william holden as major kendall in ‘the horse soldiers’ (1959)

This blog post is part of the Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration.

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‘The Horse Soldiers’ (1959) is a John Wayne film, but from the very first time I watched it, my attention was focused on another actor: William Holden as the compassionate, brave, and wonderful Major Henry Kendall.  It’s the one Holden role where I love and appreciate him wholeheartedly, and while I wasn’t quick enough to put ‘The Horse Soldiers’ down for last year’s blogathon, I was this year (obviously).

So.  To set the stage.  ‘The Horse Soldiers’ is a movie about some sort of suicide mission that John Wayne’s character, Colonel Marlowe, has to undertake along with a bunch of his men.  I’m not sure of all the details, but suffice to say that it’s Dangerous and Serious.  While Marlowe and his brother officers discuss the ins and outs of said mission, a quiet, unassuming man walks into camp and asks to be directed to the officers’ meeting.

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Just a few moments after joining the officers, Kendall already has a problem (a big problem) because Colonel Marlowe clearly has it in for him.  It’s nothing personal, really.  You see, Kendall is a surgeon.  And Marlowe hates surgeons, hates the entire medical profession, for reasons that aren’t explained until much later but you can kind of guess it’s something to do with his family because…what else?  Anyway, yeah, Kendall’s in a big situation because Marlowe outranks him and, y’know, he’s played by John Wayne who can be truly terrifying in a bad mood.  Kendall, however, doesn’t back down (he’s to accompany Marlowe & Company on their trek) and basically gives as good as he gets.  (In a later scene, when Marlowe states gruffly that any wounded will be left to the clemency of the enemy, Kendall inquiries “Including yourself?” with a little smile on his face.)

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Ever since Doc2 became my favorite character on Combat!, amazing doctors, surgeons, and nurses have cropped up throughout fiction and I’ve liked/loved each and every one.  John Watson, Julia Hoffman, Tiberius Lucius Justinianus…the list goes on and on and Kendall is definitely high on it.  There’s something about how doctors put the needs of others before their own and are so courageous and awesome and skilled. (I understand not all doctors/nurses/other medical personnel are so perfect.  But still.)

Anyway, to return to the story, the troop (is it a troop or some other military body?) sets out to a rousing chorus of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again’ which makes me snicker.  Because, you know, that whole scene in ‘Stalag 17’.  It cracks me up. (Not the bit in ‘Stalag 17’, which is actually chill-worthy and NOT in a good way.  Just…the connection.  And I just over-explained that wayyy too much.)  ANYWAY.  They march along (or ride along, because they’re horse soldiers) and when they stop for rest, a soldier comes up to Kendall and informs him that there’s a woman giving birth in a nearby cabin and the family would like a doctor’s help.  Of course Kendall goes to help them and ends up delivering a healthy baby, just before Marlowe orders Kendall to never help civilians again during his tenure as an army surgeon and places him under officer’s arrest.

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“You’re an officer in the Union army, under oath,” Marlowe says.  “I took an older oath before that one,” Kendall answers. (Awesome dialogue is awesome.  And awesome characters are even better!)

Stuff happens and the troop ends up at the home of Miss Hannah Hunter, a Southern belle who loathes Yankees but does an admirable acting job, what with inviting Marlowe and his officers (including Kendall) to dine with her.  Everyone’s rather besotted with her, expect Marlowe and Kendall, but it’s Kendall who’s actually suspicious of Hannah – Marlowe is just grumpy overall.  Those suspicions turn out to be on point and the troop ends up having to take Hannah and her maid along with them.

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This post is getting long, so I’ll just list a few more things that make Kendall that much more awesome.

~He doesn’t fall in love with Hannah, so there isn’t a stupid love triangle.  And he does end up respecting her a lot as she changes and matures.  Which is awesome.  They work well together, as doctor and nurse.

~Kendall has a friend in the Confederate army who’s really cool and he still acknowledges/talks to his friend even though Marlowe looks askance at fraternizing with the enemy.

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~He works so hard to keep the troop healthy and together and it’s horrible when that one soldier has to have an amputation because he didn’t listen to what Kendall told him. (Even worse when the same soldier dies soon after.)

~Kendall puts up with a LOT from Marlowe before he finally snaps.  And it’s rather frightening in an epic way when he does break. (Marlowe was a total jerk in the scene when it happens, by the way.)

