably the finest musical film ever made, West Side Story was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, the most ever for a musical. Among the Oscars won were Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, Best Supporting Actor. The film contained several memorable songs, including “Maria“, “Tonight“, “Somewhere” and “America“.
Related: What To See At The Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer and was the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS Local websites. This includes New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, he had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than five million monthly visitors. His stories have also appeared in CBS News, The Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com.