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Movies set in the 1890s


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Showing 1-25 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 23, 2011, 7:26:27 AM PDT
Douglas says:
This may sound strange but I'm looking for movies set in America at the end of the nineteenth century (or just into the twentieth century, but before W.W.1). I've read some stories lately set during that period and it got me interested in seeing some visuals. Ideally, they'd be movies that feature normal, middle-class families in America (or maybe Britain). Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 8:21:02 AM PDT
Lev says:
The Age of Innocence (1993)

Tale of 19th century New York high society in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman's cousin.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011, 8:26:53 AM PDT
Lev says:
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

In the year before the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien and Mary Astor

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 8:28:34 AM PDT
Lev says:
I Remember Mama (1948)

The ups and downs of a Norwegian immigrant family, circa 1910.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes and Oskar Homolka

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011, 8:36:22 AM PDT
Lev says:
A Room with a View (1985)

Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman, makes her first visit to Florence, Italy in the early 1900's. There, she meets a quiet yet eccentric young man named George Emerson. Upon her return to England, Lucy must decide whether to follow through with her marriage to her stotic fiance, Cecil, or follow her heart and her growing attraction to George.

Director: James Ivory
Writers: E.M. Forster (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay)
Stars: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter and Denholm Elliott

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 8:42:33 AM PDT
Lev says:
Ethan Frome (1993)

Ethan Frome is an adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1911 novella . Set in Massachusetts in the late-19th century, the film relates the sad story of reclusive farmer Ethan Frome (Liam Neeson). Considering himself too homely for romance, he enters into a loveless marriage with the wealthy but spiteful Zeena (Joan Allen). Things become nearly unendurable when Zeena becomes an invalid, imperiously demanding her husband's attentions day and night. Ethan seeks solace in an affair with Zeena's pretty cousin Mattie Silver (Patricia Arquette), who has arrived to act as housekeeper.

Director: John Madden
Stars: Liam Neeson, Patricia Arquette and Gil Rood

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011, 9:08:33 AM PDT
Hikari says:
Good choices all, Lev.

You beat me to the punch on some of these.

'Age of Innocence' is very good--a beautifully photographed snapshot of life among the New York elite at that time period. I prefer Daniel Day-Lewis a bit rougher-and-tumble (Hawkeye), but he also does the upper-crust gentleman very well. Winona Ryder excels here in a tricky role as Archer's clingy fiancee. You have a bit of sympathy for this young girl who is only following the conventions she was brought up to believe in, and at the same time start to revile her because she's smothering her fiance to death.

A very similar dynamic to Ethan Frome, albeit in a much more genteel setting. That movie broke my heart absolutely. I remember rather struggling through the novel in high school, but this cast makes the story come to heartbreaking life. In the book, Ethan is a misanthropic, misshapen bitter man who is indeed hard to look upon. As Mr. Liam Neeson cannot be 'too homely for romance' in any guise, he was the big draw here for me. Joan Allen is always, always compelling in any role, even when she's playing a hateful character, and this delicate, patrician beauty is willing to go to the edge in her physical appearance and is completely free of vanity. She does the kinds of roles Meryl Streep is always touted for, except without the recognition that follows La Streep everywhere. Probably because Allen is so subtle and so capable of disappearing into her roles. THAT is a character actress. One of her lesser parts is Pamela Landy (the Bourne movies). Again, she's watchable, and she looks fantastic. I don't blame her for taking this high-profile part in a popcorn franchise--I think she wanted a part where she could look glamorous and didn't have to look tortured, sick, bald, etc. Patricia Arquette is an actress of fairly limited range, but she shines as Mattie.

Douglas, I have not seen this movie, but I greatly enjoyed the book--'Cheaper by the Dozen' featuring Myrna Loy and Cliffton Webb (I think--don't quote me chapter and verse on the cast.)

I greatly enjoyed 'Miss Potter' starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. The Potters were not exactly 'middle-class' any more than the characters in Age of Innocence are--they were very wealthy and wanted most of all for their only daughter to make a suitable marriage for a lady of society. Beatrix said 'Pish' to all that and pursued a much more simple life as an artist, farmer and land conservationist. The period is Edwardian, like you are looking for.

'A River Runs Through It' starring Craig Sheffer & Brad Pitt and directed by Robert Redford is set a bit later . . I'm thinking just pre- or post-WWI. It presents a different take--a middle-class family of the American West.

