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The glamour of Old Hollywood is timeless, so it doesn’t need to be the holiday season to purchase one of these classic film-themed gifts. In addition to curating broadcast lineups of the greatest films of all time (from one of the largest film libraries in the world), Turner Classic Movies has also curated a wide variety of gifts for the classic film fan in your life — or yourself, if that’s you.
IndieWire has compiled a list of the best of these gifts, from film collections to retro accessories (dare you to watch anything from Clara Bow’s filmography and NOT want to buy a cloche hat) and of course plenty of books for classic movie lovers. Read on for our selections for the 2020 holiday season — and beyond.
“Turner Classic Movies Cinematic Cities: New York: The Big Apple on the Big Screen” by Christian Blauvelt
IndieWire’s own Christian Blauvelt compiles a one-of-a-kind cinematic tour of the Big Apple in this book, which is part trove of behind-the-scenes stories, part practical guidebook (with maps!) for visiting the locations of some of your favorite films, including “The Godfather,” “The Seven Year Itch,” “King Kong,” “North by Northwest,” “On the Town,” “West Side Story,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and many more.
Kino Lorber has compiled three classic films starring Deanna Durbin, released on Blu-ray for the first time. In “100 Men and a Girl” (1937), which comes with new audio commentary by film historian Stephen Vagg, Durbin plays “an inventive and determined young woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. The daughter of an unemployed musician, Patricia Cardwell decides she will persuade conductor Leopold Stokowski to help her launch an orchestra that will employ her widowed father (Adolphe Menjou) and 99 other out-of-work musicians. Though faced with this seemingly impossible task, Patricia leads her unemployed orchestra to the home of the unsuspecting Stokowski and conducts them in Liszt’s ‘Second Hungarian Rhapsody’ from the top of his staircase. His reaction is priceless, as are the numerous musical numbers, including ‘It’s Raining Sunbeams’ and ‘A Heart That’s Free.'”
In “3 Smart Girls Grow Up” (1939), she plays Penny, a woman “has a knack for matchmaking and realizes that her own two sisters Joan (Nan Grey) and Kay (Helen Parrish) could use her help since one of them is in love with the other’s boyfriend. In attempting to manipulate the situation so that both sisters end up with the ideal fiancé, Penny only creates further problems until her father is forced to intervene on her behalf.”
And in “It Started With Eve” (1941), which comes with new audio commentary from film historian Sam Deighan, “an old millionaire (Charles Laughton), believed to be in his final days, wishes to meet the young lady that his son Johnny (Robert Cummings) is planning to wed. When the future bride-to-be is unavailable, the dutiful son finds a quick replacement in a random hat-check girl (Durbin). Surprisingly, she quickly steals his heart and when his father makes a remarkable recovery, Johnny must juggle the phony bride-to-be with the newly arrived true bride of his heart.”
This recently released definitive biography of the Hollywood legend draws on Grant’s own papers, extensive archival research, and interviews with family and friends to paint a portrait of the man formerly known as Archibald Leach who came to America in search of fame and fortune. But, as the official description notes, “he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was 11 years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was 31 years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs. Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as ‘Gunga Din,’ ‘Notorious,’ and ‘North by Northwest.'”
You’ll want to dive deeper into Grant’s filmography after reading that biography, so start with this Kino Lorber collection of three classic Grant comedies from the 1930s. “Ladies Should Listen” stars Grant in “a romantic comedy about a frolicking bachelor’s complicated escapade in Paris. A meddling switchboard operator (Frances Drake) falls in love with Julian de Lussac (Grant), a tenant in her building who has a deceiving girlfriend. Armed with the truth, she decides to win over Julian’s love and affections by formulating a plan to interfere and expose her conniving scheme.”
In “Wedding Present,” which comes with new audio commentary from film historian Kat Ellinger, “Chicago newspaper reporters Charlie Mason (Grant) and Rusty Fleming (Joan Bennett) never let a good story get in the way of a prank. Things change, however, when their editor (George Bancroft) quits and Charlie takes over for him. Returning from a month’s vacation, Rusty discovers fun-loving Charlie has become an unbearable tyrant. Disgusted by his behavior, Rusty leaves for New York where her hasty engagement to a stuffy author (Conrad Nagel) brings Charlie to his senses as he pulls out the stops to change her mind.”
And finally, in “Big Brown Eyes,” which comes with new audio commentary by film critic Nick Pinkerton, Eve Fallon (Joan Bennett) loses her job thanks to bickering banter with police detective Danny Barr (Grant), causing the brassy blonde manicurist to become a New York crime reporter instead. “When a shootout between a pack of thieves ends with a racketeer (Walter Pidgeon) getting away with murder, Danny and Eve join forces chasing down clues to bust the gang of crooks and see that justice is served.”
