Love Vintage: 6 Must-See Modern Movies

 Posted by on May 20, 2013 at 9:20 PM
May 202013
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~ Love Vintage: 6 Must-See Modern Movies ~

Not all classic movies are from the Golden Era, there are some modern movies that get it right. I’ve chosen a few which feature the Hot Jazz era to the Big Band war years. These films excel in capturing period style, great acting, witty dialogue and killer soundtracks reminiscent of old Hollywood.

The Great Gatsby Stylished Illustration

To my delight and surprise I am adding and featuring the remake of The Great Gatsby, (2013) directed by Baz Luhrmann. I was prepared not to like it. I’d seen the trailers, too slick and I like my vintage…vintage. But, Luhrmann accomplished a remarkable feat. He converted this stickler for authentic vintage.

The beauty and opulence of the era was captured in outrageously ornate costumes and decadent sets. Although the women’s dresses weren’t spot-on era reproductions (I usually don’t budge on this), they exuded flapper glamour and I lusted after every gown, pantsuit and headdress.

The cast was superior to the 1974 version: Daisy (Carey Mulligan) combined the sensitivity, shallowness and fragility to elicit the right amount of pity and dislike, true to the writing, DiCaprio, dazzled with his “role within a role,” letting us glimpse the insecure idealistic Gatsby behind the polished slick exterior. Jordan, (Elizabeth Debicki), Myrtle (Isla Fisher) and Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) were not only beautiful to look at, but packed their supporting roles with complexity and believability.

At first the MTV quality of the party scenes abraded my vintage sensibilities, but the more I watched, the more I realized and appreciated that Luhrmann has made Fitzgerald available to a new generation. I couldn’t help thinking, “my daughter (thirteen-year-old) would LOVE this.”

The real star of the show was Carraway (Tobey MaGuire). He never let us forget that he was telling the story and it was story-telling that was important. The transparent overlays and use of text and type ensured Fitzgerald’s beautiful words, which inspired the movie, were not lost in the glitz.

bullets-over-broadway-movie-posterBullets Over Broadway (1994) written by Woody Allen & Douglas McGarth. Directed by Woody Allen, stars John Cusak, as a struggling 1920’s New York playwright who finds himself indebted to a local gangster when he bankrolls his debut play. In his struggles with the bad acting of the mobster’s girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly)and script re-writes, he befriends the molls bodyguard who ends up helping him rewrite the show. This leads him to question his talent and what it means to be an “artist.” The dialogue is classic Woody Allen and the actors ensure their wacky characters ring true. My favorite line comes from Rob Reiner’s character, “Artists make their own moral universe.” Ha!

henry and june movie poster

Henry & June (1990) Written by Phillp & Rose Kaufman, directed by Phillip Kaufman, is a beautiful sensual romp through 1930s Paris. Writers Anais Nin (Maria de Medeiros) and Henry Miller (Fred Ward) meet and exchange intellectual ideas while falling into an entangled love triangle with his wife June (Uma Thurman). The costumes, sets and music paint a dreamy haze on Paris 1931. Anais and June’s costumes are delicate, gorgeous and would make any vintage lover drool. The rooms of Nin’s house are each painted a different color to evoke deliberate moods. This is not a movie for the conservative, Anais inspired to write like D.H. Lawrence and Henry, well, we all know, Henry wrote about fucking.

millers-crossing-title-screenMiller’s Crossing (1990) Written by Joel & Ethan Cohen Directed by Joel Cohen. Stars Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Tutorro, Steve Buschemi. The Cohen brother’s mix the high-style and witty dialogue of classic film noir in a tale of rival gangs in 1930s. What elevates this movie is its complex characters and dark humor juxtaposed against graphic violence. If you’re squeamish about blood and guts it’s best to skip this one.

jennifer jason leigh in mrs-parker and the viciouscircleMrs. Parker & the Vicious Circle (1994) Written by Alan Rudolph & Randy Sue Coburn. Directed by Alan Rudolph. Stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, and Matthew Broderick. Novelist Dorothy Parker remembers the heyday of the Algonquin Round Table (impetus of the New Yorker Magazine). Witty dialogue fueled by alcohol and despair, affairs and friendships span the 1920s-1940s.

Not least, take a look at The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008), The Cotton Club (1984), Tucker: The Man and His Dreams (1988), Barton Fink (1991), Racing with the Moon (1984).


I’m sure there are a few I left out but these are must watches for any lover or vintage and classic Hollywood. What’s your favorite?

Tam Francis, authorTam Francis is writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She  shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page


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  9 Responses to “Love Vintage: 6 Must-See Modern Movies”

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  1. For me, gotta love Woody Allen’s “Radio Days”! The whole thing takes you on a ride through society of all levels during the War years in that incredible extended family, compressed into sharing one very large house in Rockaway, NJ! Aunt Bea is a trip, and the neice (name?) Who thrives in listening in on the party line to all the neighbors’ woes! The soundtrack is great, and I love love love the costumes, sets and the soundtrack.

    “Brighton Beach Memoirs” is wonderful Neil Simon, set in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York in September 1937, this coming-of-age comedy focuses on Eugene Morris Jerome, a Polish-Jewish American teenager who experiences puberty, sexual awakening, and a search for identity as he tries to deal with his family, including his older brother Stanley, his parents Kate and Jack, Kate’s sister Blanche, and her two daughters, Nora and Laurie, who come to live there after their father dies. (Wikipedia)

    • Ahhh, I forgot about “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” I love that movie with the young Matthew Broderick. I’ll have to watch that again. I remember it being very army-centric? And I don’t think I’ve seen Radio Days and I LOVE Woody Allen. One of my fave is “The Purple Rose of Cairo!” Thanks for checking out the site and hanging around. I’m so happy you found several posts that interest you :)


  2. I’m a big fan of the 1999 movie ‘Cradle Will Rock’, set in NY in 1939 (actually compressing events from a few years before and after). It’s a good cross-section of society, from the Very Rich to the dirt poor, encompassing a lot of the artists’ community.


    • Thanks. I have not seen that one and will look for it! Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment! Can’t wait to check out this film!

  3. I love your blog, fashion and writing style! These are all great movie recommendation. What is your opinion on LA Confidential and Devil In A Blue Dress? I have always loved reading and watching noir crime literature. I thought these two films were well done…

    • Oooo, gosh, how could I have missed those. Both Dave and I LOVE those two movies. Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress) is a fun read too. Both did an amazing job of setting the Film Noir mood with dialogue and directing. I don’t remember the costumes in Devil as much, but I think there were a few dresses which struck me non-period. Hmmmm, maybe time for a rewatch!

      We also dig “Ask the Dust” (based on a John Fante novel) and I thought of “The Cat’s Meow” which has gorgeous costumes as well. It didn’t get a lot of praise, but I really enjoyed the acting and plot. I tried to highlight the ones which have authentic period costumes combined with great acting, script and direction. Please feel free to add!

      Thank you tremendously for visiting, commenting and being so generous in critique.

  4. Great list. Must see movies.

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