*Favorite Family Video Picks!*

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The Assisi Underground
Based on the true story about how the Catholic parishes of Assisi banded together to help shelter and free the poor Jews running from the Germans during the Nazi occupation.


The Keys of the Kingdom
(1944) Gregory Peck, Thomas Mitchell
A Story about the hard but rewarding life of a Missionary priest.

Birdman of Alcatraz (Available in March 2001)
(1962) Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden
Based on the true story of the Robert Stroud a convicted of murder, narrowly escaped the hangman - but for his mother's intercession - only to face a living hell on the famous island prison of Alcatraz. The hopelessness of his life is accentuated by a cold sadistic warden who begrudges the prisoners even the smallest freedoms or pleasures.  One day hope shines down on Stroud in the form of a little sparrow who can't fly. As Stroud cares for the little bird his cold heart is warmed by the realization that his little friend in the homemade cage - is a prisoner like himself.  His care for the bird leads him to study basic veteranary techniques and he researches diseases of birds - finding new treatments and cures.  He also writes a book about the plight of prisoners and better living conditions. Very thought provoking look at the life of this man who struggled and fought to retain his human dignity.  Probably Lancaster's best performance.  Great movie.

Cheaper By The Dozen
(1950) Myrna Loy & Clifton Web
The wonderful story of a unique real-life 1920's family with 12 children. Myrna Loy the mother of this close knit family, will steal your heart with her dry, deadpan humor. In one scene she sits patiently in her living room listening to an unsuspecting birth-control advocate spew over-population nonsense in an attempt to get her to join their nefarious group! The father is an efficiency expert and runs his household accordingly, but not without a lot of unavoidable laughs and surprises. Very entertaining film you and your family will love.  Takes you back to the wonderful time of 1910's and 1920's pre~Depression era America. The way a family ought to be. You'll simply love this classic treasure.

Sergeant York
(1941) Gary Cooper, Walter Brennen
Academy Award Nominations: 11, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay. Academy Awards: Best Actor ~ Gary Cooper, and Best Film Editing. 

Based on the true story of the life of Alvin C.York. Despite the picture on the box, this movie is not about war so much as it is about the unique character of this back-woods Kentucky sharpshooter and farmer. (The real Alvin York insisted that Gary Cooper play his part or refuse to sell the story. The result was on the bullseye as Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sergeant Alvin York in probably his best performance!) 
Though he signed on as a consciencious objector, the young York reluctantly served in World War I ~ only to go on to become a decorated war hero who astonished the world with both his bravery and his winning modesty. 

You'll cheer, and you'll laugh at the many humorous scenes seeded throughout the movie (some pretty funny 'a courtin' scenes with his bride to be!) and love the part of the old pastor played by Walter Brennen who takes York under his wing. There are some sad and intense war scenes you may not want the little ones to see, but this is one classic you won't want to miss! 

Fiddler on the Roof
(1971) Topol, Paul Michael Glaser
Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor - Topol. Academy Awards: 3, including Best (Adapted) Song Score. 

Shot on location in the Russian town of Anateimka, it is the story of a poor, but very colorful Jewish people living peacefully, but apart from their non-jewish neighbors. Life is hard, but happy until government organized anti-semitism, "pogramm"  touches their lives and changes them forever. 

The story is centered around the life of Tevye, a poor Ukrainian milkman who is always having interesting conversations with God, his shrewish bitter wife from an arranged marriage, and their five daughters. Tevye clings desperately to the old Jewish traditions while all around him the modern world is gradually forcing the old ways into extinction. 

This is a richly emotional and extremely well done film in every way. The cast of characters are beyond compare and unforgettable ~ Yenta the Matchmaker, and the romances between the girls and their unpopular picks for husbands. You'll find yourself singing along with the catchy "If I Were a Rich Man" and haunting melody "Sunrise, Sunset" and many more wonderful songs. (I always cry at the wedding scene!) You'll find yourself repeating the witty lines: Tevye arguing with a young man about money who claims: "Money is a curse!" Tevye responds, "May the Good Lord smite me with such a curse...and may I never recover!!" 

The actual fiddler on the roof is amazing!

This story is about a poor simple people ~ but is one of the richest film classics you could ever add to your video library!

