Monday, October 11, 2010

la crème de la crème

By now, you know autumn is my favorite season of the year, so it's no surprise that many of my favorite films happen to be leaf strewn or just exude that delicious autumnal mood. So, I've comprised a little list of fifteen of my personal fall faves, so get out those woolly socks, my friends.

A few school flicks, all heavy on the foliage:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1969 
Maggie Smith is fabulous as a headstrong school teacher in 1930's Edinburgh, who ignores the curriculum, preferring her over romantic view. She won an Oscar for this role.

Dead Poet's Society, 1989
Robin Williams is an English teacher who inspires his students to love poetry and seize the day. He's the kind of teacher everyone should have, at least once.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962 
Tom Courtenay plays a rebellious youth sentenced to a reform school for robbing a bakery and rises through the ranks through his love of running.

That magical Autumn-in-New-York thing:

Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986 
Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah's husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband (you guessed it, Woody Allen) rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly. Did you know much of this movie was filmed in Mia Farrow's New York apartment?

You've Got Mail, 1998 
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, business rivals, fall in love over the internet. Actually, this is a modern version of The Shop Around the Corner, 1940, starring Jimmy Steward and Margaret Sullavan. Nora Ephron's screenplay pops.

The World of Henry Orient, 1964
Two adventurous 14 year old girls chase a mediocre concert pianist, hilariously played by Peter Sellers, around Manhattan. This is an under-rated gem.

Breathtaking autumn epics:  

Days of Heaven, 1978 
Richard Gere is a farm laborer who convinces his girlfriend to marry the rich, but dying farm owner, to claim his fortune. Lush, dreamy photography. I need to buy myself a copy this fall.

Legends of the Fall, 1994 
An Epic story of how nature, war, history and love effect a father and his three sons in the remote west of the early 1900s. Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and Julia Ormond. Gorgeous movie.

Dark, rich and romantic:  
(woolly socks are mandatory here)

Brief Encounter, 1945
David Lean's dark love story. Quite possibly the most romantic movie of all time, starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. By the way, these two delightfully pair up again 35 years later in Staying On, 1980.

Un homme et une femme, 1966 
A Man and a Woman. Sexy and hip. I adore this movie, lots of fun 60s cars and clothes. You know the song. Dabadabada-dabadabada...

I Know Where I'm Going, 1945
Wendy Hiller plays an ambitious English woman, who while traveling to marry a wealthy industrialist on the Island of Kiloan, Scotland, is trapped on the Island of Mull in bad weather, and falls in love with a young naval officer.  I watch this one in EVERY season, woolly socks, or not.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, 1992 
Although I love the 1939 Laurence Olivier/Merle Oberon version, this one starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche is my favorite. Binoche's soliloquy, at the open window, looking out across the moors, is brilliant.

The End of the Affair, 1999 
Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore play doomed lovers in a war torn London. This is the second steamy film adaptation of Graham Greene's great novel. It was made into a movie earlier, starring Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson in 1955.

Lots of leafy fun:
(put on the popcorn)

The Trouble With Harry, 1955
Hitchock's kooky macabre comedy, set in an autumnal village in Vermont. This is Shirley MacLaine's film debut. I also adore Edmund Gwenn and the wonderful Mildred Natwick.

Sleepy Hollow, 1999 
Johnny Depp as Icabod Crane, ala Tim Burton. Lots of great prosthetic heads rolling here and a whole Burtonesque forest with truck loads of crunchy leaves.


  1. Me too - Autumn is the very best time of year. Fabulous list Willow. Thanks! Lots here that I will try to see.

  2. Glorious list. Made me realise how many I've seen.
    We are awaiting summer here.

  3. Hi Willow.

    Your picks are greatly appreciated. Did get "I Know Where I'm Going" at your recommendation last year- a real charmer!

    I will look out for you and your little red cart at the next antique show.

    Happy Fall Viewing,


    P.S. Seen any good Aussie films lately?

  4. What a terrific list. I've seen many of these fall favorites but see some that I will have to check out for the first time!

