Who were your first classic movie loves?

Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan

Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan

Today I happened to see a mention of Johnny Weissmuller – and that reminded me that the Tarzan films were the very first black-and-white movies I saw, as a youngster, when they were shown on TV. This meant champion swimmer Johnny was one of my first crushes – I found him very handsome, even in the later films where he became rather overweight.

 This got me wondering whether other people remember who their first classic movie loves were – not necessarily actors you swooned over, as I’ll admit I did over Mr Weissmuller, but just those who first interested you in older movies. I had a harder job thinking who my first favourite actress was, but decided it was probably Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz – she is still one of my favourites after all these years. ( I did also like Maureen O’Sullivan in the Tarzan films, but it is mainly Johnny I remember.)

I’d love to hear about other people’s first favourites – and whether they stand up to your early love when you see them again. I should really give Johnny W another look, maybe in Tarzan and His Mate, which is said to be his best pre-Code. 

I wasn't actually called after Judy Garland, but I'd be very happy if that was the case

I wasn’t actually called after Judy Garland, but I’d be very happy if that had been the case

 

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22 thoughts on “Who were your first classic movie loves?

  1. This is fun Judy. I actually must admit that I did have a crush on Judy Garland when I was kid and loved The Wizard of Oz…..still do in fact and Judy holds up for me to this day of course. I also really liked Grace Kelly after watching High Noon alot and had a crush on her too. She was a very beautiful woman. There was a period of time when I was watching lots of her movies, like the Hitchcock ones too. Today, though I do like her a great deal, I find she has rather limited range at times. I also was rather in love with Julie Andrews from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. She was oh so charming. I still think she’s rather tremendous.

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    • Jon, somehow I’m not surprised to hear that Judy Garland was one of your first favourites too! My husband, Paul, said Julie Andrews was his first movie love too – those two films of hers were still fairly new when he and I were kids, though they are definitely classics now, of course! I mainly loved hearing her sing on the soundtrack from the Broadway show of ‘My Fair Lady’. I don’t think I actually saw ‘Mary Poppins’ as a child, since it was too new to be shown on TV, but I made up for that later when my kids were young.

      Grace Kelly is someone I’ve only caught up with fairly recently and I do think she is great in her Hitchcock roles and ‘High Society’, and also good in ‘The Country Girl’ although she seems a bit miscast there. Hope to see more of her work. Thanks for commenting, it’s nice to get a bit of discussion going.

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    • That’s true, what was once a new movie for some is a classic movie for others later on. Now when I was a teenager I fell in love with Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause. There is something about her in that movie that is just amazing and beautiful. At that time I was also really into Audrey Hepburn after watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What a classy and chic lady she was.

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    • They are both excellent actresses, though I still haven’t seen ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, despite owning it in an Audrey box set. Must get to it right away!

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  2. I think my earliest actor fascination was with James Cagney – one, because he’s in the earliest movie I can remember seeing, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and two, his energy and dancing (especially in “Yankee Doodle Dandy”) fascinated me – and, I admit, overwhelmed me; i realized how energy and motion could be SO sexy.

    BTW, “Tarzan and his Mate” is probably the best of the Weismuller Tarzans; it’s beautifully photographed and it’s also notoriously pre-Code (an underwater swimming scene features a naked Jane; make sure you see the DVD that includes the original footage). Plus there’s the big elephant rally, with Tarzan astride a huge pachyderm, that’s both dramatic and fun to watch.

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    • Hi, G.O.M., thanks for commenting. How great to have Cagney as your first actor fascination – I only discovered him many years later, but definitely agree that his energy is incredibly sexy. I will make sure to watch the uncensored ‘Tarzan and His Mate’ – I don’t know if that one was ever shown on TV when I was a kid, and if so of course it wouldn’t have included the famous footage, but it will be interesting to catch up with it now.

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  3. Always fun to learn these kinds of things about our fellow movie lovin’ friends. Johnny and Judy for you, huh? I vaguely remember both the Tarzan films and The Wizard of Oz from my growing-up years, but neither of them made an impression on me. My dad was a huge John Wayne fan, so I remember watching some of his stuff growing up. I especially liked True Grit, but Glen Campbell was the draw for me, not the Duke. I also loved The Parent Trap, The Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins, but I wouldn’t say any of those films or stars interested me in the classics.

