By Nancy Young
In the post-Christmas and early January days of eating, shopping, and watching bowl games and parades, two films are well worth chancing after your favorite team has been knocked out of contention or the computation of how many daisies, roses, and gardenias went into making barge-sized parade floats just doesn't hold your interest. Both films are holiday-ish, without being overtly so, and therefore tuck very neatly into the after-Christmas days—particularly since they're all about happiness being more important than money (something it's good to remember when all the funds vanished under the Christmas tree)... Read more »
By Al R. Young As the school year ends, we suggest three lovable films that suit the summery move from homework to housework and sweaters to shorts. Though any of them are worth a watch any day, there's something about each of them that feels a little like the liberty of packing away the algebra and geography texts and packing up for a lazily-sweet three-months of vacation. They all possess something of a university setting--"just around the corner from Columbia" in the first instance, and two fictitious colleges to run away from or back to in the second and third... Read more »
By Al R. Young Films and programs on this page are arranged seasonally only to suggest that viewing might be correlated with family reading, at-home vacations, and other activities.
We've tried to list only titles free of objectionable material. Even so, we recommend that any production with which you're unfamiliar be reviewed before you gather the family round to watch it. In a few instances, where we have listed a production that might be problematic, we've tried to note areas of possible concern... Read more »
By Nancy Young
Some days your brain needs a rest. If you're in a workaday world or a school-a-day one, that time may be Friday night, the longest possible respite from the end of the work week and the ever advancing Monday morning. There may be homework or yard-work coming Saturday morning, social engagements Saturday night, and church services on Sunday, but on Friday night, you may be able to go at least a couple of hours without thinking a whole lot—making these two films are a perfect Friday fit—especially at the beginning of a new school year and a fresh football season... Read more »
By Nancy Young
When I was very young my sister always won when we played Clue. She was invariably Miss Scarlett—pictured on our playing cards as a film-noir starlet—young, glamorous, and forever unattached. According to the rules, she always started first. I was always Mrs. Peacock—elderly, stern and indomitable—widowed because she probably killed her husband so she could spend his money on the queen-for-a-day tiara and blue earrings she wore. I always started last.
Of course there were the other suspects—Professor Plum who looked like Einstein after some serious time at the barber's; Mrs... Read more »
By Al R. Young Everyone has at least one must-watch holiday film that heightens anticipation, enlivens the season, and simply speaks Christmas to the heart--and most of us probably have several. This pair of "Forgotten Films" is less about paving the way to Christmas morning, then about traveling the sometimes flat days after Christmas, when watching spirits visit Scrooge or angels visit George Bailey suddenly seem part of an exciting past that sadly won't return for another three-hundred-and-sixty-something days... Read more »
By Al R. Young I'm sure I'm not the only one who would never think of classifying Arsenic and Old Lace as a "forgotten film," but after an hour of listening to a movie reviewer and his radio-talk retinue of phone-in suggestions for viewing on All Hallows Eve, and never hearing Frank Capra's classic recommended by anyone--the grisly, ghastly, macabre, and just plain silly apparently being preferred--I don't want to miss the opportunity of recommending what I consider to be the Halloween equivalent to Capra's ultimate Christmas film: It's a Wonderful Life... Read more »
By Al R. Young
Orphaned heroes and heroines abound in children's literature. From Oliver Twist and David Copperfield to Mary Lennox and Pollyanna—not forgetting those in our most recent and upcoming journals, "Just" David, Anne Shirley and Swiss-Miss Heidi—the value in the stories and their impact carries on even for children with highly intact, two-parent families because we all find ourselves "orphaned" in society from time-to-time. Whether it's the first day of kindergarten or college, a nursery school or a nursing home—we sometimes find ourselves making our way amongst strangers in a strange land, and reading about the courage and successes of other "orphans" bolsters our own bravery... Read more »
By Al R. Young It's no secret that the British entered WWII critically under-manned and ill-equipped against German forces that had been building up a massive militia backed by advanced armaments. What Great Britain lacked in brawn, however, they tried to make up for in brains; and some clever wartime deceptions were among the results. Two such plots were adapted for the big screen in the 1950's—and either (or both) make for some satisfying summertime viewing.
