Favorite Movies From 1950s to 1970s

I love movies, especially old movies. I think movies from different decades tend to be of different flavors. I’d break them down 1920s-1940s, 1950s-1970s, and 1980s on to today. I previously post 32 of my favorite movies from the 1980s on , I did the 1920s-1940s and now I’m back to the 1950s-1970s.

One of my DVD shelves
One of my DVD shelves

My List

The list is not in any particular order, but as I thought of them. I’ll finish the other decades another time. This is specifically focused on theatrical releases, no TV series, TV movies, miniseries, or straight to video releases were considered. I’m not giving full reviews of the movies, I’m just tossing out why they made my list.

They might not be the best movies and I certainly haven’t seen every movie, but this is my list of movies I could watch again and again.

What movies would be on your list?

Most Favorite Movies from 1950s-1970s

  1. Hot Lead, Cold Feet (1979) –  I moved this to the top of the list after I wrote it up because if you’re only going to watch one movie off this list you haven’t seen, this should be it. Anyone who is interested in acting (either as a performer or a fan) needs to watch this movie. This is not only a great western, but it is a masterpiece of acting. Jim Dale, who had an illustrious Broadway career and was narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks, makes a tour de force appearance as three separate characters. He plays a rich old man (Jasper Bloodshy) who faked his death to watch over his twin sons as they compete to see who will win his fortune. Eli Bloodshy is a missionary from Boston and Wild Billy Bloodshy is the worst of gunslingers in their namesake town of Bloodshy. Unlike most films where one actor plays twins, all three characters are completely different down to their expressions and body language. I don’t think you’d realize they were all the same guy if I didn’t tell you. Be sure to click on the TCM link above for clips to see what I mean. There is one spot where a canoe pretty obviously transforms into a kayak and back while it went over rapids and a couple of short green screens that could be better, but overall the technicality is nothing short of impressive too.
  2. Star Wars aka A New Hope (1977) is the only movie from this period I could name the year it was made off the top of my head. As I mentioned in the 1980s through present movies post, Return of the Jedi is by FAR my favorite one of the series, but the original has lots going for it too. I especially loved Princess Leia in this one, the relationship between Ben (Obi-Wan) and Luke, and the building of the friendship between Han and Luke. Additionally it was the FIRST time the franchise blew up a round, bigger than anything imagined before weapon. It might be getting repetitive now, but then it was a new idea.
    I’ll also mention that at this point I was a big Luke-Leia fan instead of a Han-Leia fan and the later reveal they were siblings really crushed me – seriously I remember where I was standing in our elementary art room when I found out.
  3. Guys and Dolls (1955) – I have recently found out that there is a group of movie buffs who think that Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra should have switched roles in this one which is inconceivable to me. Brando wasn’t the singer Sinatra was, but he was such a better actor and looked like a solid guy. He looked like someone who could bet which raindrop would be fastest down a window pane and still have respect with that crowd. I think Sinatra was perfect for Nathan Detroit in build and everything else. Nathan Detroit would definitely have been a possible outcome for Sinatra if the singing thing hadn’t worked out and is one of only two roles I’ve ever enjoyed him in (movies-TV-radio) so I can’t believe there are people who would want him out of it.
    It’s written in that marvelous world that only exists in the creative mind of Damon Runyon. Although it borrows from several of Runyon’s stories, the main core of the story comes from “The Idyll Of Miss Sarah Brown” where Sister Sarah of a Salvation Army type organization unknowingly wins Skye’s soul using crooked dice. The main storyline of the movie is that a man goes from thinking a “doll is a doll” to knowing there’s only one in the world for him even if he has to reorganize all of his life to have her. It’s just a beautiful story, set to lovely music that convinces you it could really happen. Sister Sarah is one of the roles I’d do in play if I had 3 wishes. Walking over dreamily – SLAP! and Skye knowing the Bible better than her. 🙂 My grandmother used to sing “Bushel and a Peck”  to me when I was little. It’s in the stage show, but was replaced by the inferior (in my never humble opinion) “Pet Me Poppa” in the movie.
  4. The Parent Trap (1961) – This is one of my all time favorite movies. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. I love all three parts of the movie. Between the fun of making one actress play two roles, the kids pulling a scheme to get their family back together, and how they submarined Vicki from the beginning to the end, it’s just perfect. I try to watch it every year on my birthday – that’s nothing to do with the story just that I consider it a treat. I may OR may not have bought a photo of Hayley Mills as each twin so I could have them in a hinged picture frame. I may OR may not have bought a laser disk even though I didn’t have a laser disk player. The only thing I like about the Lindsey Lohan remake is that “Vicki” has a small role as the mother of Meredith who takes the position in the story that Vicki has in the Haley Mills version. They kind of give a wink that she’s the same Vicki from the original, but if that’s so she must have amnesia as she doesn’t find anything familiar about the set up. Although it could have been REALLY cool if she was Vicki and DID remember and wanted revenge – oh, what might have been…If you look at the TV special sequels to the original only bother with Parent Trap IV where they finally figured out it took more than twins swapping places to really make a similar type of movie.
  5. My Fair Lady (1964) – I always say there are two different types of musicals. In one music just naturally arises as part of the story and the world. This is the other kind. I discussed my concept of the two types when I reviewed the play Anne and Gilbert. This is the kind of musical that is like an abstract artwork. It’s not suppose to accurately represent life, but an exaggeration. My Fair Lady is the perfect representation of this type of musical and it’s the one I use to explain my theory. ♪♫♪ “I could have danced all night.” ♫♪♫
  6. The Music Man (1962) – ♪♫♪ “He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s a Music Man.” ♫♪♫ The Music Man is the perfect representation of the kind of musical where the music just starts as you listen to a train, as you are talking about your hometown, or as you’re are convincing someone about a dream. That rarely happens in life, especially now days, but The Music Man convinces you that it can. On top of that this brilliant musical by Iowa native son and musical genius Meredith Willson, gives you a detailed peek about life in a large town at the turn of the 19th century. Pay close attention and see how many details you can catch. Where did they say the pest house is in town? Do you know what a pest house is? 🙂 And did you catch where two songs are really one? If you don’t know, you’ll stand out like a button hook in the well water. PLUS one of the characters is a super cool librarian in a pretty convincing Carnegie style library.
  7. Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) – I absolutely love James Garner. He’s on my short list of people I’d pay to hear read the phone book, but he’s a wonderful actor too. I think this is about his best comedic performance as he comes into a wild town and becomes sheriff. He confounds everyone’s expectations and tames the town. Favorite bits are when the female lead strips to her underwear (it’s long johns don’t worry), dumps a bucket of water over her hair, and climbs a tree, the jail without bars, and sticking your finger in the end of my gun. If you haven’t watched the movie, rush out and do so now. Watching it recently I’d forgotten about the bit with Madame Orr’s house so you might want to watch it to judge for yourself before you show your kids if they are too little, but it’s by implication and not explicit. There is also a sequel to the side where James Garner plays a similar character with the majority of the supporting cast returning in other roles called Support Your Local Gunfighter, but while it’s worth watching once, it’s a much weaker film.
  8. Move Over Darling (1963) -This is a James Garner/Doris Day film, but sadly I don’t think it really lives up to that casting. It’s a remake of My Favorite Wife which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunn and the story makes a lot more sense set in the 1940s period of that film rather than the 1960s. The wife half of a happily married couple was traveling by ship when it went down and she’s lost at sea. The husband and their 2 children think she’s dead, but she’s alive on a desert island. She is rescued… just as the husband intends to be married to a new bride which is a shock, but not as much of a shock as the fact that she wasn’t on the island alone…. Like I said I like the earlier version much better as a whole, but this makes the list for some of the dialogue. The dialogue is better in this version all through it and see my previous comment about Garner and the phone book. Check out:
    “She’s a bride not a wife.”
    “What’s the difference?”
    “A honeymoon.”
    AND my favorite “What if she comes back like Irene Dunn done?”  I just love to say that to myself when I need a laugh “like Irene Dunn done”. Gets me every time.
  9. Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) – I’ve mentioned I love westerns and this is a good one. People tend to either love Disney movies because they are optimistic and sentimental or they hate them… because they are optimistic and sentimental. I fall into the former group which you can tell from the rest of the post. In this story Bill Bixsby (who doesn’t love Bill Bixsby?) is a good guy who has gotten on the wrong track in life. He’s a professional gambler and they imply he’s something of a womanizer. He gets tricked into agreeing to take care of three children for an undetermined amount of time. He tries to push them off on anybody else, but he does his best to take care of the kids while he’s responsible for them. The kids soon decide they want Donovan (Bixsby) for keeps. Unfortunately they get into trouble over and over while trying to get the gold their late father always told them was in the mine they inherited. Dusty, the tomboy of a stagedriver, slowly develops a romantic relationship with Donovan. Meanwhile someone had the genius idea to pair two of the best physical comedians of all time Tim Conway and Don Knotts as an incompetent pair of outlaws in the main supporting roles. I can’t do justice in words to describe their brilliance. You have to watch this one. Clovis, the middle kid, doesn’t like to be touched so when anyone even pats him on the back or the head he kicks them in the shins – HARD. His older brother always explains “Clovis don’t like to be touched.” Surprisingly that’s become a very useful and commonly used expression in our family.
  10. Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) – This is more of a sequel on the side since the only returning characters are Amos and Theodore (Conway and Knotts) and this time they are the A story of the movie and the romantic plotline is the B story. They are wrongly accused of bank robbery. They end up with the loot by mistake and in their attempt to return it they accidentally take out the sheriff (knock him over and seriously injure him). He chases them until they wind up at an army post, but can even the army out last the Apple Dumpling Gang? The romantic storyline involves a spy, the army, and a gang that hides in a prison. “He loves you…I hear it in his voice every time he says Miss Gaskell.” Sigh. This is a great movie to start your kids on westerns if they don’t know much about them. It has outlaws, marshals, the cavalry, a bank robbery, a train robbery, a small Native American attack which they are shown completely justified in, etc. all the basic parts to show them how westerns work. And Conway and Knotts are still two of the best physical comedians of all time. Why haven’t you watched this yet?
  11. Pollyanna (1960) – This novel/movie gets a bad rap. Everyone says “don’t be a Pollyanna” when all the character does is say make the best of a bad situation because that’s the only thing that will make it better. It had effects all across the country. There were even real life clubs promoting that philosophy after the novel was published. I don’t see why people are so cruel to this character in pop culture. This particular movie version stars Haley Mills as Pollyana, Jane Wyman as her aunt, and Kevin Corcoran as the younger brother type he plays in almost every 1960s Disney movie as her friend. It’s a lovely movie. Pollyana wins over everyone in town, let her win you over too. Remember to think about WHY you’re doing something. (Avoid the much later Masterpiece Theater production like the plague. It’s like they set out to see just how bad a movie they could possibly make.)
