Published in Oct 2020 / Updated in Aug 2021
Emily in Paris, the new Netflix series about a young marketing executive who moves to the City of Lights, has got everyone talking. Whether you hate it or love it, although most of us love to hate it, the series captures a fun, simple feeling that many have been longing for.
The show comes from Darren Star, who made smash hits like Sex and the City and Younger. It is full of incredible fashion, beautiful people, and unbelievable sets. These are almost as big attractions as the main star Lily Collins who plays Emily.
A big criticism of the show is that it presents an idealized Paris, unrealistic expectations of young people, and unbelievable romances. While I was watching, I realized that, while modern, the show speaks like the romantic movies of an older era.
Classic Hollywood romances never worried about realism and whether their main character could afford all the clothes they wore and places they lived. They were only concerned with sweeping their audience away with the heroes of their beautiful adventures.
So if you’ve finished binging Emily in Paris and are looking for something else to whisk you away, here are some old movies that will do the trick.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
This might be the most famous classic on the list. Audrey Hepburn stars as the charming Holly Golightly, a party girl who falls in love with her neighbor writer. This film perfectly captures the same lovely lightness found in Emily in Paris.
From gorgeous gowns, Hepburn wears as her character to the clever dialogue, this adaptation of the book by Truman Capote is a must-see for all those who love a little romance.
Set in New York, it captures the city's spirit in the 1960s and how the nightlife was all a socialite lived for.
This epic romance starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman makes the love triangle in Emily in Paris look ridiculous. The film is placed in the much higher-stakes setting of Casablanca during the Second World War. These lovers meet after having been separated when the Nazis invaded Paris.
It captures the tension between these two as they meet again, between the German and the French, and between those fighting the Nazi regime's cruel injustices.
After watching, you’ll immediately wish someone could hold you close and whisper dramatic lines about saving the world.
A Star is Born
This movie has been re-made more than almost any other. The recent version with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is a masterpiece in its own right but is thoroughly modern. If you’re looking for something with an old Hollywood feel, the version starring Judy Garland is perfect for you.
Judy plays Esther, an aspiring singer who falls in love and marries Norman Maine, a declining marine idol. The story follows a romance that turns to strife between the lovers.
Although this film is not as upbeat as Emily in Paris, it has the star power of Judy Garland, and the intense, tumultuous and complicated journey will have you in tears.
Singin' in the Rain
Emily in Paris isn’t a musical, but it sometimes feels like it should be. That’s why I’ve recommended this musical hit. The extremely detailed sets and dancers have not been rivaled for years.
Gene Kelly stars as a mega silent movie star who meets an aspiring actress working as a chorus girl. He helps catapult her career while getting rid of his annoying co-star, who insists they are dating.
It’s filled with actual fashion shows in the middle of incredible dance sequences. The upbeat tempo and glitz of Hollywood linger even years after it was released.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
A Marilyn Monroe hit, this comedy follows a showgirl with a passion for diamonds. Featuring the famous Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend sequence, it combines high-level fashion, elegance, and musical numbers with a classic comedy of errors feel.
Similar to Emily's constantly fumbling over her mistakes in Paris, Monroe’s character is caught in multiple hijinks and errors. By using her wits and charm, she finds ways to work her way out of every situation.
It Happened One Night
The movie stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. They play a reporter and a socialite who fall in love while on a mission to return to New York.
Clarke Gable is famous for his roguish characters, the bad boys of the golden Hollywood era. His sleazy and know-it-all persona is very much like all of the older French men who hit on Emily and treat her with lavish gifts throughout the series.
The film is full of witty one-liners and banter that can only be found among couples who only vaguely pretend to hate each other. It is a great one for those who don’t want the classic put-together boy and girl love story but need more spice.
An American in Paris
The title could almost be another for Emily in Paris, and the plot is very similar. Instead of Emily, you have Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly, a war veteran and aspiring painter.
Although a musical, the plot follows Jerry as he falls in love with his friend's fiance. He tries to distract himself with a rich heiress. Like the series, this film is an ode to Paris from the American experience and idealizes it just as much.
While it would be lambasted today for its simplicity, it was a hit back in the 1950s.