My Favorites

Ethan’s Classic Film Must-List

Ever wonder who the hell Deseree and Davis were talking about in Tadd’s bathroom in Self Preservation? Feel a little lost as to what Julian and Danny were arguing about during Gabby’s dinner party scene? Do the names of actors or titles of movies sound familiar, yet you can’t quite place the face or plot line? I figured I’d make an attempt to help fill in any blanks for those who might be interested.

Unfortunately, way back in the dark ages when I was going to high school, there was no TCM. Horrific, I know. If you’re like me, that thought makes Freddy Kruger look like Mr. Rogers! Basically, that meant I grew up scouring the local T.V. guide every week highlighting the classic films being shown or bugging the poor owner of the local video store into ordering something I wanted to see. I can’t imagine my life without these films, which have greatly influenced me as an individual and more than likely, my writing. While this list doesn’t include all my favorites, it will make a nice little crash course for anyone who’s unfamiliar and interested.

I hope you enjoy!

 

Ethan’s Favorite Film Must-List

  • Comedy/Romantic Comedy
  • Suspense
  • Drama
  • Musicals
  • Ethan Day’s Top Twenty-Four (gay films)

 

Note: Film reviews/commentary are for personal non-commercial purposes only.


Comedy/Romantic Comedy 


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Totally brilliant, if you haven’t seen this film then you might as well be dead – seriously.  You’re living without oxygen and you don’t even know it!!  Hop over to Netfilx this instant! ; )

RKO Radio Pictures
Bringing Up Baby (1938) – People go on and on about Hepburn & Tracy and what an incredible team they made, and while I wouldn’t disagree, I prefer Hepburn and Grant.  I don’t think they’re given the attention they deserve and this film is probably the best example of how well they clicked.  Totally zany with lightning fast dialog, and incredibly seamless physical comedy – Baby is a true gem.  I wouldn’t trade it for all the diamonds in the world.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Woman of the Year (1942) – Hepburn and Tracy at their bantering best.  This was the first film I watched of this on-screen pairing and I wasted no time getting my paws on the rest of the films they stared in together.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
The Women (1939) – Skip the soft-core remake and go straight for the jugular with your freshly painted Jungle Red nails. Good, clean, catty fun with insults and innuendo flying around at lightning speed.

Universal Pictures
Pillow Talk (1959) – There is no contest, it’s the best of the ‘bedroom comedies’ out of the late fities/early sixties.  Doris is hysterically funny and Rock is simply mouth watering.  It’s so amazingly light and bubbly that I feel slightly euphoric every time I watch it.  I’m not the type to lose my head around famous people, but I’d probably faint or become speechless if I were ever to meet Doris Day.

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Move Over Darling (1963) – A remake of the Cary Grant Irene Dunn classic which is also a great film.  This is the same movie that Marilyn Monroe had been fired from just before her untimely death.  I think Doris brings an extra punch of zany, one of the most under rated comediennes of all time in my opinion.  A young and hunky James Garner co-stars.  Doris pretending to be a Swedish masseur in one scene – friggin’ hysterical.

Universal Pictures
Lover Come Back (1961) – Rock and Doris are together again in a familiar Pillow Talk-like formula.  Not quite as shiny and sparkly as their original, but still a great a movie that I love to watch over and over.  It just makes me feel good!  When Doris gets mad, I get giddy.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Dinner at Eight (1933) – A funny, witty look at class distinctions and the effects of fame in the late thirties. Jean Harlow practically glows on screen as the social climber who can go from sweet little girl to gun mol in 2.5 seconds.

Universal Pictures
My Man Godfrey (1936) – Carole Lombard rocks!  She is so hysterically funny in this film; crazy-zany, beautiful, childish, spoiled and so damn lovable. If you only ever see one Carole Lombard film, this is the one I’d recommend.  She was also a great dramatic actress but she was so blessed with the funny and her comedic timing for me was like watching fireworks, sheer on-screen magic.

United Artists
Nothing Sacred (1937) – if you only see two Carole Lombard films, make this the second one. : )  Slap-sticky yummy goodness!!

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
How To Marry a Millionaire (1953) – Bubbly, frothy, goodness AND it has a fashion show smack dab in the middle of the film.  What little homo could resist!?!  Monroe is hysterical as a girl who can’t see without glasses, yet refuses to wear them in public, Grable is at her fun-loving dim-witted best – dreaming about sandwich’s and beer while the other two dream about wealth and jewelry, and Bacall is sharp and witty as a woman who just can’t seem to control the world she lives in despite her best efforts.  A must see.

