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A Classic Movie Lover’s Guide to Favorite Old Hollywood Films and Gifts

Movie lovers and TCM aficionados will enjoy this selection of classic movies, Golden Age biographies, and more timeless gifts.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, 1959

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in “North by Northwest.”


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The glamour of Old Hollywood is timeless, but the holiday season is a great time 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. And if you subscribe to Hulu Live or Sling TV, you can stream all the TCM movies your heart desires. If you’re not subscribed, Hulu Live costs just $64.99 a month after a free seven-day trial. That means you can officially cut the cable cord and unlock access to dozens of live channels including sports and news, plus the massive Hulu streaming library. With Sling TV, you’ll pay just $10 for the first month and you get to stream top TV shows, movie favorites, live sports, and tons more.

Below, see our list of the best of these gifts for classic movie lovers, from film collections to books for cinephiles. For more items to shop, check out picks for the best cocktail books film buffs should own, and more great gifts for move lovers.

“Notorious” Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

If you love Old Hollywood, then you’ve probably seen at least one Hitchcock film. If not, “Notorious” is a nice place to start. The Criterion Blu-ray features a 4K digital restoration of Alfred Hitchock’s 1946 film noir starring Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Claude Rains. In the film, Bergman stars as Alicia, the daughter of a German war criminal who is recruited by U.S. intelligence agent T.R. Devlin (Grant) to infiltrate a Nazi organization as a spy for the U.S.

From the innovative cinematography to the mesmerizing leads, “Notorious” represents a turning point for both its director’s legendary career and classic Hollywood cinema. The Criterion upgrade includes trailers; teasers; audio commentaries from film historian Rudy Behlmer and Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane; interviews with Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto; programs about the film’s visual style from cinematographer Jon Bailey; scene analysis by film scholar David Bordwell; and a Lux Radio Theater adaptation of “Notorious” starring Bergman and Joseph Cotton.

“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 and 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.

“Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise” by Scott Eyman

This 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.'”

“Pioneers of African American Cinema” (Blu-ray)

“Pioneers of African American Cinema” is a collection of historically vital works of trailblazing Black filmmakers such as Spencer Williams, Oscar Micheaux, Richard E. Norman, James and Eloyce Gist, and Richard C. Kahn. The movie box set features dozens of feature-length films, shorts, and rare fragments including “Birthright” (1938), “The Blood of Jesus” (1941), “Body and Soul (1925)”, “Mercy the Mummy Mumbled” (1918), “Regeneration” (fragment, 1923), “The Symbol of the Unconquered: A Story of the KKK” (1920), and “Within Our Gates” (1920). The collection addresses racial issues that Hollywood ignored for decades and includes bonus features such as an 80-page booklet with essays and detailed film notes, and archival interviews with pioneering Black actresses Ethel and Lucia Moses.

Deanna Durbin Collection: “100 Men and a Girl”/”Three Smart Girls Grow Up”/”It Started with Eve”  (Blu-ray)

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. 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.

“It Started With Eve” (1941), which comes with new audio commentary from film historian Sam Deighan, is about “an old millionaire (Charles Laughton), believed to be in his final days, who 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).

“Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom” by Daisuke Miyao

You may not be familiar with the story of one of Hollywood’s most popular actors from silent cinema. Born in Japan in 1910, Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian star to gain prominence in Hollywood as a lead actor following his breakthrough roll in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Cheat” (1915). Hayakawa rose to become one of the top paid actors at the time, and the first Asian actor to open a Hollywood production company, which netted him a cool $2 million between 1918 and 1920. After leaving Hollywood due to rising racism against Japanese, Hayakawa landed on Broadway and returned to Japan before circling back to Tinseltown in 1931’s “Daughter of the Dragon.”

“Dynamic Dames: 50 Leading Ladies Who Made History” by Sloan De Forest

Sloan 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.

Cary Grant Collection: “Ladies Should Listen”/”Wedding Present”/”Big Brown Eyes” (Blu-ray)

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. In “Wedding Present,” 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. And finally, in “Big Brown Eyes”  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.

“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, Carrie Fisher, Peter Bogdanovich, Sydney Pollack, and Rob Reiner. This second version, which was released last year, contains 52 more films that extend through the late ’80s and commentary from some of those same figures, plus people like Ava DuVernay, Brad Bird, and William Friedkin.

“This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars & Stories” by Carla Valderrama

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, author Carla Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.

“Hollywood Dogs: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation” currated 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.

TCM Wine Club

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. 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.

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