The Movie Maven at the State Fair
St. Paul, Minn. — MPR's Movie Maven, Stephanie Curtis, features the 10 best movies to watch with children.
Great gangster films that will help you get over losing The Sopranos:
"Little Caesar" (1930) Edward G. Robinson is the Original Gangster.
"High Sierra" (1941) What happens to old gangsters when their careers end. It's not a pretty picture for Humphrey Bogart.
"Asphalt Jungle" (1950) The heist film that every other heist film steals from. Based on a novel by W.R. Burnett, the man who wrote the novel "Little Caesar."
"The Long Good Friday" (1980) An entertaining look at a crime syndicate on the other side of the Atlantic.
"City of God" (2002) Frenetic tale of how the crime world works in Brazil.
Beyond "Finding Nemo" for the 5 to 10-year-old crowd. Older classic films seem to work best for this group:
"The General" (1927) -- Little kids get silent films. You may have to read some titles, but they'll all understand a fight on a train. Great stunts, great gags and Buster Keaton's immobile, sad face still work after 80 years.
"A Night at the Opera" (1935) -- The gibber-gabber of Groucho works whether the kids understand every word or not. And who can't love Harpo?
"Great Expectations" (1946) -- Don't accidentally rent the racy 1998 version of this tale of Pip finding his way in the world. The David Lean version is beautiful, and kids will be taken with the rags-to-riches tale of an orphan boy.
"Harvey" (1950) -- Jimmy Stewart has an imaginary rabbit friend -- or is it? Your kid will want an imaginary rabbit of their own.
"Help!" (1965) -- I don't care if you don't like them; kids love musicals. I would put "Singin' in the Rain" here, but I wanted to reach out to those poor people still afraid of folks singing for no reason. Richard Lester's direction, the madcap-ness of The Beatles before they found meditation and the fantastic music make this a pleasure for everyone.
Movies to watch with the 10 to 16 crowd:
"The Third Man" (1949) -- Orson Welles can teach your kids (and remind you) that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there. The end of war doesn't necessarily mean peace for all.
"Night of the Hunter" (1955) -- If you are sick of your kids watching bad horror movies, here's a terrifying film without beheadings, torture or even much blood. A slow, frightening chase with two kids facing off a crazed preacher.
"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) -- If your kid thinks you're a bad parent, just show them this film starring the worst mom of all time, Angela Lansbury. (On the flipside, show them "Mildred Pierce," which features Ann Blyth as the worst child of all time.)
"What's Up Doc?" (1972) -- You can introduce your kid to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and '40s ("Bringing Up Baby" is a choice selection), or you can go with the charming tribute from Peter Bogdanovich.
"Strictly Ballroom" (1992) - Australian comedy about the ballroom circuit that mocks its participants while embracing the spectacle of it all. Broad comedy for everyone.
- Stephanie Curtis: The Movie Maven is producer at MPR's The Current.
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