These are just a few of my favorite movies. Most of them are by Disney, and all of them were made in mid-1900’s.
My Fair Lady – “At one time the longest-running Broadway musical, My Fair Lady was adapted by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe from the George Bernard Shaw comedy Pygmalion. Outside Covent Garden on a rainy evening in 1912, dishevelled cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) meets linguistic expert Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison). After delivering a musical tirade against “verbal class distinction,” Higgins tells his companion Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) that, within six months, he could transform Eliza into a proper lady, simply by teaching her proper English. The next morning, face and hands freshly scrubbed, Eliza presents herself on Higgins’ doorstep, offering to pay him to teach her to be a lady. “It’s almost irresistable,” clucks Higgins. “She’s so deliciously low. So horribly dirty.” He turns his mission into a sporting proposition, making a bet with Pickering that he can accomplish his six-month miracle to turn Eliza into a lady. This is one of the all-time great movie musicals, featuring classic songs and the legendary performances of Harrison, repeating his stage role after Cary Grant wisely turned down the movie job, and Stanley Holloway as Eliza’s dustman father.”-Amazon Editorial Review.
Life With Father – “The longest-running non-musical play in Broadway history, “Life With Father” was brought to joyous comedic life on film in 1947. Based on Clarence Day’s writings about his own family, Life With Father stars screen legends William Powell and Irene Dunne as Clarence and Vinnie Day. Clarence is the headstrong yet loving family patriarch, while Vinnie is his “dizzy” wife, whose real genius is letting her husband believe it is really he who is running the family. Filled with warmth and humor, the film follows the family’s adventures in 1880’s New York City. Look for a young Elizabeth Taylor in an important supporting role as one of the Day son’s romantic interests. Life With Father was one of the top grossing films of the year and received Academy Award nominations in the Cinematography, Musical Scoring and Art Direction categories. A further nomination went to William Powell, who was cited by the New York Film Critics as the year’s “Best Actor.”-Amazon Editorial Review
The Trouble With Angels – “Hayley Mills stars in this delightful comedy about two mischievous students who turn a convent school upside-down with their pranks. Hayley Mills plays Mary Clancy, who, with her best friend Rachel Devery (June Harding), succeeds in driving the Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell) to distraction with an endless number of practical jokes. Just when there appears to be no hope for the school’s two most incorrigible students, they get a little help from Sisters Celestine (Binnie Barnes) and Constance (Camilla Sparv). During Christmas break, Mary remains at the school and is touched by the Sisters’ celebration of the Yule. Rachel first doubts Mary’s sincerity, but later follows Mary’s example. Their graduation is both a relief and celebration for the Mother Superior. It’s habit-forming entertainment for the whole family!”-Amazon Editorial Review
The Absent-Minded Professor – “The original, 1961 version of The Absent-Minded Professor is bound to be a hundred times funnier than the bland remake, Flubber. Fred MacMurray is charming as the eccentric college professor who discovers a gooey substance with sustainable energy. Everything about this movie clicks in a way Flubber didn’t, particularly the effort by director Robert Stevenson (a Disney favorite who made Mary Poppins, That Darn Cat, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and many other hits for the studio) to create comic tension between MacMurray’s gentlemanly performance and the slapstick set pieces. The famous basketball scene (in which some of the players don’t realize they have flubber on the soles of their shoes) is perfectly choreographed and exceptionally funny for kids.”–Tom Keogh
Son of Flubber (Sequel to The Absent-Minded Professor) – “Medfield’s lovable but hopelessly absent-minded professor — Ned Brainard (Fred MacMurray) — bounces back in this classic Disney film with hilarious new mishaps when he experiments with the amazing by-products of his startling anti-gravity substance, “flubber.” Windows shatter, football players fly, and thunderstorms materialize indoors as Professor Brainard fights to keep Medfield College from falling into the hands of ruthless land developer Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn).”-Amazon Editorial Review
The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band – “All I know is, the Democrats elected a president, and the Republicans cheated ’em out of it!” No, this is not a Michael Moore documentary, but a 1968 Disney musical. The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band is probably the best musical comedy set against the 1888 presidential campaign between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. The family band, a bit like American prairie Von Trapps, settles in the Dakota territory. Problem is, Grandpappy Walter Brennan is a diehard Democrat, and Dakota is rife with Republicans, including the suitor (John Davidson at his dimpledest) to his granddaughter (Lesley Ann Warren). The score by the Sherman brothers is not their best, and the “family fare” approach almost killed Disney films during this era. Nice to see old hoofer Buddy Ebsen get to dance a bit, and trivia buffs should note that Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are first linked here–he’s one of the kids, she’s a featured dancer.” –Robert Horton
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones – “Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello star as the sweethearts of Midvale College in this wacky, laugh-filled campus romp. Kirk is Merlin Jones, the gifted but slightly oddball student who, accompanied by his girlfriend Jennifer (Funicello), sets out on a series of comic misadventures. From trying to solve what appears to be a horrendous burglary and murder plot to having a chimp-napping charge pinned on him, no one is exempt from Merlin’s wacky sense of oddball adventure!”-Amazon Editorial Review
The Monkey’s Uncle (Sequel to above movie) – “Midvale College genius Merlin Jones (Tommy Kirk) is back and so is his girlfriend Jennifer (Annette Funicello). Once again penned by blacklisted writers Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt, this outing involves two attempts by a disgruntled regent to abolish football from Midvale College. In the first half of this faux film, the tyrant uses failing grades as an excuse to get rid of the football team. The judge from the first film (Leon Ames), asks Jones to find an “honest way to cheat.” Jones uses `sleep-learning’ on the two dumbest members of the team. They each earn perfect scores on their latest test convincing the teacher that they cheated. The last half of this movie involves another scheme by this same disgruntled regent. This time he has a donor willing to give the college one million dollars if they will abolish football. The judge gets his own donor (Arthur O’Connell) willing to give the college millions if they can build a man-powered flying machine. Jones reluctantly accepts the challenge with humorous results.”-Amazon Reviewer