  12. The Love Bug (1968) – One name – Herbie. To young people in the second half of the 20th century that would bring up the image of a Volkswagen bug with a slightly off center red and blue racing strip and the number of 53. Herbie was a very special car. He didn’t talk, but was clearly a sentient being. He could do impossible things, drive places he shouldn’t be able to, drive by himself, open doors and squirt people with oil at will. Can Herbie take his driver Jim to the winner’s circle? Will Jim redeem himself? Will they create a family? It stars Dean Jones, Michelle Lee, and Buddy Hackett. They did three more Herbie movies with different casts, but this is the best by far. The second, Herbie Rides Again is the best of the three sequel films and is headed up by Helen Hayes. They’ve tried to reboot it a couple of times. The best reboot was the short run TV series version with Dean Jones returning as Herbie’s human back in 1982. However, the later version introduced on The Wonderful World of Disney by Michael Eisner is worth seeing just for his hilarious introduction (Fair warning, not every car painted like Herbie IS Herbie and some belong to wealthy sheikhs).
  13. Pillow Talk (1959) – Pillow Talk is by far the best of three films that starred the trio of Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and Tony Randall. Randall is a comic genius and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s just a wonderful comic talent which he shows here being a third person in a romantic movie. The movie doesn’t make sense unless you know about this situation in the development of telephones. Originally a neighborhood shared a telephone line and anybody on the line could listen when you talked and only one phone on the line could call out at a time. Next they streamlined it down to sharing a line between two homes. That meant that either household can hear the other when they use the phone and only one of you could call at any given time. For some reason – and honestly I still don’t understand why – the two houses or apartments sharing the line didn’t have to be very geographically close. When I was a very little kid my great-grandmother still had a party line. They still called them party lines even if there was just 2 of you. That’s why their phones work the way they do which is key to the plot.
  14. Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) – It’s a musical starring Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews. Right there you know it’s a winner, but I must admit some people don’t understand the joke and take offense. It’s a satire of the 1920s and a commentary on how 1960s pop culture reflected it in a world were memories of the 1920s were a lot more complete than today. Unfortunately some people seem to miss the satire part and assume that they should take the blatant racial and gender stereotypes seriously or as if the film were advocating them. No. They’re saying how terrible they are. They are winking at you as obviously as they possibly can. Open your eyes, see the joke, and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. ♪♫♪ “Tap-Tap-Tap – TTTTAAAPPP – Tapioca!”♫♪♫
  15. Sound of Music (1965) – Much like a Olivia de Haviland/Eryol Flynn movie, this one shows you history like you wish it was instead of how it was. (Just as a big visual example, those mountains they climb in the end? In real life they lead you straight into Germany pretty close to Hitler’s summerhouse, not Switzerland.) It’s a beautiful fantasy though with a family drama in the first half and a Nazi escape movie in the second half. These songs are some of the best known in the world. Enjoy the fantasy and the songs for what they are and check out books for the real story. Some fun facts. It was mostly filmed on location and you can tour the locations today. The original puppets from the goat-herder scene are in a museum in Mason City, Iowa. The Von Trapp family didn’t make a dime off the movie directly. Maria wrote a book and sold the movie rights for a pittance in Europe. The buyers then resold them in Hollywood as a major movie for a fat price. The family instead earned their living by singing (a life that was a lot more brutal than it sounds – seriously read the books) and ended up creating a ski resort in Vermont.
  16. Oklahoma! (1955) – Oklahoma is my mother’s favorite musical. It is also a love song to the Midwest and the Great Plains. It’s famous for revitalizing the American musical and its creativity by including a ballet section in the middle among other things. While I think this ballet segment is probably more like the kind of thing people actually dream (where someone doesn’t look like someone you know, but you know that’s who they are) than any other dream depiction on film, personally I still don’t overly care for the ballet and think it could have easily been clipped with Laurie waking up with a shudder saying Curly to find Jud standing over her and gotten the same point across. The music is about the best in any musical though, even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’ll want the soundtrack.
  17. Bye, Bye Birdie (1963) – My mother says she’ll never watch a high school production of Bye, Bye Birdie again. It’s an extremely funny show, but you have to be up on 1960s pop culture to get about 80% of the jokes/references. For example, there is a riff on “Promise her anything, but give her Arpege” – which is a perfume. Honestly I didn’t get it the first time either, but I got enough of the other jokes to realize this must be another one so I looked it up. In a clear sign the movie is going to be hilarious both Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde have major roles. The story is loosely based on the fact Elvis Presley was drafted into the army and the bobby soxer’s habit of going so nuts, screaming, and fainting at the sight of their idol. Bobby soxers were young teen fans who wore bobby sox (think anklet length sweat sox) over their nylons as was in fashion then. My brother took the comedy crown in our high school production as the absolutely unmovable bartender that Rose tries to flirt her way into going bad. My grandmother put my name in to the bridge tune “I love you, Conrad” and would sing the chorus to me all the time. For a funny, sentimental journey, wave goodbye to Conrad Birdie.
  18. Sting (1973) – ♪♫♪”Now the curtain is going up, the entertainer is talking his bow, does his dance step and sings his song, even gets all his audience to sing along.” ♫♪♫ That, as an instrumental, is the theme song. It is about a sting, or a con, and a big con at that involving tons of people. Now that big a con isn’t all that new an idea, you’ve seen them on TV shows like Maverick and Alias Smith and Jones, but this is known as the biggest con in the movies. The relationship between Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) and Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) was important too, but I think what people come back for is the con itself, its 1930s setting, and the theme music. People just LOVE that theme. They don’t sing the words in the show, but I loved it so much I learned both the words and how to play it on the piano.
  19. Charade (1963) – This is one of the last times that Cary Grant appears as a Gary Grant type character the ultimate cool, suave, debonair gentleman in a suit. He is pared with the also iconic, but much younger Aubrey Hepburn. Grant himself said it was ridiculous for him to chase after such a young girl, so he had them set up the movie so she chased after him. It’s a movie where you don’t really know what’s happening until we get to the end. Audrey Hepburn is trying to figure out what’s going on after her older husband has died and mysterious things keep happening. Who is the good guy? Does Cary Grant want to kiss her or kill her?
  20. Son of Paleface (1952) – It’s a sequel to Paleface (1948). The story isn’t as good as in the original movie and they really don’t use that first movie as a reference to what the father (played as a ghost by Hope) was like, but it’s flat out funnier including Roy Rogers and Trigger in their most humorous roles. But the real star is Bob Hope playing another version of his usual movie character, warm-hearted, yellow clear through, and always with an elaborate plan to get out of trouble – which usually doesn’t work, but things work out an well anyway and he’s such a lovable mug. Honestly you’ll laugh your way through this one. Plus there are jokes I can tell are there that I don’t get about Harvard-Yale culture so it’s even funnier than I know.
  21. Lemon Drop Kid (1951) – This is one of our favorite Christmas movies although you can enjoy it any time of year. It’s based on the Damon Runyon story which means it takes place in his unique world along with such films as Little Miss Marker or the Hope version Sorrowful Jones or Guys and Dolls. In this one Hope plays a tout (someone who gets someone to change which horse they are betting on so they’ll give them part of their winnings if they win). He touts the wrong guy and comes up with a plot to raise the money to pay the mobster back. He gets the help of everyone on Broadway by claiming to raise money for Nellie Thursday, an old doll who had helped out everyone at some time. His plot to keep the money for himself is uncovered, but when someone else takes the money will Hope make it right and will Hope himself be opened before Christmas? The year before the movie was released a song from it was released in a cover by Bing Crosby, Silver Bells, and it was immediately a huge hit. So they went back and expanded the Silver Bells sequence in the movie. It’s a darling – if very stereotypical – take on ethnic city life as a back drop for one of my favorite Christmas songs.
  22. White Christmas (1954) – This was originally intended to be a follow up of Holiday Inn. I’m not sure how they could rework the plot for the characters in the original to be the same, but it was supposed to be a re-teaming of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. For some reason Astaire couldn’t do it and ultimately Danny Kaye took up the second male lead. Frankly I think that is all for the best because while Astaire is a better dancer, Kaye is overall a better actor and definitely is more at home in the role of the genial, pushing, pluser than Astaire would have been. It very cleverly plays on the words to White Christmas which was the break out hit of Holiday Inn. Part of the plot involves a ski lodge that isn’t going to make it if it doesn’t snow by the end of the season so they are “dreaming of a white Christmas.” I also want to stress that the song “White Christmas” was actually introduced in Holiday Inn and they just build this movie on the established song. I won an argument onetime over that once. Don’t mess with me on movie musicals.
  23. Bells Are Ringing (1960) – This musical was written for Judy Holiday and it makes full use of both her talents and the fact that as it was never intended for the stage so it could be expansive in its sets. It centers around Sus-Answer-Phone (pronounced with the “an” being in both Susan and Answer) a phone answering service where people answer your phone for you while you are out. Judy Holiday’s character gives out love and kindness to all kinds of clients and people she bumps into everyday, but is afraid to reach out to the guy she’s fallen in love with over the phone. Add in songs based on living life to the fullest and her insecurity and you’ve got a great time. It also has a very clever “simple little system” involving illegal betting and a connection of “The Midas Touch.” There’s a venerable who’s who of the best of classic television in supporting roles. “Hello, Sus-Answer-Phone. It’s for you!”
  24. Hello, Dolly (1969) – ♪♫♪”Well, Hello Dolly!” ♪♫♪ Frankly there is way too much plot to fully summarize for the movie which is partly a con for Dolly to get the man she picked out for herself from the ranks of her match making service and partly it’s about a bunch of people picking today to go after their dreams in a lot of complicated ways. However, it’s the music that’s the main thing we are there for and every single song in this is top notch. You have to be familiar with musical comedy acting to really appreciate the performances, but if you enjoy the jokes, “the laughs, the sweetness, and the sorrows” you’ll enjoy this show.