Jesus of Nazareth
(1977) Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer, Michael York, Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier, Stacy Keach, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Peter Ustinov

This is the best. There is none to compare to this version film of the life and death of Christ. Robert Powell is believable and very well cast. I heard it said that Powell was an atheist or non-christian and was actually converted to Christianity after playing the part of Jesus. My family and I like to watch this version around Lent and Eastertime. It is an excellent film for meditation as it brings to life the teachings of Christ, his life and the surroundings, Jewish traditions and political climate of His day. You will cry. It has some very emotional scenes that are hard to watch. I have to fast forward through The massacre of the Holy Innocents ~ let alone letting my children watch it. But I wouldn't omit it. And of course Jesus' Passion....very realistic and very emotional. There is that gripping scene where Jesus stands before Pilate His dark sillouette in the frame of the archway. He is crowned with thorns beaten bloody and shaking. His garment is draped over His shoulder like a rag. "Ecce Homo" behold the man, says Pilate almost under his breath as he is visibly affected by the figure of Christ in front of him. There is one scene that the filmaker takes liberties with and that is Jesus begging Barabas to follow him. I didn't care for this scene as it is all in the imagination of the filmaker. Why do they do that? Otherwise, a very gripping and inspiring film. I absolutely hated "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and couldn't even bring myself to watch it after I saw how it was going. In my opinion, it was very poorly, if not deliberately done. Don't even bother seeing it. Forget all the others, this is the best version. IMHO ~ of course!
You can't beat the incredibly long list of stars that had a part in this movie either. I loved Ernest Borgnine as the soldier who's servant was healed by Jesus and stood at the cross at his death saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"  and the others. Oh yes, I almost forgot. The little boy and the older boy who played the Child Jesus, were extroardinary! I was absolutely amazed at their characters they played so well! Their appearances and presentations were incredible. 

The Ten Commandments
(1956) Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Vincent Price 
Oscar-winning special effects. Amazon.com 

They just don't make films like the Ten Commandments anymore ~ nor do they make film directors like Cecil B. DeMille! (Well, maybe Frank Capra on a lesser scale) But this is a thoroughbred through and through. Inspiring as well as entertaining. Yes, yes, the great special effects by even today's standard ...but even more so, the diligent attention to detail and the character buildups of even the smallest parts played were incredibly colorful, imaginative and creatively done. Charlton Heston's newborn son plays the part of the infant Moses! How much more appropriate can you get?  Yul Brynner plays a great antagonist (the Pharoah's son) "Let it be written, let it be done!". The love scenes with Anne Baxter, the drama, the spectacle and the creativity, make this film a all-time favorite classic! The only teensy little problem with Charlton Heston's version of Moses, (my all-time favorite actor) was that he didn't quite fit the bill as "The Meekest Man in the world" (!!) Otherwise, 'The Ten Commandments' is a giant among the classics!

Ben Hur
(1959) Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith.
Based on the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace. Academy Award Nominations: 12, including Best (Adapted)
Screenplay. Academy Awards: 11, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor--Charlton
Heston, Best Supporting Actor--Hugh Griffith. 

My man Charles! This guy was born for the big epic dramas. Handsome, tall and dignified you can't find a better leading man for a part like this!

Marsala, played by Stephan Boyd also gives a strong and excellent counter-part performance as the boyhood-friend-turned-cruel-heartless-enemy. How's that?
But again, a very inspiring and well-done picture which revolves around the life of Christ. It is so inspired, you could almost believe it actually happened. The Arab, was a very entertaining character, lightening up the seriousness of the drama. Hur's love interest, (he falls in love with the daughter of his father's slave), his relationships between all the people in his life and the gripping scenes associated around Jesus' Passion and Death were outstanding. You can't help but be deeply moved. Very emotional and inspiring film! If you haven't seen this one or don't already own it, you must come out from under your rock more often! 

The Robe
(1953) Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature
Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Actor--Richard Burton. Academy Awards: Best (Color) Costume Design, Best (Color) Art Direction-Set Decoration. The very first film to use 'Cinemascope'.

A fictional love story, about the wealthy son of a Roman senator whose life of leisure and mischief comes abruptly to a halt when he makes enemies with the highly placed official over the love of a woman. His life is in certain jeopardy, but is spared by the pleas of this same woman and instead sent into a certain exile to Jerusalem. He is a placed in charge of the soldiers to oversee the crucifixion of Jesus and the two others. While casting lots to see who gets Jesus' robe, it falls to Burton who is deeply effected by it and the blood that drips onto his hand as he leans against the cross as Jesus is still hanging there. He is driven mad by it and his tortured mind can find no rest. Job done, He travels  back to Rome, only to be sent back to Jerusalem by the Emperor to 'stamp out this madness (Christianity) with his own brand of madness.'  Romance, intrigue, chariot chases, and the thrilling ending make this a truly great classic film!

