Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cinema Sunday: Good Sick Day Movies

Ugh! I've been fighting a summer cold/bronchitis for the past few days, and it can be misery, since we're already in triple digit weather here in California's Central Valley.  Yesterday, I didn't listen to my body's urgings to lie down and take it easy. Instead, I pruned the wild rose bushes, weeded the garden, did two loads of laundry, baked a cake, cleaned house, went to the library and went grocery shopping. So, today, I'm really dragging. Big surprise!
Since the forecast says it will be 101 degrees today, I'm spending the day on the sofa watching old movies. As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm a big fan of mystery and suspense films. To me, these are the perfect movies for a sick day spent on the sofa. I don't need heavy drama that makes me cry; I have enough snot right now, thank you very much (sorry, I know, TMI). And I really don't need a big-laugh comedy. Every time I laugh, I sort of laugh and cough at the same time, and I sound like I've smoked a pack a day for 50 years. And then I choke and gag and scare the hell out of the dog, who is, of course, on the sofa, snoozing next to me. So, laughing is out.
Soooo, mystery and suspense movies are perfect for today. I thought I would share some of my favorite sick day suspense films. None of them are too long. The plots are interesting enough to hold your attention, but not so intricate and involved that you would be forced into any deep and heavy thinking - that just makes your headache worse. These movies all play on TCM on occasion, so if you see them on the TV schedule, set your DVR and enjoy.

1. "The Blue Gardenia" (1953). Anne Baxter plays Norah, a young woman who wakes up after a night of drinking with a womanizer, and realizes that she may have killed him. Norah tries to remember the details of that night, eventually teaming with a newspaper man to solve the mystery. Raymond Burr plays the womanizer quite well; he played the villian in most of his films. Quite hard to believe if one only knows him from TV's "Perry Mason" and "Ironside". An underrated actor, in my opinion.
2. "A Kiss Before Dying" (1956): Robert Wagner is deliciously evil as a college student plotting to kill his pregnant girlfriend (Joanne Woodward in one of her first film roles). I love Wagner as a villian.
3. "Midnight Lace" (1960): Doris Day is being terrorized by an unknown caller who tells her that he will kill her. I love Day's wardrobe in the film, the eerie foggy London locale, and, of course, Myrna Loy (one of my favorite actresses), who plays Day's aunt.
4. "Northern Pursuit" (1943): Canadian mounties pretend to be Nazi sympathizers in order to learn Nazi plans for invading North America. It's a fairly typical World War II propaganda film, but pretty enjoyable all the same.
5. "Stage Fright" (1950): Jane Wyman plays a young actress desperately trying to shield a man from a murder accusation.  I had to include something by Hitchcock, and even though it's not one of his best films, it's still a pretty good movie. Mediocre Hitchcock is better than 3/4 of the crap movies made today. I love Michael Wilding (Elizabeth Taylor's 2nd husband) as the police inspector and Marlena Dietrich is her usual over-the-top self. 

6. "The Spiral Staircase" (1945): Dorothy McGuire plays the mute companion to an ill and elderly Ethel Barrymore. Young disabled women in town are being murdered and McGuire, Barrymore, and the doctor who loves McGuire (the handsome Kent Smith) fear that McGuire may be next. I first saw this movie when I was a teenager, home alone, on a stormy day much like the storm in the film. I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder and jumping in fright at every little noise. Needless to say, a VERY affective film.
7. "The Mad Miss Manton" (1938): This is very funny, and I shouldn't be watching it when I'm sick (that coughing and gagging thing), but I had to include it anyway, because it's so much fun, and because it stars my favorite, Barbara Stanwyck. When the murdered body discovered by beautiful, madcap socialite Melsa Manton disappears, the police and a reporter (played by Henry Fonda) label her a prankster until she proves them wrong.

8. "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947): Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck. LOVE them! Is Bogart trying to kill his wife, played by Stanwyck? Did he kill his first wife? Watch the movie and find out!

9. "The Stranger" (1946): Loretta Young plays Mary Longstreet, in love with Prof. Charles Rankin (Orson Welles), who may or may not be an escaped Nazi named Franz Kindler. Edward G. Robinson is determined to find Kindler. Robinson's only clue? Kindler's fascination with antique clocks. Directed by Welles.

10. "Laura" (1944): Dana Andrews plays Detective Mark McPherson, who is investigating the killing of Laura, found dead on her apartment floor before the movie even starts. McPherson gets to know Laura by interviewing the murder suspects, who all seemed to love her. He finds himself falling in love with her too, as he gazes at the striking portrait of Laura that hangs on her apartment wall. Then one night, halfway through the case, something bizarre happens that changes his entire investigation. Gene Tierney is gorgeous as the late Laura.

Of course there are many others that are great for sick days, but these were just a few that I thought of off the top of my head. Leave a comment with your favorites!!



  1. They don't make them like that any more.I do love the old movies.My favourites are the musicals..and anything with a bit of romance.
    Hope you are feeling a bit better.Take it easy this week!

    Bellaboo X

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for your recent visit to my blog, l've loved reading through your posts this morning. l hope you're bronchitis is long gone by now and that good health has returned. l really enjoyed seeing your garden and l too love larkspur. Your roses and camellias are fantastic. Also really enjoyed reading about how your dog "actually ate your homework"....hahaha. Have a great weekend. Also l am your newest follower:-))

  3. I hope you're feeling better. Never fun to have those rotten summer bugs. Wow... what a great collection of old films. Some I hadn't heard of! A few of my faves are The Rope, Marnie, Imitation of Life... I have so many. And most I have not seen in years and years.
    Take care and feel better!

  4. Bonjour comment allez vous?

    Bonne semaine!!

    xxx Maria xxx


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