Top 5 Frock Flicks That Make Trystan Cry


Despite my bitter ElderGoth exterior, I am a softie at heart. Yeah, I try not to let this get around, but it’s sometimes true of us old goths — we’re huge romantics, that can be the flip side of being dark and spooky. It’s also pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of movie musicals, which is a vastly sentimental genre. Put it all together, and you’ll find me a weepy, sobbing mess during a fair number of movies.

That said, the list of historical costume flicks that make me cry is kind of quirky, and here are a few that just get me, right there.



The AristoCats (1970)

The AristoCats (1970)

I could really just say “all Disney movies with a romantic musical scene make me cry.” But, hey, this one is legit set in 1910s Paris, even if the main characters are animated felines, so it counts as a frock flick! See also, Lady and the Tramp (1955), which is set in 1905. And Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live-action version kinda-sorta has 18th-c. fashions so it counts. “Tale as old as time…” kicks in and there I go. It’s a Pavlovian response.


Reign finale episode (2017)

Reign (2017)

Go ahead and laugh! But, as a Mary Queen of Scots fan, I had to watch the finale, and what got me was the coda. After she’s executed, Mary “wakes up” next to Francis in bed, as if they’re together in an afterlife. Then there’s a montage of all their happy moments together. I bawled my head off. Sappy soap opera FTW! Also, it felt true to the spirit of her life, since Mary was culturally French, she had been raised at the French court with Francis, and she probably did pine for those days ever after (even if not in a romantic way).


A Night to Remember (1958)

A Night to Remember (1958)

Skip the 1997 Titanic nonsense, my heart goes on with this version of the Titanic sinking. Less melodrama, no cheeziod romance, no Celine Dion (thank goodness), and more actual drama and more (though not perfect) historical accuracy. It’s gripping, powerful stuff, and the hubris and human tragedy are what brings me to tears.


Howards End (1992)


howards end 1992 movie

There’s a lot of bittersweet with this movie and me (some backstory if you click on the title, though the personal update isn’t happy). Aside from that, this film and the novel tug at my heartstrings. The contrast of the two Schlegel sisters actions, plus the frustrated ambitions of Leonard Bast, the class struggle they’re all caught up in, are all so poignantly, poetically written in E.M. Forster’s language, and Merchant-Ivory’s interpretation is deeply moving.


Camelot (1967)

Camelot (1967)

“Don’t let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief shining moment / That was known as Camelot” — Pass me a box of tissues! This is my #1 favorite musical because it’s all about hope, frustration, love, friendship, ambition, and dreams dashed. The songs are by turns light and fun and dark and tragic. It has everything! I’ve watched the movie countless times, I listen to the soundtrack, and I’ve seen various stage versions. And I always cry. I love it so hard!


Are you sentimental too? What historical costume movies or TV shows make you cry?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

45 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Does a Frock series count? If so Glenda Jackson’s Elizabeth R brings tears to my eyes. Jackson’s ERI is The benchmark for ERI, IMHO.
    The reason for the tears is that Ms Jackson conveys all the emotions for what Elizabeth Tudor gave up to be Queen, remain Queen, her contributions to England and Cecil – Robert – chooses James VI of Scotland. Drat down with the patriarchy. Okay, he had best claim, but Queen Elizabeth I never named a successor.

  2. broughps

    Outlander has a few tear jerking moments: Jamie sending Claire back through the stones, Jamie leaving Willie behind, Claire leaving Brianna. I’m sure we’ll see more this next season.

  3. Rhonda Stannard

    If you are into musicals, how about Carousel with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones? Okay, Gordon is not exactly a great actor but that last scene where is tells Julie “Know that I loved you” always gets me bawling. I agree with Howard’s End, especially poor Leonard Bast’s story. And, of course, Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I can’t possibly watch that without crying.

  4. hsc

    Thanks for mentioning “A Night to Remember”. I saw it on the late show years ago and had the same response you had.

  5. Kathryn MacLennan

    Speaking of musicals, Les Miserables made me weep on a plane the first time I saw it and pretty much every other time and incarnation I have seen it in. Also, Bright Star when Fanny finds out that Keats has died. Full-on bawling.

