Julia Kelly, historical romance author of the fabulously addictive Governess Series, is back and ready to dish on her go-to holiday movies! Because let’s be honest, what is winter and the holiday season for if it’s not for good books, good movies, and an oh-so-comfy spot on the couch? So go download the now on-sale The Governess Was Wild, the third installment in Kelly’s delightful series, or start from the beginning with The Governess was Wicked. And while you’re waiting for your e-reader to load, keep reading for Kelly’s suggestions on what’s up next in your Netflix queue!
Sometimes old Hollywood just got it right.
When I sat down to write The Governess Was Wild, I knew that I wanted to take my characters, a governess and a baron, on the nineteenth century equivalent of a road trip, chasing after a young heiress who had up and eloped with a gold-digging villain. For inspiration I turned to one of my favorite movies — and, in my opinion, the ultimate road trip film — It Happened One Night.
The movie follows an heiress, Ellie (Claudette Colbert), who runs away from her father because he refuses to acknowledge her quick marriage to a flashy adventurer. When she boards a bus to New York in hopes of reuniting with her husband, she meets Peter (Clark Cable), a down-on-his-luck journalist. He immediately recognizes Ellie and offers to help her, conveniently failing to mention that he wants to sell her story to get back in the good graces of his editor. But of course Ellie and Peter fall in love on their journey and have to figure out how to find their own happily ever after.
A complete adaptation of the 1934 classic would have been a very different book than the one I was writing. Instead, I tried to mirror some of the wonderful tension that arises when two people who are trying to deny their attraction to each other are stuck together 24/7 on the road. I also made sure there were a couple nods to It Happened One Night that a fan of the film wouldn’t miss — namely a famous scene with a blanket and some string.
Here are five other classic romantic comedies from Hollywood’s Golden Age that are sure to sweep you away on your next movie night:
One of Audrey Hepburn’s most famous (and fashionable) movies, this 1954 film follows a love triangle between Sabrina, the chauffeur’s daughter, and her employer’s two sons, the dashing playboy David (William Holden) and the serious businessman Linus (Humphrey Bogart). Hepburn is at her most charming in this movie, and there are a few genuinely romantic parts — as well as one of the most “unique” injuries on the silver screen.
The Philadelphia Story
To say that I love Carey Grant movies is an understatement. I actually had a hard time keeping the list down to just one, but it’s hard to argue against The Philadelphia Story. Katherine Hepburn is electric as a stubborn and sassy Philadelphia socialite on the eve of her wedding, and Grant plays her ex-husband who’s never quite gotten over her. Throw in Jimmy Stewart as the smitten tabloid reporter who falls head over heels for Hepburn’s and Ruth Hussey as his cynical photographer, and you’ve got a comedy classic.
Top Hat/The Gay Divorcee
These are essentially the same movie redone within a year of each other in two different locales (Venice and the English seaside) with quite a few of the same actors reprising their roles so I decided to include them together. If you’ve never seen Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together, remedy that right now. “Cheek to Cheek” in Top Hat is romantic and dreamy and everything you’ve ever wanted in a dance sequence. The light-hearted movies deliver genuine laughs, and are my antidote to a bad day.
This was one of the first romantic comedies I remember ever watching. The plot is simple: bored and stifled by her demanding schedule, Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) steals away from her bodyguards and ends up meeting a reporter named Joe (Gregory Peck) who shows her around Rome for the day, hoping to get an exclusive story out of it. Naturally romance complicates things, as it does in these movies. Hepburn won an Oscar for her role.