When it’s raining inside and out; when your heart’s been left smeared on the bathroom wall into a smiley face with a bloody kiss, slip on The Odd Couple and everything will be okay. An hour into Kind Hearts & Coronets and your troubles disappear… The cosy power of films should never be dismissed. Cosy does not mean bad, easy or poor. Indeed, to make a good cosy film is a skill few filmmakers possess. We all have films personal to us that make us smile on the worst days. For instance, I wanted to put Fargo on the list but some found it a little too violently murderous to classify so I’ve tried to knit this film quilt for everyone.
Here are five of the best…
Admittedly the title does not suggest a chucklefest but everything about this film warms the heart. From Alec Guinness’s perfect delivery of his opening line, to the gentle but pantomime-like performances of the exceptional cast, you are left with the thought that they really don’t make films like this anymore. The film is about a team of villains and ne’er-do-wells hiding out in an eccentric old lady’s home under the guise of a string quartet. To do this they play Boccherini’s Minuet: a piece of music so familiar I challenge you to hear it without smiling.
A film that begins with an attempted suicide may not strike you as an especially cosy one, but the fact that Jack Lemmon gives up his death wish because he can’t open the window is a clue to the loveliness to come. As you watch the fussy and uptight Lemmon rescued from despair by the ‘divorced, broke and sloppy’ Walter Matthau you fall head over heals in like. The Odd Couple is a film about friendship. With a beautifully tight, unsentimental and funny script from the play by Neil Simon, you will find it difficult not to think about your best friend and what they mean to you. An added bonus is it also has the catchiest and perkiest theme tune in cinema history.
Bill Murray plays an arrogant weatherman. That immediately tells you you’re in for a relaxing time: a weatherman and a proud one? The sweetness of this film is apparent in its title, in its posters and in Murray’s sympathy-inducing face. Murray finds he is stuck in a time loop, seemingly doomed to live the same day over and over again. At first he treats people like dirt because what the hell, this will never change, but slowly – some estimates put it at 10,000 years – he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person. This is a cosy film because it never forgets its audience and is consistently warm and funny. You are left with the importance of empathy – although you’ll probably hate the song I Got You Babe.
Few films embrace life with such strong arms. Harold And Maude is a love story – sort of. Harold And Maude is a film about happiness – sort of. Bud Cort plays Harold, a young man obsessed with death, whose hobbies include fake suicides and attending the funerals of strangers. At one of these FUNerals he meets the 79-year-old Maude, played perfectly by Ruth Gordon, who shares his love of The End. Through their friendship and eventual love, Maude teaches Harold to love life. Some may find this film a little slow but that’s because it focuses on the characters and their development. Watching this film on a rainy day is ideal and it grows warmer inside you with each viewing. Hated at the time of its release, but now seen as a comedy classic, it quite literally laughs in the face of death.
You know where you are with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. A romantic comedy from a time when that didn’t mean terrible film, His Girl Friday is a gag-a-minute classic set in a competitive newspaper office in New York. Grant doesn’t want his ex and star reporter Russell to marry into blandness so persuades her to cover one last story in the hope of reminding her how exciting her old life is. She is sent to cover the execution of a murderer. Though the plot is frankly irrelevant, the joy in this film is watching Hollywood greats bounce off each other. Filmed and set 75 years ago it’s an escapist fantasy.