United Artists
Some Like It Hot (1959) – If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re no longer aloud to talk to me. : )  A cross-dressing, gender-bendy classic.  Fast-paced and funny as hell.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Pride and Prejudice (1940) – I love almost all of Greer Garson’s films, but this is the crown jewel of them all, and subsequently my favorite version of the Jane Austen classic.  I realize it probably strays the farthest from the book, but it’s just so funny I don’t give a damn.  Garson was so great at sass and wit, which she was able to deliver with an air of charm and feisty goodness.  There was realness about all of her performances.  No matter how overly melodramatic, she just had weightiness to her style and delivery that made you believe every word that came out of her mouth.  She was always her best as the strong woman who pushed past any limits society might attempt to impose upon her. I’d also recommend, Mrs. Miniver (1942), That Forsyte Woman (1949), Mrs. Parkington (1944), Julia Misbehaves (1948), and Random Harvest (1942).

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
All About Eve (1950) – You really shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself gay if you haven’t seen it.  You really shouldn’t be allowed to breathe, either…but since I’m anti-capital punishment and would hate being a hypocrite, I’ll let it go. : )

Paramount Pictures
Roman Holiday (1953) & Sabrina (1954) – Breakfast at Tiffany’s gets all of the Audrey attention, but I actually like both Sabrina and Roman Holiday more.  Both of these earlier films are fun, romantic, sweet, and tug at your heart as well as make you giggle.  It’s amazing to me that Roman Holiday was her first movie and it won her an Academy Award.  It’ll make you laugh and cry, it’s so good.

Paramount Pictures
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Hysterically funny and with that truly fantastic song that gets stuck in your head – you’ll be singing Moonriver for days.

Columbia Pictures
The Awful Truth (1937) – So damn funny, Cary Grant at his best – even the dog is funny!  I laughed so much when I watched this the first time, it’s a can’t miss movie.

Paramount Pictures
Barefoot in the Park (1967) – Neurotic hi-jinks and a hunky Robert Redford.  You’ll have so much fun with this one.

Columbia Pictures
Born Yesterday (1950) – Her voice…Think Fran Drescher meets Minnie Mouse.  But she’s such a loud mouthed smart-ass I can’t help but love her.

Columbia Pictures
His Girl Friday (1940) – The holy grail of dialogue.  So funny and so fast!  Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell talk ninety to nothing and usually at the same time.  I never get tired of watching this one.  I’m usually staring at the screen in disbelief that anyone could talk that fast!

Columbia Pictures
It Happened One Night (1934) – Sexy, funny, and sizzling chemistry in this fun romantic romp.

Paramount Pictures
The Lady Eve (1941) – I love romantic comedies where the women take on the more ‘masculine’ role of pursuer – even funnier when the male lead is a somewhat clueless scientist type.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Ninotchka (1939) – The Meryl Streep of her generation in her first comedy, and wow, what a great combination they made.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – OMG!  I can’t even – sweet little old lady, serial killers?  And Cary Grant, of course.  So damn funny!

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Monkey Business (1952) – There’s something about seeing Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers act like children after drinking a youth serum mixed by a chimpanzee.  It doesn’t actually make them LOOK younger, just ACT younger.  I laugh every time!

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
The Long Long Trailer (1953) – LOL funny!

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
The Thin Man (1934) – Smart, sassy, witty, cocktail slinging married couple solves crimes.  There’s several sequels which are also fun and well-worth watching.

Columbia Pictures
Cactus Flower (1969) – Silly good fun, and Goldie Hawn’s first film role.  I’ve never been a Matthau fan, but this is a fun movie.

 


Suspense


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Laura (1944) – Great thriller/mystery.  Beautifully filmed in that shadowy noir style with great twists.

Warner Bros. Pictures
The Big Sleep (1946) & To Have and Have Not (1944) – Bogie and Bacall at their finest, and you’ll find some of the best one liner’s in these mystery/thriller films.  They had great chemistry.  He was another man that was mysteriously sexy.  He just had something.

Columbia Pictures
Gilda (1946) – Its about 20 minutes into the film before it happens, but the instant Rita Hayworth comes on screen and flips her hair back, looking into the camera you’ll gasp.  She is simply breath-takingly beautiful and her performance as the bad girl, so tragically misunderstood is delicious to watch.  This is another film where the heated chemistry of its stars will come off the screen and have a very real physical effect on you.  There’s hate, desperation, longing and a conflict of wills that gurgles along under the surface.  I still remember the summer day, way back when I was in high school when I sat down on the sofa and watched this movie the first time.  Mesmerizing.  I’ve seen it so many times and Hayworth takes my breath away each time.

