Films and TV Shows for Vintage Style Inspiration
- March 31, 2020
- The Glambassador
During this time of self-isolation, I’ve been getting to work on projects that I’ve been putting aside. Along with my YouTube channel, a pile of mending and getting back to writing more, I’ve been compiling a list of contemporary films and TV shows that spark my inspiration for vintage fashion, style, and beauty.
So often I just want to watch a good period piece to ogle at the beautiful vintage styles. Some of these films/movies can even be quite informative along with being entertaining. I originally compiled this list for my Authentic 1930s & 1940s Hairstyles group on Facebook, so I’ve stayed within my two favorite eras for now. Eventually, I’ll add the 1920s and 1950s to the list.
I hope this list helps spark your inspiration and if you have any suggestions for contemporary films or TV shows not on this list, please comment below and I’ll add it.
* Indicates a new (2020/2021) movie or TV show
The Aftermath – Post World War II, a British colonel, and his wife are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German who previously owned the house.
Atonement – Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.
Another Mother’s Son – Based on the true story of Louisa Gould, the drama is set during World War II on the Nazi-occupied island of Jersey.
The Aviator – A biopic depicting the early years of legendary Director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.
Beanpole – Set in Leningrad in 1945 about two female friends who have been reunited and search for hope after traumatic experiences
Being Julia – Set in 1930s London, this movie involves stage actors and actresses and their experiences with love and revenge.
The Black Dahlia – Two policemen see their personal and professional lives fall apart in the wake of the “Black Dahlia” murder investigation.
*Blithe Spirit – A spiritualist medium holds a séance for a writer suffering from writer’s block but accidentally summons the spirit of his deceased first wife which leads to an increasingly complex love triangle with his current wife of five years.
The Book Thief – While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents.
Brideshead Revisited – A poignant story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in England prior to World War II.
Café Society – In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.
Charlotte Gray – A young Scottish woman joins the French Resistance during World War II to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend who is lost in France.
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler – The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.
*Death on the Nile – Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) investigates the murder of an heiress whilst holidaying on the Nile.
The Edge of Love – Two feisty, free-spirited women are connected by the brilliant, charismatic poet who loves them both.
Female Agents (Les Femmes de l’ombre) – London, 1944: SOE’s section for French ops parachute 4 women into France, plus a woman there, to free an English geologist and kill SS colonel Heindrich.
The Flowers of War – An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.
Glorious 39 – The adopted daughter of a privileged British politician uncovers a family secret in the weeks leading up to World War II.
A Good Woman – A 1930s American socialite creates a scandal in the expatriate high society of the Amalfi Coast of Italy when she forms a secretive relationship with a wealthy American unbeknownst to his young wife.
The Good German – While in post-war Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference, an American military journalist is drawn into a murder investigation which involves his former mistress and his driver.
Gracie! – In 1939 Gracie Fields, the ‘Queen of Hearts’, is at the height of her success as a singer and actress and the whole nation seems to wish her a speedy recovery from cervical cancer. When World War Two breaks out, Gracie sings for the troops despite poor health, to the dismay of her fussy husband, film director Monty Banks, an Italian, born Mario Bianchi.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – In the aftermath of World War II, a writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.
A Hidden Life – Set during WWII about an Austrian conscientious objector who refuses to fight for the Nazis.
Housewife, 49 – In the late 1930s Nella Last, a housewife aged 49, living in Barrow-in-Furness on the North West English coast, agrees to send details of her routine to the Mass observation project, a non-governmental scheme designed to chronicle the lives of ordinary people.
The Invisibles – While Joseph Goebbels infamously declared Berlin “free of Jews” in 1943, 1,700 managed to survive in the Nazi capital through the end of WWII. The Invisibles traces the stories of four young people who learned to hide in plain sight.
Jimmy’s Hall – During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
Jo Jo Rabbit – A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
Mr. Jones – Welsh journalist Gareth Jones (James Norton) uncovers the famine in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s regime in the early 1930s.
The Land Girls – Three young women from very different walks of life join the women’s land army during World War II and are sent to work together on a farm in Dorset and the experience changes their lives forever.
The Lady Vanishes – While traveling by train, a young socialite is befriended by a charming yet enigmatic older woman. However, when the woman disappears, the other passengers deny she ever existed.
Ladies in Lavender – Two sisters befriend a mysterious foreigner who washes up on the beach of their 1930s Cornish seaside village.
The Last Vermeer – An artist is suspected of selling a valuable painting to the Nazis, but there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Lawless – Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.
A League of their Own – Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.
Live by Night – A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Magic of Ordinary Days – Pregnant out of wedlock, an educated young woman is pressured by her father into an arranged marriage with a lonely farmer in this drama set during WWII.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Guinevere Pettigrew, a middle-aged London governess, finds herself unfairly dismissed from her job. An attempt to gain new employment catapults her into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse.
Murder on the Home Front – Set during the London Blitz of 1940, this is a world where people live life in the moment. It is also a world where criminals can use the blackout and devastation to hide their darkest activities.
