Top 5 Classic Movies to Sleep to

In my family, it is not unusual to pair a nap with a good movie. Are we such multitaskers that we have to have something going even when we sleep? Are we so lost in the movies that we want to spend every possible moment (waking or sleeping) on good films? Are our favorite movies so familiar and comforting that they make it easy to drift right off to dreamland?

I'm not sure. But I do know that some movies are better to sleep to than others. Musicals and films with lots of explosions are (for obvious reasons) not the best choices. And while there are some good newer movies to put on when you want to sleep, as usual I tend to lean toward older films.

Here's my list of five great classics for sleepy-time:

5. Sabrina (1954) - Like most of the best bedtime stories, it begins "Once upon a time" and has a happily-ever-after ending. The fairy tale story in between features a charming Audrey Hepburn in some fantasy princess-like outfits. As a bonus, if you fall asleep to this one, you just might dream of Billy Wilder's first choice, Cary Grant, playing the Bogart role.

4. The Magnificent Ambersons - Even if you only catch the beginning of this one before nodding off, you'll get an idea for some of the themes. The lovely Orson Wells-narrated opening illustrates the changing times with Joseph Cotten trying on a variety of mens' fashions. You'll soon get introduced to the bratty Georgie and hopefully wake up in time to see his comeuppance at the end.

3. North by Northwest - The exception to the "no explosions" rule, as the loud bits of the movie (usually signaled by the stirring Bernard Herrman music) are thrilling and fun and worth waking up to see. If you have your eyes open before the gunfire in the scene where Eva Marie Saint does some shooting, check out the kid in the back who (eerily) seems to know what's coming.

2. The Third Man - Because zither music is so soothing.

And the number one classic movie to sleep to is....

1. The Big Sleep - It's not just the title that wins this one the top spot. Thanks to all the detectin' being done, there are plenty of quiet follow-the-guy and examine-the-evidence moments that are very conducive to napping. The rainy mood is also great for making those eyelids heavy. And the convoluted plot is not much more understandable even if you stay awake and alert through the whole thing. So just let the banter between Bogie and Bacall lull you right off to sleep.

*Please note, if there's any of these movies you haven't seen yet, I'd recommend staying awake through them at least one time first. Then, the next time you are dealing with insomnia, or when you just need a mid-day snooze, try one of these fabulous sleep-friendly classics.


Kate Gabrielle said...

This is so funny! I actually think I have fallen asleep to every one of them at some point (most recently The Magnificent Ambersons) -- I hate it when I fall asleep during movies I haven't seen the whole way through yet though!

ps. I'd love to dream about Cary Grant in that role.. so much better and more believable!!!

Wendymoon said...

Kate, I love that you've fallen asleep to these, too!

I've always felt something was off about Sabrina, and as much as I usually love Bogart, I'm afraid it's him. Would have been very different with Cary Grant!

David Bishop said...

I'm not much of a movie sleeper. I tend to fall asleep during TV Shows, but even then it's only when I've seen the episode a few dozen times (i.e. The Office).

I kind of liked Bogart in the role. And this may be sacrilege to you, but I actually liked the remake to Sabrina a little bit more than the original.

Classic Movie World said...

That is the funniest thing I have ever heard. But, I know exactly what he is talking about. It doesn't have to be a bad movie. These movies are actually really good.

Retro Hound said...

Great idea. Haven't seen the Ambersons yet. Sabrina I could definitely sleep to.

Maggie said...

I'm living with my mom for the summer, and we don't have cable. I'm used to sleeping with the TV on, so I've been sleeping to a movie every night. The movie I return to night after is Annie Hall.

Millie said...

Great list.

It's so funny that you mentioned Sabrina.

Because one summer a few years ago my older sister fell asleep to that (and had it on repeat) every single night. How are rooms are situated, if she leaves her window open I can look straight through to her room from a window by my bed. I think I must "heard" that movie straight through at least a hundred times...

Vanessa said...

I had a real movie-falling-asleep phase..I would fall asleep during every movie I watched. A total waste of money to go to the cinema! Luckily it was only a phase and I am over it now!

Wendymoon said...

Always glad to know I'm not alone, in this case with seeing that I'm not the only movie-sleeper. :-)

I actually can't sleep to bad movies, I hate watching them so much I can't relax and drift off. It's also almost impossible for me to sleep to a movie I haven't seen before. But favorite classics are fine to sleep to, since I know how they will turn out, anyway.

BTW David, I'm not necessarily opposed to liking a remake or newer movie even better than an old one. With Sabrina, there are things I like and don't like about both the old and the new versions. I'm not a big Julia Ormond fan, and that makes me not care so much for the remake.

But there are other remakes that I really like. For example, The Shop Around the Corner is great, but I also really love You've Got Mail. (In the Good Old Summertime, however, is only so-so.) I also happen to like the remake of Born Yesterday. Maybe not as much as the original (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson are no Judy Holliday and William Holden) but there are some really cute moments added.

Guess I'm not a total old movie purist: I love classics, but I'm not opposed to really good newer movies, either.

Ginger Ingenue said...

How funny. I used THE BIG SLEEP the other day for my insomnia. Thought it might jinx me in a good way. :)

Farzan said...

Great list, as I have also fallen asleep to some of those during class. Its not that the films are bad, but maybe it was those uncomfortable chairs at school.

I_Might_Be_Wrong said...

I love old movies and music in movies

lovely and interesting blog
I enjoy it a lot

I thought you may enjoy
my new blog post which
is about cinema and poetry
in cinema: http://moderndaybonnieandclyde.blogspot.com/2009/08/drama-is-life-with-dull-bits-cut-out.html


Anonymous said...

Indeed, North by Northwest is one of my favorite ever films. Having said that, in the scene at the cafeteria of Mount Rushmore where the juvenile extra in the background is seen covering his ears with both hands just before Eve fires her gun at the protaganist does tend to detract slightly from what must be one of Hitchcock's best movies!

Alexander Dyle

Wendymoon said...

Just one more thing... I forgot to add that The Third Man's angled shots are just as interesting from a horizontal nap-friendly position.

Thanks for all the comments!

Sam Juliano said...

I just saw THE THIRD MAN again a few weeks ago at Manhattan's Film Forum as part of their currently running Brit Film Noir series, where I have also saw 13 other films so far in the festival. THE THIRD MAN, my favorite British film of all-time, is of course the ultimate masterpiece of the program. I am happy to see it here on your short list!

Heather said...

I love Sabrina and North By Northwest. Great movies and ones I've watched so many times that I can close my eyes and picture each scene clearly in head........and then doze off.

Fun article!

Anonymous said...

As a kid I could barely make it through Alice and Wonderland with out falling asleep. To this day I associate it with a good nap. What a perfect movie to get you dreaming!

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