    I didn’t really begin appreciating classic films until late 2003, and it was Roman Holiday that did it, so I suppose my answer to your question is Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. And while I’ve come to love other stars more than I love them, they both do still measure up.

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    • I only really got into classic films in the last decade or so too, Patti, although I had liked one or two actors, such as Cary Grant, before that. I love ‘Roman Holiday’ – what a great film to get hooked by. I’ve seen the remake of ‘True Grit’, but not the original, although, as with ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ which Jon mentioned, I do actually own it on DVD, so it is just a case of finding the time to watch it! Thanks for dropping by and commenting, much appreciated.

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  4. Like Jon, I had a crush on Julie Andrews in THE SOUND OF MUSIC as as young boy and the same could be said for Judy Garland in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Both films in those impressionable years were obsessions, and as I mentioned in my essay for THE SOUND OF MUSIC I saw it well over a dozen times in the theater where it ran for six months. A 12 year old can be smitten with that kind of repetition. As far as THE WIZARD OF OZ, it was shown every year before Christmas, and the showing was always a major event. That is also the case for THE MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS (BABES IN TOYLAND) which was a Thanksgiving staple and remains so to this very day. WEST SIDE STORY, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, ON THE WATERFRONT, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, GOODBYE MR. CHIPS are all others that held us captive.

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    • Amazing to have seen ‘The Sound of Music’ 12 times, Sam – it certainly shows that you were a budding film addict even then. I think I’ve said to you before that I probably only went to the cinema around 12 to 15 times in my entire childhood, as there were no cinemas at all anywhere near my house or school in rural Suffolk! That’s an interesting list of films that you loved as a youngster – a very varied selection. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. PS, I did see several films at school, however, shown on a projector there. I remember one of those was a Julie Andrews film, ‘Darling Lili’, where the reels were shown in the wrong order so that it made no sense. But I gather it isn’t one of her best and that I didn’t miss much!

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  6. I think my first movie loves were Laurel and Hardy. I had a bit of a crush on the both of them, and I admired their considerable talents tremendously. I was a young teen, then, who discovered them early one Sunday morning on a local TV station. I got up early every Sunday morning, crept down to the family room and watched a whole hour of Laurel & Hardy shorts. It was glorious!

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    • I love ‘The Music Box’, but must admit I haven’t seen all that many Laurel and Hardy shorts as yet, Ruth – sounds like a great way to spend your Sunday morning, though! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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    • Ellen, I must agree that the three actors make a wonderful combination in this film – I had remembered it was one of your favourites. I’d like to see this one again.

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    • Hi Julie, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I do agree that James Dean was great in that film – which reminds me that I still haven’t seen ‘East of Eden’. Must catch up with that one soon.

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  7. My first classic film as a child was Bringing Up Baby and I fell in love with both Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. It was my love for this film that led me into a love affair with classic films in general, particularly those of the screwball comedy variety. And even though I’ve added other famous actors/actresses such as Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable and others to my favorites list, none of them can ever top Grant or Hepburn.

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    • I love Grant and Hepburn too, Brittaney, though my favourite film with them is ‘The Philadelphia Story’. You’ve also got some other great favourites. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Interesting post because I’ve always said there is a radiance about classic movie stars that you don’t see today. There’s obvious reasons for that of course – the staging, the black and white film stock, and, perhaps most importantly, nostalgia, but there are so many moments in classic films that could freeze-framed and hung on the wall as a piece of art.

    My first true classic film “love” was Veronica Lake. First saw her in 1941’s Sullivan’s Travels and was immediately besotted. It is a shame her “difficult to work with” baggage held her back. There are others – the obvious being Marilyn Monroe (first seen in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It hot), and Audrey Hepburn; the less obvious Nancy Olson (from Sunset Boulevard).

    Another “love” from the color era would be Grace Kelly – first seen in Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

    All these still stand up today. Love seeing their characters immortalized in such fabulous cinema.

    Great post/question! :)

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    • Dan, you have great taste in picking ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ as an early favourite – I’ve only been getting into Sturges relatively recently and for me this is possibly his greatest. Veronica Lake is excellent in it, must agree. As you say, it’s a shame her career stalled somewhere along the way. All your other choices are great too. Thanks for the great comment, much appreciated!

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