  5. As perfect a list of autumnal movies as I've ever seen and I have seen most of them, so, feeling quite smug. Have you seen The Shop Around the Corner. I love You've Got Mail and feel the same about Shop . . . I do love to visit your manor, even if I don't always comment.

  6. Oh, I just love Hannah and her Sisters. That concerto in F-minor for harpsichord by Bach is one of my favorites. I'm smiling right now thinking of Michael Cane in that movie...thanks for the memory!

    Enjoy the fall--I'm seeing some beautiful fall foliage this week in the northeast!

    Someone else has a birthday not far off, either, eh?

  7. Marjorie, my favorite Aussie films are Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, The Piano, and An Angel at My Table.

  8. Lifeonthecutoff, yes, The Shop Around the Corner is absolutely adorable! Sparkling dialog. It's a must-see movie, for sure.

  9. The Lady In White is one of my favorites this time of year.

  10. Donna, Lady in White is going on the queue! I don't know this one!

  11. Dead Poet's Society - what inspired me to write as a teenager!

    But of course, I must add:
    * When Harry Met Sally - where they are walking through the park in the crunchy leaves
    * Runaway Bride - galloping on her horse away from it all
    * And of course, the last scene in 500 Days of Summer :0)

  12. This is an autumn reference but it isn't a recommendation. BEN HUR was your standard overdone Hollywood epic (early sixties?) But there was a scene I'll never forget of dead leaves rustling across a courtyard at night as two women who've been stricken with leprosy try to scuttle out of sight. Tremendous effect.Fifty years later it still gives me goosebumps, just remembering it.

  13. Oh!Many favourites here!Lovely list.
    For the Autumn of life do you like "Harold and Maude"? Also "The Boys Are Back". Enjoy!

  14. I remember that leafy courtyard scene in Ben Hur, Vicki. I think the chariot race scene is still quite spectacular, even for today's standards.

  15. Oh yes, Dead Poet's Society, You've Got Mail, and Hannah & Her Sister's--all some of my fave movies. I am quite sure I would love the other ones too--definitely wooly sock movies. LOL.

    BTw, thank you Willow for your kind words on my last post. Unexpected and very appreciates. thank you.

  16. Nice list of movies - I may view some of them again. Autumn is definitely my favorite season. Here in the south west (Southern New Mexico), it's glorious. Not cold enough yet for wool, but oh so pleasant.

  17. Willow,

    At least half-a-dozen of those listed are reverberant classics in my own mix-and-match mental life: Jean Brodie, Hannah, Days of Heaven, End of the Affair (book even better!)


  18. A lot of these are on my personal favorites list, but I especially love the scene in "Hannah and Her Sisters" in which Lloyd Nolan plays Farrow's piano and sings "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Ahhh...

  19. Wow! What a fabulous list. You've included many of my favorites and there are a few I need to check out. How did I miss that Shirley Maclaine movie?
    And Maggie Smith...well, all her work is golden, "Brodie" being my favorite,rivaled by "Gosford Park" starring another great, Helen Mirren.

  20. Isn't Wendy Hiller wonderful! I also love Jean Brodie, and The Loneliness. Some great movies there Willow.

  21. I'm so happy you didn't list Autumn in New York which has to be one of the worst love stories (supposedly) that Hollywood ever made!

    Love the sweeping panoramas in Legends of the Fall, the quirkiness of Sleepy Hollow and the bouquet of pencils in You've Got Mail.

  22. Yeow, almost didn't recognize Maggie Smith, she was a beauty, and evokes a commanding presence even back then, the picture proves it!

    Thanks for the movie run down, lovely thing about fall, the tucking in and curling under a good book or movie!

  23. Great list. It is hard to believe but I never saw The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. As a fabulous headstrong school teacher myself this is almost unforgivable and must be corrected asap.

  24. Whistle Down the Wind and The Maggie. Two more great British titles in b&w. Made for grey, autumnal afternoons.

  25. 'I Know Where I'm Going' - What a wonderful film! I almost know the script by heart. Do you like 'A Canterbury Tale' too?

