While the whole of America starts shopping at 4pm on Thanksgiving Day, us lovers of Classic Hollywood forego the black Friday shopping craze and dive right into Christmas Movies. Thankfully since time moves forward.. the word “classic” starts to encompass more and more movies.
Our classic hollywood holiday movie list includes everything up to the year 2000… yes, yes we know there are awesome movies post-2000 but they’re not quite classic yet. These films have stood the test of time.
Watch, enjoy and take a minute to boycott shopping and enjoy some good old fashioned family Christmas films. Let the holiday joy begin!
LIFE LESSON: What is Love & Marriage
Bye Bye Birdie: A must see for any tween or teen in your life. Yes, they will be texting through the entire thing but that doesn’t mean they’re not listening. Besides, sex kitten Ann Margaret can show them how to get the guy with more class than we see nowadays. It offers a nice introduction to history and how all the cute guys had to go to war, the meaning of being “pinned” and other critical teen lessons with a broadway soundtrack.
The big lessons though are about Love and Marriage.
Yes, girls can flirt- yes, they can use their looks and cool dance moves to do that. Girls can decide who they want to date– it’s not just the guys decision. When you’re dating one guy you should NOT go kiss another— it’s bad form. It teaches monogamy and what a relationship should look like.
“One boy to laugh with, to joke with, have coke with. One boy, not two or three.”
And lastly it teaches them not to give in to peer pressure! on so many levels.
LIFE LESSON: There’s No Place Like Home
Wizard of Oz: The power of merging color film with black and white is pretty remarkable when it comes to how Hollywood has progressed over the years and could provide an excellent history lesson for your child, especially when you explain computers weren’t invented yet–they will be amazed.
But a big part of this film is that there is “no place like home” and that no matter where you are you always have the power to go there. Sure, while your kiddies may venture off to find courage, brains or their heart- home is always right where they left it- with you. A good reminder, always, and one you can teach your child whether they’re off to a sleepover, summer camp, or college.
LIFE LESSON: Be Resourceful. There’s always a way.
101 Dalmatians: This flick offers a perfect explanation for why dogs bark- at you, at other dogs, at cars. They are obviously crafting a rescue!
This one will give your child the understanding about where fur coats come from, why women are sometimes called “crazy woman drivers”, and true appreciation for animals. Resourcefulness is highlighted in this film when the puppies cover themselves with black soot— again, just another way you can help your child think outside the box. Yet these are simply the obvious lessons- watched multiple times your kids should be able to spot why bad guys have stupid sidekicks, the importance of looking up from your book to see the person you’re supposed to marry, the benefits and risks of a freelance music career and the benefits of a big family.
LIFE LESSON: Anything is Possible
The Sound of Music: Once upon a time, a long time ago they used to play Sound of Music every year at Easter, or so my mom tells me. Why? Well apart from the skyrocketing family friendly t.v. ratings gained on yet another holiday where having the t.v. on is the best idea ever, it was because its a movie about rebirth. About starting over. Since all of us live our lives starting over all the time, this alone is a valuable lesson to share. Yes, you can start over, Yes, things aren’t always as bad as you think. Yes, even a nun, previously wooed by Jesus, can find love. It’s a movie about possibilities. Kids need to know this stuff.
It’s also another opportunity to share the story of Nazi occupied Germany in a not horribly scary way. Also explaining what a baroness is , or a nun becomes much easier after this film. Seeing Julie Andrews in all her glory here is a must, especially as some children should know the do, re, mi song and will feel included singing along.
LIFE LESSON: Fortuosity
The Happiest Millionaire: This is one of my favorites, with Fred MacMurray and newbie actress Leslie Ann Warren.
Yes, this is a musical, which means the kids will remember the songs and lessons, whether they want to or not! Key lesson in this film? Fortuosity: that life is always giving you exactly what you need when you need it. And that while family expectations are important, if you got a dream you need to follow it. Humorous antics like alligators in the conservatory, and a father who fights off the boyfriends with boxing matches add a bit of extra fun.
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LIFE LESSON: Just a Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down.
Mary Poppins: An Icon in nanny abilities Mary Poppins succeeds in teaching parents how to listen to their children without compromising her practically perfect standards. What’s more is that children can learn that cleaning can be fun, spending time with their parents is important, and helping to support the local bird woman offers lessons in charity and goodwill.
If you didn’t notice that a spoonful of sugar is used metaphorically through the whole film- now is the time! Having wet feet calls for medicine ( with sugar), cleaning up a bedroom ( with a song to move the job along), and visit their father at the stuffy old bank ( with a stop at Uncle Albert’s) all get better with a little well placed joy.
What I love most about this film is how it can really open up the dialogue about the olden days when they didn’t have green screens and photoshop and computers to make movies. Kids these days may just take for granted that this film could have easily been shot on a green screen to combine the live-action and animation… but no…it was shot on yellow screen with chemicals and negatives and since computers to do this caliber of work didn’t arrive till almost 30 years later it’s a great way to share a bit of history and make them feel smart too!
LIFE LESSON: Never Settle
Babes in Toyland : A classic fairytale wonderland sets the stage for true love to be battered about a bit before we believe it’s actually possible again. Catching a lucky break by not being thrown into the sea by Barnaby’s henchman Tom comes back as a gypsy woman in order to save his potential bride from a loveless marriage. Forced to battle the talking trees and save Toyland, it seems as if Mary and Tom may never get together!
The opening song alone can help you identify those important Mother Goose tales you need to make sure your child understands before heading out into the world. And while we hope that our daughters won’t have to marry the slimy Barnaby because she can’t pay her bills the Bills Bills Bills song could offer some good motivation to go to college or at least pay attention in math!
But most importantly is the lesson of true love and what it looks like- yes even cloaked in Disney glory, your child will be able to see the real parts; caring, telling someone you love them, taking care of them, staying with them amidst danger, holding hands.
LIFE LESSON: Believe
Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: The children in this movie, along with dancing Oompahs, clearly lay out vices that should be watched like vanity, or gluttony, or judgment. What’s clearer is that Charlie is only able to win because he doesn’t give in to the wide array of vices. A good lesson that can be shared multiple times, multiple ways.
We are the Makers of Music, We are the Dreamers of Dreams
The best part however is that Charlie dreams. He knows he wants the golden ticket, and believes he will get it- so he does. He wants to win more than anyone else- and he won’t let things distract him (not the chocolate river, or the tv, or anything!). He’s focused. He Believes.
Nothing can replace the power of Belief in your Dreams. Share that.
LIFE LESSON: When it comes to family, do whatever it takes.
Three Smart Girls: Modeling the importance of family bonds, this favorite follows three sisters as they try to get their divorced parents back together. While not all marriages are worth saving, the lesson here is about a family that helps each other. Its perfect for showing sisterly relationships and how sometimes the kids really do know best. Also that every family member has a role and something to offer the task at hand.
An excellent introduction to child star Deanna Durbin showing all kids the power of following their dreams, this is simply one great movie:)