  25. Sleeping Beauty (1959) – Sleeping Beauty was produced while Walt Disney was alive, but he had moved his focus on to Disneyland and he wasn’t too pleased with the results when Sleeping Beauty was finished. The castle in Disneyland was originally supposed to be Snow White’s Castle, but they changed it to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in an early act of synergy since the movie was coming out. (The Castle in Walt Disney World is Cinderella’s.) Walt was disappointed in Sleeping Beauty because he didn’t feel it did anything to stretch animation in a new direction and so seemed derivative. Interestingly Sleeping Beauty was kind of another go at Snow White. A lot of stuff that was cut from the original Snow White storyboard, for example the longer romantically humorous interaction between the prince and princess at the beginning and the prince being held captive and having to fight his way out, were used here now that animation techniques had caught up to make a more convincing looking prince. Personally I like Sleeping Beauty because until Prince Eric of The Little Mermaid, Prince Phillip had the most to do and fight to get his lady love and you have to love him. Aurora was also a very sweet princess and the three good fairies were loads of fun. If you’ve never seen Sleeping Beauty then SKOL!
  26. Unidentified Flying Oddball (1979) – This is a Disney movie you probably haven’t heard of, but it is a combination of several of my favorite things including Disney, actor Jim Dale (see Hot Lead, Cold Feet at the top of this list), actor Dennis Dugan (TV show Shadow Chasers and a stand out episode of MASH), twin swap plots, the space shuttle, AND Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court which I’m a little obsessed with. So you can see there is just too much goodness going on in this movie for me to describe so just hunt it up and go see Disney make our favorite Connecticut Yankee with a NASA robot.
  27. Pete’s Dragon (1977) – SO much better than the remake, this version had the always amazing Mickey Rooney and Jim Dale, pretty fun special effects for the time, a beautiful love song ♪♫♪”I’ll Be Your Candle On the Water,”♪♫♪ the stick in your head hummable ♫♪♫”I Love You Too,” and a ton more heart than the CGI heavy remake. SOOOO much better than the remake.
  28. Magnificent Obsession (1952) – My only complaint with this great Jane Wyman/Rock Hudson film is that I still haven’t figured out what they meant by the two times they talk about how was he was using it all up. A young man’s hedonistic risking death lifestyle (in response to his parents’s deaths) led to an accident. The local doctor sent a medical instrument on to revive him, not knowing he would soon be needing it himself. The doctor dies and seeing the doctor’s widow Rock Hudson’s character falls instantly in love, but in chasing after her he inadvertently caused an accident that takes her eye-sight. Determined to stay with her and make it up to her, he befriends her without her knowing who he is. She teaches him her late husband’s philosophy. By the time Jane Wyman’s character realizes who he is, she’s in love with him, too. Rather than be a burden to him, she takes off. Unable to find her he returns to medical school to balance the scales from having hurt her and taken her husband’s life. He espouses her husband’s philosophy and runs himself into the ground doing good. When he finally discovers her again the problem that caused her blindness has shifted and will now take her life unless he operates on her. Will he be able to do it and will it finally let him pay that old debt? Just as a note this movie is where I learned to tie false knots which is a fun finger fiddling thing to do.
  29. Swiss Family Robinson (1960) is just marvelous all the way around, whether it’s the book, the movie, or the walk through attraction at Walt Disney World. This movie is no exception. A family of immigrants survives a shipwreck after the ship’s crew abandoned ship. They scavenge everything they can and work together to create a tree house complete with running water. After many island adventures they are attacked by pirates. Will they be able to think their way out and survive? If they do, how will they move forward with three sons and only one unrelated girl?
  30. Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968) is an amazing movie that was the last live action film Walt Disney oversaw himself. A stellar cast of leads and supporting characters careen through a combination adventure and romp. The new track coach in town accidentally casts a spell to bring to his eyes and ears one who lives in limbo — Blackbeard’s Ghost. Blackbeard’s been stuck in this world since he died and can’t pass over. No one else can see him, but he can move things and even get drunk which leads to some great ghostly escapades until the coach and the ghost team up to save a group of old ladies from a mobster’s evil scheme. Fun Fact: The spell to bring to your eyes and ears one who dwells in limbo is also featured in the book in The Haunted Mansion seance scene.
    ♪♪♫ Come cheer up my lads, it’s to glory we steer….♪♫♪
  31. Mary Poppins (1964) What can you say about one of the all time great movies? It takes a children’s classic book and makes it so much better. SO MUCH BETTER than the book, only a handful of movies can say that. It’s got a good drama storyline, great comedic licks, and amazing music. It was the very first pre-recorded VHS tape we owned so for awhile we watched every single weekend and even after all of that, it still holds up. (I should mention that for people who actually know British accents well, Dick Van Dyke’s cockney is painful, but I love it.)
  32. Peter Pan (1953) is the inspiration for Peter Pan’s Flight, my very favorite ride at Walt Disney World. How do you explain the sheer joy of the boy who never grew up to someone who has never flown over Never Never Land in a golden pirate ship over a mermaid lagoon underneath a magic moon? Also, Tiger Lily rocks! I honestly don’t understand why she doesn’t get more traction as one of the Disney princesses. I mean if your choice was to be Wendy, Tinkerbelle, or Tiger Lily which would you choose? I mean is there any question? (Tiger Lily)
  33. Candleshoe (1977) is one of the most underrated movies on here. It has an amazing cast including Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, and David Nivens. Part small r romantic romp/caper, part dramatic mystery where someone ends up in the hospital or maybe worse. It’s a treasure map scavenger hunt set against a young girl learning the real meaning of family. It’s just a great movie where we learn “the paths of glory lead but to the grave….”
  34. North by Northwest (1959) – I’d heard about this film for a long time before I actually saw it (on the big screen thanks TCM!). Besides having Cary Grant at his Cary Grantiest it does a great job of taking an outrageous situation and making each part of it seem at that moment perfectly reasonable. They did an excellent job (except for scale) in recreating Mt. Rushmore and many other places (without the scale issue). They even filmed bits where it was illegal to film. The set ups in this movie have inspired many, many others so you need to see it at least once. My biggest problem was with the end where they quite literally leave you hanging.
  35. Court Jester (1956) – After White Christmas this is my very favorite Danny Kaye film. In a King Arthur like world he’s tasked with helping to overthrow an evil ruler and restore the rightful monarchy. There’s lots of broad humor from the fact that he’s very easily hypnotized and falls in and out of the spell at the wrong moment every time. This is Danny Kaye so of course there is physical comedy, but there is also clever word play with “vessel with the pestle/chalice from the palace/flagon with the dragon/brew that is true” having somehow taken on a life of its own – even though I bet most people couldn’t tell you what film it was from. I also love the sword play. Kaye worked very hard on his swordsmanship to be convincing he did so well that Basil Rathbone, who played the villain, couldn’t keep up with him in the fight scenes. The fencing master fought Kaye instead with them dropping in some shots of Rathbone drawing back looking pained. Once you realize that’s what’s going on it becomes the SECOND best movie sword fight ever (see The Princess Bride for the first one).
  36. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) – This movie is the happiest you’ll ever see Sean Connery. Set in Ireland it features a world where leprechauns, banshees, and the death coach are all too real. When a young man from out of town is brought in by the absentee English Lord who owns the town to take Darby’s job, Darby decides his best plan is to get the young man, who is kind, bright, and handsome, to marry his daughter thereby allowing them both to remain in the only home his daughter has ever known. (“Darby retired about 3 years ago, he just never bothered to tell me.”) Darby captures King Brian of the Little People and uses his 3 wishes to make his plan come true. The movie was amazingly shot with forced perspective for the little people instead of green screen so it still holds up perfectly. I don’t know how they ever did it. If you watch this you HAVE to pair it with the Disney show episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” where Walt himself travels to “Ireland” to learn about Irish culture and to arrange with King Brian of the Leprechauns to get real Leprechauns to play parts in his movie. Conveniently it comes on the same DVD.
  37. Barefoot Executive (1971) – Sneaking on to the list as an addition after I thought I was done is one more Disney film The Barefoot Executive. This is one of Kurt Russell’s films where he plays a likable young man who gets into trouble and has to figure his way out of it. In this case he discovers a chimp that can correctly predict which TV show will win every time slot. Instead of sharing this discovery, Russell’s character claims to be doing the predictions himself and parlays it to a high network job. It will make everyone who sees it suspect you have just found out how networks really select programs. His own idea is to make a TV show about the 3 most consistently popular topics, Abraham Lincoln, Doctors, and Dogs so the new show would be “Abraham Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog” which actually could have been kind of awesome.
  38. Follow Me Boys (1966) – You know what I just said about adding another Disney movie, well, ditto. This is a movie that always is getting me singing at odd times – the titular song “Follow Me, Boys!” is a great marching song – and the movie normally gets me crying at the end when I watch it which I recently did again. This is another Disney movie that’s kind of more like a collection of short stories about these characters than a novel, but it really is great fun, clever, and my only real complaint is that they didn’t film Kurt Russell when he was the right age so they could drop him in where the guy who SO is not Kurt Russell grown up taking over the character at the end.
  39. Annie Get Your Gun (1950) – Betty Hutton was second choice for lead in this movie, they’d actually started filming with Judy Garland who had to drop out. I think Hutton is a great choice. My only real problems with the whole movie is that periodically “Annie” drops her mouth open as she stares at “Frank Butler” who she eventually marries and that she eventually lets Butler win a shooting contest because he’d only marry her if she stroked his male ego, hardly a good message to preach. This is particularly bad in a movie that had literally written a song about how women were at least just as good if not better than men. It’s kind of annoying and not really in keeping with the rest of her can-do character. I’m thinking maybe the mouth thing was a holdover from how they had Garland do it. This is the movie that introduced ♪♪♫ “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” ♪♫♪ beloved by duetists everywhere. It’s full of heart-warming bits, glamour, and glitz although it is another version of history of how you wish it was and sadly a bit of how you wish it wasn’t. Some people might object to the portrayal of Native Americans in this film and while I get where they’re coming from I think even the worst critic would at least have to admit that Sitting Bull, a major character, is a fully developed character with both admirable qualities and foibles who takes charge and drives plot.
  40. Jet Pilot (1957) – This is my favorite John Wayne movie which is a little odd because it’s definitely not in his normal style. It’s the story of a top jet pilot (Wayne) who ends up helping a Russian woman pilot who defects. But what is she really up to? It’s got adventure, quick, clever banter, and romance. He’s risking his life that he’s not wrong about her. Is she worth the risk? Take a risk yourself and watch the movie.
  41. The Quiet Man (1952) – John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara two great actors make what is really a fairly quiet movie about respect. This is my third favorite movie set in Ireland, but it is what I think a lot of people think – or at least WANT – Ireland to be like. The film was shot in Ireland and the Quiet Man Cottage was really built. It’s currently in ruins, but there is a movement going to restore it. (What are my other two favorite Irish movies? Tied for number one are Darby O’Gill listed above and The Luck of the Irish – the one from the 1940s.)
  42. Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) – Submarine movies can be really cool as anyone who’s seen The Hunt for Red October can attest. Run Silent, Run Deep was another really cool story on a submarine chase, this one set during World War II. It’s Clark Gable cool.

