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Classic Movie Night!


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I'm new to the boards and would like to introduce myself. I'm a 45 year old husband and father (12 year old girl) who has been looking for an inexpensive, fun family activity that we could all enjoy on those rare "open" nights that we have each week. Our family reads alot and we watch the occasional movie, but the vast majority of what's on TV has little appeal. So our TV watching is usually limited to sports, competition shows (singing, dancing, etc) and shows like American Pickers. The current cinema offerings now tend to be increasingly inappropriate, not to mention costly and my wife has a much more limited range of interests that I (drama and romantic comedies only), so we almost never go to the movies together (just Lincoln last year and Oz as a family unit).


Jump to last week and I was flipping through the channels and came upon The Time Machine (1960). I had never seen it but was familiar with the creepy Morlocks, as I had a great interest in monster movies as a kid. I began watching it and my daughter came into the room and got interested too. We finished the movie together and she seemed to enjoy it. We discussed "old" movies for a while and decided we could try a few more.


We settled on having a weekly "Creature Feature" and a regular "Classic Movie Night" that my wife could join us in. That is where the awesomeness of TCM comes in. Great movies, great selection, no commercials and free (relatively speaking)! I did some research, warmed up the DVR and picked out a few films for our initial outings.


Our "Creature Feature" will start out with my DVD of the classic Frankenstein (1931). No better place to start IMO. We will follow that up next week with Bride of Frankenstein from TCM. My daughter is expecting them to be scary and it will be interesting to see what see thinks of them. She has never seen a pure horror movie of any kind before, but she handled the Morlocks well and should be fine!


Our first "Family" movie will be National Velvet from TCM. I know little about this movie other that Liz and Mickey are in it and it has a horse theme (bonus for my daughter). I'm looking forward to it tho! For next week I'm going with either Lassie Come Home (animals are always a hit here) or His Girl Friday. I figure I can't go wrong!


Hopefully this will be the beginning of a great new family tradition that we can enjoy together (thank you TCM). I also hope to come back and let you know how it goes and what selections we will consider next! Exciting!!!!


Thanks for listening!


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Mr. ape (? from the planet of?) - it's nice that you have discovered the wonders of Turner Classic Movies, and that you plan to continue to discover its fine offerings along with your family.


And there's no question that TCM does air a lot of movies that would be good to watch with your kids. In fact, it even features a "kids' " program on Sunday afternoons in the summer, with films hand-picked and introduced by interesting people who like both movies and children. (Currently it's Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader, who does a fine job...)


However, I would encourage you to check in advance what's playing. This is easy enough to do by going on to TCM's schedule, which gives the progamming for the day, along with what's planned for the entire month.


This would be a better plan than simply turning on the station at random, kids in tow. The reason I recommend finding out ahead of time what's playing is that TCM is not a "family station".

By that I mean, while it often broadcasts movies that are appropriate for families to watch- parents and children - it is not part of its mandate or "mission".

People have complained in the past about tuning in to this station with their young children or grandchildren, only to be embarrassed, disappointed, shocked, or angered, by a film that may be most definitely NOT suitable for juvenile viewers.

You can't take it for granted that everything TCM airs is "family friendly". And I'm happy it isn't, there are many great, good, and entertaining films that I would never want a child to watch, that are aired on this station.

So, yeah, go with your family viewing plan, it sounds like a wonderful way to introduce your kids to "classic" movies. Just be aware that not everything TCM airs is for children - as I say, check the schedule ahead of time.


Edited by: misswonderly on Oct 4, 2013 2:10 PM

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Welcome to the boards "dirtyape" , curious as to how you picked that name? As Misswonderly just said, your best bet is to check out the monthly schedule and make a few notes as to what to potentially watch. Hopefully you can record, some of the films you may find most attractive may be on at bad times (like 3:30 am on Thursday morning). With your 12 year old daughter , you have to be the judge as to what she will enjoy watching, or what you may consider appropriate for her. I'd like to think that most of the older films are "safe" because of the code standards that they had to meet, but they can still be very adult in the subject matter. *The Time Machine* was a fascinating sci fi type of film in its day and still plays very well today. And its nothing of concern for kid viewing in my opinion. *His Girl Friday* is a great 30's screwball comedy and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them ( *My Man Godfrey* is my personal favorite). And keep an eye out for any of the William Powell / Myrna Loy Thin Man films. Everyone should like those.

