Agreeing on a movie in my house is never an easy thing. My husband loves action and suspense; I want period romance. But there is one genre that can satisfy us both: Movies starring GREAT OLD HOUSES. Amazon, why don’t you have a category for this? Since I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of movies featuring beautiful houses, I’ve created one myself. This is a work in progress, so if I’ve missed anything please let me know in the comments below!
There’s no place like home…for bloodcurdling horror! James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger fall prey to the powers of darkness in this spine-tingling tale of a house possessed by unspeakable evil. One of the most talked-about haunted-house stories of all time, The Amityville Horror will hit you where you live. For George and Kathy Lutz, the colonial home on the river’s edge seemed ideal: quaint, spacious and amazingly affordable. Of course, six brutal murders had taken place there just a year before, but houses don’t have memories…or do they? Soon the Lutz dream house becomes a hellish nightmare, as walls begin to drip blood and satanic forces threaten to destroy them. Now the Lutzes must try to escape or forfeit their lives and their souls!
Anne of Green Gables
Anne Shirley is adopted from an orphanage and taken to live in a beautiful old farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Hmmmm… why didn’t this ever happen to me!? Well, in a way it did, because I POURED over these books as a little girl. Beautiful scenery, the perfect country home, everything about this movie is sheer perfection.
Father of the Bride
I remember watching this movie as a little girl and oggling over every detail of this wedding (by the way, looking back at it, I’m impressed at how timeless and classic it still looks, rather than appearing dated). Remember Franck in the driveway with the hairdryer and the swans? Still hilarious! But let’s be honest, the real showstopper is THE HOUSE! According to the lovely Julia from Hooked on Houses, the production crew actually used two different houses for the filming (one in Alhambra, CA and the other in Pasadena). She’s a sleuth! Anyway, if you haven’t yet seen this movie, I highly recommend it. Just make sure you have the pause button handy throughout.
Gone with the Wind
Oh, the Antebellum homes of the Civil War-era South! Having grown up in the northeast, this is a foreign world of wonder to me. Scarlett and Rhett, I am forever indebted to you for allowing me into your world for 238 precious minutes. Tara isn’t the only incredible home here — there’s also Twelve Oaks the home of Scarlett’s Aunt Pittypat. All amazing!
Long before Downton Abbey claimed dozens of wonderful Sunday evenings of my life, there was Gosford Park. The story of a hunting party gathering at an estate in the English countryside, this drama set in 1932 offers everything you’d expect of a period murder mystery. The mansion, the costumes and the decor only feed my obsession with all things British and Art Deco.
Based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, this classic film follows a family feud between two brothers (George Sanders and Vincent Price) and an ancient curse that haunts them.
Personal and social conflicts are examined in the early days of Britain’s strict class consciousness in this critically acclaimed adaptation. An audacious and independent young woman is seduced by a successful man whose intentions are not what they seem.
I know we’ve all seen this movie 1,000 times, but I still don’t think that’s enough. Cliche as it may sound, It’s a Wonderful Life might be my favorite movie of all time. Only Donna Reed could fix up a leaky old house and have a rotisserie chicken turning over the fire in just a matter of hours. And what a house it is! Fortunately for fans like me, we can relive the joy all over again by watching The Magnificent Ambersons, in which a slightly altered of the same house was used.
My mother got the soundtrack to Little Women for Christmas the year this movie came out, and it has played at every holiday gathering since. I AM BEYOND OBSESSED WITH THE MARCH FAMILY HOUSE! It’s my dream house. I also love the Italianate home of Laurie, across the street, which would have been quite “modern” in the 1860s, when Louisa May Alcott wrote the novel. The houses used in this 1994 film were actually “faux” facades constructed over existing houses located on Vancouver Island (meant to mimic Concord, Massachusetts).
The magnificent Orson Welles directed this brilliant, moving portrayal of an aristocratic American family in what many critics consider a masterpiece equal to Citizen Kane. Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington, the drama begins in the 1870s when the Amberson family is at the height of its wealth and prestige. But the day arrives when all the Ambersons are stunned by the truth of their financial ruin. House look familiar? The same set house was modified slightly for use in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Meet Me in St. Louis
The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Esther and little Tootie. Seventeen-year old Esther (Judy Garland) has fallen in love with the boy next door who has just moved in, John. Yada, yada… Let’s just get to the point. THE VICTORIAN HOUSE IN INCREDIBLE. Really, this is one of my favorite movie houses of all time. Just ask friends of my grandmother, on whose floor I used to sit when I was little, glued to the TV with this movie on repeat. By the way, if you’re a fan of St. Louis, make sure to check out our article on why you should move there, which showcases zillions of affordable old houses.
The Money Pit
A New York lawyer and his violinist girlfriend buy a mansion on the cheap, then find it needs extensive work.
Cary Grant stars as a New York businessman whose dream of a country home is shattered when he buys a dilapidated rural house.
Sweetest movie ever. BEST HOUSE EVER. It’s all about the project, right? I love to stare at big, beautiful mansions, but they will always come second to fixer-uppers in my heart of hearts. The Notebook is a love story about two people torn about by their families and the class system but ultimately reunited by an old house. Isn’t that just the way?
Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious shower scene. First a private detective, then Marion’s sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, the horror and the suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed.
Drama, mystery and romance mingle in typical Hitchcockian form when a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, only to find the memory of the first wife has quite a grip on the servants… and her husband! This was one of the first “adult” books I read growing up, and I’ve been haunted by images of Manderley ever since.
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, an ageing silent film queen, and William Holden as the struggling writer who is held in thrall by her madness, created two of the screen’s most memorable characters in Sunset Boulevard.
INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT OLD HOUSES AND HISTORIC REAL ESTATE
A captivating blend of archival and contemporary footage, this documentary is a historical gem. The Amagansett Life-Saving Station has been a unique centerpiece of Long Island history since it was built in 1902. The film journeys through the Station’s extraordinary 100-year-plus history and arrives at its present day incarnation on Atlantic Avenue. Over a period of 44 years, the dedicated men who worked at the Station saved thousands of lives. In 1942, four Nazi saboteurs were found by coastguardsman John Cullen during a nightly beach patrol in front of the Station. And in 1966, the building was rescued from demolition and purchased for a dollar by Joel Carmichael whose family lived there for the rest of the twentieth century. After Carmichael’s death in 2006, the house was donated back to Amagansett for historical preservation.
Does a family make a house? Or does a house make a family?
Times change. A once simple and sparse seaside town has become crowded and opulent. A family and its finances have fragmented and five generations must witness the disappearance of a century of family memories when they sell their 210 year old summer home in Cape Cod. A story of fading Americana and loss, Starboard Light shows us how to hold on.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to add it!