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Rebecca

Rebecca(1940)

Black & White; VHS or DVD; 130 minutes

Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, George Sanders

Here's the film that won the Oscar as Best Picture in 1940, a movie that shows the power of black and white photography when skillfully handled.

Here's the film that won the Oscar as Best Picture in 1940, a movie that shows the power of black and white photography when skillfully handled.

This movie has it all: Great cast (see above), top drawer production (the famous David O. Selznick studio), from a classic book (by Daphne du Maurier), cinematography (another Oscar), music (the brilliant Max Steiner) and last but not least, superlative direction by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.


Now, Voyager

Now Voyager(1942) 
Black & White; DVD or VHS; 117 Minutes 
Stars:  Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper  

OK, I admit it. I'm a pushover for some of those "tear-jerker" movies with a message. And this "3 hanky" drama fills the bill.

One of my all-time favorite actresses, Bette Davis, gives one of her finest performances in this tale of an "ugly duckling" who undergoes a physical and spiritual transformation, love, heartbreak, and finally, ultimate contentment in a way you'll find surprising. (Along the way, Davis was nominated for her sixth Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her starring role as Charlotte Vale).


Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy(1936)
VHS/DVD/ B & W/100 Minutes
Stars: Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello Barrymore, C. Aubrey Smith, Mickey Rooney 

Here's a film the whole family can enjoy together, a brilliant classic that will touch your heart.

Little Freddie Bartholomew, (my favorite child actor of all time), plays young Cedric Erroll, and endearing little boy growing up on the tough streets of Brooklyn.  "Ceddie" is kind and loving, but he can hold his own in a street fight, often in the company of his best friend Dick, a young ruffian masterfully portrayed by Mickey Rooney.

Ceddie's mother is a widow.  Her father-in-law is a cranky old English nobleman, the Earl of Dorincourt, portrayed by the wonderful C. Aubrey Smith.  When the Earl learns that young Ceddie is the legal heir to his vast estate, he summons the child to England, to live with him at his English Estate.  The story line centers around the relationship between the Earl, (who hates all Americans), and young Ceddie, who is now titled "Lord Fauntleroy".  And just about the time Fauntleroy wins the Earl over, a rival appears who threatens everything.
This film will move you.  Truthfully, I can hardly think of any movie I've ever seen that warmed my heart more than this one.  It's a marvelous story about how love, innocence and honesty can soften the hardest heart, melt the cruelest person, and change the lives of all around.

The immortal David O. Selznick produced this picture, John Cromwell directed, and the music is by another film great, Max Steiner.  The actors are consistently superb.  And since the main character is a child, your own children will probably follow this movie quite well.  It's short, too, at only one hour and forty minutes.  There's nothing objectionable here so get the whole family together to watch it. 

The down side regarding Young Lord Fauntleroy is purely technical.  The print is old.  Even the DVD version is of poor quality.  How sad that we've let films like this decay into dust while we spend millions to produce the garbage that passes for entertainment these days!

-Pastor Ray


Les Miserables

(1935)

B & W; 104 Minutes
Stars: Frederic March, Charles Laughton

I’m often asked, “What is your favorite movie of all time?” That’s a tough one to answer, but if I was forced to name just one, this would be it.

This magnificently filmed version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel moves my soul at the deepest level and I never get tired of watching it again. 

Set in 19th century France, peasant Jean Valjean, (March), is sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family.  The story is about his rise from galley slave to Mayor of a town, yet all the while hounded and tormented by Inspector Javert, (Laughton), who is determined to put him back into prison.


Laura

Laura(1944)
B&W/DVD or VHS/87 Minutes
Stars: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price

This is the first murder mystery I’ve ever recommended in this series, so if you don’t care for the genre, stop reading here.  I’m not limiting my recommended movies to those with strictly Christian themes.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching a good “who dunnit”, and this is, in my opinion, the best one ever made.

This movie has it all.  An edge of your seat pace and story-line, handsome leading man, gorgeous leading woman, and suspense that will hold you right up to the end.


It's A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life(1947)

DVD/VHS/Color/132 Minutes

Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reid, Ward Bond

Here’s my recommendation for your family’s Christmas viewing, one of the greatest family films ever made. This one is so good, you might want to make a family tradition of watching it every December and savor the richness of its message over and over again.

James Stewart is our hero, the hard working, long-suffering George Bailey. The film opens with George saving the life of his little brother, who had fallen through the ice while skating. Later, we see George unselfishly serving the needs of his father’s business while his brother moves on to more exciting things. Along the way he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Donna Reid. But the plot takes a dark turn as the family business comes under the shadow of an unscrupulous, wealthy miser, Mr. Potter, wonderfully portrayed by Lionel Barrymore.


How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley(1941)

B& W; DVD & VHS; 118 minutes

Stars:  Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowell; Donald Crisp

This incredible film won five Academy Awards in 1941, including Best Picture, and the accolades keep on coming.  Halliwell's Film Guide calls it a "Hollywood milestone" and Variety magazine described it as "a perfection of screen art" and "one of the finest pictures ever made".

Elizabeth and I have watched this film many times and are always deeply moved by it.  Told in flashback, now 60 year old Hugh Morgan looks back on his life as a boy growing up in a small Welsh coal mining town.  The English countryside fades through the years, evoking the reminiscent title, "How Green Was My Valley". 


Great Expectations

Great Expectations(1947)   
B & W/DVD 118 Minutes  
Stars: John Mills, Jean Simmons, Finlay Currie, Alec Guiness  

Charles Dickens' masterpiece novel comes to the screen under the superb direction of David Lean, one of the greatest English film makers of all time.

The story follows the life of one Philip Pirrup, (called "Pip"), from boyhood through young manhood.  His lifelong infatuation for the beautiful Estella is something with which most men can relate.  Estella is as fickle as she is lovely, as cruel as she is intelligent, and in the end, a moral lesson against dysfunctional family backgrounds. 


Goodbye, Mr. Chips

(1939)

Black & White; VHS Only; 115 minutes

Stars:  Greer Garson, Robert Donat

Charles Chipping, (Donat), is an austere, humorless Teacher at an all-boys school in England...totally unable to reach his students.  But when he falls in love with the beautiful Katherine, (Garson in her film debut), his entire personality undergoes a miraculous change.  Through Katherine’s love and encouragement, Chipping overcomes his stuffy demeanor and becomes a new man...”Mr. Chips”.

This heartwarming film is one of the most charming motion pictures ever made and is a must for serious film fans.  This is one of Elizabeth’s favorite movies of all time and appeals to me, as a teacher, since it richly portrays the depths of mutual learning and respect which can take place between teacher and student.


Going My Way

Going My Way(1944)   
B & W/DVD or VHS/127 Minutes  
Stars: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald  

Here’s a great film for the Holiday season, even though it’s not an overtly “Christmas” movie.  This is the film that won the Oscar for “Best Picture” in 1944, the year I was born!  

This is the heartwarming story of a young Catholic Priest, Father O’Malley, who comes to take the place of the very elderly, very crotchety Rector of St. Dominic’s parish.  The heart of the movie is about the clashes and conflicts between these two men and speaks of how the older generation often has a lot of difficulty accepting the younger generation!  The “clashes” and “conflicts” I mention are not bitter or malicious; indeed, they are humorous and never mean spirited.  And in spite of (the older Priest) Father Fitzgibbon’s cranky, persnickety personality, you’ll love this character, played by the immortal Barry Fitzgerald in one of his best roles.  


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