The first bit of British Intelligence derring-do recounted on film was based on Ewen Montagu's best-seller, The Man Who Never Was, adapted into a 1956 film of the same name... Read more »
By Al R. Young Whether April is glowing and warm or gray and drear--and around here it can be both--we hate to let the month go by without viewing these two films at some point, especially at the end of some sodden Saturday or as a bright spot on a Friday night. The 1992 film version of Elizabeth von Arnim's novel, Enchanted April, adapts itself particularly well to the former time slot, as it begins with the lackluster and ends with the luminous. And luminous is certainly the best descriptor of every performance from its intimate and stellar cast of Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Joan Plowright (who earned an academy award nomination for her performance) Alfred Molina, Michael Kitchen, and Jim Broadbent... Read more »
By Al R. Young While "Hitchcock" and "charming" are an unlikely pairing in a word association game, this particular pair of Hitchcock films undeniably fills the bill.
Before ropes, psychos, and torn curtains entered Hitchcock's repertoire, he made some little cinematic delights where humor vied with suspense for top-billing and American and British stars had way-too-much-fun with their roles. Each of the films was quirkily flawed—the endings usually seem to be a surprise to everyone, even Hitchcock... Read more »
By Al R. Young If searching for a slightly indolent way to celebrate Labor Day, two rather forgotten favorite films come instantly to mind--The Devil and Miss Jones, a 1941 romp about attempts to unionize an NYC department store, and The Solid Gold Cadillac, a 1956 Columbia Pictures remake of a Broadway play, rendered eerily topical by Wall Street shenanigans of the 21st century. Both would be remarkable just for featuring two of the finest comediennes of the twentieth century,Jean Arthur and Judy Holliday, respectively; but also spotlight other insufficiently heralded performers... Read more »
By Al R. Young "First and foremost" every Mother's Day weekend, our family "remembers Mama." A must watch film to kindle every best feeling about a day that can sometimes dwindle into a perfunctory and harried Hallmark holiday, I Remember Mama is a thoroughly delightful remake of John Van Druten's long running Broadway play of the same name. In the midst of World War II, the play was performed to packed audiences aching for a return to prewar family life.
Van Druten had adapted Kathryn Forbe's book, Mama's Bank Account, which also had been an overnight sensation when it was first published in 1943... Read more »
By Al R. Young March, the traditional month of kite-flying, lambs, and lions, seems an appropriate time to explore both the love and fear of flying, as well as one of aviation's greatest lions, and a fictional lamb that roared. (And Surprise! Neither of this month's movies was directed by John Ford.)
While many people are probably familiar with Jimmy Stewart's portrayal of Charles Lindberg in The Spirit of St. Louis, far fewer will have seen his very delightful depiction of fictional scientist, Theodore Honey, in Henry Koster's No Highway in the Sky... Read more »
By Al R. Young If you're a little older (like me) you might still remember celebrating Abraham Lincoln's February 12th birthday by making Lincoln silhouettes atop Valentine hearts, and George Washington's birthday on the 22nd by hearing school teachers dramatically utter the phrase, "I cannot tell a lie, Sir..." Nowadays Abraham and George have to share a single February day of recognition, and no one's even in school to celebrate it. There are a few ways to recapture a bit of the grandeur of the two presidential giants, however... Read more »
By Al R. Young Each month, we'll feature a couple of Friday-night flicks, particularly—though not exclusively—appropriate to the month. We'll also provide a quick "Parental Precautions" list of any caveats that might send sensitive wee ones cowering under the covers, asking awkward questions, or picking up uninvited vocabulary.
(Quick reviews of these films are part of books and media we recommend on the Al Young Studios web site. Rio Grande Stagecoach)
The eternal summer of the desert is at its most attractive in January when those of us in northerly climes need six layers of clothes to stay comfortable while shoveling the walks…again... Read more »