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It has been mentioned several times that TCM generally airs films with salty language or generous showing of skin in the hours from midnight to 6AM. These are Eastern time zone times, so if you live in tha Pacific time zone, you need to be more vigilant if your kids stay up later than 9PM.

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Thanks everyone for the kind words of welcome!


My name did indeed come from Planet of the Apes, minus the curse adjective! I tried "Brighteyes" and "Orca" from another of my favorite movies (Jaws) but they were taken.


As far as my movie selections go, I was planning to do just what you folks have kindly suggested. I've scoured google and imdb for the most respected and highest rated films and red-lined the questionable ones. I have gravitated toward the family-oriented picks, but might throw in something more meatier from time to time to test the waters. When a good one shows up on the TCM schedule, I'll record it on the DVR and we can watch it at our leisure. No chance of sitting down and dropping into anything mind-blowing that way. If I have any doubts, I'll just come here and ask. Suggestions are always welcome (the Thin Man is on my list)!


My daughter hasn't been exposed to anything much worse than the Avengers, The Life of Pi or Frankenweenie. I'll try to pay close attention to her reactions to the films we watch and adjust accordingly. Entertained and occasionally challenged is what I think I'll strive for. Doing the research and prep work is half the fun!


Edited by: dirtyape on Oct 4, 2013 6:10 PM

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I wouldn't recommend His Girl Friday for a 12 year old. They talk so fast in the movie it is difficult for adults to understand all that is going on, plus there are many jokes and gags that might be difficult for her to understand. Add to this the suicide scene (not played for laughs), and I would save that movie until she was a few more years older.


I recommend The Adventures of Robin Hood. This movie looks as good as a modern movie on a large screen TV. The color is fantastic and the story is something a 12 year old would find interesting.

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Thanks for your input, James. I have read about the machine-gun dialogue and the callousness of the characters. In fact, it was just on and I took a sneak peek. I could see the movie going right over my kid's head. Heck, it was going right over my head with all the slang! I'll never judge a movie based on a clip, but I think I'll save His Girl Friday for another day. Lassie Come Home will be next for us. And The Adventures of Robin Hood is on my must-see list!


I see that Grapes of Wrath (1940) is on the schedule in a few weeks. Heavy material but the reviews seem to agree that the movie is much lighter than the book. I think it would be good for my daughter to get some historical perspective on life during that time period. Opinions?

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>I see that Grapes of Wrath (1940) is on the schedule in a few weeks. Heavy material but the reviews seem to agree that the movie is much lighter than the book. I think it would be good for my daughter to get some historical perspective on life during that time period. Opinions?


I think this would be a good historical type movie for her to see. I'm 70 years old and I used to hear my parents and grandparents tell stories about rural life on farms during the Depression years of the 1930s.


Seems that people who were able to keep their small farms suffered too becuase the price of food crops went down since so many people were out of work in the US and couldn't afford to buy much food. So even the Depression in the East and the big cities affected the price of farm-grown food all over the country, and a lot of people had to make do with old clothes and farm equipment, and still plowed fields by hand with mules rather than with tractors.


So what happens to the families in this movie is an accurate story of what it was like for those who moved out to California - thousands of them - to try to make money working on the farms out there.


If any of your folks ever worked on farms, even way back in the 19th Century, this story tells about early rural Americans struggling to survive in this country.

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Four words here, dirtyape: "Singin' in the Rain". Especially if your daughter likes music and dancing to any degree.


(...and besides, I think at 12 years old, she's ready to watch THE greatest Hollywood Musical of all time, wouldn't ya say?!...not to mention one filled with so much great comedy to be enjoyed at the same time) ;)

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Pleased to meet you, you dirtyape.

I seriously evaluated every movie that I showed to my children on VHS and Laser, and now my grandchildren on DVD and Blu. My boys love adventure films like "The Crimson Pirate", "The Magnificent Seven" "Gunga Din" and "The Time Machine" while my girls adore "Annie", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and the original "The Parent Trap".

One type of movie that had/has them all demanding to screen are the works of Ray Harryhausen. You just can't go wrong with "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and it's sequels or the original "Jason and the Argonauts"

I'm curious, have you screened "Planet of the Apes" as a family yet? I'm assuming "Jaws" is a year or two down the road.

At any rate, family movie night has been a regular staple in this family for over thirty years. It's a great way of sharing experiences and opinions. My adult children still fondly remember those days and you can't believe how much fun it is with our new generation.