Honorable Mentions and Why

Marty (1955) – Marty is a sad movie and Ernest Borgnine deserves every award he won for. Marty (Brognine) meets a girl. They are both kind of wallflowers that for various reasons have been sidelined by life. They meet and form a strong connection and mutual understanding, but she isn’t pretty or his religion and everyone in his life says she’s not good enough for him. Will Marty listen to everyone else or for the one important time in his life will he make his own decision? This one started out on the list above, but when I thought about how sad it is, I realized I wouldn’t want to watch it over and over again. Watch it once for the story, watch it once for admiring Brognine’s top notch acting, and only again after that if you want to cry your eyes out – again.

Alias Jesse James (1959) – It’s a Bob Hope movie. It’s hard to find a bad one even though a couple near the end of his studio run gave being bad a dang good try and depending on your willingness to overlook things maybe they succeeded at being terrible. This one is a pretty typical Bob Hope movie – where he basically always plays a similar character, swapping out names and professions to feed different jokes and a different girl. This time Hope is set up as a duplicate for Jesse James and gets the girl, which he doesn’t always. So this isn’t a bad movie, but nothing jumps out and says it’s special, except for the last gun fight at the end. Hope’s character can’t shoot straight to save his soul so other people show up to save him — pretty much every star of a western TV show at that time as their TV character even though they kill people in this which most of them never did on TV. If you don’t want to watch all of it look up the end online anyway.

Cold Turkey (1971) – is really a great dark comedy about a tobacco company that bet no entire town could go Cold Turkey from cigarettes for a month for a large cash reward. An Iowa town (the film was shot in Iowa) takes them up on it. Will they make it? What can the company do to stop them? It’s got a great cast including Bob Newhart and Dick Van Dyke. It’s also the reason that Terrace Hill became the Iowa Governor’s Mansion. With all that going for it I should really love it, but honestly I just don’t.

McClintock! (1963) – This one is on my list not because I have any great fondness for it, but because it’s one of my Mom’s top favorites. While it’s always great fun to see John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara “duke” (pun intended) it out, frankly I don’t think they treat each other very well in this particular movie and while I think she needed a good setting down SPOILER ALERT! having her stripped down to her underwear and be chased through the entire town was a bit much. I always worry about what people will do after the movie ends and while I see their marriage being much better from this point, I don’t see how she could hold her head up in town after that. Also the throwing his hat on the weather vane bothers me. First, I doubt he could really do it. Second, if he did, who had to shinny up on the roof and get it down because yesterday’s hat is never there? However, as I say, if you just love Wayne and O’Hara together this is a good one.

There You Have It

And there you have it. There’s my lists of the best movies from the 1950s thru the 1970s and 1980-the present. What films would be on yours?

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitter,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Favorite Movies From 1920s to 1940s

I love movies, especially old movies. I think movies from different decades tend to be of different flavors. I’d break them down 1920s-1940s, 1950s-1970s, and 1980s on.

It really isn’t fair to compare movies to previous decades’s movies, so here is my list of my favorite movies from 1920s to 1940s. They might not be the best movies and I certainly haven’t seen every movie, but this is my list of movies I could watch again and again.

DVDs on a shelf

My List

The list is not in any particular order, but as I thought of them. I’ll do the other decades another time. This is specifically focused on theatrical releases, no TV series, TV movies, miniseries, or straight to video releases were considered. I’m not giving full reviews of the movies, I’m just tossing out why they made my list. What movies would be on your list?