The Miracle Worker
(1962) Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke
Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Director, Best (Adapted) Screenplay. Academy Awards: Best Actress--Anne Bancroft, Best Supporting Actress--Patty Duke. 

The incredible true story about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan who is also nearly blind! This has got to be one of Anne Bancroft's and Patty Duke's finest roles. Helen (a young Patty Duke) is a unruly overindulgenced child who is sorely underdisciplined. Annie has her work cut out for her as she must teach Helen some manners and acceptable behavior undoing a whole lifetime of patronizing. Somehow, she must reach her in the dark world she lives. Annie not only struggles with a violent tempermental Helen, who is a contant physical threat ~ lashing out all the time, but must also overcome the doubts and lack of confidence of the family who is about ready to ship her back where she came from. Time is running out for Annie...and Helen! An inspiring film of faith, hope, courage, perseverance and love.

I Remember Mama
(1948) Irene Dunne

"Iss Goood! We dun't haf to go to da bank." 

Like finding buried treasure ~ this film is a real gem!
About the day to day struggles of a poor immigrant Norwegian family living in San Fransisco at the turn of the century. The innocence and old-world charm of this colorful family is irresistable with Irene Dunne playing the part of Mama. (My favorite classic actress next to Myrna Loy). Narrated by the eldest Daughter recounting stories of her childhood.  It's a funny and heartwarming tale of human frailties, strength, self-sacrifice, loyalty and love. A charming, classic you'll love and want to see over and over. 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
(1945) Dorothy McGuire, James Dunn, Peggy Ann Garner

A bitter sweet tale of a bright and sensitive little girl growing up with a poor tenamant family in Brooklyn during the depression. Her father (James Dunn) gives a wonderful performance as the alchoholic big dreaming father ~ hopeless but lovable. Dorothy McGuire is the serious, no nonsense, little-patience-for-daydreamers-wife and mother, agonizing over the idea of how to support another child on his meager income. All the elements of the human drama of life are sensitively played out in this wonderful little story. A favorite classic that will warm your heart.

Beau Geste
(1939) Gary Cooper, Robert Preston, Ray Milland
Academy Award Nominations: Best Interior Decoration. 

A story which takes many suprising turns. Just when you think you've figured it out, it's got you! 
Probably the best Foreign Legion film ever made. A great tale of family loyalty, honor, dignity and self-sacrificing love. Another great performance by Gary Cooper!
Based on the 1924 novel by P.C. Wren, this is the story of three brothers who join the Foreign
Legion after they admit to stealing the rare gem held by the matriarch of the family in order to save the actual female culprit. They
now must battle with a vengeance a sadistic crooked Sergeant Markoff who finds out about the priceless gem and intends to kill them for it.  They must live long enough to clear their family name.
Excitement, adventure and inspiration. A must see (maybe twice) to pickup on the little interesting details that make up the clues to the mystery!

A Christmas Carol
(1955) Alistair Sim

Ebenezer Scrooge played by Alistair Sim is hands down, the best version of them all! They just don't make'em like this anymore! 

The Scarlet and the Black
Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer, Sir John Gielgud

Based on J. P. Gallagher's book "The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican", this riviting adventure film tells the story of a real-life hero. Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty challenged ruthless Nazi officers and his uncertain superiors to save the lives of Jews during World War II. With German soldiers controlling Rome, O'Flaherty made a determined effort to hide and shuttle to safety as many Jewish people in the city as possible. But his task wasn't easy because a villainous German colonel suspected just what the priest was up to. * * * * *

Other Great Films to Rent or Buy:
War Classics

They Were Expendable
 (1945) John Wayne, Robert Montgomery

Bridge Over The River Kwai
(1957) William Holden, Alec Guinness

The Great Escape
(1963) Steve McQueen

(1973) Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman

Stalag 17
(1953) William Holden

The Longest Day
Richard Burton


High Noon
(1952) Gary Cooper

(1939) John Wayne's First Movie!
And its a ***** winner

Jeremiah Johnson
(1972) Robert Redford

The Westerner
(1940) Gary Cooper, Walter Brennen

(1953) Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur


The Sound of Music
(1965) Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

The Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland

National Velvet
Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor,

Black Beauty
(1994) Sean Bean

(1954) Kirk Douglas

The Greatest Show on Earth
(1952) Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

The Tree of Wooden Clogs
(1978) - English subtitles


Gentleman's Agreement
(1947) Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire


Favorite Family Videos II

Favorite Family Videos III

Wholesome Children's Videos








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