So pass the popcorn and turn out the lights.

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Re: Grapes of Wrath - Thanks for the background info, Fred! I think we will definatley try this classic. My dad was born in 1935, and while he was too young to remember much about the Depression, my grandfather had lots of tales. He owned a farm, but also worked at a local mill when he could. I really need to talk to my dad about those days and log those stories before it's too late! An added bonus - my wife read the book in high school and "loved it".


Re: Singin' in the Rain - Seems everyone considers this the cream of the musical crop and the place to start. I've seen the classic title number many times, but never the movie itself. My wife and daughter should like it (my kid has taken dance classes since she was knee-high), but I don't know how I will like it. The musicals are the least interesting genre to me, but that is probably because I have seen so few.


Re: Gorch - Being a daddy's girl, my daughter is just as comfortable with pirates and ballplayers as she is with princesses and fuzzy animals. I'll keep an eye out for the movies you mentioned! And those Harryhausen movies are top favorites from my childhood! They are both currently on the TCM schedule and I have them highlighted!

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*National Velvet* (1944) - recorded from TCM on Sat. Oct 5


My family and I settled down last night for our first classic film screening and it went very well! We dimmed the lights, popped the popcorn (we burned one bag which stunk up the whole house), and I even arranged the furniture so we could all sit together in a row. I was happy to note that my daughter seemed very excited - it was "almost like going to the real movies!"


Here are some of our observations and thoughts on the movie - nothing approaching Film Studies 101, just layperson takes on some your favorite films. I hope the board will find it a little interesting or amusing!


(***Spoiler Alert*** - can you spoil a 60+ year old movie?)


None of us have any experience with this movie - we just knew what it was generally about and the two main stars. With that said, I was shocked at how young Mickey Rooney was. I knew Liz was just a kid in this, but for some strange reason I was expecting Mickey Rooney to look like I've always known him - old!


Our favorites characters were Mr. and Mrs. Brown (the parents) by far. I was most tuned-in when they were on the screen. The father was a hoot as the frustrated but reasonable patriarch and the stoic, supportive mother gave off a such a wonderful calming and confident vibe in every scene she was in. Their relationship with each other and their children was a joy to behold! There was no surprise here when at the end, the TCM host informed us of Anne Revere's Oscar. Never heard of her before, but we know her now.


I have to admit Liz irritated me a little bit. A little too thick with the starry-eyed dreamer stuff, but my kid ate it up! I was also expecting the horse to have a bigger role - more of a Hollywood animal personality, but there wasn't much done with the relationship between Velvet and the Pie. I guess the focus was on the relationship of Velvet and Rooney, which was fine with me.


The little brother (can't remember his name) was.. well, we didn't know what to make of him! I realize he was there as the funny Little Rascal type, but I kept waiting for someone to yell "Call the therapist... or the priest!".


My daughter became properly indignant when Velvet was disqualified for being a girl. The fact that everyone still recognized and treated her as a champion set it straight a bit. (Technically, she was disqualified for fainting and falling off the horse at the end of the race, right? I was asked later about Velvet's propensity to faint, and I just told my kid to get used to it with these older movies.)


The movie was a little too long imo. Things bogged down a bit in the middle. Once we got close to the race tho, it clipped along nicely to the end. That race was something - how many jockeys and horses gave their lives for that scene?!!


Overall: I enjoyed it, mostly for the family interaction stuff and the awesome race at the end. I don?t think I would sit through it again anytime soon. My daughter liked it a lot, even rated it higher than Frankenstein (our creature feature this week). Odd because she has talked about Frankie a lot and has had little to say about Velvet, but I guess that makes some sense. My wife fell asleep halfway through, but woke up for the race and the extended wrap-up. She gave it a "I liked it, a lot.", which is in the 7-9 category for her. The Mrs. Brown character was her favorite and she had great things to say about the positive themes on family, trust, and dedication. Family Movie Night is a hit so far!!!


Next: Lassie Come Home (1943) - no way I can pass up what appears to be a well-regarded Lassie movie.


Edited by: dirtyape on Oct 7, 2013 10:04 AM


Edited by: dirtyape on Oct 7, 2013 10:08 AM


Edited by: dirtyape on Oct 7, 2013 10:11 AM - Ahh! - My punctuation marks are screwed up!


Edited by: dirtyape on Oct 7, 2013 10:15 AM - OK I think I got them all.

