It probably wouldn’t surprise many people that I love old movies. I don’t think it has much to do with being a historian and lover of history, but more to do with having an appreciation for things that are classic, well-made, and timeless ( see also: vintage clothing).
I don’t quite remember where there is love of classic cinema began, but I’m sure 3 movie musicals had a big hand in it: The Sound of Music, White Christmas, and The Wizard of Oz. All three of these movies are on my top ten list of all time favorites and both were introduced to me as a child. I love the stories of all, the music and dancing, the beautiful costumes and sets. I can watch them time and time again, recite the words almost verbatim, and always sing along.
Perhaps this love of musicals was what helped along my exploration of other older movie musicals which I think was my gateway drug into other older films. I worked at Blockbuster in high school ( earning me the nickname Movie Maven by a few people) and had a lot of access to older titles, as well as worked with some great folks who introduced me to film noir and early Hitchcock movies. In college, I took a film class about understanding changes in film through history. This only helped me develop my love of old movies and amazing movie stars in a more diverse way.
For me, watching something like An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr or James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is not just about watching a great story or actor, but also gives so much information about the past and how the world was- what was taboo, what people found funny, what were popular food/drinks of the time. All of that is endlessly interesting to me, which is of course why I work in the field of history to begin with.
And honestly- does it get any more handsome and debonair than Cary Grant?