So last week we were in America, and sure, Disney was fun and everything, but you know what was the best thing?
Our hotel got Turner Classic Movies. AWESOME.
It’s a TV station totally devoted to showing old movies, and if we got this channel here at our house, I would literally do nothing else. The house would devolve into a slovenly pigsty, the kids would have to make their own food and get to and from school by themselves (if they felt like going), because I would be BUSY. I adore old movies, I’ll never be able to watch everything on my “want to see” list in my lifetime, and TCM would basically be like crack to my fake-film-student brain.
We did the Disney parks from early morning to late afternoon, and were home in time for dinner and bedtime each day, which left me free to run to the TV and watch delightful old movies each night. I saw There’s No Business Like Show Business (Ethel Merman is 12 kinds of fabulous), Wait Until Dark (Alan Arkin! A bad guy!), and Top Hat (instantly one of my all-time favourite movies, ever – Fred Astaire is THE MAN, sorry Gene Kelly). I was in heaven.
It got me thinking about my kids’ movie-based education. A while back I started keeping a list of book classics that I wanted to share with my kids, both books that are cultural touchstones and books that I just loved when I was a youth. It’s an ongoing work in progress but every time a birthday rolls around, or we’re down to the last few books on the bedside table and off to the library to refuel, I pull out the list and pick out a few titles. We’re building a great library here and it’s a real thrill to me when my kids love a book the same way I did when I was their age. (I should probably post this legendary list, shouldn’t I? Note to self.)
So I’ve been thinking, I should start a similar list for movies. When I was growing up, my mom was also into old movies and I saw dozens upon dozens of classics at home, either rentals or on Saturday Night At the Movies on TVO. When the American Film Institute came out with their list of the top 100 movies of all time, I took it very seriously, and started working my way through – I’m still not done, but I’ve seen 3/4 of the list and the remaining ones keep getting bumped for other stuff I want to see more.
A year or so ago, I showed the kids The Wizard of Oz because it happened to be on TV. Little Miss Sunshine fell in love with it, and likes to dress up as Dorothy, and now reads the book version we bought her on a regular basis. But just as importantly, we’re all surprised at how many references to that film still exist in modern pop culture – Phineas and Ferb, one of the kids’ favourite Disney animated shows, even had a whole episode that was an Oz take-off. The kids were SO exicted at the Phineas and Ferb episode, because they got all the in-jokes, and actually understood the theme, and man, did they ever feel so so smart. It was a great pop culture junkie moment for me, let me tell you.
So all this is to say, I’m going to start a classic movies list and keep it alongside my classic books list. My books list is dividied by age suitability, and the movie list will be too. Comment with your suggestions, and I’ll add my own, and I’ll post the results soon.
(Along with that book list. Note to self.)