Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Old Movies - A Better Family Entertainment Choice

Here at the Amick household, if there is one thing we are selective about (actually there are many things :-) it would be what kind of films our children watch. We are not a "TV Family" and do not have regular televison in our home, any viewing is strictly video/DVD and every selection is okayed by Mom or Dad. The Amick televison is used for educational purposes, with numerous educational items from the library being utilized regularly, as well as entertainment, usually about once per week on the average.

Over the years we have discovered that the majority of movies created for childrens' entertainment today are not something we wish to fill our childrens' minds with and be influenced by. It's a sad thing when entertainment marketed for kids or family viewing is full of violence, poor language, sexual situations or implications - and even films rated "G" are full of characters whose behavior most parents would not want their children to mimic. Prior to having children I had a job managing a video store for several years, and it was astonishing to witness the decline in quality of family films then and ever since . But dear reader, you may be asking, "What about the incredible special effects, amazing animation, award winning writing and enjoyable soundtracks in todays films?" My reply... Ah, yes - eye candy to be sure, but sadly it's nearly all the equivilant of toxins to the brain, character and morals of the audience.

With that said, I'd like to turn your thoughts to a time past, when films were made that could tell a story without excessive gore, indecency, foul language and the like. Films that are still entertaining and can captivate viewers of all ages. How many of you have watched a classic film in the last year? If you haven't I would sugest giving it a try - you might be surprized how much you enjoy it. Our children have grown up watching classic movies with a few new hollywood releases sprinkled in occasionally afer Mom & Dad find it meets approval. They enjoy old films just as much as the new ones and often more so. We often find that old films can be used to follow-up study of particular subjects or historical events we study in school. We also enjoy watching a film after reading the work of literature it was based on - lively discussions ensue as to the differences between the books and film and what was deemed better. Our rule (and hopefully your rule too) is ALWAYS READ THE BOOK FIRST if there is one that came before the film version. Books that are after thoughts of films are, in my opinion, often not worth the time to read - if in doubt check online.

Where do you find the "oldies but goodies"? Certainly a quality video store would have a few, but I have definitely seen a decline in them over the years. The best place to locate them is your local library or for that extra special gem interlibrary loan. We have found countless films to watch this way.. and all for free! When we discover one that we want to add to our personal collection, we have found inexpensive purchasing success on ebay or

If you're looking for some old films to accompany your homeschool history study, a helpful website is: Use the yellow box on the left of the screen to look over titles in various catagories. The book, A Knight at the Movies by John Aberth which focuses on films about the middle ages is also an entertaining and helpful resource.

Below is a list of recommendations from the Amick home. We'll continue to add more as we remember them or discover new ones. We'd love to receive any recommendations you might have of your own!

** Please take the time to research or preview the film prior to allowing your kids to watch it. Not all of the movies listed here are appropriate for all ages or children's maturity levels - and some are just for mom & dad!


The Sound of Music, Camelot, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (one of my favorites as a child and now my kids love it), Tom Sawyer (1973 starring a little Jodi Foster), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder 1971 - not the recent release with Johnny Depp), Calamity Jane (Doris Day), Mozart's The Magic Flute (filmed by Ingmar Bergman), The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland)


The Ten Commandments, The Jesus Film, Ben Hur, A Man Called Peter (1955), The Robe


It's A Wonderful Life (a must view for every child!), A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Molly's Pilgrim (Thanksgiving theme) - read the book first, film info at:

Classic Disney

The Strongest Man in the World, The Million Dollar Duck, Mary Poppins, The Nutty Professor, The Snowball Express, The Shaggy Dog, Old Yeller, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier, Daniel Boone series (4 films), Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Freaky Friday (original with young Jodi Foster), Pollyanna, The Sign of Zorro, Parent Trap (original with Haily Mills), Flight of the Navigator, Rob Roy The Highland Rogue

Old & Modern Classic Family Films

Across the Great Divide, Shirley Temple Films, National Velvet, The Wizard of Oz, Born Free, The Princess Bride, Seven Alone, The Man from Snowy River, Return to Snowy River, Mountain Family Robinson, Ice Castles (1978), Quarterback Princess (1983 a teenage Helen Hunt), Something for Joey (true story of John Cappelletti 1977 - one of my all time favorites as a child and I recently sought it out through interlibrary loan so my kids & Mike could experience it - still loved it after all these years), Grizzly Adams Movies & TV Episodes - for a blast from the past check this out, be sure to have your volume up! The original Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi - NOT the new films)

Classic Literature on Screen

Little Women (1933 Katharine Hepburn or 1949 Elizabeth Taylor), Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe/Narnia - get the BBC versions, Heidi (Burl Ives), Where the Red Fern Grows, Diary of Ann Frank, (1959), The Miracle Worker (1962), Rebecca (1940), The Agony & The Ecstasy, The Yearling, The Wilderness Family, Lassie Films, Little House on the Praire (1974), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935 James Cagney), As You Like It (Sir Laurence Olivier), To Kill a Mockingbird (Gregory Peck - I still cry at the end of the courtroom scene when Atticas walks out), Gone with the Wind (MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FILM EVER MADE), Journey to the Center of the Earth

Classic Romance

It Happened One Night (1934 Clark Gable), An Affair to Remember (1957 Cary Grant), Casablanca (Bogart & Bergman 1943), The African Queen (Bogart & Hepburn 1951)

Classic Action, Adventure & Heroes

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 Errol Flynn - the boys absolute favorite!), Zorro (1975 Alain Delon), Joan of Arc (1948 Ingrid Bergman), Cleopatra (1963 Elizabeth Taylor), Ivanhoe (1952 Robert & Elizabeth Taylor), Knights of the Roundtable (Ava Gardner 1953), The Sword of Lancelot, The Court Jester (1956 Danny Kaye), Adventures of Superman (1948), Old Lone Ranger Episodes, The Longships (1963 - a Viking Story), The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Searchers (John Wayne)

1 comment:

ND Mom said...

You have the same "policy" that we do - read the book first! Let the pictures develop in your mind before some else puts them there.