United Artists
Rebecca (1940) – One of the Hitchcock films I love the most.  I’m constantly going back and forth between Rebecca and Rear Window as to which one is my favorite from this director who was really the first to become as famous as the stars who headlined his films.  Lawrence Olivier is dashing and Joan Fontaine feels convincingly relatable as the ‘everyman’ thrust into a life she really doesn’t fit into.  I always love themes of hidden pasts rearing their ugly heads at inopportune moments, and this film has a very palpable, almost haunted quality to it.  You’ll find yourself feeling slightly uncomfortable and on edge through the entire film.  It’s totally brill.

Paramount Pictures
To Catch a Thief (1955) – I loved Grace Kelly in this film, and Cary Grant is his usual wit and sexy self. There’s a dangerous edge to his performance in this film which I enjoyed. Like he might hurt you a little, but in a way you’d probably enjoy.

Paramount Pictures
Rear Window (1954) – My other favorite Hitchcock film.  The tension in this movie grows slowly, building and multiplying to the point you’ll be literally on the edge of your seat without realizing it.  It’s every amateur sleuth and nosy neighbors wet dream and biggest nightmare all rolled into one. It’s brilliant in the fact that the entire movie takes place from one set, from one vantage point, and proof that it doesn’t take multi-million dollar effects and explosions to scare the pants off of you.

RKO Radio Pictures
Notorious (1946) – The final Hitchcock on my list, but certainly not the last one worth seeing.  He made so many great films; I’d recommend you see them all at least once.  There are two things I love best about this movie, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.  That, in itself should be enough!  The actors make this film work on a whole other level.  Hitchcock was so great at putting characters together who wanted each other desperately yet can’t for whatever reason.

Drama


Universal Pictures
Imitation of Life (1959) – Certainly in the running for the top honors of the Melodrama Mama award.  I get sucked it each time it comes on, though.

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
An Affair to Remember (1957) – the melodramatic movie that was the base of Sleepless in Seattle.  It’s irresistible and so schmaltzy but I can’t resist it.  I am powerless to resist!

Columbia Pictures
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – such an incredible movie.  It makes you want a better government and a better country.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Gone With the Wind (1939) – As God as your witness, you shouldn’t be seen in public if you haven’t seen this film.  This book was the Twilight or Harry Potter of its day, capturing the mystique of the entire country.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Giant (1956) – An epic that’s not to be missed.  I watch this movie about once a year. I just find it irresistible Rock is gorgeous in what is certainly his best role, Liz Taylor was never more beautiful, and Dean is deliciously smarmy.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
China Seas (1935) & Red Dust (1932) – The chemistry between Gable and Harlow was fantastic, and no one did sass and spit-fire better than Harlow.  She and Gable trade barbs brilliantly, and for me she was one of the few women who ever seemed like she might be able to take him in a fight, despite her tiny frame.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Casablanca (1942) – One of the best romance movies ever.  Sad, sexy, full of wantony lust and with a dash of mystery/suspense.

Columbia Pictures
The Way We Were (1973) – “You’re girl is lovely, Hubble.”  If you don’t understand the full meaning of this line then you are so sadly missing out.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Now Voyager (1942) – There are so many fantastic films starring Bette Davis, but this one is my all time favorite; possibly because while her character has an inner strength, which is the one theme that ties all of her roles together, but, there was a softness to her performance in this one that sets it apart.  It’s got it all, romance, mother/daughter issues, a make-over…hello???  Need I say more?
Other B. Davis fav’s include:  Dark Victory (1939) – Sad, sad, deliciously sad.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Mr. Skeffington (1944) – Bette Davis is so totally selfish and disgustingly self serving in this movie.  I love it! : )  No one else could have done this part justice.

Warner Bros. Pictures
The Letter (1940) – another great, meaty performance with murder, adultery, and courtroom drama.

Paramount Pictures
A Place in the Sun (1951) – A stunning Elizabeth Taylor and drool-worthy Montgomery Clift.  It’s kind of a twisted movie, but…a drool-worthy Montgomery Clift!

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Bus Stop (1956) – For me, Marilyn is at her most vulnerable in this film.  Beautiful and with a sadness in her eyes at times that will break your heart.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – You’ll want a cigarette after watching this movie.  It seems to actually emit a sensuality from the screen as Liz Taylor and Paul Newman go at it.  There’s a heat to it, and Paul Newman looks slap-your-momma hot.

