Family, Movie Reviews, Watch for free
The Red Balloon
Family / Foreign 1956 / 34 minutes RATING: 7/10 This Oscar-winning short film tells the story of a boy and the bright red balloon that he, well.....
Family, Movie Reviews
The Sword and the Rose
Family / Drama 1953 / 92 minutes Rating: 7/10 When I first found this film and read in the description that the hero was Mary Tudor, that was too...
Family, Movie Reviews
Jack and the Beanstalk
Children's 1952 / 83 minutes Rating: 7/10 Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star in their own version of this classic tale. The story begins with the d...
Movie Reviews, Watch for free
Dragnet Season 1 (1951) - 4 free episodes
TV series 1951 / 26 minutes each RATING: 7/10 In the 1950s fans of Dragnet could not only watch it on TV, but listen to it on the radio, and even buy tickets to watch it in theaters. In every one of these iterations, it followed Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday and his partners as they put in the hard work to catch and convict the bad guys. Roughly half the episodes in the 1951-59 TV version of the series are in the public domain, making it possible to share some of the best of them here. I'll be up front that this is not a series that'll appeal to most tastes – the pacing is slower than what we're used to today, and the action briefer. But the appeal is the decency of the main characters. These are good cops trying to do their best – old fashioned heroes, winning the battle by putting in the effort and hours. Caution The standard warnings about sex, violence, and language don't really apply here – there's nothing offensive on display. But even as it isn't gory, the topic matter can be. Friday and his partners investigate murders, suicides, kidnappings, and drug rings, so while Dragnet is incredibly tame by today's standards, that doesn't make it all-ages family viewing. Every kid is different, but I won't be showing this to my own girls until they are at least 12. Eight episodes from the 1951 season are now copyright-free, but four of them were quite slow so I haven't included them (though if you'd like to give them a try anyway the links are: Ep. 4: The Big Mother, Ep. 5: The Big Cast, Ep. 11: The Big September Man, and Ep. 12: The Big Phone Call). The season's four best episodes can be found below. Episode 1: The Human Bomb Sergeants Joe Friday and Ben Romero have to stop a man threatening to blow up city hall if the police don't let his brother go. Episode 2 - The Big Actor Sergeants Joe Friday and Ben Romero thing a television actor may be running a drug ring. Episode 13 - The Big Casing Sergeants Joe Friday and Ed Jacobs have to determine if it is murder or suicide. Episode 14 - The Big Lamp Sergeants Joe Friday and Ed Jacobs get a second chance to convict a burglar. ...
Family, Movie Reviews
Historical drama / Family 80 min / 1957 RATING: 7/10 Walt Disney clearly loved American history, and Johnny Tremain is another of his homages to it (The Swamp Fox and both Davy Crocketts being a few of the others). The setting is 1773 Boston, just weeks before the Boston Tea Party protest: on May 10, 1773, colonists who were masking their identities by dressing up as "Indians" boarded ships carrying tea, and threw the cargo into the harbor. This was a protest against a tea tax that had been imposed by the British Parliament. The Tea Party's actions stirred the pot, angering Parliament, which then passed further laws, described in the colonies as the "Intolerable Acts" which in turn angered more colonists. That's how the British Tea Party was an early precursor to the American Revolution that began two years later. So Boston is a busy place, as the story starts, but our hero Johnny is too busy to care much. He has his own concerns: his master is getting older, and losing some of his skills. Johnny seems to feel that if he is going to make his own name in the silversmith trade, he may need to take on jobs his master refuses to do. However, when he tries to complete a complex job while his master is away at church, it goes badly for him: breaking the Sabbath costs him the use of one of his hands which he badly burns on molten silver. The accident also costs him his trade, as a one-handed apprentice isn't much use. With his options limited, Johnny falls in with the "Sons of Liberty," becoming a revolutionary not so much out of principle, as out of friendship: these are the only people willing to give him a job. But as he gradually becomes acquainted with one of the movement's leaders, like Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, he gets won over to the cause and starts working as a secret courier. Cautions America is sometimes said to revere God, country, and guns, and not necessarily in that order. That might well be true of Walt Disney too, and comes out in this film in small ways, like how the most overtly Christian character is also the most joyless – the silversmith makes worship all about duty, not love. Still, God is not mocked. Other cautions include lots of gunplay but shown from a distance, which greatly mutes the impact. The most notable caution would be the "fight for liberty" this movie celebrates. Is it liberty, or is it simply rebellion? I don't know what to think about the American Revolution. The Canadian in me says, "You rebelled over a tax?" – that hardly seems warrant enough for a Christian to take up arms! But some American brothers have explained/argued that it wasn't so much a rebellion against the King as against the British Parliament. And, so their argument goes, the British Parliament imposing a tax on the colonies was akin to Alberta imposing a tax on Manitoba: it was an action they didn't have the jurisdiction to impose. What a viewer concludes about the rightness or wrongness of the American Revolution will greatly impact what they think about the film. Conclusion As a Canadian, watching this more for entertainment than education, this was a pretty good, and family-friendly, adventure film. There are brave folk taking their stands based on principles that they hold more dearly than their own lives. And that's an example we can learn from, especially when we have our Canadian government trying to penalize spreading His Truth to homosexuals. It might well be that we will need to risk much for what matters more. And American kids who have read the book in elementary school (where it has been a staple for decades) may really enjoy seeing how the story unfolds on the big screen. So, one thumb up. Johnny Tremain Trailer...