  26. How wonderful to see a young Maggie Smith! Here in Britain ITV is currently screening 'Downton Abbey' with a very much older Smith playing the crabby Dowager Countess with her usual brilliance. Sort of 'Gosford Park' for telly (same writer, actually - Julian Fellowes). I think you'd love it, if you get this stuff in the US. Thanks for the film recommendations - there are several I haven't seen and will now hie me to Amazon!

  27. Lovely choices! I haven't seen the Henry Orient one - must obviously rectify!
    My favourite probably 'I Know Where I'm Going'. Just an immaculate little film.

  28. How'd you find out about all my favorite films? We must be sisters in cinema because I can instantly be swept away watching You've Got Mail. If this were my list I'd add Little Women starring Winona Ryder as Jo March.

  29. Willow,
    Lots to choose from here. I've seen afew but not all; you're more of a movie buff than I. Dead Poet's Society is my favorit from your list.

  30. Thank you so much for the great list. Some are already my favorites such as You've Got Mail and Legends of the Fall. I confess to have never watched all of Hannah and her sisters but now I want to see it. I want to add a couple more to your list that have touched me for some reason. The ending scenes of "Big" with Tom Hanks and "Hocus Pocus" with a great performance by Bette Midler and "Sweet November" with Sandy Dennis. Oh, and a wonderful scene with the leaves blowing in the wind as the lovers come back from the river in "Dances with Wolves."

  31. TrulyF, I like Graham Greene's book The End of the Affair so much I have a copy in my little library. You're right. The book is even better than the movie, which is usually the case.

  32. As always, my queue is about to get longer. I've seen quite of few of them this time and one of my favorites is on your list. You've Got Mail, I don't know why but I could watch it over and over. I thought of it a few weeks ago when I was walking through New York, her line about the pencils - great.

  33. Tom, I'm adding Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale to my Netflix queue right now. Thanks for the suggestion.

  34. Evening Light Writer, I have Little Women on my favorite "winter flicks" list, so stay tuned!

  35. Martin, I'm adding both of your suggestions, as well! How could there be a Hayley Mills movie I haven't seen?

  36. Great list, Willow...especially You've got Mail, Dead Poets Society and the TNT Fiennes/Binoche version of Wuthering Heights( my fav version, too). The soundtrack for that one is so hauntingly beautiful.

  37. Love the grande dame Maggie Smith and that's a wonderful photo of her. You're listed many of my favorites too, but I see a couple I'll have to put on my own list. Wonderful choices Willow, just wonderful.

  38. I am thinking of Antonio's Line. Thanks for your list! Donny Deckchair was a good little Aussie film. I am also thinking of the beautiful little film Out of Africa, and the book was better, also.

  39. willow, you have the most delightful and varied blog, always a surprise to unwrap here. i am so glad I found you!

  40. You're so nice. Thank you, Angela. :) xx

  41. The end of the affair is a great movie, good choice. Been recently reading Greene's the third man, have you watch the movie they made from it ?

  42. Joao, The Third Man is one of my favorites, so dark and atmospheric. The shots in a sadly bombed Vienna are amazing. And that fabulously quirky zephyr music really sets it apart.

  43. Dear Willow, A veritable autumn filmfest here which includes many of my favourites but some new ones for me to try. Might I add 'Remains of the Day' as being suitably autumnal in its title?

  44. Oh, Willow, you are a gem. I have frantically scribbled down several of these titles for my Netflix queue.

    I ADORE Dead Poets and Days Of Heaven. I'm glad you listed a newer Wuthering Heights, cos although I love the story, I never cared that much for the old movie version.

    I have resisted watching Hannah & Her Sisters all these years, cos I don't like Woody Allen much. But I'm going to cave and try it.

    Here are three I love: Ordinary People, which stretches past Christmas but begins in Fall; Lost & Delirious, which is a sort of Dead Poets for girls; and When Night Is Falling, which is simply magnificent. It's about a female professor at a christian college, who falls in love with a circus performer. It's glorious.

