In a recent conversation with a patron about films, I mentioned that I LOVE Classic Hollywood films; she responded, “Me, too! I love films from the ‘80s and ‘90s.” Chuckling internally—and feeling a bit old—I went to explain that the films I was talking about were made in the ‘40s-‘60s. This got me thinking about how so many great films have not been viewed because they are considered old and parents think their children being raised in the high-tech age would not enjoy them. Here are a few films I think will change your mind. I even made sure to pick films in color, so you can take baby steps to introduce kids or even adults who have missed out on these treasures.
THE COURT JESTER
Directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama
Starring: Danny Kaye, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, and Glynis Johns
In 12th century England, the infant king is usurped by the wicked King Roderick. Black Fox and his band attempt to restore the rightful king to the throne by having a member of their group infiltrate the court by posing as the jester. Danny Kaye, playing the jester, is at his comedic best. The supporting cast is really who’s who in character actors of the day and they all come together for a hilarious adventure that will have the family rolling in their seats.
SINGING IN THE RAIN
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor
A group of actors who have only done silent films before are caught in the very bumpy transition to talking pictures. Don’t shy away because this is a musical, remember Disney Animations are musicals, so your kids are used to people breaking out in song. Gene Kelly’s and Donald O’Connor’s physical dancing, using props and comedic style, will have you jumping out of your seats to join them in dancing—that is, if you’re not laughing too hard. Here’s a fun fact to share: they used diluted milk in the famous “Singing in the Rain” scene so the camera would pick up the raindrops better. Yeah, I felt kinda bad for Gene after hearing about that.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley
Starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, and Olivia de Havilland
Rebel outlaw Robin Hood outwits the Sheriff of Nottingham and saves the throne for the absent King Richard I. This has something for everyone—action/adventure, comedy, a little bit of romance, and sword fights! This is the sword fighting film, the one that all the other films have tried to match but it was not until THE PRINCESS BRIDE (in my opinion) that another film achieved it. You do not want to miss this classic.