Drama, Family, Movie Reviews
The Spirit of St. Louis
Family / Biography 1957 / 135 minutes RATING: 7/10 Charles Lindbergh's 1927 flight wasn't the first to cross the North Atlantic. That was accomplished 8 years earlier, in May of 1919, by a crew of United States Navy aviators flying in a biplane equipped with floats. The floats were so it could land on the water, which it did a number of times to give the crew time for repairs and rest. Their flight, from New York State to Lisbon, Portugal took 19 days. That flight has largely been forgotten because it was eclipsed, just two weeks later, by a pair of British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, teaming up to make the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. They took a far shorter route, flying from Newfoundland, to Ireland. Their biplane managed the journey in just under 16 hours, crash-landing in a bog the pilots mistook for a suitable landing field. Both men were unharmed. So why is Charles Lindbergh's crossing the one best remembered? One reason was the $25,000 Orteig Prize for the first successful non-stop flight from New York to Paris. It had been offered since 1919, but despite a number of efforts over the next 8 years, no one had yet managed to claim it. Another reason was that Lindbergh's flight was the first solo flight across the Atlantic. And the third reason is related to the first – by flying between two major international cities, New York and Paris, Lindbergh's flight showed the world that commercial aviation was a real possibility. Just a dozen years later the first commercial transatlantic flights began. But enough history, how was the film? Well, if you like Jimmy Stewart, or appreciate biographical films, or enjoy learning even as you're entertained, or have wanted to know more about Charles Lindbergh, or want a nice family film, then you're sure to enjoy The Spirit of St. Louis. The film is named after Lindbergh's plane, and the story begins on the night before his journey begins. Even as "Slim" is tossing and turning, trying to catch some sleep before he begins what could be a 40-hour flight, he starts remembering what led him to this point. We see, in these flashbacks, and others that take place during the flight, how Lindbergh first bought his first plane, how he handled his job as a mail aviator in terrible weather conditions, how he convinced a group of St. Louis businessmen to back his transatlantic attempt, and how the Spirit of St. Louis was designed and built. Some of these recollections are told to a stowaway – a fly who comes along for the first part of the flight. It's a charming device, which our kids really enjoyed - Lindbergh points out to the fly where they are on the map and how long they've been flying. I was even a little disappointed when the fly decides he'd prefer to stay on this side of the Atlantic, and takes his leave out the open cockpit window. For some kids and adults, used to more frenetic action, the pacing might strike them as a bit slow. The film is also long, at more than two hours, and I suspect it might have lost our kids' attention if we hadn't watched it in two separate chunks. But broken up that way, it kept the attention of our whole family from 4 to 46. Cautions The topic matter of the film raises a few issues that could be worth talking about with the kids. The first is hero-worship. Lindbergh had drive, skill, and charisma – we can't help but root for him. But what the film doesn't get into is his failings – he had several affairs. Of course, our kids don't need to know all about that, but it is good to remember that our heroes have feet of clay, so we should not put them on a pedestal. Another topic worth a discussion is, what sort of risk is appropriate? Lindbergh was probably not a Christian and likely an agnostic, so he wasn't assessing risk from a Christian perspective. But we can. And in light of the other pilots who had died earlier trying this same flight, was it a good and worthy thing for Lindbergh to attempt? Or was he treating carelessly the life that God had entrusted to his stewardship? Questions worth discussing. Finally, Lindbergh's religious views do come up, briefly, in the film. Lindbergh was a private man, so his religious views seem hard to nail down, but he wasn't an orthodox Christian. However it's said he flew combat missions in World War II with a New Testament, and later spoke of the importance of Jesus' ethics. In the film his muddled thinking about God comes up in a few brief scenes. First, Lindbergh notes that when he flies he doesn't ask God for help. A Roman Catholic priest tries to set him right, and later on a friend superstitiously sneaks a St. Christopher's Medal on the flight for good luck (the medal is thought, by Catholics, to ask the saint to bless a traveler's journey). Finally, as he is at the end of his flight, sleep-deprived and unsure he can land it, he tries to recall one of the priest's prayers, and ends up simply crying out to God for help. This confusion about God might be surprising to very young viewers, and worth a discussion. Conclusion The 49-year-old Jimmy Stewart was playing a man 24 years his junior, and if Lindbergh seems a little older than 25, Stewart still pulls it off. This is an interesting bit of history, charmingly acted. Another good one for the whole family. ...