I’m more of a TV than a movie buff and especially love anything set between late 1930s to early 1960s. Here are five top starting points for anyone looking to watch a few great costume moments as well as humour, drama and wit rolled into one! I’ve tried to move these along chronically based on the time they are set and am proud to be sporting such a variety in countries of origin- two English, one Canadian, one German and one American.
Inspector Foyle has not been called up to the front, but instead he, and his trusty driver Sam(antha) fight crimes in their home of Hastings. These crimes range from abusing rationing coupons for the black market to gritty murder. What I love about this series is that it shows that whether or not there’s a war on, crime still happens at home and it even gives birth to new crimes as people can abuse the fact that most people’s minds are on other things. Additionally, I absolutely love the character of Samantha Stewart. She is very spunky and enthusiastic as well as, humorously, always hungry. Oh, and she wears a Mechanised Transport Corp uniform like a pro!
Follows different women in Canada looking to help the war effort in whatever ways they can. A few tropes exist in this universe as the show tries to capture different “types” of women- the rich girl with a heart of gold, the shy religious songbird, the tough, trouser wearing lady lover, the flirt who makes harrowing mistakes in a moment of fancy and the matronly, strict yet kind, lady. Thankfully our heroines undergo fantastic character development and don’t stick to being two dimensional characters. Costuming and set is superb and, rare for a period drama, my beau got very involved and loved this show to bits. Unfortunately only two seasons happened, but the movie length “final episode” does tie up lose ends nicely and believably.
My latest watch was “Unsere Väter, Unsere Mütter” (German for “Our Fathers, Our Mothers”) and whilst I much prefer the German title I do understand that it does not make sense from a global distribution perspective. Now, this three part series is German with English subtitles, something which doesn’t affect me much as a German speaker. I thought it was very interesting to see WWII from a German perspective in which the people on screen are both heroes and villains, technically fighting on the same side of a losing battle. The series follows five friends from the beginning of war till just after wartime. Wilhelm and Friedhelm are two brothers who are soldiers, one has made a hero of himself in a previous war whilst the other, the younger, is a dreamer who belongs in a library, not on a battlefield. Victor is Jewish and thus living in constant fear at this time, meanwhile his secret girlfriend Greta tries to protect him whilst also furthering her own career in the limelight. Charlotte is a nurse looking to do her best for her country by patching up soldiers at the front.
I remember reading a post about the breakdown work done on this film and they have truly done a superb job on taking hired, mostly new uniforms and turning them into believable battle field clothing. Greta’s costuming choices are enviously amazing and whilst these superb actors caused me to cry several times, I did make side notes of, “Must try and recreate those trousers/that dress/suit etc.”
Call the Midwife
Moving into a post-war era this show follows midwives and nuns in a very poor part of London trying to educate and help those around them with the bearing and raising children. Like Generation War this one has very sad moments where I often find myself crying. It’s harrowing to see some of the conditions people lived in as well as some of the awful circumstances caused by work houses, teenage pregnancy and misunderstood disabilities of the time. Of course it cannot all be bad and there are wonderful moments of humour, often caused by the interactions between the nuns and the midwives. Whilst everyone spends most of their time in either a wimple or a midwifery uniform I do enjoy the rare moments when we catch a glimpse of timely, off-duty costuming! Oh, and there’s a lot of cycling. I love cycling!
Do I even have to talk about this one? Drama about the world of a 1960s advertising agency set on “Mad” Ave. A show where philandering husbands, extreme everyday sexism and gratuitous smoking are commonplace. That sounds awful, why would anyone enjoy watching this? The costuming and et on this is incredibly spot on, even very nit picky period clothing lovers rarely find faults. I personally enjoy watching Joan, Peggy and to a certain extent Betty, navigate this world in their own ways. They are all very different women, but they are supremely capable! All three show important live lessons while navigating the mad men. Without giving too much away, I have recently seen the final episode and am pleased to announce a wrap up worthy of seven seasons of gripping drama through political, social and business turmoil.
Have you seen any of these shows? Or have I perhaps inspired you to give them a watch? Do you ever watch something just because it’s set in an era you love?
Gruss und Kuss,