Most Favorite Movies from 1920s Thru 1940s

  1. Foreign Affair (1948) – I grew up watching a LOT of old movies. Every Saturday afternoon Public Television had a show Saturday Afternoon at the Bijou which showed all kinds of old movies AND there was a local TV station that played any video print it could find of a movie – licenses? they didn’t need no stinking licenses – and was in business several years showing all sorts of old movies before they got caught. As a result I’d seen quite a few movies whose name I couldn’t remember and had to search to find. This is one of them and it was worth the hunt. A female US Senator from Iowa (you’re supposed to cheer every time something refers to Iowa on this list) is there to investigate corruption in post-war, occupied Germany. A solider who had been lining his pockets with a black market racket starts out romancing her to keep her off the racket’s scent, but falls in love with her instead. That’s not going to sit with his crooked pals and the truth CAN hurt.
    FUN FACT: Iowa’s first female elected senator, Joni Ernst, was not elected until 2015. However, today Iowa’s main political leaders (consisting of governor, lt. gov, US senators and representatives) are completely gender balanced.
  2. Paleface (1948) – The sequel to Paleface, Son of Paleface, made my 1950s-1970s list and it’s the funnier movie. However, this is the better story. Calamity Jane is freed from jail on the understanding that she will uncover who is selling weapons to renegade Native Americans. When the agent that she’s supposed to pose as a couple with is killed she gets an unknowing Hope, who is Painless Potter the laughing gas using dentist, to take his place. This is one of the best outings of Hope’s studio template character and introduced Hope’s hit song “Buttons and Bows” which is a super fun bouncey song if you haven’t heard it and it won an Academy Award for best original song.
    FUN FACT: There really was a dentist known as Painless Parker who helped make common the use of laughing gas in dentistry. I’m sure that’s where they borrowed Painless Potter from.
  3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – In 1937 there wasn’t a bigger movie than Snow White. People didn’t believe that you could make a full movie length cartoon and make people care about the characters. At the star filled premiere, movie stars were truly moved by these cartoon characters. Snow White has always had my heart. She’s my favorite Disney princess — ever.
  4. Brewster’s Millions (1945) – The Brewster’s Millions story is one that the movies have revisited many times because it’s a great farce. A young man has a rich man leave him an unexpected windfall with a catch – in order to inherit all of it he has a short amount of time to SPEND (not give away) an outrageous amount of money and end up with nothing of value – he’s not allowed to tell anyone not his friends nor his girl why he’s suddenly crazily spending money. You see the rich man didn’t want to see all his money wasted and he figures going through this experience will cure the young man of ever wanting to waste a cent or really spend any money again. Although I really enjoy all the versions, I think this one is the best. I think we’re overdue for another remake, the last one was the Richard Pryor 1983 take which is by far the longest we’ve gone without another version. I’d also like to point out to anyone who thinks taking an established property and remaking it switching the gender of the lead role is any kind of accomplishment or even a new idea, Miss Brewster’s Millions (1926).
  5. The Thin Man series
    • The Thin Man (1934) – Nick and Nora Charles found their perfect screenwriters and couple for this wonderful movie. It has a very clever mystery, a big reveal at the end, great married banter, lots of funny stuff with one of cinema’s cutest dogs, and just about everything you need in a movie. I’ve seen this movie so much that I’ve lost count, but I’ve watched it on TCM at least 5 or 6 times alone. If you haven’t seen it yet, go forth and watch. I’ll wait.
      Let me point out that the “thin man” in the title is actually the critical clue in solving the mystery. They remember this in the next couple of movie titles and then give up since the public at large was convinced that Nick Charles was the Thin Man. Normally I just try to mention one movie in a series, but these are all worth inclusion in the list. The first two are definitely the best, still watch ALL of them.
    • After the Thin Man (1936) – They left NYC just after Christmas at the end of the first movie headed west. It takes a week, a week in movie time or two years in real life, they arrive back in California in time for New Year’s where Nora’s eccentric relatives have gotten themselves mixed up in a scandalous murder, Jimmy Stewart is cast against type, TV’s “Blondie” is the star of the nightclub show, and a funny line is only funny if you know that bank night was a promotion movie houses used during the Great Depression to get more people to come out by giving out prizes.
    • Another Thin Man (1939) – After the Thin Man ends with a reveal that Nora is pregnant. When this movie starts they’ve had the baby. This time they go to visit the man Nora’s father left in charge of her inheritance on a Long Island estate. He’s killed, but with so many people not really being who they say there are, can Nick figure out who done it? This also has Nick’s friends from the wrong side of the tracks hosting a baby birthday party for Nick Jr.
    • Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) – There is a push to break up a gambling racket. It all blows up when a jockey is killed. This is the one where Nora wears a hat and people keep telling her “whoa that’s some hat” until finally, disgusted, she gives it away.
    • Thin Man Goes Home (1944) – This is the last one I saw. They left their son in city and return to the small town where Nick Charles grew up. No man is a hero in his own country and no one is impressed by Nick’s detective fame including his father who had his heart set on Nick becoming a doctor. Nora wants to drum up a case so he can show off and solve it. Does she find a lulu!
    • Song of the Thin Man (1947) – With their son in school, this time the murder is set in the world of jazz. Keenan Wynn has a great comic relief role as a musician who helps them out. Probably the weakest of the lot, but a great turn out by the entire cast. FUN FACT: Dean Stockwell plays their son in this one.
  6. Million Dollar Legs (1939) – There are a couple of movies with this name, but you want the one from 1939 that stars Betty Grable. 10% Frye has arranged for a medal award ceremony to be outside when it’s cold just so he can sell hot chocolate. He’s always pulling stunts like that and now his girlfriend wants him to win an athletic letter. Looking for his easy answer he discovers that there is a position in a crew team that just leads the team and calls out directions (in a crew boat you sit facing the rear of the boat so you need someone to make sure you don’t hit anything) called the coxswain. One problem, his college doesn’t have a crew team. Don’t worry, that won’t stop 10% Frye. Frye has a sort of hand jive he does. I practiced and practiced until I learned to do it, too.
  7. Fleet’s In (1942) – A film that stars Dorothy Lamour and Betty Hutton? What else can you want? This is a real World War II movie with the entire plot driven by two soldiers who come into town with the fleet and fall in love. Of course with those stars who wouldn’t fall in love with them? Even though it’s not a musical they have a lot of nightclub songs. My favorite line is during the trial “Ain’t these short skirts awful? I always say wear a medium long skirt and let the trade winds do the rest.” I also like the Countess of Swingland’s long staircase which she calls “the discourager.”
  8. Gone with the Wind (1939) – This movie is so long it actually comes with an intermission built in when you see it in the theater. I actually saw it on the big screen and if you ever get the chance you should, too, because it’s really designed to be shown that way and it truly is a saga. Even if you just see it on the DVD you should at least once. It, unfortunately, sells the hoax of the Lost Cause better than any other propaganda, but it effected a lot of movies and stories that came after and you should go to the source. It’s my mom’s very favorite movie and it really hit her psyche. Every year she can never rest until we’ve “paid the taxes on Tara.” P.S. There is pretty much 0 chance you’d get to be the pretty belle in real life even if you had lived back then, but dang they are lovely clothes to look at.
  9. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – This is one of the most touching political films ever made. A young man is appointed U.S. Senator as a stooge to help get a bill passed. When he ultimately discovers what’s up and that his fellow senator from that state who he always admired is in on it, he sets out to fix it all on his own by using the only tool he has – a one man filibuster. The sad thing is that the only reason he wins is that ultimately his sacrifice works on his former hero’s, the other senator from his state, conscience enough that he rallies to his side and confesses. I really wish they’d found another answer in the film because while I can sadly see the rest of the premise in real life, I don’t think the other senator would have really rallied.
    FUN FACT: In the 1980s a script writer was frustrated about how difficult it was to get a good script made took a copy of Mr. Smith, took the name off, tried to get it made, and got nothing but rejections from every studio even though it’s a classic. Then he publicized his experiment as a protest. My favorite episode of The Famous Teddy Z is based on that true story. (Sad fact there is something wrong in a world where Jon Cryer had a huge hit with Two and a Half Men and Teddy Z only made it one season. It was an amazingly good show.)
  10. My Favorite Brunette (1947) – It’s a Bob Hope and Dorothy L’amour movie without having to put up with Bing Crosby. What else can you want? This was actually part of a series of similarly named movies Hope made, but they don’t cross characters or connect stories.
  11. The Dude Goes West (1948) – This is one you probably have never heard of which is too bad because it’s amazing western. Seriously if there is one movie you haven’t seen before on this list you want to follow up on, this would be the one to pick. Eddie Albert plays Daniel Bone. [It’s Bone, not Boone, even though his wagon gets painted the other way.] He’s a gunsmith and there isn’t much call for that in New York City anymore so he has a lot of time to borrow books from his friend the bookseller and he’s probably the most widely read and retained reader ever. However, he needs business so he heads out west. Did I mention he needs to be an amazingly accurate dead shot so he can tell what’s wrong with a gun? Also, that he draws a pipe when he gets into trouble? Seriously it’s a light-hearted western about how each reader secretly thinks they’d be able to remember and apply all the stuff they’ve read.
  12. Anne of Green Gables (1934) – This movie and its sequel weren’t the first film version (that one was silent), they weren’t the best known version (Kevin Sullivan), but they are an utterly charming one. The actress who had gone by a variety of screen names took her role as transformative and so took the character’s name as her own. That’s why the actress who plays the daughter in Stella Dallas is named Anne Shirley.
  13. My Favorite Wife (1940) – A woman is rescued from a desert island where she’s been living for several years. She gets home on the very day her husband has her declared dead because he’s going to marry someone else. What’s a man to do when the love of his life comes back, but his life has moved on? Once he gets a chance to see who she was on the island with, is it his choice?
  14. Front Page (1931) – If you love clever dialogue and you haven’t seen this yet… Go ahead. I’ll wait. — Dialogue snaps with every line showing the best and the worst of people and of the newspaper industry.
  15. His Girl Friday (1940) – This remake of Front Page was inspired when a script read was done and a woman read the Hildy Johnson part. Turns out the movie worked even better that way. There is no background music because there is always tune in the words. A couple of the best bits: Cary Grant gives a shout out to  his real name (Archie Leach), and his previous role in Alice in Wonderland as the Mock Turtle, the character played by Ralph Bellamy is described as looking like “that actor – Ralph Bellamy.”
  16. Bringing Up Baby (1938) – A screwball comedy is one where characters are put in utterly ridiculous and extreme situations and that thing you think of two days later in the middle of the night that would have been perfect to say, comes tripping of everyone’s tongues in the exact perfect moment for an hour and a half straight. In this one Cary Grant’s character, a shy, absent-minded paleontologist, meets a society woman who seems to think that 2 plus 2 equals 5. The trouble he gets into in just the first day he knows her is incredible, then she decides that she’s in love with him and he needs to marry her and is the only one she can turn to for help with the unwanted leopard her brother just sent her.
    ♪♫♪ I can’t give you anything, but love, Baby! ♪♫♪
  17. Topper (1937) – It’s interesting the name of the movie is Topper because the character of Topper doesn’t real drive any action, he reacts, but boy howdy does he react well. A couple, what used to be known as young, bright things, lived fast and hard. They were driving too fast and the car cracked up and they were both killed. The car was repaired and comes into possession of unassuming little man, named Topper. They decide Topper needs a new shot at life and excitement and mayhem follow in their wake. It was so successful that there are two sequel movies (Topper Takes a Trip – with only the wife ghost returning, Topper Returns – with a different ghost, a murder mystery and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson), a TV show, and a 1979 remake starring one of my favorite actresses, Kate Jackson.
  18. Holiday Inn (1942) – A movie so popular that a hotel chain was named after it. A performer retires for the “easy” job of farming and a nervous collapse later opens his farm as a club only open on the holidays each year. It introduced some beautiful holiday music including White Christmas and Be Careful It’s My Heart. Heads up there is a minstrel number for Lincoln’s Birthday and the actors wear blackface. Although is a great tune, the lyrics are unfortunate in many, MANY ways. For those who like to pretend it didn’t happen or don’t know, the fact that the vast majority of original American music for most of the 19th century WAS written for minstrel shows is a pretty nasty shock. On top of that it’s done in full blackface which at least has a good plot reason in the movie, but it’s a DOUBLE nasty shock. Be forewarned.