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*Lassie Come Home* (1943) - recorded from TCM Sunday Oct 6


A Technicolor Lassie does her version of "The Incredible Journey" through the English countryside to return to the boy she loves. Based on the book by Eric Knight.


A nice, safe pick for our second classic movie night. Hard to go wrong with emotional family animal dramas in my house. And everyone knows Lassie. Of course, my daughter knows about Lassie but has never seen a single movie or TV show featuring her. Now thanks to this movie, I'm quite sure to be getting regular requests for a Collie puppy for many months.


I found the cast to be very interesting. We have Cornelius himself playing the role of Lassie's young owner. I never knew Roddy McDowall started as a child actor and it was shocking to see him so young (much like Mickey Rooney was to me last week). And what do you know - Liz Taylor and Donald Crisp are in this movie too! In fact, Crisp plays almost the same kind-hearted father character. The man is typecast in our house now! What a nice bit of unexpected actor continuity for us.


Comments and Observations (Spoiler Alert):


OK - The parents sold Lassie for food money, but decided to let poor Roddy figure it out for himself when he got home from school. Watching his frantic search for his dog as the panic mounted and his folks silently watched definitely got the ladies in my house riled up. Not exactly a parenting textbook way of handling that situation! My daughter then ran us through a list of things that should have been sold before Lassie (pretty much everything else). I found fascinating the emotional avalanche that came from the mother in that scene. The initial nonchalance, followed by the angry guilt trip, then the manic glee that Lassie was gone, ending in tears of remorse over the loss of a beloved pet. You don't see that kind of dramatic display in kid movies now-a-days, unless it is for laughs. I appreciated it though, as I'm sure every child can relate to it. I know I've subjected mine to those kinds of regrettable responses more times than I would care to admit.


There was a nice variety of situations and characters that Lassie met up with. Many heartstrings were pulled. My wife squirmed a lot, as an animal in any kind of distress will tend to do that to her. The battle between the traveling merchant and the hobos was epic and surprisingly brutal. And poor little ewok-faced Toots! That was a low blow, movie!


The scenery was beautiful. Scotland never looked better. Oh, you say that wasn't Scotland? Nope! I looked it up. The movie was shot all over the US West Coast. So no Scotland, but it was still beautiful!


To avoid any lingering emotional angst - I proposed a post-script to the movie as the credits rolled. One each of Lassie's puppies was later given to the old couple and the traveling salesmen to ease their lonliness. Lassie would surely have seen to that.


Everyone enjoyed the movie, my wife in particular. "Best Movie Ever" from her, which puts it in the 9-10 range.


Next: We leave the comforts of animal-riddled family films and trepidatiously tread into black and white adventure territory. TCM is featuring Tyrone Power this month, so I have chosen the Mark of Zorro (1940), showing Oct 16 on TCM.

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My screening notes for Bride of Frankenstein are up on the Horror board if anyone is interested!


Quesion: Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" is coming soon on TCM. Does anyone recommend this for our family movie night? North by Northwest would be my prefered intro to Hitch, but I've never seen Lady and it sounds like it has some good humor to go with the suspense.

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*Mark of Zorro (1940)* dvr'd off of TCM of course.


Dandy Don Diego dons the dark costume of the dynamic Zorro and dedicates himself to the destruction of the dastardly dictator of Los Angeles.


After setting the scene with a quick pre-movie history lesson on California as a Spanish colony, a Mexican province and then an American state - we jumped right in. We did pause a few times in the first twenty minutes to clarify who everybody was and what they were doing - with all the Spanish titles and references flying about. My daughter pointed out how Don Diego would have had to sail around South America to have gotten to California. What took months in reality was shortened down to a few Hollywood seconds for us. That led to a nice conversation about the transcontinental railroad and Panama Canal after the movie.


Tyrone Power - the dude is just cool. Watching him schmooze along as the foppish Don Diego (we had to look up "fop") was actually more entertaining than watching the Zorro scenes. The guy even made dancing around in tights look cool. We all enjoyed the playful development of his romantic relationship with the beautiful Linda Darnell. I can see why he was such a popular leading man at the time.


Did someone actually jump a horse off that bridge? The stunts in these old movies really "Wow" you because you know they're real (and dangerous).


The actor who played the little greedy Don Luis Quintero (J.E. Bromberg) did a great job. It took awhile for my dd to realize that he was a bad guy because he was so pathetic and laughable. "Why is Zorro stealing his money and her necklace?"


