I don’t like old movies. I know it’s horribly un-classical of me, but with a couple of notable exceptions, I just don’t really love anything made pre-Father of the Bride (the Steve Martin version, obviously).
My main complaints are 1) the color is unnatural (or, there’s no color, blech!) 2) the actors talk in strange affected accents (It helped me, a little bit, to watch the video “Why Do People in Old Movies Talk Weird?”).
But this year I willingly pushed “play” on White Christmas for the twentieth time when my kids asked for it (Watching it with them was the first time for me, too!), and I spent my own money on DVD editions of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (They love them.)
What can I say? Even I can appreciate classic movies as a great wholesome alternative for the child who is getting too old for Daniel Tiger but is not yet ready to venture into the morally and intellectually deficient world of tween pop culture. (Again, there are a few exceptions here. But really, how many times in a row can a person watch the LEGO movie without needing some variety in her life?)
But back to White Christmas. I know many of you love this movie, so maybe you can help me with two details that I have not been able to resolve:
- Is it actually true that there were plenty of jobs waiting for low-ranking soldiers returning from WWII, but that generals were under-employed? Am I supposed to feel compassion for The General of the movie because he is having to work at his ski lodge, or just because there is no snow to attract guests there?
- In the Sisters song, Betty and Judy boast that they never have to have chaperones because they keep an eye on each other. But then just two lines later, they reveal that when a “certain gentleman arrived from Rome,” one of them wore their fancy dress to go on a date, and the other stayed home. What sort of a situation would require a chaperone more than a night out with a young man, newly returned from Italy, of all places? This seems to be a major breakdown in the sister-as-chaperone system. Also, Judy is always conspiring to force Betty into a romance with Bob.
And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: For many old movies, I’m able to say, “This well-made and deserves to be a classic, even if it’s not my taste.” Chitty is actually not one of them– it’s not that good of a movie on any level. But I remember liking it as a kid, and a couple of the scenes and songs are pretty entertaining, even if overall the movie is a dud. (You can often find it in the $5 bin for good reason.) The Chitty book is actually quite fun and plenty ridiculous on its own without a love story or extended dream sequence, so I have no idea what the screenwriters were thinking.
And now you can give me some advice: what should we try next?