  45. what thoughtful and beautiful reflections.

    love these lists.

    Our poetry potluck is NOW open, welcome linking in..
    use an old poem is okay!

  47. love, love, love fall

    thanks for the list... two on it i've never seen/ and don't remember hearing of them either. the world of henry orient is immediately going on in my queue.

    had you heard about the film project that i mentioned on the mouse yesterday - one day on earth?

  48. Great list. Some seen, some not. I have Henry in my queue and have for awhile from a previous post of yours but I havent received it yet.

    Do you know Educating Rita?? I love that film. Now all I have to do is buy a popcorn maker and I'm set for the wooly socks review.

  49. You do beat all with your wooly socks! These are great autumn movies... some I've seen, others I haven't. Thanks for the list!
    :)The Bach

  50. willow -- thanks for all the film recommendations -- always looking for good movies. -- barbara

  51. A fine list Cousin Willow. We are just a few miles from Haworth here, the moors in Wuthering Heights are the moors that surround us. When you make your trip to the UK I will take you on a visit to Haworth.

  52. Okay, Alan! I will hold you to your promise, my friend.

  53. This is a true "film candy store", I treasure several but a few are new to me and I'll get right over to Netflix...thanks a bunch!

  54. My fellow "October Girl".... wonderful choices... I have seen and adored most of your films listed here.... a few, no....("World of Henry Orient" and "Hannah and her Sisters')....but will toss them onto my Netflix queue now.

    We don't have much of a colourful, leafy Autumn here in SF..but there is a defninte change in the air - the wind, all seems different....even the ocean waves appear a little more mysterious....

    It is too warm for wooly socks....but by the time our birthdays roll around - I have high hopes!

    Oh...that photo of the caramel, nut-encrusted apple.....MON DIEU! I haven't had one since I was a child....but - it looks DELICIOUS!

    Love and Leafy Hugs,

    ♥ Robin ♥

  55. Well, Robin, I actually had to put my woolly socks back in the drawer, for now, anyway. It's been in the upper 80s here. :P

  56. I love Autumn and thanks for those beautiful memories in the images and the post, so many i have watched and loved. Willow, you're a gem and am going to subject you to foreign films viewing...try some Indian, Danish and Italian ones too:)

  57. I adore Autumn--and the colorful leaves falling like snow from the trees...ah, if only it could last as long as winter.

  58. You're preaching to the choir, here, Wild Rose. I am a huge foreign film fan!

  59. You are so brilliant! Leaf-strewn movies, oh yeah.

    Days of Heaven - wow wow and wow. That movie blew my mind. I've seen it several times.

    Actually they're all good.

  60. I love that you posted your "favorite fall films" because I am always looking for new films to add to my repertoire. Nine of the films you listed I have not seen. I must admit that I often overlook the older films. I realize my mistake in doing this. I am jotting down your list for my Netflix right now. One final comment, Maggie Smith is just gorgeous.

  61. Terrific list of film favorites,
    dearest Willow. I am fortunate
    to have 14 of them in my
    movie collection; just missing
    "I Know Where I'm Going" (1945)
    with Wendy Hiller. You certainly
    have a movie buff's knowledge
    and appreciation of cinema as
    art. There might be a slew more
    of Fall films if we put our minds
    to it, but your Top 15 are enough
    to keep us all inside, warm and
    fussy in our woollies.

    A partial list of other films
    might include:
    AUTUMN SONATA (1978)
    (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009)
    JUNO (2007)
    MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1945)
    THE STRANGER (1946)
    GOSFORD PARK (2001)
    REQUIEM (2006)
    THE VILLAGE (2004)
    HALLOWEEN (2007)
    GUINEVERE (1999)

  62. Glenn, I'm sure if anyone could come up with more, it would be you, my friend! Of those you have listed, I do happen to like Gosford Park. I'm adding Requiem to my queue right now...

