Viva La France! Top Ten Movies to Watch on Bastille Day
There's no better way to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14 than by watching a popular French-themed film with a special someone.
Take a tour of Paris, see the Riviera, visit the French countryside, or travel back to the French Revolution.
Here are our Top Ten favorites:
1. Casablanca (1942)
In this romance thriller set in wartime, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are young and in love in Paris. The war separates them, but they find each other again in Casablanca -- steeped in wartime corruption and Nazi treachery.
Of course, "Play it, Sam" and "We'll always have Paris" top the list of quotable Hollywood quotes.
"Casablanca" also happens to include one of the most rousing renditions of the "Marseilles" ever put on film.
2. An American in Paris (1951)
One of the last old-time movie musicals, "An American in Paris" is a romp through Paris with a Gershwin soundtrack including "I Got Rhythm", "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise", " 'S Wonderful", and "Love is Here to Stay".
3. The 400 Blows (1959)
"The 400 Blows" is still considered one of the best films in French cinema history and regularly included in lists of Top 100 Films Ever Made.
Come for depictions of 1950's Paris street life, stay for the riveting tale of a troubled kid. The final freeze frame, in which our young hero finds no place left to run, has been haunting audiences ever since. This was director Francois Truffaut's first film, featuring a gutsy and tender performance by 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud.
4. Les Misérables (2012)
Broadway gets the epic Hollywood treatment in the movie version of Les Misérables, with an all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. While the direction is often panned for its "unblinking" camera (that never moves, tilts or swirls) the musical numbers are the major saving grace.
Filmed in real time as the actors sang, the orchestrations were dubbed in later. The results are dramatic performances worthy of the live Broadway show. For instance, watch Oscar winner Anne Hathaway's dynamite rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream".
5. Amélie (2001)
The plot is simple enough, about a shy and naive girl who eventually discovers true love. But that doesn't explain the otherworldly performance by actress Audrey Tautou, or the gorgeous colors and cinematography, plus that Paris backdrop.
By turns fantastical, heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny, Amelie deserves more than one viewing just to take it all in.
6. La Vie en Rose (2007)
Blessed with a spectacular singing voice, Edith Piaf was reared in a French brothel and eventually earned her living busking on the boulevards of Paris. The rest, as they say, is history resulting in a recording contract and, later, worldwide fame. Most of Piaf's greatest hits are showcased here, dubbed by actual Piaf recordings and delivered with lip-sinc perfection by French star Marion Cotillard.
7. French Kiss (1995)
A jilted Meg Ryan searches for her ex-finance (Timothy Hutton) in Paris, but somehow gets involved with a French smuggler (Kevin Kline). The chance encounter leads to a romantic slapstick adventure.
The pair provide the star wattage, and the film introduces audiences to Paris landmarks, French wine country, and charm galore in what is basically an extended comedy skit.
8. Midnight in Paris (2011)
An American vacationer, Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson), gets transported to 1920's Paris each night at midnight. And there he meets up with Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker and other luminaries of the era.
Woody Allen's flight of imagination was shot entirely on location with set pieces including John XXIII Square (near Notre Dame), Montmartre, the Palace of Versailles, the Opéra, Sacré-Cœur, the Île de la Cité, and streets near the Panthéon.
9. Julie & Julia (2009)
French foodies will enjoy this comedy drama set in modern day New York and 1950's Paris featureing a real life recipe blogger played by Amy Adams who admires the real life French cookbook author, Julia Child -- played to the hilt by Meryl Streep.
Across time, the two main characters thrill to a perfectly cooked chicken, or cry over an overdone roast beef. Both eventually find success in introducing French recipes for Americans in diifferent eras.
Meanwhile, the movie sends home the old-fashioned Hollywood message that impossible dreams do come true. And, in this case, it really happened. Twice.
10. Chocolat (2000)
Juliette Binoche plays a struggling single mother who opens a chocolate shop in a rural French town. She's an outsider, say the villagers -- and a temptress! But who can resist her wisdom and charm? Near the end everyone is opening their hearts for a smooth. sweet conclusion. Stick around for the scenery, a star turn by Binochet, and a stellar supporting cast including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, and Alfred Molina.