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~And, finally, the thing that made me truly love Kendall the very first time I watched ‘The Horse Soldiers’: he stays behind with the wounded men when Marlowe and what remains of the troop escape to freedom.  Kendall could have gotten away and left the wounded to the Confederate army, but he stayed behind to do all he could for the men in his care.  “Medicine’s where you find it,” he says to Marlowe.  “Even in Andersonville.”

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William Holden portrayed Major Kendall with a warmth, seriousness, and steadiness that I don’t another actor could have pulled off in such a perfect way (Glenn Ford may have managed it, but maybe not).  It’s the one of the only truly likable roles I’ve seen Holden play and one that I’m sure will remain my favorite of all his films.

Eva

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classic movies to watch with little ones

I have three little brothers whose ages range from 5 to 10.  As expected, they’re a real handful and sometimes the only way to settle them down is to let them watch a movie or a couple episodes of a favorite TV show.  While we have a rather large collection of animated films in our basement, sometimes I prefer to not let them rot their brain with ‘Thomas & Friends’…but most of the other movies we own are ‘old’ (pre-1970s).  Thankfully, there are some classic films that my little brothers genuinely enjoy and I thought I’d list them in this post so if any of you have younger siblings, you can benefit as well.

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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Daring heroes, beautiful maidens, plenty of swashbuckling action, and all in glorious Technicolor.  What’s not to love?  I’ve yet to meet a little boy who didn’t love Robin Hood.

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The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Now, this was the recommendation of my ten-year-old brother – I’m not sure how much the two youngest like it, because there’s relatively little action.  But still.  Mag7 is my favorite movie of all time, so I had to include it on this list.

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Room for One More (1952) – One (mostly) common denominator of the classic films that my little brothers enjoy is that they usually include children their age.  ‘Room for One More’ has plenty of kids who misbehave (always a fascinating thing for my brothers, for whatever reason) and it’s a favorite in our house.

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The Sound of Music (1964) – More children…  And the songs are classics for a reason.

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Singin’ in the Rain (1952) –  As you may have guessed, my whole family loves musicals, and that includes my younger siblings.  There’s something about the energetic songs, colorful dance numbers, and heightened reality of musicals that appeals to most children.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) – So much action and excitement!  I remember seeing this when I was very young indeed and some scenes, like where the cannibals are electrocuted, left such an impression on me. (Not always an entirely good impression, though.)  I’d also say that almost any live-action Disney film from the fifties/sixties is great for children (except ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’, which scarred me so badly as a child).

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The Proud Rebel (1958) – I asked my little brothers to give me movies that I could add to this post and Ethan (who’s 7) said, “Oh!  That movie where the boy is deaf and then when his dad’s about to get shot, he yells.”  At first, I was a little stymied, but I ended up realizing what movie he was talking about.  And he’s right.  ‘The Proud Rebel’ is a great movie for little ones (there’s a young boy and a dog).

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The Court Jester (1956) – Danny Kaye silliness.  Need I say more?

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959) – Another Jules Verne adaption that stars James Mason!  Only this time, he’s a good guy and the film wasn’t put out by Disney.  It’s very fun and colorful and entertaining, though.  It’s a movie my older siblings and I watched all the time when we were younger and we still quote it frequently.

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So, yes, that’s my list.  Do let me know if your little siblings love any of these!

(Also, a note on old TV shows: my little brothers love Combat!, Rat Patrol, F Troop, Get Smart, and Gilligan’s Island.  So classic television is another great viewing option.)

Eva

in appreciation of jim gordon

This blog post is part of my Good Cop, Bad Cop Blogathon.

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The first couple of times I watched ‘Batman Begins’, my attention was mostly focused on Batman/Bruce Wayne (as is only natural).  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, enough to keep watching it, and as I did, one character began to stand out more and more: Sergeant (and later Lieutenant) Jim Gordon.

We first see Gordon in one of Bruce’s many flashback memories, where he’s comforting young Bruce after the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne.  It’s a touching moment and one that defines Jim Gordon as a compassionate person.

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Several years pass between Bruce’s first interaction with Gordon and the next and if you’ve watched the movie, you know what all happens in that time. (If not, go find a copy of the film and watch it!)  Anyway, I find it interesting that when Bruce gets back to Gotham, he makes it a point to find and talk to Gordon right away, trusting that he hasn’t been corrupted and will be willing to fight for justice in the city.