The Notebook – A poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences.
Paradise Road – A group of women who are imprisoned on the island of Sumatra by the Japanese during World War II use music as relieve their misery.
Paris 36 – A man is charged with murder. He is Pigoil, the aging stage manager at Chansonia, a music hall in a Paris faubourg. His confession is a long flashback to New Year’s Eve, 1935, when he discovers his wife is unfaithful and Galapiat, the local mobster, closes the music hall.
Pearl Harbor – A tale of war and romance mixed in with history. The story follows two lifelong friends and a beautiful nurse who are caught up in the horror of an infamous Sunday morning in 1941.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women – The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, and his polyamorous relationship with his wife and their mistress who would inspire his creation of the superheroine, Wonder Woman.
Queson’s Game – Set in 1938 about Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon who saves Jewish refugees from Germany.
The Reader – Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.
*Resistance (2020) – A group of Jewish Boy Scouts who worked with the French Resistance to save the lives of ten thousand orphans during World War II.
Resistance (2011) – In 1944 a group of women in an isolated Welsh village wake up to discover all of their husbands have mysteriously vanished.
Restless – A young woman finds out that her mother worked as a spy for the British Secret Service during World War II and has been on the run ever since.
RKO 281 – Orson Welles produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film’s de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.
*Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse – Follows the story of when a 6-year-old Roald Dahl meets his idol, Beatrix Potter.
A Royal Night Out – On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.
*The Secret Garden – Another adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel but set in 1947. Starring Colin Firth (who was in the 1987 version) and Julie Walters.
Serena – In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when he marries Serena.
Sonja: The White Swan – Set in the 1930s about world-renowned Norwegian figure skater, Sonja Henie, who decides to become a movie star in Hollywood.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days – A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.
Suite Française – During the early years of Nazi occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier, a French villager, and Lieutenant Bruno von Falk, a German soldier.
Swing Kids – A close-knit group of young kids in Nazi Germany listen to banned swing music from the U.S.
Their Finest – A former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them.
Tolkien – The formative years of the orphaned author J.R.R. Tolkien as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky – A story of unrequited love set in 1930s London.
*The United States vs. Billie Holiday – Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.
La Vie En Rose – Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf’s life was filled with tragedy.
Waiting for Anya – Adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name. Set during WWII about a shepherd who helps smuggle Jewish children from France to Spain.
Water for Elephants – Set in the 1930s, a former veterinary student takes a job in a traveling circus and falls in love with the ringmaster’s wife.
Where Hands Touch – Set in Germany 1944 about a mixed-race Black German young woman who falls in love with someone from the Hitler Youth.
While at War – Writer Miguel de Unamuno faces himself and his ideals after the 1936’s military coup d’etat.
The White Countess – Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd — and sometimes illicit — jobs to support members of her dead husband’s aristocratic family.
*The Windermere Children – Based on a true story of the 300 child survivors of the Holocaust who were brought to Lake Windermere during the summer of 1945. This 90 min. TV movie will air on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.
Woman in Gold – Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.
The Zookeeper’s Wife – Keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, must save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion in WWII Poland.
* Indicates a new (2020/2021) movie or TV show
*Agatha and the Midnight Murders – As bombs fall on London, writer Agatha Christie considers selling a manuscript that will kill off her most famous creation.
Agent Carter – In 1946, Peggy Carter is relegated to secretarial duties in the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). When Howard Stark is accused of treason, he secretly recruits Peggy to clear his name with the help of his butler, Edwin Jarvis.
*All Creatures Great and Small – The numerous adventures of a friendly staff at a country veterinarian practice in 1930s to 1940s Yorkshire. A remake of the 1978-1990 series. Taken from the autobiographical books by James Herriot.
Alta Mar/High Seas – Eight-part drama set in the 1940s about two sisters on a luxury ship from Spain to Brazil who discovers dark family secrets after a series of deaths on the ship. Renewed for S2.
Anne Frank: The Whole Story – The life of Anne Frank and her family from 1939 to 1945: pre-war fears, invasion of Netherlands by German troops, hiding in Amsterdam, deportation to the camps, the return of Anne’s father.
Babylon Berlin – Set in Berlin in Autumn 1929, just before the stock market crash. Renewed for S4.
Bomb Girls – A drama about World War II women at work in a munitions factory.
Bonnie & Clyde – Based on the true story of Clyde Barrow, a charismatic convicted armed robber who sweeps Bonnie Parker, an impressionable, petite, small-town waitress, off her feet, and the two embark on one of most infamous bank-robbing sprees in history.
Boardwalk Empire – An Atlantic City politician plays both sides of the law by conspiring with gangsters during the Prohibition era.
Cable Girls – A Spanish series that begins in the 1920s and runs into the 1930s, this is the story of four women from different backgrounds newly hired as operators for a phone company.
The Cazalets – Mini-series adapted from a series of novels that are set at the estate of a large privileged Sussex family and follows their life in London between the years 1937 and 1947.
Charité at War – A German hospital in 1943 has to deal with the effects of WWII and the cruel policies of the Nazi regime.