RKO Radio Pictures
Kitty Foyle (1940) – I love this movie.  It’s overly melodramatic, disgustingly sentimental, has an arguably happy ending  – depending on your individual preferences – but I can’t seem to resist it.  The conversations Aden has with himself in the mirror in Dreaming of You were an idea that came from this film.  Used as more of a story telling device to buffer flashbacks in the film as opposed to the way I used it to expose Aden’s unspoken desires, I’m sure it was cutting edge special effects back in the day.

 


Musicals


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Wizard of Oz (1939) – There are only a handful of musicals on my list, but this one beats them all.  I can’t really imagine anyone not having seen it.  For the love of all that is gay and holy, if you haven’t been to Oz, please keep it to yourself.

RKO Radio Pictures
Shall We Dance (1937) & Top Hat (1935) – All of Astaire and Rogers musicals are worth a viewing, but these are the very best for me.  After watching 3 or 4 they can seem a little formulaic, but I must say that Astaire is the oddest looking sexiest man I’ve ever seen.  He dances and I swoon.  Go figure?

Warner Bros. Pictures
A Star Is Born (1954) – The Judy Garland version is the best in my opinion, although you have two other versions to choose from if you like.  Juicy, overly-dramatic, goodness.

Columbia Pictures
You Were Never Lovelier (1942) – I love watching Rita Hayworth dance and this is by far my favorite musical she made.  Astaire brought out the best in her, and despite being in black and white, when Hayworth dances – there’s a joy that will take you over.  The title fits, she was never lovelier.

Columbia Pictures
Funny Girl (1968) – There is no false advertisement in this title.  Hysterical.  I still laugh out loud when I watch it.

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Marilyn Monroe and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend – that iconic moment that catapulted Monroe into the stratosphere.  I love this film, it’s funny, sassy, flirty, and just plain cool to see the women finish on top.  Jane Russell talks like every gay man I’ve ever known in this movie.  A can’t miss confection!

Ethan Day’s Top Twenty-Four
These are some of the gay films I actually spent my money purchasing because I watch them over and over again.


Strand Releasing
Edge of Seventeen This film for me, is a little like taking a step back in time to my own high school years in the late eighties – the gaudy clothes, the small town gay bar, listening to Annie Lennox on vinyl, the sexual confusion…strange what a little time and distance can do. : ) Of course, in my past, even the teen angst came with some laughs, just sayin’.

The Weinstein Company
A Single Man  The house that’s featured in this film would be enough for me, but on top of that there’s Matthew Goode…swoon! It’s sad, and romantic, and at times uncomfortable to watch. The scene between Goode and Firth, playfully bickering over who has to get up and change the record, is hands down one of the single most romantic moments I’ve ever witnessed between two men on film. Pure magic.

Paramount Pictures
In & Out  I know it’s cheesy and heavy handed with the stereotypes, but it really makes me laugh. And then there’s my secret Kevin Kline man crush. He totally does it for me, what can I say? He’s just so cute!

The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Longtime Companion Very sad but so damn good. This is one of those films I watch about once a year, usually on a day that I’m already bummed out about something. What? I see no reason to ruin an otherwise happy day by making myself needlessly sad!! : )

TLA Releasing
Boy Culture  X is a hooker I can’t seem to resist – the fact that this film managed to combine romance and prostitution – and did it so well? Totally brill, I’d take my hat off if I actually ever wore one. The characters are all flawed and relatable. And there’s an undercurrent of real emotion that sucks you in and grabs hold when you least expect it.

Peccadillo Pictures
East Side Story  This is a sweet story that made me laugh. The only real complaint I had was that the love interest’s current boyfriend was a little,too hateful. Two guys can be wrong for one another without one of them needing to be an evil, racist-bitch. That being said, the acting was good, the story was good and did I mention it made me laugh?

Regent Releasing;
here! Films
Shelter  An honest to goodness real homo love story where none of the gay men have to die? And there’s a happy ending to boot!?! Somebody pinch me! The characters were lovely and the acting superb. I almost felt normal after watching this movie.

TLA Releasing
The Curiosity of Chance  I loved this film!! It’s like an eighties teen comedy…only gay! It was funny, the boys were cute, and the acting was great. Plus it makes me feel good and always leaves me with a smile on my face.

Warner Brothers
Mulligans Aside from the obvious, which for those of you who may be confused, is that the guys in this film are HOT – the thing that really gets me about this story is how lucky I am to have spent my adult life being myself. It makes me sad that the main character in this film lived half of a lifetime only halfway living.

