Singin' in the Rain

Gene Kelly stars in “Singin’ in the Rain,” a musical film that includes iconic performances set in the early '20s.

For many students, classes have ended, internships were canceled and summer plans are up in the air. It’s easy to become distraught or anxious during such an uncertain time, and some are turning to Netflix and other streaming platforms to provide entertaining and uplifting content.

Although there are a number of exciting new shows and films on streaming platforms and OnDemand that can help keep one occupied, some of the best classic pick-me-up films of the last 50 years have also become available to streaming subscribers. With many states still closed or in the process of reopening, the next two weeks are a perfect time to rewatch classic favorites or finally watch films that have been sitting on one’s watchlist for years.

These musicals, dramas and science fiction films are perfect for a daytime binge session or a family movie night.

“Roman Holiday” (Hulu)

This 1953 feel-good film starring Hollywood royalty Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck is the perfect quarantine summer flick. Following the adventures of the young Princess Ann (Hepburn) as she sneaks out of her residence in Rome and traipses across the Italian capital for a day with undercover reporter Joe Bradley (Peck), this film perfectly captures the feeling of a whimsical summer daydream. Additionally, with many travel plans canceled, it’s the ideal film for vicariously visiting some of the most famous sites in Europe in their golden age. Complete with love, adventure and a sprinkle of rebellion, this film is enough to keep Hepburn fans and even the most wanderlust travelers entertained.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (Amazon Prime) 

Although traditionally seen as a Christmas film, this black-and-white classic is ideal for year-round, heartfelt entertainment. It follows the trials and tribulations of banker George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) as he struggles to right the world after accidentally wishing himself out of existence. This film is perfect to watch during trying, confusing times when everything seems wrong and upside down. Not only does it have a touching love story and some good old-fashioned humor, but it also reminds viewers to appreciate the important things they have in their lives: friends, family and love.

“Singin’ in the Rain” (Amazon Prime)

For fans of toe-tapping musical numbers and a classic Hollywood love triangle, “Singin’ in the Rain” is the perfect pick-me-up film. Set in the early 1920s during the transition between silent films and new-age talkies, this musical romantic comedy follows two silent film stars, played by Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen, who must learn to navigate the new world of talking films while also keeping up their fake romantic relationship. 

Not only does this film have jaw-dropping musical performances and some iconic streetlamp dance numbers by Gene Kelly, it also contains some important lessons about how to deal with sudden, unforeseen circumstances. It encourages audiences to embrace change, keep their spirits up in the face of difficulty and remember that sometimes, all they need to do is stop avoiding the storm and learn to sing — and dance — in the rain.

“The Sound of Music“ (Disney+)

Robert Wise’s musical masterpiece “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with music written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, is in the running for best rainy day film ever. Set in the rolling hills of an Austria threatening to be entirely overrun by World War II-era Nazis, the film focuses on the journey of Maria (Andrews), a young woman studying to be a nun in a convent, whose love of music and the outdoors doesn’t quite fit with the cloistered style of her other sisters. 

When the wealthy Captain Georg von Trapp (Plummer) requires a new governess for his rambunctious children, Maria makes it her mission to bring some life and fun to the strict von Trapp household. Featuring an award-winning soundtrack, a heartfelt love story and the beauty of the Austrian countryside, this is a lively, nostalgic film for the whole family that teaches audiences that joy, fun and love can be found in the darkest, most dismal situations. .

“Back to the Future” (Netflix)

DeLorean time machines, flux capacitors and a young, dashing Michael J. Fox are all icons of the Spielberg cult classic “Back to the Future,” a fun film full of humor and excitement. This sci-fi spectacular features Michael J. Fox as the angsty Marty McFly, an ’80s teen  looking for some fun and rock-n-roll in his ordinary suburban life. Marty’s life is turned upside down when his friend “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd)  invents a working time machine and transports Marty back to 1955 where he meets his teenage parents and accidentally threatens his own existence by unwittingly becoming his mother’s love interest. 

With time running out, Marty and a young “Doc” must figure out a way to fix the space-time continuum and send Marty back to the future. With humor, ridiculous ’80s special effects and plenty of edge-of-your-seat adventures, this film is a fun look back at the good old days that encourages viewers to make their own destinies and appreciate everything they have.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Netflix)

For those longing for a comedy to get them through these times, there’s no better film than the John Hughes masterpiece, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The film spends a day in the life of opinionated, fun-loving high school  senior Ferris Bueller, played by ’80s icon Matthew Broderick, as he attempts to make the most of his youth by faking sick and skipping out on school to spend his time doing whatever he wants in Chicago with his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), and his girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara). 

With awe-inspiring antics, such as Ferris commandeering Cameron’s father’s Ferrari, the group sneaking into a restaurant under the nose of Ferris’ father and Ferris performing on a parade float in front of half of Chicago —all while running from the persistent dean of students, Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who’s determined to catch Ferris in his lie —this film is a jam-packed celebration of youth and teenage rebellion. It’s a reminder to viewers to take risks, live in the moment and bend a few rules along the way.

Although these films seem to have little to do with the current state of events in the world, each one has an important message about life and happiness that can be beneficial to viewers of all ages and may help to lift spirits during these difficult, uncertain times.

Contact Alexandra Dauchess at dauch2al@jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.