Close to the Enemy – A British intelligence officer has to ensure that a captured German scientist helps the British develop jet aircraft.
The Collection – A gripping family drama and entrepreneurial fable, set in a post-war Paris fashion house. It exposes the grit behind the glamour of a rising business, spearheaded by two clashing brothers.
Dancing on the Edge – Set in the 1930s, a black Jazz band rises in fame and popularity while becoming entangled in an intricate web of intrigue, mystery & suspense with the elite of London society.
The Durrells in Corfu – Based on the real-life events of the Durrell family as they resettle from England to Greece.
Fleming – A look at the 007 creator, Ian Fleming, and his early life set against the permissive society of war-torn WWII London.
Foyles War – As WWII rages, DCS Foyle fights his own war on the home-front; investigating crime on the south coast of England. Later series, see the retired detective working as an MI5 agent in the aftermath of the war.
Generation War – Five friends go out to war and promise each other to be back for Christmas.
The Halcyon – The story of a bustling and glamorous five-star hotel at the center of London society and a world at war.
*Hollywood – Set in LA after WWII about a group of actors who try to become famous.
Home Fires – A drama following a group of inspirational women in a rural Cheshire community during World War II.
Indian Summers – Drama set in 1932 during the final years of British colonial rule in India.
Island at War – During the Second World War, a quiet channel island community is thrown into turmoil by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany.
Land Girls – Follow the lives, loves and highs, and lows of four members of the Women’s Land Army who are working at the Hoxley Estate during World War II.
The Last Tycoon – Centers on Hollywood’s first wunderkind studio executive in the 1930s, Monroe Stahr, and the power struggle between him and his mentor and current head of the studio Pat Brady.
Love in a Cold Climate – Spanning a critical historical time from 1929 to 1940, three young women search for love. The young women leave behind their careless and innocent youth as they pursue love and happiness through places far beyond their expectations.
Manhattan – In 1943, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a team of government scientists is working on the top-secret Manhattan Project in a race to produce an atomic bomb before the Nazis. Meanwhile, their families adjust to life on the military base.
Mapp & Lucia – The social rivalry between two women in the 1930s when Lucia rents Mapp’s house for the summer.
Mildred Pierce – Divorced single mom Mildred Pierce decides to open a restaurant business, which tears at the already-strained relationship with her ambitious elder daughter, Veda.
My Mother and Other Strangers – In 1943, the Coyne family and their neighbors struggle to maintain a normal life after a US Army Air Force base is set up in the middle of their rural parish.
Our Zoo – A drama series about the family who founded Chester Zoo in the 1930s.
Peaky Blinders – A gangster family epic spanning the 1920s and 1930s in Birmingham, England; centered on a gang who sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby.
*Penny Dreadful: City of Angels – When a grisly murder shocks Los Angeles in 1938, Detective Tiago Vega and his partner Lewis Michener become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of the city.
*Ratched – In 1947, Mildred Ratched begins working as a nurse at a leading psychiatric hospital. But beneath her stylish exterior lurks a growing darkness.
Resistance – Set in late 1920, Resistance is a sequel series to the 2016 miniseries Rebellion, which was set during the 1916 Easter Rising.
*The Singapore Grip – The son of a British family living in South East Asia becomes involved in a love triangle.
Traitors – Six episodes set in 1945 after WWII, an English civil servant helps the CIA spy on her own country.
Mrs. Wilson – Three-part drama set in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s about Ruth Wilson’s grandmother, Alison, and grandfather, Alec Wilson.
*World on Fire – Seven-part WWII drama about ordinary people from different countries whose lives are being affected by the war. Renewed for S2.
X Company – Set in the thrilling and dangerous world of WWII, follows the stories of five highly skilled young recruits, torn from their ordinary lives to train as agents in an ultra-secret facility.
Zoe Eva Ashdown31st Mar 2020 - 9:20 am
I love this list, what a fantastic compendium and source of inspiration. I’ve got three suggestion which would be great additions. Films Black Book https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389557/ and Hope and Glory https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093209/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 .
And the TV series The Camomile Lawn is fantastic. It’s set in Cornwall and London during WWII. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103381/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Empire of the Sun and The English Patient are also great films.
Ms Belle Bon Bon1st Apr 2020 - 9:49 am
Wonderful list, and also helpful during this quarantine era for inspiration on what to watch! xx
ellentaylor8213th Apr 2020 - 12:58 pm
Thanks for compiling the list. Just watching a film called ‘Sweet and Lowdown’ set in the 1930s. Nice costumes.
Janey14th Apr 2020 - 7:21 pm
Fabulous list!!! I will for sure be adding some of these to my quarantine watch list!
Leah Cushnie14th Apr 2020 - 6:05 pm
Great listing that will come in handy.. what about Mrs Henderson Presents ..loved that movie.
Mary23rd Dec 2022 - 10:26 pm
We just started watching Jeeves and Wooster while housebound with sub-zero temps. Always love seeing the beautiful clothes!