There is also 'Legends of the Fall' for another Western family of roughly the same time period.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 9:18:32 AM PDT
Lev says:
My Brilliant Career (1979)

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Stars: Judy Davis, Sam Neill and Wendy Hughes

Both actress Judy Davis and director Gillian Armstrong made a big splash on the international scene with this charming Australian film that examines late 19th century Australian society from the perspective of a headstrong woman who refuses to follow convention. The film charts the developing self-awareness of Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis) as she grows from an insecure tomboy to a self-assured woman. Sybylla wants to be a writer and stuns her family and friends by her insistence on following her dream. Despite the objections of her family acquaintances, she rejects the marriage proposal from the rich Harry Beecham (Sam Neill) to continue going her own way, in spite of the odds stacked against her in a repressive Victorian environment.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 9:32:01 AM PDT
Lev says:
The Bostonians (1984)

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Henry James, Merchant/Ivory's The Bostonians is set among the Back Bay uppercrust of the 19th century. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), bored by his opulent lifestyle and his "proper" friends, is fascinated by his cousin, outspoken suffragette Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave). Basil and Olive's mutual friend is likeable, gregarious Verena Tannant (Madeleine Potter). Soon a triangle develops, albeit an unorthodox one: Basil and Olive both find themselves pursuing Verena, Basil because he is in love with her, and Olive because she wants to exploit Verena's social connections and gift for public speaking to promote her own political ideology.

Director: James Ivory
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Tandy

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011, 9:33:14 AM PDT
Maudler says:
Little House on the Prairie.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 9:37:26 AM PDT
Lev says:
Washington Square (1997)

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Stars: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney and Maggie Smith

This film is the second effort to bring to the screen the 1880 Henry James novel of the same title (the first was The Heiress in 1949). Set in 1850 among the aristocracy of New York, Washington Square examines the inhibitions of Catherine Sloper (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the only child of wealthy Dr. Austin Sloper (Albert Finney). Catherine is clumsy and shy and something of an embarrassment to her high-class father. Dr. Sloper still unconsciously resents the child because her birth caused the death of his wife. He also disapproves of Catherine's attraction to Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin), warning her that the handsome young man is after her money. He takes Catherine to Europe and warns her to break off her relationship with Morris, but she defies him. Townsend proposes, and Catherine accepts despite her father's threats to disinherit her if she marries him.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 9:40:03 AM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
You should definitely see Ah! Wilderness (1935) with Mickey Rooney, which concerns life in small town America at the turn of the century. Quite touching and funny.

There are also the Penrod films of the 1930s that also take place in small town America. There was a series of them at the time and they look quite convincing.

For a look at urban life, though on the seedy side, definitely see Mae West's She Done Him Wrong, (1933), co-starring Cary Grant, and her Belle of the Nineties (1934), both taking place in 1890's New York. But be warned - they will turn you into a lifelong fan of Mae West. There is no cure for that particular disease, nor will you want one!

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 9:44:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2011, 9:46:40 AM PDT
A Customer says:
A movie about a Jewish immigrant family in New York, set in the late 1800s: Hester Street

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 10:02:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2011, 10:03:37 AM PDT
Hikari says:
Lev is quite an expert on this cinematic time period!

Here's a few more . . .

Mr. North starring Anthony Edwards. Newport, RI circa 1912. This is a rather comedic look into the lives of the Gilded Age through the eyes of one of the 'servant class'. Check 'Movies No One Talks About' for my review.

The Music Man starring Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and a 5-year-old Ron Howard
1912 again, River City, Iowa. Preston brings down da house in my favorite musical.

Not forgetting portions of The Godfather II

Posted on Oct 23, 2011, 5:27:33 PM PDT
Douglas says:
Thank you for all the tips. Now I need to decide where to start. I'm really thankful for how helpful you've all been. I'm curious to see if there's a difference in how the period is depicted in movies made closer to that time period (the 1930s) and more modern movies.

Posted on Jan 2, 2012, 8:39:40 PM PST
The Gay Nineties! 1890's! The 'Birth of Motion Pictures Decade!
`A Brief Overview of the Decade`: http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1890_1899.cfm

Some really good suggestions already ('Ah! Wilderness', 'Hester Street', 'Meet Me in St. Louis', 'I Remember Mama', 'Washington Square', etc.,) and I'm not sure Douglas still wants more (or is going to even come back to view this.) Here, anyway, are some of my favorites that take place in the 1890's. . .
_________________________