No problem recognizing Basil Rathbone's character as a jerk. The swordfight showdown with Zorro was the highlight of the movie for us. Lightning fast and with just a slight hint that it had been sped up. They must have practiced that scene for hours.


I enjoyed the movie - more for the cute Don Diego stuff than for the action. Surprisingly, my wife and daughter loved it even more! My wife pretty much hates action movies and I was a little worried. I assured her that old movies don't have that quick-cutting sensory overload style that modern films do. That is what she doesn't like. The relative "slowness" of the classics suits her much better - and doesn't seem to bother my daughter at all. Awesome! Things look good for the Adventures of Robin Hood in November!


Next: We get real, ya'll. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) via TCM.

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Sorry I'm late to the party, dirtyape. Welcome to the boards. Have a 12 year old daughter, eh? As the Father of TWO daughters, I'm afraid to tell you your fun is just ABOUT to begin!


But enough scary stuff.


I'm reluctnant to suggest or advise anyone on which movie or television programming is suitable for their children. I've never put TOO many restrictions on my kids, just made sure I was there with them to remind them it's only a movie, and mostly things in "real life" don't happen that way. But that's me. I wouldn't presume to tell you something is OK for YOUR child to watch, as YOU might feel otherwise. All I could do is relate a particular occurance.


Back when MY oldest daughter was 12( she'll be 41 on the 28th. Eep!), we were watching the movie THE COMPETITION on that "newfangled" cable TV stuff, when a scene came on where Richard Dreyfus was rolling around naked on a bed with Amy Irving, My daughter threw her hands up in disgust saying, "Aw, man! It FIGURES! Just when you get into the story, they throw THIS crap in."


I figured I had nothing much to worry about. Maybe NONE of us had. Maybe what WE worried about being "suggestive" was seen by them as "annoying". But I can't speak for all kids based on how MINE reacted. Just another point of view, ape.


What's good about yopu having a 12 year old kid is that sometimes on this board, many of us have the tendency to BEHAVE worse than 12 year olds, and you'll know how to properly respond. ;)



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Hi Sepiatone!

Thanks for your feedback and advice! I totally agree with the importance of paying close attention to the things she's exposed to and "being there" to discuss real-life applications for those particularly sticky subjects. I have a near monopoly on that exposure now and I am finding that the classic movies are an excellent introduction to more adult themes (themes she is just starting to show a curiosity about). The classics are subtle in their suggestiveness, and seldom exploitative or overtly aggressive. Better to tap into such areas now in a softer, more clinical environment and prepare her for the eventual deluge that awaits outside (and is coming much too soon for daddy).


But that is all just an added bonus. The primary focus is on the fact that the movies are darn good movies and great entertainment that we can enjoy together!


I welcome anyone's recommendations andor caveats to particular films. It's all good info I can use. For example:

"Kids everywhere just love THE COMPETITION, especially the naked Richard Dreyfus bedroom scene!"

I might not share that opinion, but that is still something I can use! The only thing I would frown upon is "Your a horrible parent for showing her PSYCHO" or "Your a horrible parent for not showing her PSYCHO".


Lastly, my daughter still finds the kissing scenes to be "annoying". Enjoying it while I can!

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Hi, Sepiatone and Dirtyape:


We raised two boys and two girls all with very different personalities. We spent many hours watching movies and even as toddlers you could see their tastes, perceptions and potential problem areas. The only movies that were not allowed - no way, no how - were slasher movies. Even as young teens. Though I am sure they saw some at friends' homes.


Seriously, the only criteria was that they have something to offer. Good story, good acting, good music, thought provoking, or humor....We had no problem if the movie had some nudity, or some violence as long as there was a story. It has been our own experience if you don't make a major hoo-haa out of things, and are as honest as you can be..then kids don't have the need to try the forbidden, rebel in the areas you kept from them, etc. I don't know if it worked for others, but it did for us. All in all I have some pretty interesting nice kids. I'm not preaching, just that this worked for us.

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The most common mistake that most newer parents make is in underestimating the level of their kid's sophistication. Comedian Bill Engval does a bit about going into his 14 year old son's room to give him the "sex talk". He then goes on, "After a half an hour, I'm still in there, TAKING NOTES!".


Of course, the reason I'm reluctnant to offer any suggestions is that I don't know your child as well as you do. HER level of sophistication might not be as high as MY KIDS at that age. OR, it might be HIGHER.



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