• Penny Muller

A Dose of Reality

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

Or a little bit of magic...

A few weeks ago I discovered some wonderful YouTube videos by Amanda Hallay, who is a professor of fashion history at a college in New York. She took me on a journey through art, design, decor, history, travel, films, fashion icons and cocktails. She says that fashion is usually an unconscious response to the things that have been happening in the world. I found it all fascinating, particularly during this moment in history. It was interesting to reflect on why we do the things we do and whether we are even aware of why we are doing them.

A link to one of Professor Hallay's YouTube videos can be found here:

Throughout history, people have been excited by progress, only to become fearful when progress starts to happen too quickly. So, we have the innovation of the 1920s Art Deco period, followed by the return to a gentler aesthetic during the 1930s. We have the space race of the 1960s, followed by an interest in Edwardian era clothing, Beatrix Potter books, and a trend for pressing flowers in the early 1970s. I couldn't help wondering what was next for us. Would we soon be back in lace and corsets? We are seeing this backwards trend at the moment. People have been protesting against the 5G technology and are concerned about the idea of a cashless society. There has been a return to vegetable gardening and a renewed interest in making sourdough.

I don't know if I believe in 'reality'. We all see things differently, and the way we view the world becomes our personal reality. Professor Hallay's videos awakened me to a greater understanding that there was plenty of reality happening during all eras of ancient and recent history. People have always relied on escape, fantasy, beauty, the arts, and a little bit of magic to take them through difficult times.

Years ago I was making my grandparents sit through one of my old movie musicals, Judy Garland's and Gene Kelly's 'The Pirate'. It's an unusual movie, a Vincente Minnelli work of art. There are dream sequences, there's hypnosis, there's a lot of throwing of vases, ornaments and statues, and there's a lot of dancing and singing. After it was finished, I said to my Grandpa, "I don't know what you must think of me now". He grinned and said, "My opinion of you is as high as ever. The fact that you like things that are as innocent as this is to your credit".

I haven't written a blog post this week as I've been spending quality time at the Coast with some longtime friends. I was mentioning that I'd been having a great old time reliving my favourite old movies with a new online discovery, Steve Hayes, who calls himself Tired Old Queen at the Movies. You can find a link to one of Steve's movie reviews here: A friend asked me if I could recommend some of my favourite old movies, so I decided to share them here as well. There is plenty of 'reality' in old movies, but I see some innocence, some old fashioned values that might sometimes be overlooked, and most importantly, a little bit of magic.

When I think of old movies, I am mostly referring to movies from the 1940s and 1950s, with some from the 1930s and 1960s. As with modern movies, there were plenty of duds over the years. There are so many great movies, but I will start with some that have stood the test of time, that are works of art, that have some substance to them, or that are hilariously funny.

I would recommend (in alphabetical order):

Adam's Rib

Auntie Mame

Bachelor Mother

Born Yesterday

Breakfast at Tiffany's


Dr Zhivago


Father Goose

Fifth Avenue Girl

Gone with the Wind

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Kitty Foyle

How to Marry a Millionaire

I'll Be Seeing You

Irma La Douce

It Happened One Night

It's a Wonderful Life

I was a Male War Bride


Miracle on 34th Street

Mr Deeds Goes to Town

Mr Smith Goes to Washington

National Velvet

Now Voyager


Some Like it Hot

Tammy and the Bachelor

The African Queen

The Amazing Mrs Holliday

The Apartment

The Awful Truth

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

The Bells of St Mary's

The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The More the Merrier

The Philadelphia Story

The Talk of the Town

The Women

To Sir With Love

Without Love

And for those who don't mind some singing and dancing:

An American in Paris

A Star is Born

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Calamity Jane


Easter Parade

Fiddler on the Roof

Funny Face


Guys and Dolls

Hello Dolly

High Society

Holiday Inn

Meet Me in St Louis

My Fair Lady


On Moonlight Bay

San Francisco

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Singin in the Rain


State Fair

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The King and I

The Pajama Game

The Sound of Music

The Student Prince

Thoroughly Modern Millie

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

White Christmas

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