If you have free time during the summer, how do you like to spend it? Everyone is different, of course, and we all have our personal favorite activities, passions, likes, and dislikes, but for me, I really enjoy watching a good movie. I don’t think I’m the only one – there’s a reason why movie theaters were one of the first categories of businesses to feature air conditioning for the comfort of their customers.
Here are a couple of movie categories we haven’t talked about before, and some of my favorites of each. Just a reminder – I’m not saying these are necessarily the BEST of these, but that these are some that I have enjoyed and can recommend for you.
Favorite Musicals – Hollywood doesn’t make very many musicals anymore, and I agree that having characters burst out in song at various moments is at least a little strange. But, oh man, sometimes the songs are so amazingly wonderful, and here are some favorites.
5. White Christmas (1954). The story and title song are reruns from Holiday Inn, but our family really loves this movie. My favorite is “Count Your Blessings” with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen also star, and don’t miss Dean Jagger and Mary Wickes in strong supporting roles.
4. Stormy Weather (1947). This movie features an all-black cast and was marketed back in the days of segregation, but I think it’s as entertaining as it can be. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Cab Calloway, Dooley Wilson, and Lena Horne head an all-star cast. And don’t miss the Nicholas Brothers doing their unbelievable dance number up and down the stairs.
3. The Wizard of Oz (1939). My mom once told me that when she went to the theater as a young girl in the early 1940s to see this picture, there were audible gasps from the audience when Dorothy opens the door to discover that she is in “Munchkin-land.” And remember, there’s no place like home.
2. The Sound of Music (1965). Loosely based on a true story. When I was in the fifth grade, we took a field trip to the theater to see this movie. It has so many really memorable songs it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I always enjoyed the puppet-show song, “The Lonely Goatherd.” And of course, “Edelweiss.” Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer star.
1. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). Another movie with a really strong cast. Leon Ames, Mary Astor, and Harry Davenport are all great, but Judy Garland just shines under the direction of her future husband Vincente Minnelli. And of course, there are several great songs, but when Judy sings, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her on-screen little sister Margaret O’Brien, it’s a moment of heartwarming charm and grace.
Favorite Tom Hanks Movies – Okay, I have to break one of my own rules. When I consider movies for inclusion here, they generally need to be pre-1990, but for this guy, I’ll make some allowances. Tom Hanks has been called the “Jimmy Stewart” of his generation because of his ability to play any part, make it believable and win over the audience. I don’t disagree.
5. The Green Mile (1999). Tom Hanks as the guard captain of a penitentiary’s Death Row – then he meets a very large and very strange inmate (Michael Clark Duncan, RIP) with an unusual gift. With David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, and Patricia Clarkson. Caution for language and thematic material.
4. Forrest Gump (1994). A wonderful story about a mentally challenged man whose decency and simple kindness enable him to overcome numerous challenges. Sally Field, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright, and Haley Joel Osment co-star. Some cautions for thematic content.
3. A League of Their Own (1992). Co-starring Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and Garry Marshall, and directed by Penny Marshall. Tom plays a washed-up, alcoholic ex-baseball player who is forced into managing a team of women ballplayers while the men are away at World War II. There’s no crying in baseball.
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998). Also with Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, and many more, and directed by Steven Spielberg. Tom plays Captain Miller, a schoolteacher forced into a leadership role in World War II, as his unit makes the Normandy landing on D-Day and is then assigned to rescue a paratrooper far behind enemy lines. STRONG caution for graphic battle sequences and language.
1. Apollo 13 (1995). Directed by Ron Howard, and co-starring Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Kathleen Quinlan. “Houston, we have a problem.” This is the true story of the April 1970 moon mission that suffered a catastrophic failure in space, and the efforts to get the crew safely home. This movie manages to be gut-wrenching and suspenseful even if you know how the mission ended, and the character and resourcefulness shown here are truly inspiring. Just remember, “Failure is not an option.”
Here’s hoping to see you at the movies!