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Recommendations

Action/Adventures | Comedies | Crime/Noirs | Dramas | Epics | Family Films | Holiday Films | Musicals | Suspense/Mysteries | Romances | Romantic Comedies | Tear-Jerkers | Westerns

 Family Films:
I grew up on classic movies and still have a fondness for those that were my favorites a few years ago. Not all are Disney (though I'll admit, a lot are), but all are suitable for families with youngsters, and including those of us who no longer qualify for the children's menu. (* denotes fully animated)
MARY POPPINS (1964)

The nanny of every child's dreams (Julie Andrews) comes to work for the Banks family, and Jane and Michael have never known such fun-- adventures in a chalk pavement picture, a tea party on the ceiling, a voyage with the chimney sweeps across the rooftops of London. What could be better? Magical, memorable songs as well. I've had this entire movie memorized since about age ten.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

Judy Garland leaves Kansas via a tornado and goes over the rainbow. The friends and enemies she makes have become legends, as have the songs of this musical fantasy adventure. Young kids might be frightened by the Wicked Witch of the West however, so if in doubt, watch with them.

THE YEARLING (1946)

Kids and animals seem to go hand in hand, and this movie adaptation of the classic Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings book has something for everyone. Love and loss, good times and bad, the friendship between a young boy and his pet fawn Flag. A lovely and moving film.

OLD YELLER (1957)

Another kids and animals movie, this time dealing with a frontier family and the stray dog they come to love. Filled with light-hearted moments as well as times for the hanky, Dorothy McGuire, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran all make this film a must-see.

THE PARENT TRAP (1961)

Though perhaps a little dated in what would now be considered this movie's unrealistic approach to dealing with divorce, this Hayley Mills (times 2) comedy about two twins who meet at camp and decided to switch places on their divorced parents is still a lot of fun. Kids without divorced parents won't have any problems with it, and those with such family situations can (with proper parental participation) enjoy the film without getting any outlandish ideas about mending their broken homes.

POLLYANNA (1960)

More fun from that child star of the 1960s, Hayley Mills, this time as an orphan who comes to live with her crabby rich aunt (Jane Wyman) and not only wins her heart, but charms the entire town in the process. Another fun-for-all children's classic.

THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989)*

In my opinion, the best of the modern Disney animated features. Ariel's adventures and her pursuit of Prince Eric have a quality some of the others lack, and King Triton's reluctance to let his daughter go makes this an enjoyable movie for parents as well. Fun songs and supporting characters.

SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959)*

My favorite of the older Disney animations. Princess Aurora's waistline puts Barbie to shame, but the supporting characters in this movie are so entertaining one hardly pays attention to the modern-day complaints that could be made; and besides, she's sheltered and innocent-- not a dumb blonde. Be careful of the evil Maleficent with the young ones though.

NATIONAL VELVET (1944)

A twelve-year-old Elizabeth Taylor wins a horse in the village lottery and is determined to enter him in the Grand National. Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Anne Revere and other fine supporting characters also turn in great performances in this film that's sure to remain a family favorite as long as children continue to dream big dreams.

THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1939)

Shirley Temple grows up past her usual dimples and curls in this film about a rich girl who is forced to work as a maid when her soldier-father is reported killed and she is left a pauper. Little Sarah Crew never gives up hope he'll come back though, and despite her hardships she keeps her optimism fueled with imagination. A charming story.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)

Though it's been remade, I still prefer Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in this holiday classic about a little girl who doesn't believe in Santa Claus. It's got something for everyone, from working parents to skeptical kids, and supporting characters like Thelma Ritter and Gene Lockhart really fill out the cast nicely.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968)

Dick Van Dyke doesn't achieve quite the success of MARY POPPINS with this film, but the musical adventures of an inventor, his kids, and their flying car-- which inadvertently brings them to a land where having children is outlawed-- are entertaining.

BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971)

The setting may be a little dated, but there's always something appealing about finding out the lady you're living with is an amateur witch. The mixture of live action and animation (especially the soccer game on the isle of Namboomboo) is quite entertaining, and the special effects help make up for a few plot weaknesses here and there which the kids probably won't pick up on anyway.

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

A preachy movie whose lecturing is disguised to younger viewers by scenes and more scenes filled with candy. Some of the songs miss the mark, but what child can pass up a movie with so many good things to eat in it?

Also:

  • 101 DALMATIONS (1961)*
  • 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954)
  • THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR (1961)
  • ALADDIN (1992)*
  • ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951)*
  • AN AMERICAN TAIL (1986)*
  • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)*
  • CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937)
  • CINDERELLA (1950)*
  • DUMBO (1941)*
  • FEIVEL GOES WEST (1991)*
  • LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955)*
  • THE LION KING (1994)*
  • PETE'S DRAGON (1977)
  • PINOCCHIO (1940)*
  • ROBIN HOOD (1973)*
  • SAVANNAH SMILES (1982)
  • SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)*
  • SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960)
  • THE SWORD IN THE STONE (1963)*
  • THAT DARN CAT! (1965)
  • TOBY TYLER, OR TEN WEEKS WITH A CIRCUS (1960)

Return to the Index of Recommended Films.

 

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