  63. willow with the warm days i've been on my bike every chance i can. yesterday i rode with my wife to a bakery about twenty km from here to get buttertarts. today i just went out to watch the leaves fly. about sixty percent of them are on the ground. when it gets cooler than this i love films in the evening and especially to read the hobbit. when the hobbit is finished then i dive into the stacks of books that i have gathered through the spring and summer and by next spring when i come up for air again, i start shopping for new piles!!!! steven

  64. "Brief Encounter"....Carnforth Station!!!Oh I know it soooo well.

  65. What a list! What research! Even in springtime..Brief Encounter,#1/ The End of the Affair(how sexy can you get?)/ Hannah and her Sisters..I really know these people, maybe only in NY. Thanks for the autumn crunch!!

  66. Quite a list you've assembled there - very nice. Wonderful time of year, and you've brought up a great selection for the season!

  67. Thank you for this great list, Willow!

    May I suggest an addition to Leafy Fun?
    "The Europeans" by Merchant Ivory - gorgeous New England autumn scenes, a feast in gold and red (Henry James' novel takes place in late spring, but for one reason or other the filming of the movie was delayed into fall).

  68. And I thought I'd seen all the Merchant Ivory films! Thanks for the suggestion, Merisi.

  69. I'm so glad you mentioned The Trouble With Harry. That one is so often overlooked, and it's marvelous!

  70. I do love Legends of the Fall. Gorgeous. I will have to try a couple on your list that I have not seen.

  71. A wonderful list of film to cruel up with a cup of tea and cozy blanket and watch....must plan a date with me myself and I....bkm

  72. So glad I have netflix and thanks for this list... So many I have not seen. My husband just about died watching "The Age of Innocence. He appreciated the artistry, but too slow. I also dozed off a few times. But so much to think about with that story. Well, I have one that our whole family loves. Saint Ralph. I believe it is a Canadian film. Very touching, you will cry and laugh.

  73. I've only seen four of those so there's plenty to keep me occupied through the winter nights!

  74. This is an amazing list. I have seen most of them and like you, watch them over and over.

  75. Loved The Trouble With Harry, great scenery too.

  76. I am going to have to order up a Netflix Fall fest with your recommendations! I have seen some of them already but there are plenty left for me to fill out a nice cozy weekend film festival:)...I just may serve caramel apples:)

  77. Willow - you will love the latest period drama to aired over here Downton Abbey; Maggie Smith (a much, much older Maggie Smith) stars in it....keep an eye out for it

  78. MadameB, you're the second to suggest Downton. I'm making a note and will watch for it on disc. Sounds like something I will love! Thank you!

  79. Oh, I love this! What an absolutely enchanting list of film titles.

  80. Oi, you reminded me of the first time I viewed Hannah and her Sisters. I was sitting too close and got motion sickness. Yuck! -J

  81. Dear Willow: Thank-you for the film list. Very nostalgic the fall bringing to mind the east coast USA and in Canada I have to say Planes Trains and Automobiles with John Candy! A perrenial favourite at Thanksgiving (the two!)"Those aren't pillow!" Do you mean Can/Us two TG's? It is very diplomatic to include us Canucks in the score! I know you like Johnny Depp, but what about Keanu Reeves? (yep, a Canuck!) Oh love British flicks and New England Fall flicks about Harvard, Princeton, Yale..."we're poor little lambs that have gone astray..bahh bahh bahh...)Any suggestions?

  82. In that case please stop by sometime and tell me which specific Indian films and other foreign films you watched that you call favorites..just a few titles :)

  83. Oh, goodie! I am so excited to have more of your movie recommendations. You have given me several of my favorite movies already.

  84. Well you know I love I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING, but did you know once took my "gheeeuuurls" (students to Scotland)? I do adore Wuthering Heights (multiple versions) & Sleepy Hollow (Depp & Disney). I even have the book on Time Burton's artwork for that film.
    If you don't know the Disney film of Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THID WAY COMES, throw on those wolly socks and give it a whirl!

  85. Of course, I had to bookmark this page. I will refer to it over and over again.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)