The Best Oldies to Watch When You Need Cheering Up


Are there any movies you like to watch when you’re feeling happy, sad, bored, etc.? For me, it’s rarely my emotions that determine the movie I watch, although sometimes the time of year or even the weather can play a part. I mean, who doesn’t love to watch a good mystery when it’s storming outside?! Well, I do anyway! :-)

But when Frances stopped by my Facebook page and suggested I create a list of the best oldies to watch when you need cheering up, I thought it was a great idea. Even though I don’t usually pick a movie for that reason, I figured it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a few titles handy just in case I’m ever in need of some good cheer myself.

So after going through the list of all the classic movies that I have seen so far, I came up with the following movies that I think would put a smile on just about anyone’s face. (To learn more about each movie, click on the title which will bring you to its summary page on

Laughter is the Best Medicine – Classic Comedies

It Happened One Night Hitchhiking Scene

It Happened One Night (1934) One of the first classic movies I ever watched, the hitchhiking scene with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert showed me early on that old movies can be just as laugh out loud funny as current movies. I never would have believed that before I discovered my love for classic film.

The Thin Man (1934) and the entire “Thin Man” series. This movie is just so much fun. I love the mix of comedy and mystery, and the wonderful chemistry between its two stars William Powell and Myrna Loy make them one of classic film’s greatest on-screen couples.

The Awful Truth (1937), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and His Girl Friday (1940) – There are very few actors that can cheer me up more than Cary Grant, and you can’t go wrong with any of these three hilarious comedies where he is paired with three different leading ladies who are very funny in their own right; Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, and Rosalind Russell, respectively.

The Lady Eve (1941) – Okay, I’m stealing this description from my post about my favorite movies set on ocean liners, but this is why I love The Lady Eve and think you will too, especially if you could use something to brighten your day: “It has everything that I love most about classic films; witty dialogue, great performances by an impressive cast, superb direction by Preston Sturges, fabulous sets, and gorgeous fashions by designer Edith Head.

Music, Dancing, and . . . Feathers?

Cheek to Cheek Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers

Footlight Parade (1933) – I probably could have chosen just about any movie featuring Busby Berkeley musical numbers, but I picked this one because it contains what I consider to be one of his most spectacular numbers, “By a Waterfall”. It’s also great to see another side to James Cagney as he shows off his often underrated song and dance skills.

Top Hat (1935) This is my personal favorite of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers pairings The movie contains the delightful dance number “Cheek to Cheek” where Ginger Rogers wears a beautiful dress covered in ostrich feathers. You can read more about that famous scene in this look Behind the Camera on

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – I haven’t found much dissension among classic movie fans in thinking that this is one of the best musicals of all time. I seriously could watch Gene Kelly dance all day, and the “Good Morning” and “Moses Supposes” dance numbers with Kelly dancing along side Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor make this movie an absolute joy to watch.

Family Oriented Movies

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) A nice, wholesome family comedy with one of the most endearing pairings from the classic movie era, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. This is just one of several in the “Andy Hardy” series of movies, but I picked this particular movie for the appearance of a young Lana Turner.

Curly Top (1935) – I know she doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I think Shirley Temple was adorable and very talented especially when it came to her tap dancing ability. As with many of her movies, she once again plays an orphan, but her rendition of the popular song  “Animal Crackers in My Soup” and the uplifting turn her life takes when she is adopted by a loving bachelor make this one of my favorites of her movies.

Holiday Cheer – Classic Holiday Movies

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – While much of this movie is not necessarily “cheery”, it is a very charming romantic comedy with an ending that made me smile. The movie starred Jimmy Stewart and the actress he once loved in real life, Margaret Sullavan, and they display great chemistry throughout the movie.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Natalie Wood’s delightful acting (she has such great facial expressions!), a sweet and charming performance by Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle, and nostalgic scenes shot in New York City on the actual day of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, make this the perfect movie to watch if the holiday season has got you feeling a bit down.

Do you have a favorite go-to movie(s) when you need cheering up? Let me know in the comments section below!


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  1. You can prescribe cheering up movies for me any time! The following movies have never let me down when I need them.

    Comedies: Sons of the Desert, Life With Father
    Musicals: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Music Man
    Family: The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, So Dear to My Heart
    Holiday cheer: Scrooge (’51), A Christmas Story (if an 80s movie counts)

    and, for me

    Westerns: True Grit (’69), Bend of the River

    Odd man out: The Thing from Another World (The destruction of an intellectual carrot warms the cockles of my heart.)

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks for sharing your choices Patricia! I haven’t seen many of those so I’ll keep them in mind when I’m feeling down, especially the musicals which I really need to watch for the first time soon. And I know Pooh would definitely cheer me up! :-)

  2. R.A. Kerr says:

    This is a terrific list! A lot of these movies are my fave.

    Some films I enjoy when I need cheering up:
    Little Miss Marker
    The Whole Town’s Talking
    Christmas in Connecticut
    The Horn Blows at Midnight

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks Ruth! Those are some good choices, too! You can’t go wrong with Shirley Temple or Barbara Stanwyck in my opinion!

  3. FlickChick says:

    A marvelous list! I would have to add anything by Chaplin, Keaton or Mel Books (especially Young Frankenstein & The Producers). But, your list is just about perfect!

  4. John says:

    Laurel and Hardy in the Music Box is 30 minutes of pure fun!