  19. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – This is another one where you want a particular version of the movie. This is the one with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood playing a mother/daughter duo that has lost all the magic from their lives. You’re better off if you watch it in black and white, but it also is available in a colorized version. The woman then in charge of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade discovers her Santa Claus (he’s always the finale of the parade in his sleigh) is dead drunk. A replacement shows up and she gratefully hires him. Good news, he’s great! Bad news, he really thinks he’s Santa Claus! Can Kris Kringle convince Susan and her mother Doris to believe? Highlights include: Macy and Gimbal shaking hands, the little girl who only speaks Dutch, “I speak French that doesn’t make me Joan of Arc!,” learning to pretend to be a monkey, the flood of post office letters, and “maybe I didn’t do such a wonderful thing after all….”
  20. Pride and Prejudice (1940) – Here’s an odd thing, there are two movie versions of Pride and Prejudice I love. I refer to this one by its Lizzie (Greer Garson) and the other one by its Darcy (Colin Firth). Of course the 1994 version, with just a couple of sour notes, plays the most like the book and for that reason I adore it. This movie takes the basic set up and a few of the major events, shakes them up in a bag and comes out with something only slightly related to the book, but superb in its own right. My favorite two additions are a scene at the Netherfield ball featuring a Darcy-Lizzie archery lesson and the transformation of Aunt Catherine into much more the sort of woman she believed herself to be and you always wish she was. However, there is a lot more fun stuff to find. Watch it for yourself.
    SAD FACT: This version would undoubtedly be better known if it had been shot in color as originally scheduled, but Gone With the Wind had all the color film and technicians absorbed and they gave up and settled for black and white.
  21. Back in the Saddle (1941) – Gene Autry often plays a character named — Gene Autry. In this one he actually plays a character with a different name, but this is actually just a representative example of his work. Gene Autry lives to support (to steal a line from another small town boy) “truth, justice, and the American way.” He pushes for kindness, friendship, and figuring out the bad guy’s plan. He solves them  while courting a girl with a song. Gene Autry movies are always enjoyable although there are at least two that are unintentionally funny today. Riders of the Whistling Pines is about an evil plan to fool people into thinking that the DDT was dangerous to stop the government from using DDT to save a stand of trees so the evil developers could get the land and of course the government would never lie to you (it was 1949). The Old Barn Dance is about an evil tractor company that is trying to use the money farmers have to borrow to buy tractors as part of a land grab. Even though they add a fake logo they are clearly International tractors which really weren’t trying to get everybody to switch to tractors I guess????
  22. Wizard of Oz (1939) – Think of a great old movie, guess what year it was made and you probably have a 50-50 chance of being right if you say 1939. Wizard of Oz is among the top of a very good crop. Being right at the exact moment to do so, it won’t be until Schindler’s List in 1993 that color is again used so effectively. The Kansas prairie is shown in black and white while opening the door to OZ in color. It changes the story a little – in part to take full effect of the color film (the magic slippers became red instead of silver and the Emerald City is truly green you just don’t wear green glasses). The most substantial change in the story is that in the book Dorothy really travels to OZ and in the movie it’s a dream that works out the problems of her life using versions of the people and the situations she knows. There are SO many fun facts that I’d love to add here that I guess I need to do another Oz-centric post. I will just say if you love the movie, the book, or the prairie you really should read To Please a Child.
  23. Heidi (1937) – I really adore Shirley Temple. Like generations of little girls with golden curls I had aspirations of dressing and acting like that. I completely failed of course, but it was the dream. I really could list most of her movies – and I’ve broken down and added a second one below – I’ve picked this one because I love the story. This is why I love shepherd’s bread and butter and cheese just like she ate. (And read the books.)
  24. Little Princess (1939) – As I just said, I really adore Shirley Temple and this is one of her best known works. I especially like this one because it is based on The Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. (Burnett also wrote the glorious The Secret Garden.) The story actually started as the novellette Sara Crew, but proved so popular Burnett lengthened it. This is another movie that leaves out big chunks that make it make more sense within the running time, simplifying things as it goes, but it’s still a good story. Let it inspire you to read the book. Shirley’s character is a rich girl whose mother is dead and her father is serving in the British Army in South Africa during the second Boer War. When word comes that he’s been killed and his money stolen the former “princess” has to become a scullery maid to earn her keep, but it doesn’t break her cheerful spirit. Plus, as always, she has a great dance number this time in a little Scottish outfit.
  25. Scarlet Pimpernel (1935) – Everything else aside, this movie has a soft spot in my heart because before I saw this movie I really thought Leslie Howard was the twit he played in Gone With the Wind. Having seen the Scarlet Pimpernel I knew Leslie Howard can ACT! It made me read the book which is also awesomesauce. In a Zorro (see my Guy Williams comments in the previous movie list post) – like story Sir Percy, a British Lord, falls for a beautiful French woman at the time of the French Revolution. They fall in love and marry, but she expects him to trust her implicitly and she refuses to deny or explain why she denounced an aristocrat who was then sent to the guillotine. (We later find out she had a pretty darn good reason and it really was second hand, she told someone else not the authorities.) In reaction Sir Percy becomes a hero rescuing people from the French Revolution, organizing his friends into a band, and taking on a soppy persona who seemingly only cared about fashion, literature, and pleasure while showing contempt for his wife. She is blackmailed into giving up a clue about the Pimpernel only afterward does she explain her actions to her husband and after he leaves to go to France she discovers it was her own husband she betrayed. What will she do now? Frequently quoted in is a poem “by” Sir Percy:
    They seek him here, they seek him there,
    Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
    Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?
    That damned elusive Pimpernel.
    It was remade in the 1980s with Jane Seymore in the role of his wife. They give a lot more agency to her character, but sadly do it by making Sir Percy a much weaker character.
  26. ‘Pimpernel’ Smith (1941) – The Scarlet Pimpernel was an unexpectedly popular novel that spawned a series of novels that were never AS popular. Likewise they wanted to cash in on the popularity of the Leslie Howard movie, but by now World War II was here. France was now an active ally and Germany the enemy. This movie jumps ahead in time to the then “modern day.” A descendant of the original Pimpernel now is rescuing/smuggling people out of Germany. He’s a likewise foppish impression as an archaeology professor. He drives the women out of his class because he’s going to use the German’s obsession with discovering a super race as their ancestors. He’s bringing his class with him as a cover. Eventually the students figure out what’s up and actively begin to help. Watch for pretty much the best use of saying the phrase “red herring” ever.
  27. Road to Morocco (1944) – The famous “Road” movies are the most acclaimed series movies ever. Unlike most series the stars play different characters every time. The stars are Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, and Bing Crosby. In each movie Hope and Crosby play partners of some kind who are each other’s best friend and yet Crosby’s character is always willing to throw Hope overboard. For example, in this one Crosby sells Hope into slavery to get the money to get back home. Normally they get back together and then fight each over the love of Dorothy Lamour’s character. Sometimes Hope wins, but more often Crosby does. One of the cool things that continues movie to movie is Hope-Crosby playing Patty Cake as a diversion ending with them punching the people currently after them. Also, watch for jokes about Paramount who had them both under contract at that time. This was the heyday of Hollywood Studios and in many movies stars were expected to sing and dance. They often did duets (Crosby was the better singer, Hope was the better dancer). I picked this one as my example because “We’re Off on the Road to Morocco” is my favorite song they ever did together. It’s got such great lines as “Bet you 8 to 4 we’ll meet Dorothy Lamour” and “Like a complete set of Shakespeare that you get in the corner store drugstore for $1.98 we’re Morocco bound!” and “Or, like a volume of Omar Khayyam that you buy in the Department store at Christmas time for your cousin Julia, We’re Morocco bound.” I mean who can resist that?
    FUN FACT: Morocco bound refers to a cheap kind of leather that was used for book binding.
  28. It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) – This is another Christmas movie and one that my mom likes to watch every single time she finds it on. A self-made man has lost the connection with his wife as he got more and more important. Now he’s the crust of the upper crust of society and owns two homes that he lives in for half the year. He summers in New York and winters in Florida. A hobo has found that out and apparently for a few years anyway has arranged to live in the opposite house. This year the daughter returns unexpectedly and found that the hobo living there with a bunch of returning WWII vets. They don’t have any money, but they do have a plan. First her father and later her mother return, but when she begs they pretend to be fellow hobos and they both learn from the experience.
  29. Meet John Doe (1941) – This is also sort of a Christmas movie although you don’t necessarily realize it IS a Christmas movie until the very end. With Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck as the stars you know it will be amazing. Desperate to make a hit with her writing, a reporter (Stanwyck) writes a screed pretending it comes from a homeless man with a political cause. Her boss at the newspaper decides the way out after he prints it is to hire someone to become that man (Cooper). His speeches both inspire good neighbor clubs across the country and allow the rich man bankrolling it a foothold to start a political movement. Which half of the movement will determine the future?
  30. Sullivan’s Travels (1941) – A film maker known for comedies wants to be a truly great director and decides to go undercover as a homeless man so he’d gain the depth he’d need to do dark dramas. In the process, he learns when in the face of true darkness what comedy really means.
  31. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) – Sometimes the fact that Shirley Temple was darling and could dance incredibly well covers up the fact that she could also act. This one really shows off her acting chops.This is one of her later films. She falls in love with an artist who comes speak at her school (Cary Grant) much to the consternation of both the artist and her older sister, the judge. The sister pressures the artist into pretending to go along with the little sister so then he can convincingly dump her and get her over it. As her plan goes along the older sister discovers that maybe her little sister was on to something when she thought how wonderful the artist was.
  32. Ball of Fire (1941) – A tough broad has been dating a mobster. The cops are on his trail and her testimony could sink him. Cut to a group of academics that have been working for years on a new encyclopedia – funded by an inventor who felt ignored by the current encyclopedias. Discovering his article on slang is incredibly out of date he heads out into the world to get people signed up to come to a session on learning current  slang. He happens across the singer who at first rejects him, but then decides if she invites herself to stay with them no one will find her. However, she is treated with respect and kindness and suddenly marrying the mob doesn’t seem like her only choice. It was remade as a real popular musical time capsule, A Song is Born (1948), which is worth watching just for the popular music conversations it preserves as the academics are studying popular music in that one. [Note: This is not where “Heart and Soul” was first introduced. That was a short with the same name.]
  33. Captain Blood (1935) – This is one of my all time favorite pirate movies. It is also an Eryol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland movie. They made exciting adventure movies that rewrote history into what you wish really had happened. In this one a corrupt British system sells our hero into slavery and when he escapes he sets up a true democracy where all the pirates are moral and polite and respecters of women. They ultimately overthrow the evil monarchy when the good monarchy restores order and rewards Peter Blood by giving him the governorship and the girl.
  34. They Died With Their Boots On (1942) – In another Eryol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland movie this is most likely EXACTLY the movie Mrs. Custer would have wanted made. She spent the rest of her life pushing his reputation. In this one start from one of the best cute meets in movies. Then follow on how you wish their story had really gone. The thing about Eryol flynn/Olivia de Haviland movies is that the world would always be a better place if history had really played out that way, but it didn’t, it really didn’t.
  35. Luck of the Irish (1948) – This story is one of the greatest stories of the American spirit. An American goes to Ireland and accidentally finds a leprechaun. The American doesn’t believe it and thinks it’s a tease. After successfully capturing a leprechaun he’s shown it’s pot of gold. He refuses it saying he isn’t going to take someone else’s gold that he wanted to make it on his own. The leprechaun is impressed and sets out to improve the American’s life — or is he? The American’s speech about the gold is one of the American things I’ve heard in the movies.
  36. Stage Door Canteen (1943) – The link takes you to a page where they tell you the plot. Ignore that the important part is the role of the canteen itself. Take a look at that.