“The Essentials, Vol. 2: 52 More Must-See Movies and Why They Matter” by Jeremy Arnold, foreword by Ben Mankiewicz
The Essentials series, first conceived in 2001, is a way for Turner Classic Movies to help classic movie lovers expand their cinematic knowledge by discovering or revisiting landmark films that have left a lasting impact on audiences around the world. Film Historian Arnold compiled a first curriculum of 52 must-see movies from the silent era through the early 1980s in “The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter,” which readers could enjoy by viewing one film a week for a year-long celebration or by curating their own classic film festival. (You can buy that edition on Amazon for $16.99 right now.)
The book contains notes about why each film is essential, commentary from TCM’s Robert Osborne, and Essentials guest hosts including Sally Field, Drew Barrymore, Alec Baldwin, Rose McGowan, Carrie Fisher, Molly Haskell, Peter Bogdanovich, Sydney Pollack, and Rob Reiner. This second version, which was just released on October 20, contains 52 more films that extend through the late 1980s and commentary from some of those same figures, plus people like Ava DuVernay, Brad Bird, and William Friedkin.
Some of the films in Vol. 2 include “Top Hat,” “The Women,” “Brief Encounter,” “Rashomon,” “Vertigo,” “The Apartment,” “The Producers,” “The Sting,” “Network,” “Field of Dreams,” and more.
Letting your love of classic movies seep into your wardrobe? Then you’ll want to check out the TCM apparel, which includes menswear like fedoras, pocket squares, and bow ties. This classic Bailey fedora “was inspired by characters who prefer to handle their business in a clandestine manner. The snap brim design makes it easy to keep a low profile, although with a hat this good looking, would you really want to? The Lanth is crafted from polished wool felt and trimmed in a suede felt band, adding texture and contrast.”
If you’re looking for a more feminine outfit, there’s also plenty of art deco-inspired jewelry and a wide selection of flapper-esque cloche hats. This one is a dusty rose color complete with felt flower accent on the side, which “recalls the glamorous ladies of pre-code Hollywood. Wear it as a stylish tribute to one of the most dynamic eras in movie history.”
Curated by the TCM staff, the TCM Holiday Spirit collection features two best-selling books and a set of stemless wine glasses that are perfect for holiday entertaining. The books include “Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season,” a list of the best and most beloved holiday films of all time spanning eight decades (also available for $10.99 from Amazon), and “Movie Night Menus: Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by the Films We Love,” a collection of classic movies from the 1930s through the ’80s paired with crowd-pleasing food and drink options, like “Casablanca” and some French 75s and a Moroccan-themed dinner (available for $17.59 from Amazon). (Other films and menus include “The Thin Man,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Some Like It Hot,” “American Graffiti,” “Moonstruck,” and more.) Finally, when you’re ready to imbibe, the set of four stemless wine glasses are each etched with a classic personality: Bombshell, Gangster, Ingenue, and Swashbuckler.
This one-of-a-kind Hollywood history from the creator of Instagram’s @ThisWasHollywood account reveals “the forgotten past of the film world in a dazzling visual package modeled on the classic fan magazines of yesteryear. From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age. Drawing on new interviews, archival research, and an exhaustive library of photographs, ‘This Was Hollywood’ is a compelling and visually stunning catalogue of the lost history of the movies.” It hits shelves on November 17.
“Hollywood Dogs: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation” curated by Gareth Abbott
This is a simple gift with a simple description: It’s literally just a book filled with portraits, taken between 1920 and 1960, of attractive movie stars posing with their dogs, plus photographs of actual famous dogs. There’s something for everyone here, including Humphrey Bogart, Buster Keaton, Elvis Presley, Tony Curtis, Sophia Lauren, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Ava Gardner, Shirley Maclaine, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. The famous dogs include Lassie, Asta, Rin Tin Tin, and Toto.
Author De Forest looks at 50 of the most inspiring female roles in film, from the 1920s through the present day, including iconic characters played by Bette Davis, Mae West, Barbara Stanwyck, Josephine Baker, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Barbra Streisand, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Dorothy Dandridge, Katharine Hepburn, Pam Grier, Jane Fonda, Gal Gadot, Emma Watson, Zhang Ziyi, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lawrence, and many more. Engaging profiles live alongside more than 100 photographs of these revolutionary women who “buck the narrow confines of their expected gender role,” and in some cases, looks at the female directors and writers who also helped bring the characters to life.
Price: $79.99, plus tax and shipping
Wine clubs are abundant, but this TCM-themed subscription costs just $79.99 in its introductory offer, through which you’ll get 15 wines from around the world. Each bottle is delivered to your door and paired with a classic film seen on TCM, plus each case has exclusive movie-themed wines. The 2020 holiday season includes Jimmy Stewart Cabernet Sauvignon, Eartha Kitt Red Blend, and James Dean Pinot Noir. (Future exclusives will include the just-for-club members The Blues Brothers Red Blend and Elvis Presley Cabernet Sauvignon.) Visit the TCM Wine Club site to sign up, and also get access to exclusive wine club merch like TCM wine charms and stemless wine glasses.