During this past rainy New York weekend, per my usual fashion, I found myself reaching for movies that have a perfect symbiotic relationship. Hopefully all of you have checked out my earlier recommended pairings (and loved them all), and now it's time for some new ones to explore:
The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Night Train to Munich (1940):
For those who enjoy espionage, trains, and clever Brits, then The Lady Vanishes and Night Train to Munich (directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed, respectively) are essential viewing. While both of these classics more than hold their own, Night Train to Munich is often seen as an unofficial sequel to The Lady Vanishes, mainly because of the same screenwriters (Sidney Gilliat and Frank Laundner), leading lady (Margaret Lockwood), similar plotline, and the comic relief of Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford. The main change though is that during the years in between Hitchcock’s and Reed’s films, World War II started in Europe. The espionage plot of Night Train deals with the early days of Nazis and even for the time, it was quite brave of Reed to take on that subject. I watched both of these films separately, and didn't even know about all the similarities at first, but after watching Lady Vanishes and then Night Train sometime after, it was clear why these two films are put together.
There are many more similarities, but I'll leave it up to you viewers to discover the other ones ;) It's more fun to find out these parallels on your own, right?
Also, for those that still need convincing, these films are both available through the Criterion Collection (basically a film buff guarantee that they are more than worth your time).
It Should Happen to You (1954) and Funny Face (1957):
Advertising and self-transformation. These two ideas strongly prevail in It Should Happen to You and Funny Face.
These are both two of my favorite movies, and I honestly didn't even realize how perfectly they go together until I was feeling particularly low one day (the kind of day that can only be cured by old movies and huckleberry vodka), and wanted to see something that would make me at least attempt to smile. I started with following Gladys Glovers' (Judy Holliday) journey to make a name for herself in It Should Happen to You, and still feeling a little down, decided I need to see Audrey Hepburn's gamine face in Funny Face, as she transforms from Greenwich Village bookworm to sophisticated Paris fashion model. Afterwards, it became glaringly obvious to me how similar these two movies are--
Gladys yearns for fame in New York City, and she decides the best way to do that will be to advertise only her name on a billboard in Columbus Circle. Jo Stockton (Hepburn) is obsessed with the idea of emphaticalism, and desperately wanting to go to Paris to meet the other intellectuals sharing her similar ideology, reluctantly agrees to participate in a fashion magazine photo shoot in Paris (clearly awful for anyone to endure). Gladys' billboard piques the interest of so many New Yorkers that she eventually becomes the spokeswoman for various products, and Jo's naturally intellectual look is used to project the idea of the ideal woman. Both movies show the different ways that products and ideals are presented to the public, and how the subjects of those advertisements handle the repercussions: for Gladys, having a famous name is not as satisfying as she assumed it would be, and for Jo, while she initially rebuffs the fashion world, a lecherous intellectual makes her rethink who really are the kinder people in the world. Both women transform themselves, with love for a man as the driving force behind their changes (it was a different time after all).
Amongst all this advertising and transformation are two well-crafted and deliciously frothy-tastic movies that you will undoubtedly enjoy.
If any of you readers enjoyed any of my double feature suggestions, or have your own favorite pairings, let me know below.