  6. thedementedfairy

    Anna and the King of Siam [Rex Harrison], West Side story, all versions I’ve seen reduce me to blubber, How Green was My Valley, Goodbye Mr Chips [original version and remake] etc etc. Pathetic aren’t we?!

  7. Nzie

    Somehow I went from being a barely cries in high school to a tearing up to tears streaming adult… I’ve probably cried at lots of films (and plenty of commercials, too!) but most recently, I did have some tears for Guernsey L&PPPS. And not just because I wanted Lily James’ wardrobe. I really am often touched by sad or happy moments on screen so an exhaustive list isn’t possible but there’s quite a few.

      • Nzie

        I enjoyed it. I think the contemporary romantic plot line was fairly predictable but it was done well, and the story she gradually discovers has some elements that I didn’t expect, including some complexity about being good and bad. I also think it touched thoughtfully on the traumas of war in a way that, while light, I think was probably pretty insightful for those of us removed by time and space from the experience. It wasn’t earth shattering, but well made and a nice movie to watch. Watched it as a 2-2 female/male group and we all liked it.

  8. carolyn

    OMG, you hit almost all of mine! Any Disney film (and don’t be with me when we walk into the Magic Kingdom, even though we’re DVC members and go several times a year!). Camelot, from the first time I saw it on a tiny TV in my parents, bedroom. The final episode of Reign tore me apart. I haven’t seen Howard’s End, but will now. Outlander does it to me as well.Had a few tears for Guernsey too and Lily James’ costumes, oh my! Thanks for this post!!!

  9. Misty

    Brief Encounter (yep, it knocks the stuffing out of me when I watch it)… & The little Princess (1995)….

    • Trystan L. Bass

      The Little Princess, both movie versions! I have a post coming soon comparing them (neither are accurate to the book, which I love, but I still love the movies!).

  10. M.E. Lawrence

    The 1994 version of “Little Women,” where Sarandon as Marmee tells Ryder as Jo that you’re supposed to make mistakes–that’s how you learn. A woman behind me started weeping, and then I did.

  11. Charity

    Reign killed me twice — first when Francis died (I cried) and then when she met him in “heaven” or wherever (I cried).

    My list of “I bawled” costume drama movies is endless… everything from Miss Potter (I’m a waterfall toward the end) to Titanic (poor Mr. Andrews!) to Little Women (I pretty much cry from where Beth has her deathbed speech to Jo writing her book about her sisters) to Les Miserables (I don’t know why, but despite the atrocious singing throughout, I just randomly burst into tears over Fantine’s broken dreams) to The Last of the Mohicans (that ending is crap and not fair).

    If I had ten cents for every time I bawled my way through a movie, television show, or book, I’d be a billionaire.

  12. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    Ok, as a fellow “elder goth” I also have an unnatural love of Disney films. I have been known to sob through out so many movies, shows and plays. a few of the regular ones are:
    Westward the Women-when The Widow Maroni’s gun misfires and she accidently kills her own son.
    Les Mis the Uma Thurman/Leim Nelsson version-When Gavroche is killed
    Anne of a thousand days-When the cannon is sounded to announce her death while Elizabeth is toddling alone in a garden
    Wonder Woman-when she crosses the no man’s land and again when she sends Steve Rogers to his death.
    The Corpse Bride-When Emily realizes that she is stealing happiness from Victoria

  13. Jenno

    I think it counts as a frock flick because it’s early 20th century…The Color Purple. I watch it when I need a good uncorking.

    • Lady Hermina De Pagan

      Oh Goodness! I totally forgot about the Anne Series. Though in my case it was I believe the sequel when Anne finds out that Gilbert might be dying of Scarlet Fever. I sob every time

  14. Josette

    Cazalets made me cry, the situation between the long wedded couple and the terminal illness of the wife and how they coped….heartbreaking.
    And Ms. Parkers vicious circle, so moving, I felt so bad for her.

  15. Boxermom

    Every time I watch ” A League of Their Own” I’m fine, right up until the very end where they reunite at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Once Madonna’s song comes on, that’s it, I’m absolutely bawling! Fortunately, the dog ignores me :)

  16. Roxana

    The end of Elizabeth R. Elizabeth dies and silence spreads from the death chamber throughout the palace as courtiers sink to their knees in tribute to her passing spirit.

    At least that’s how I remember it.


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