#4 “Me and the Colonel” Starring Danny Kaye, Curt Jürgens and Nicole Maurey (1958)
Danny Kaye is brilliant actor and hilarious comedian. I have enjoyed every film of his I have seen. My sister Tamara and I both enjoy this movie and often quote Danny's catch phrase from the film, “there's always two possibilities.” The characters in it are strong, and the plot is long and involved (which I like). It has some very funny moments, and some very genuine ones too, just like I like it. When it comes to this movie, there is two possibilities: either you watch it and don't regret it, or skip it and really miss out. ;)
CONTENT NOTE: The Colonel as his girlfriend are seen alone having unchaperoned kisses.
#3 “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” Starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo (1947)
Walter Mitty has sticks out to me as one of Danny Kaye's best roles. Danny enjoyed playing multiple characters, and through Walter's daydreams he got to do just that as he acts out different versions of Walter, from cowboys to river boat gamblers to expert surgeons. The plot keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat with it's mystery and action. You won't want to miss this!
CONTENT NOTE: A man is killed by gangsters while Walter is talking to him. While it is in no way excessive or gruesome, and is understandable given the plot, it's worth mentioning. Outside of this it's clean as a whistle from what I can remember.
#2 “You Can't Take it With You” Starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, and Edward Arnold (1938)
It's a well rounded story that can make you laugh, cry, and really think all at once. It's the story of a family who, lead by their patriarch “Grandpa”, has abandoned the traditional work model and simply decided to do whatever makes them happy. Grandpa's granddaughter Alice (Jean Arthur) has taken up a job as a secretary at the bank though, and fallen in love with the boss' son, Vice-President Tony Kirby (Jimmy Stewart). It's a bit of a Romeo & Juliet tale when Tony loves Alice's family and their way of doing things, but Mr. & Mrs. Kirby can't handle it. Mix in Grandpa's brilliant witticisms and heart of gold, that reaches out to everyone he sees, it becomes a real example of Christian love, you don't want to miss this movie!
NOTE: This movie is squeaky clean when compared next to nearly any modern movie. But I want to point out two small items. There is a brief mention of Mrs. Kirby being interested in “occultism”. It's quickly shot down by Alice's mother as a ridiculous pastime, and it's not made out to look like anything good. Fortunately the topic is closed almost immediately and doesn't affect the plot in any way. Also, Tony and Alice are seen kissing a few times in unchaperoned situations, but this is in many ways a romance plot and so it's expected.
#1 “Fiddler on the Roof” Starring Chaim Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, Paul Mann (1971)
This musical follows Russian-Jew Tevye as he wrestles with life, and balancing traditions with the world's progression. How does he know which traditions are unbreakable values, and which ones are meant to be bent? He's met head on with this dilemma as one by one each of his three oldest daughters become romantically involved with men who would not be Tavia's first choice.
Far from being just a simple “philosophical debate meets romance film”, Fiddle on the Roof has a brilliant and intricate plot with stellar acting performances, cinematography, music and directing. It's hard to express my deep appreciation for this film here, so you'll have to check out my future full length post on it.
Also, as an aside, if you like history or foreign settings, this film is for you, as we deal with a late 1800s/ early 1900s Jewish village in Russia and the clashing of the two cultures. It's really an amazing film that I can say nothing bad about (except my one warning in the following note).
CONTENT NOTE: *Spoiler* There is a scene where Tevye must find a way to convince his wife he made the right decision about something she would not agree with. In an attempt to convince her, he lies to her saying he had a dream where a dead relative spoke to him and advised him as to what to do. His tall tale is acted out, along with a musical number that includes their dead relative, and many towns people singing with her in the graveyard. It's a rather odd scene that feels entirely unneeded. But considering the lengthy run-time (179 minutes) of Fiddler on the Roof you could easily fast forward this section and not feel like you missed a thing. The only other thing that may be worth mentioning is that Tevye and Lazar Wolf celebrate with a tad too many drinks in one scene and then head to a bar. While I wouldn't recommend following their lead, I don't think it's anything to worry about if you are a discerning audience member. Honestly, the rest of the movie is more than worth the watch!
HONOURABLE MENTION: “My Favorite Brunette” Starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (1947)
My Favorite Brunette is the story of baby photographer Ronnie Jackson (Bob Hope) who accidentally gets mistaken for a detective by the helpless Carlotta (Dorothy Lamour), who may in fact not need a detective, and may just be plain insane.
The comedy and fun thrilling mystery ensues in ways that only old movies and Bob Hope could pull off.
NOTE: Ronnie and Carlotta kiss a few times, and Bob makes some small mildly suggestive comments, most of which will likely go over the average viewer's head.
**Is "wholesomeness" a word???