50 Must-See Movie Fathers: Free for Father’s Day Weekend 2019

Posted on June 13, 2019 at 11:16 am

In honor of Father’s Day, my eBook, 50 Must-See Movies: Fathers is FREE through Father’s Day, this weekend, June 14-17, 2019.

50 must-see fathers smallWhat do “Wall Street” and the “Star Wars” saga and, seemingly, about half the movies ever made have in common? They are about fathers. In “Wall Street,” Charlie Sheen plays the ambitious Bud, who respects the integrity of his blue-collar father, played by his real-life father, Martin Sheen. But Bud is dazzled by the money and power and energy of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). The movie will up the ante with Bud’s father’s heart attack as we see him struggle between the examples and guidance of these two male role models.

In “Star Wars,” Luke (Mark Hamill) does not know until halfway through the original trilogy that (spoiler alert) the evil Darth Vader is his father. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, who are killed very early in the first film, but the father figures who are most meaningful in his life are the Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Like Bud in “Wall Street,” Luke must choose between the good and bad father figures. Like Luke, Harry Potter is raised by an aunt and uncle, but he finds a true father figure later. For Harry, it is headmaster Albus Dumbledore. In opposition is He Who Must Not Be Named. Like Luke, Harry has the opportunity for great power on the dark side, but he lives up to the example set for him by Dumbledore.

The first stories ever recorded are about fathers. The central human struggle to reconcile the need for a father’s approval and the need to out-do him is reflected in the “hero of a thousand faces” myths that occur in every culture. In Greek mythology, Zeus is the son of a god who swallowed his children to prevent them from besting him. Zeus, hidden by his mother, grows up to defeat his father and become the king of the gods. Ancient Greece also produced the story of Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother, and The Odyssey, whose narrator tells us “it is a wise man who knows his own father.”

These themes continue to be reflected in contemporary storytelling, including films that explore every aspect of the relationship between fathers and their children. There are kind, understanding fathers whose guidance and example is foundation for the way their children see the world. There are cruel, withholding fathers who leave scars and pain that their children spend the rest of their lives trying to heal. There are movies that reflect the off-screen real-life father-child relationships. Martin Sheen not only played his son’s father in “Wall Street;” he played the father of his other son, Emilio Estevez, in “The Way,” which was written and directed by Estevez, and which is about a father’s loss of his son. Will Smith has appeared with his son Jaden in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “After Earth.” John Mills appeared with his daughter Hayley in “Tiger Bay,” “The Truth About Spring,” and “The Chalk Garden.” Ryan and Tatum O’Neill memorably appeared together in “Paper Moon.” Jane Fonda produced and starred in “On Golden Pond” and cast her father Henry as the estranged father of her character. Jon Voight played the father of his real-life daughter Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider.” And Mario Van Peebles, whose father cast him as the younger version of the character he played in “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song” made a movie about the making of that film when he grew up. It is called “Badasssss!” In the role of Melvin Van Peebles he cast himself.

Director John Huston deserves some sort of “Father’s Day” award. He directed both his father and his daughter in Oscar-winning performances, Walter Huston in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and Anjelica Huston in “Prizzi’s Honor.”

Some actors known for very non-paternal roles have delivered very touching performances as fathers. Edward G. Robinson is best remembered for playing tough guys, but in “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” he gave a beautiful performance as a farmer who loves his daughter (Margaret O’Brien) deeply. Cary Grant, known for sophisticated romance, played loving – if often frustrated — fathers in “Houseboat” and “Room for One More.” “Batman” and “Beetlejuice” star Michael Keaton was also “Mr. Mom.” Comedian Albert Brooks is a devoted father in “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory.”

There are memorable movie fathers in comedies (“Austin Powers,” “A Christmas Story”) and dramas (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Boyz N the Hood”), in classics (“Gone With the Wind”), documentaries (“Chimpanzee,” “The Other F Word”), and animation (“The Lion King,” “The Incredibles”). There are great fathers (“Andy Hardy”) and terrible fathers (“The Shining”). There are fathers who take care of us (“John Q”) and fathers we have to take care of (“I Never Sang for My Father”). All of them are ways to try to understand, to reconcile, and to pay tribute to the men who, for better or worse, set our first example of how to decide who we are and what we will mean in the world.

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The Jungle Book: Original Versions

Posted on April 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm

This week’s splendid new “Jungle Book” from Disney may inspire families to check out the books that inspired it by Rudyard Kipling. Children may prefer his “Just-So” stories and “Rikki-tikki-tavi,” about a curious mongoose who saves the day.

Families may also want to watch the original live action version of the story, starring Sabu.

Or Disney’s 1994 live action version, starring Jason Scott Lee and “Games of Thrones” star Lena Headey.