Also Run

This is a series of movies that you should definitely watch at least once.

The Women (1939) – The main reason to watch this movie is everything (even the animals in the paintings on the walls) are females. It does have the most Jean Smart role not actually played by Jean Smart as one of the friends. The rest of it I wasn’t too keen on. I kind of enjoy the payoff scene at the divorce ranch in Reno, but apparently the point of the plot is that you should accept your husband having a honey on the side because he’ll come back to you if you ignore it??????

Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) – This is a very sweet movie, but also very, very sad. I cry every time.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – The main reason I love this is the scene where they dance on the gym floor over the swimming pool. (It was really at a high school in Los Angeles with the wooden gym floor covering the pool – although I think it’s one of the worst ideas ever because wood and water don’t mix. It looks cool though.) Also, what’s wrong with her being a librarian? Anyway it’s a well acted show, but it always tears me up.

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1943) – I listed Luck of the Irish before. I really believe that one shows the best part of American culture. Although this one is a good hearted movie, honestly the end scene where the bigwigs hear the story and decide what to do about it is another true part of American culture. It’s not always a great thing, but this shows one way of how things get done in America. (And frankly a lot of it is hilarious.) It’s only here for that bigwig end show.

Stella Dallas (1937) – If you are looking for a great cry, this is the movie to you. The way she gives up her daughter so the daughter will have a chance at a good life gets me every time. Just let her see the wedding. Oh, no there I go again. – Note the daughter is played by Anne Shirley who took the name when she starred in the Anne of Green Gables (1934) movie.

There You Have It

And there you have it. There’s my list of the best movies from 1920s-1940s. What films would be on yours?

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help?  Attend one of her programs,  schedule one  yourself,  watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her  on   Facebook ,   Twitter ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Movie: Muppet Christmas Carol

Cover of Muppet Christmas CarolI wrote a review and gave a roundup of links about The Muppets Christmas Carol.

Now Oh My Disney did a retrospective for the 25th anniversary. Brian Henson (Jim’s son) and Dave Goelz (puppet performer) talked about the movie. It’s pretty touching with a few descriptions of how they did stuff and why they included this or that.  I think you’ll love it.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Star Wars Day How Last Jedi Should Have Ended

Happy Star Wars Day! This short from How It Should Have Ended is quite possibly THE best Star Wars thing produced since Return of the Jedi! Enjoy!

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast,  look at her photos, and find her  on  Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,  SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Movie: Muppet Christmas Carol the best version of A Christmas Carol

I love The Muppet Christmas Carol. I bet I’ve seen between TV, movies, and plays at least 50 various versions of A Christmas Carol. I knew the story. I wasn’t impressed. Then I went to see this version in the movie theater. Of all the versions from both movies or TV shows, this is the one that made me want to read the book. It should make you read it, too. It really is my favorite of Dickens’ works — which after I loved this one so much I read all of his others. *

Michael Caine’s performance as Scrooge is amazing of course, but the true thing that sets this version apart is that it includes the narrator. Charles Dickens always gives himself all the best lines so when you pull out the narrator (which most movies do) you lose all of them or you really mess with Scrooge’s character to give them to him.

  • “Darkness was cheap and Scrooge liked it.”
  • “I would think a coffin nail would be the deadest piece of iron mongery.”
  • “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!’’

On top of that there is some just amazing music, especially “The Love is Gone” which remarkably is not included in most of the DVD releases because it’s thought of as too complicated and too sad for children. This is utterly ridiculous. Cutting “The Love is Gone” destroys the overall arch of the movie. Sign the petition to put it in the next DVD release or contact Disney and let them know this is a problem.