'Felice... Felice....' (finest movie of 1998, written & directed by Peter Delpeut:) "Said to be inspired by British photographer Felice Beato, who for a time lived in 19th century feudal Japan and married a geisha named O-kiku."
________
Orson Welles's 'The Magnificent Ambersons'. My favorite of his, despite the loss of the last 1/3rd due to RKO interference. Oh, and this little art film he made before that, called 'Citizen Kane'.
________
The Far Country (Anthony Mann classic starring Jimmy Stewart)
________
Raoul Walsh's 'The Bowery'.
________
Henry Hathaway's 'North to Alaska', one of the best Duke movies.
________
Erich von Stroheim's 'Greed'.
________
'The Life of Emile Zola', Wm. Dieterle's 1937 Oscar winner.
________
'Gentleman Jim' & 'The Strawberry Blonde', Raoul Walsh in high nostalgia mode, finely crafted.
________
The House of Mirth, the Terence Davies version of the first rate Edith Wharton novel.
________
'Heaven Can Wait', the Ernst Lubitsch film of 1943.
________
John Ford's 'Steamboat Round the Bend'.
________
Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush'.
________
'The Picture of Dorian Gray', 1945 version by Albert Lewin.
________

Others: 'The Call of the Wild'; 'French Cancan'; 'The Crowd'; 'Kings Row'; 'So Big'; 'Johnny Got His Gun'; 'O Pioneers!'; 'The Great Ziegfeld'; 'Annie Oakley'; 'The Baron of Arizona'; 'Cimarron'; 'Road to Utopia'; 'She Done Him Wrong' & 'Belle Of The Nineties'; 'Gigi'; 'King Solomon's Mines'; 'House of Wax'; 'The Florodora Girl'; 'The True Story of Jesse James'; 'Pelle the Conqueror'; 'Heaven's Gate'; 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'; 'Belle Epoque'; 'Hello, Dolly!'; 'The Seven Little Foys'; many of the 'Sherlock Holmes' movies; and 'The Naughty Nineties' (which features the most notable A&C "Who's on First?" routine.)

Posted on Jan 2, 2012, 9:10:42 PM PST
Green Meanie says:
The Life and Times of Grizzly Addams.

Posted on Jan 2, 2012, 9:18:08 PM PST
Green Meanie says:
Back to the Future 3.

Posted on Jan 3, 2012, 7:30:34 AM PST
Balok says:
Hester Street (if you don't mind that only one of the cast members actually knew how to speak Yiddish and it shows)
Nickelodeon (admittedly, they're not exactly *normal*)
Flickers (classic BBC mini-series with Bob Hoskins and Frances de la Tour)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Smiles of a Summer Night
Shane doesn't quite make it (it takes place in 1889), but is worth watching if only as a triumph for short people everywhere

Posted on Jan 3, 2012, 10:34:28 AM PST
Green Meanie says:
Time after Time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2012, 2:00:38 PM PST
>''Hester Street (if you don't mind that only one of the cast members actually knew how to speak Yiddish and it shows)''<

I didn't mind (i.e., I was completely ignorant of that fact!)

'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'... yeah, that's right. 'Smiles of a Summer Night' -- that eluded me as well. Thanks for filling in my gaps of memory, Richard.

>>"Flickers (classic BBC mini-series with Bob Hoskins and Frances de la Tour)"<<

And now I have a recommendation for future viewing. . .

Posted on Jan 3, 2012, 10:17:20 PM PST
Balok says:
While we're at it. . .

_The Music Man_ is set in 1912.

_Cover Girl_ has some flashbacks to the turn of the century, but more importantly, it provides one with an excuse to watch Rita Hayworth in action. (It also has Gene Kelly's classic "alter ego" dance.)

_The Italian Straw Hat_ (_Un chapeau de palle d'Italie_) is set around the turn of the century, IIRC.

While it's neither American nor English, nor is it about a middle-class family, _The Battleship Potemkin_ is absolutely required viewing for anyone with any interest in film.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2012, 10:29:34 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 27, 2012, 3:48:38 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2012, 11:48:26 PM PST
From DVD Savant:

"'The Italian Straw Hat [Un chapeau de palle d'Italie]' is a carefully constructed, gentle farce. Its source is a frequently revived 1851 stage play, a comedy of errors that takes place on a wedding day. Clair and Co. decided to move the time period to 1895 and to affect a film style reminiscent of the earliest French movies."

So there, you recall correctly. And I really need to watch it again.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2012, 6:14:55 AM PST
Balok says:
@Jonathan P. Baker:

> And I really need to watch [The Italian Straw Hat] again.

I thought that the Flicker Alley DVD does a good job with the restoration, although I was quite disappointed to find that they chose not to use the music composed by Jacques Ibert for the stage play.
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Initial post:  Oct 23, 2011
Latest post:  Mar 10, 2012

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