And of course there is the classic Disney animated version, the last film personally supervised by Walt Disney himself, with some of the all-time best Sherman Brothers songs. Like the new film directed by Jon Favreau, this version has outstanding voice talent, including Sebastian Cabot (Bagheera the panther), George Sanders (Shere Kahn the tiger), and Sterling Holloway (also the voice of Winnie the Pooh) as Kaa the snake.

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Rodgers and Hammerstein Musicals Get New Releases from Fox

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm

r and h collectionFox Home Entertainment is releasing the Rodgers & Hammerstein Blu-ray Collection on May 6. This Amazon-exclusive collection will feature six of the 15-time Academy Award-winning movie musicals by the EGOT and Pulitzer Award-winning team of Rodgers & Hammerstein, including Best Picture winner The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, South Pacific, State Fair, and Carousel.

The set features brand new 4K digital restorations of The King and I and Carousel, the only two films made in CinemaScope55, and Oklahoma! meticulously restored in 4K from 8K scans of 65mm Todd-AO film elements in its original road show version at the unusual original frame rate of 30 frames per second.

Bonus materials include a Sing-A-Long version of The King and I for die-hard musical theatre lovers and more than an hour of behind-the-scenes features for Oklahoma!

Fox will release Oklahoma! and The King and I in stand-alone Blu-ray and DVD combo packs October 7 in commemoration of their 60th anniversaries in 2015 and 2016.

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Ten Christmas Movies That Don’t Feature the Grinch, Tiny Tim, Bing Crosby Singing “White Christmas,” Lassoing the Moon, or a Dog Eating the Turkey

Posted on December 15, 2013 at 8:00 am

It is wonderful to share holiday classics like “A Christmas Carol,” “White Christmas,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “A Christmas Story,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and family favorites should be a family tradition.  But make some time for some new ones, too.  I recommend these lesser-known gems.

Christmas in Connecticut  Holiday chaos ensues when a Martha Stewart-style columnist has to host a WWII soldier for Christmas.  It turns out that the columnist (Barbara Stanwyck), who writes about her farmhouse in Connecticut, her husband and baby, and the wonderful meals she prepares, is a single woman living in Manhattan and has no kitchen skills of any kind.  And when the handsome GI arrives just as she is about to marry the real owner of the farm, things get delightfully complicated.

Love Affair It’s the first version of “An Affair to Remember,” the Christmas classic all the women cry over in “Sleepless in Seattle,” starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer.  It doesn’t have Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but it is witty, sophisticated, romantic, and endearing.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt7YYFuryQs

Come To The Stable  Loretta Young and Celeste Holm play nuns who are trying to get the money to build a hospital for children.  This is a very sweet, understated film and the two actresses are positively radiant in their habits.

Remember the Night Stanwyck again — this time as a shoplifter about to be sentenced just before Christmas.  Her “Double Indemnity” co-star, Fred MacMurray, plays the prosecutor who wants to delay the sentencing so that the judge won’t be lenient due to Christmas spirit.  So, he ends up taking the defendant home with him for the holidays and everyone learns something important.

Period Of Adjustment Tennessee Williams’ only comedy is this story of two young couples, newlyweds Jim Hutton and Jane Fonda and newly separated Anthony Franciosa and Louise Nettleton. A lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings — and interfering in-laws, tipsy carolers, a hearse, and a trip to the police station — lead up to the happiest of happy endings on Christmas Eve.

This Christmas A welcome addition to the Christmas movie tradition is this warm, funny story of a mother (Loretta Devine) and her six children, with an all-star cast that includes Delroy Lindo, Regina King, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and Chris Brown. Be sure to watch the wonderful dance number over the closing credits.

Desk Set Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star in this sparkling romantic comedy about a woman who heads up the research department at a television network and the man who is in charge of installing a computer that could replace her. Today’s audiences will smile at the old-fashioned punch-card computer that fills the room. But the issues it raises are still timely.

Die Hard A cop visiting his estranged wife at her office on Christmas eve finds himself defending the building against a supervillain. Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman became stars and the movie led to a whole series of “Die Hard in a ship/train/school” movies as well as four sequels.

The Gathering Ed Asner plays an industrialist who asks his long-estranged wife (Maureen Stapleton) to gather his long-estranged adult children for Christmas. Yes, it’s another accusation/revelation holiday drama but it is one of the best.

Bells of St. Mary’s We can all agree that the twist revelation at the end makes no sense at all, but the chemistry between Bing Crosby (never more comfortable on screen than when he was playing a priest) and Ingrid Bergman (as a nun) and the wonderfully natural nativity play put on by the children make this a holiday treat.

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