 

So this is the time of year to go and watch the BEST version of A Christmas Carol.

How well do you remember the Muppet Christmas Carol Quiz (I got 100%):
http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2015/12/21/quiz-how-well-do-you-remember-the-muppet-christmas-carol/?cmp=smc

Review which will make you cry all on its own:
“Beyond Caine’s performance, the very fact that Scrooge even knows the words at all is heartbreaking. At this point his younger self had supposedly left, but now we realize he heard everything — and forgot nothing. He knows the words. This is a moment he has replayed in his mind, over and over again. Suddenly his pleading the Spirit not to show him this Christmas becomes clearer: Not this, please. I know, I already know.”
http://bookriot.com/2015/12/21/anatomy-of-a-scene-the-love-is-gone-the-muppet-christmas-carol

Another Review:
http://www.headstuff.org/2015/12/literature-on-film-part-3leave-comedy-to-the-bears-ebenezer-a-tribute-to-the-muppet-christmas-carol/

How We Made the Muppet Christmas Carol by Brian Henson:
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/dec/21/how-we-made-the-muppet-christmas-carol?CMP=fb_gu

Longer Version of Brian Henson Interview:
http://uproxx.com/movies/brian-henson-interview

14 Things You Don’t Know about Muppet Christmas Carol:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-muppet-christmas-carol#.lyqBdEbOV

Love is Gone Deleted:
http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Why-Muppet-Christmas-Carol-Deleted-Song-Was-Cut-Really-Should-Have-Stayed-68641.html

PhD compares Scrooges, Decides Caine’s is the best:
http://blogs.tandf.co.uk/jvc/2012/12/24/a-blue-furry-charles-dickens-who-hangs-out-with-a-rat-a-muppets-chritsmas-carol https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2015/12/christmas-carol-contest-who-was-best-scrooge-screen

*NOTE: The other book of his I really loved was Hard Times. Dickens reads best when he’s the narrator. I don’t really care for the ones where he isn’t.

UPDATED December 22 2019: I added bolding to the link titles and added my current signature block.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Star Wars Day Star Wars and Disney

This year the big news this year is of course that Disney has doubled down on Star Wars. Long a fixture at Walt Disney World with the Star Tours ride, Disney opened more – including a store, a meet and greet, and a projection/firework show shortly before our visit in 2015. Now they are working on opening a Star Wars land in both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios (personally I think they ought to have a whole park to themselves) scheduled to open in 2019.

Star Wars characters at base entrance
Photo of Stars War Land – Courtesy of Pauly Tee

Links

I don’t have a great story to share this year so how about some links?

60 Facts About the Star Wars Universe for Star Wars Day courtesy of Mental Floss

All We Know about Star Wars Land courtesy of Variety

Previous Trundlebed Tales Posts

May the Fourth Be With You – I Love You More Than Star Warsa great song

Saving Star Wars May the 4th

That Time the Government Built a UFO May the 4th

Giant AT-AT walker outside Star Tours at Walt Disney World
AT-AT Walker (my favorite thing at Star Tours) – courtesy of Pauly Tee

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Movie: The Power of the Daleks

Last night I attended a special showing of a Doctor Who story arc. Normally before I write about a movie I like to see it twice, but this is more of a so you know this exists than a full write up so I thought I’d go ahead and share.

Sarah in TARDIS
Sarah in TARDIS

Fandom

I used to think if you said you were a fan of something and somebody else said they were a fan of something you meant the same thing. I have since learned I was wrong. There are lots of Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who mean a lot less than I do by the term and there are a lot of Star Wars fans that mean a lot more. So with Doctor Who I’d say I’m a medium fan. I don’t go to cons and I haven’t built my own TARDIS, but I’ve been watching faithfully on Iowa Public Television my whole life, I have a sonic screwdriver and used a TARDIS key keychain all the way through high school and years after (I actually wore out a couple of them and they were metal), I had a great sunshade for my car that said TARDIS heatshield, I wore a bring back the Doctor pin on my coat for the entire 18 month shut down after…. well you get the point.

Watching Along

So I have to say while I wasn’t as anxious to see this as the people they interviewed for the Making Of special they showed afterward, the second Doctor is my third favorite Doctor and I was happy that I got a chance to go. This was a country wide release in limited theaters – a much larger pool than the 50th, but still limited for one night only. I was delighted to see on Facebook both before and after many friends around the country were watching “with” me – same time, different place.

Destruction of the Daleks and All the Rest of Doctor Who

If you don’t know, the labor/union movement was stronger in Great Britain than it was here. Early on in the industry people behind the scenes pictured a world where television would be nothing, but repeats or at least mostly repeats so they made a deal with the BBC that required them to pay the salaries of everyone as if they had just reshot the video instead of just replayed it. So with this contract in place showing repeats of older series wasn’t cost efficient. Old films were shipped to a storage facility that was pushed to overflowing. Sometime later a fire marshal inspected was horrified and told the BBC they had to enlarge and update the facility for that number of films. Instead they decided to throw out huge quantities of episodes of old TV shows.

They had a system, but they weren’t very good at it and what is lost is mostly haphazard. Mostly it favored fine art over  what they saw as lower class entertainment and for one reason or another destruction of episodes continued until the late 1970s. The haphazard system meant that only single reels of some episodes were lost, in some cases all that were left were black and white copies that had originally been shot in color, and some entire stories were missing. Other copies were shipped off to TV stations around the world that could show the episodes in other countries and forgotten about. Ever since the late 1970s aka when someone with good sense realized this was happening and stopped it, the search for the 152 single episodes that were completely missing was on. Over the years in sometimes strange and mysterious ways 55 of these episodes have been rediscovered leaving 97 undiscovered.

“Never Give Up, Never Surrender!”

OK that title comes from the wrong sci fi fandom, but it describes Doctor Who fans to a T. Back in the pre-VCR days some fans loves their shows so much that they would record the episode on tape so they could at least listen to it again whenever they wanted. Some at least of these recordings have been collected giving someone very smart the idea of “restoring” these episodes. If you can’t find the real thing, you could at least make use of those sound only recordings of the original episodes.

Using knowledge of the characters actions and facial expressions, publicity stills and fragmentary existing footage efforts were put together to fill the gaps in some existing stories creating animated visuals to go with the sound. That’s what the “missing, but animated” notations mean on the list I linked to in the last section.

Movies versus Episodes

Traditionally Doctor Who was broken into story arcs that would stretch over weeks. That was a familiar format on dramatic radio shows where you would follow a storyline for a few weeks before the show moved on to another story. Doctor Who episodes were traditionally shown in 30 minute episodes. A single story might have as few as 1 or as many as 12 week’s episodes. More recent efforts show these arcs of episodes strung together in one big movie. For instance right now PBS stations around the country are showing the Tom Baker “movies.” There’s a bit of pacing problem with that. It swoops to a cliffhanger every 30 minutes instead of having one long arc besides having to deal with the tags. NuWho abandoned this entirely have self-contained or two parters of roughly 50 minutes each.

“The Power of the Daleks” Format

So the big event was the debut on the big screen of the storyline or “movie” of a second Doctor episode that had been entirely lost. Taking a sound track (and either it was exceptionally well recorded on a very high end machine or they did a near miraculous job of cleaning it up) and adding animation for the entire story arc of the six episode “The Power of the Daleks.”

The animation was a little different than what I was expecting. I thought they’d do it in color, but nope it was gray tones all the way through. I also thought they would maybe drop in what footage they had or at least a little preview that showed what the characters really looked like from existing footage. It’s all animation though.

The Daleks themselves are 100% plus spot on. They were just perfect and you couldn’t want more from a Dalek. You saw them using their suckers for something other than helping push doors open. The voice was terrific especially when they tripped themselves up being sneaky “Daleks are bet…different than humans.”

The people while they still looked like themselves were animated in a 1970s comic book style. The backgrounds were great, the clothes and hairstyles reflected publicity stills perfectly, but their movement was marionette like at best. A few more face close up shots when they were moving might have looked better. Their face movements or slight movements when standing talking looked much better.

The First Regeneration and Reflecting Backward

This was the first episode of the second Doctor and shows the very first regeneration of the Doctor. This brilliant idea kept the series going, but it was a new idea to viewers and the writers don’t have the details we know about the process done yet. They do a very nice analysis of how they did this.

I also think they reflected back some of what has been developed in the meantime. For example the look of the Dalek creature inside the case is what has been established in nuWho not what we’d seen before. Also, the look of the effect of the Dalek ray is from more modern Who.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

If you are Doctor Who fan enough to have watched some of the black and white episodes with the second Doctor, you’ll enjoy this. It does take a bit to get used to the style of animation of the people, but it’s definitely worth watching. If you don’t already know the second Doctor’s facial expressions and how he moves I think you can safely give this a miss. I’m looking forward to seeing it come out on DVD, especially to hear the commentary tracks which looked really good in the Making of special.

Let me know what you think.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.