Regent Releasing;
here! Films
Cut Sleeve Boys  A fun film with love, missteps, lots of laughs and flawed characters who just want to find love…whether they realize it or not. This movie made me laugh.

Sony Pictures Classics
The Broken Hearts Club  While this film does deal with the age old topic of love, I think it’s actually more about friendship and relationships. It’s about growing up, or becoming a grown up to be more specific and recognizing that sometimes just because we want something, that doesn’t mean we’re actually ready for it. This is one of the best written and best made gay films in my opinion with fantastic dialogue and top notch acting.

American Playhouse
Tales of the City  One of the single best adaptations ever made! I’ve read the books and seen the films so often they feel more like old friends than they do fiction. I fell in love with Bill Campbell and Laura Linney made herself a life-long fan. I’d love to credit the mini-series for my complete adoration of all things Olympia Dukakis, but that happened long before with a little film called Moonstruck.

Focus Features
Milk  I’ve never been a huge Penn fan…not even Madonna was able to up his appeal quotient for me. He was one of those actors I always wanted to love, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to get there. His performance in this film was so incredible, so moving. Mad respect is what I have for him now.

Regent Entertainment
Third Man Out  I’ve enjoyed all the Strachey films, Chad Allen is HOT and consistently incredible, while the on-screen relationship between Allen and Spence are what really anchor the films in reality for me. Top-notch gay, yummy goodness.

Vidmark / Trimark
Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss  Before there was Just Jack there was just Billy…who was so damn cute! Of course, this film also played into all that classic film, romantical nostalgia-like stuff I love as well. : ) I knew I was going to love it from the very beginning when Billy announces that he’s part of another minority…a romantic.

Orion Home Video
Jeffrey  Funny and romantic. It’s one of those movies that makes me wish I was in love. Plus the guys are hot! : ) We all have our issues when it comes to dating, and for Jeffrey, that issue is sex…or more specifically the fear of getting more than an awesome orgasm with his sex…HIV. While the overall message in the film is delivered with comedy, there is an emotional undercurrent running throughout – a sense of desperation that will get to you when you least expect it.

TLA Releasing
Another Gay Movie  Hysterical, great, gross, & sweet. This film is completely outrageous. But it makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh…holy hell, it really makes me laugh!! The sequel was fun as well, but lost a little of its perversely sweet magic with the unfortunate cast changes.

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Mambo Italiano  I love this movie! Hilarious family dynamics make this coming out film so memorable.  It’s refreshing to find a movie that deals with the coming out process with laughs as opposed to drama.

Fine Line Features
Hedwig and the Angry Inch The music is so incredible, the story kept me glued to the screen until the final credit rolled. This was an amazingly fantastic first film by Mitchell, whose performance in the lead role, was perfection.

Fine Line Features
Love! Valour! Compassion!  This story is totally bril, one of the best and most true depictions of gay men I’ve ever seen. I can honestly say I either am or know every single one of the characters and like life – it’s at times funny & sad, sexy & romantic, as well as sweet & sarcastic. You’ll be running the emotional gamut, yet it will somehow manage to leave you with this incredible feeling of hopefulness.

Cinecom Pictures
Maurice  This was one of those films I stumbled across at the local video store back in the day. I was still in high school and living in a small town — this movie felt like homo-contraband. I waited until my parents went out of town for a weekend before I actually rented it. I was completely mesmerized by its honesty. This movie made me long for a life unhidden.

The Samuel Goldwyn Company
The Wedding Banquet   The thing I enjoy most about Wedding is the fact that the characters love one another enough to put themselves through the hell of a family invasion and in the end, perhaps it wasn’t really necessary in the first place. I love a film that surprises, as well as giving me a glimpse into another culture.

The Samuel Goldwyn Company
The Sum of Us  I’ve never been a huge Russell Crowe fan, but there’s something about his performance in this film that I find endearing. Maybe it’s merely that this character brought out a vulnerability in him that I haven’t experienced before or since. Either way, the sum of this film is that it shouldn’t be missed.

Fine Line Features
Trick Regardless of the title, I think this is one of the more romantic gay films I’ve ever seen. Two guys decide to hook up and in trying to find a cozy, private place to do just that they wind up discovering more. It’s the simple moments in the film that always get to me. The way one of them takes the other’s hand in the diner scene, and the exchange of a glance, the quick smile…not even the verbal rampage of Tori Spelling can ruin that moment. It’s pure and sincere…heartfelt. Best of all, each time the movie ends and the credits begin to roll; it always makes me wish I was in love.

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