The fact that Jim Gordon hasn’t fallen prey to the corruption that infests Gotham’s police force…it really speaks to me, that honesty and honour.  It can’t have been easy, especially because he has a wife and (at least) one child – when Batman comes to talk to him, you can see that the Gordons live in a slummy part of town.  Joining the ‘protection’ racket and turning a blind eye to the Falcones of Gotham would have meant better pay, a better house (and, ultimately, more safety) for the Gordon family, but Jim Gordon is a man of principle who won’t be bought.

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I’ve always found the scene where Batman first talks with Gordon (in his office, with the stapler) interesting because when he hears the click and the ‘Don’t turn around’ and all that, you can totally see the shock and then the acceptance on his face.  I’m pretty sure Gordon has expected this day to always come, the day when someone would come and harm him (or even kill him) because he doesn’t play by the twisted rules of Gotham’s underbelly.  It’s a fascinating little moment Gary Oldman absolutely sells it.

The tentative partnership/almost-friendship that springs up between Jim Gordon and Batman in ‘Batman Begins’ is beautiful.  From “I think you’re trying to help” to Gordon going into Arkham Asylum because he knows that ‘the Bat-Man’ won’t hurt him to Batman relying on Gordon to destroy the monorail tracks…I love it.  There’s definitely not full trust there (yet), at least not on Gordon’s side, but they’re a team and together they defeat Ra’s and Crane.

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(I haven’t seen ‘The Dark Knight’ yet, so I can’t comment on Jim Gordon’s awesomeness in that, but he’s great in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ – he really carries Gotham on his shoulders while Bruce is out of the picture and his righteous indignation in response to Crane’s kangaroo court is one of his best moments.)

Jim Gordon stands up for what he believes in (much like another guy I like) and doesn’t back down and is basically BFFs with BatBale, so yeah.  He’s pretty amazing. (As is Gary Oldman.)  One of my favorite fictional cops ever.

What about you?  What do you think of the Dark Knight trilogy’s Jim Gordon?

Eva

mini movie reviews {#8}

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) – Sweet and charming and heartwarming.  Not unlike young Timothy himself.  And Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a bit role. (I’m not a fan, but I know tons of people are, so…yeah.)

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The 300 Spartans (1962) – This movie scarred me as a child because THEY ALL DIED.  It’s still sad, but also a great and enjoyable piece of entertainment.  I think a part of me always wanted to be Ellas and have Leonidas as my uncle.

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The Trouble With Harry (1955) – Another Hitchcock film to check off my list!  This one wasn’t quite as good as some of his others, but it was still lots of [morbid] fun.

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House of Wax (1953) – Speaking of morbid…this one actually made me and my siblings laugh quite a bit because it’s so dramatic and serious and gory but not really.  Vincent Price is something else again and I’m not sure if I mean that in a complimentary way or not.

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TRON (1982) – I’m sorry, guys.  I just don’t understand why this is such a beloved classic.  I realize that the CGI was revolutionary in its time, but it made my mom nauseous and the plot is so boring.  (‘TRON: Legacy’ is still kind of boring, but at least it’s cool to look at.)  It was interesting to see Jeff Bridges as his younger self, since before ‘TRON’ I’d only ever seen him as an older guy.

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The Borrowers (1997) – Great for a one-time viewing, but I can’t see myself re-watching it any time soon.

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Chariots of Fire (1981) – After reading For the Glory, I was very interested in watching ‘Chariots of Fire’ again to see how accurate Ian Charleson’s portrayal of Liddell was.  It was pretty good, with just a few rough patches here and there – my favorite moment was the message he preached after that one race because it sounded just like what one of Liddell’s sermons would be. (See here for an awesome bit of trivia about said scene.)

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The Hurt Locker (2008) – Still not entirely sure what the point of the movie was, but Jeremy Renner was amazing.  Pretty bleak film, though, and one that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch again.

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Lilies of the Field (1963) – I still have that “Amen” song running through my head.  IT WON’T LEAVE.  This is a lovely little film that made me want to read the book it’s based on as well.

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Mr. Holmes (2015) – Ian McKellen is incredible.  To still be acting at his age and doing such a first-rate job of it.  This movie is a little forgettable, but his performance is not.

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Jumanji (1995) – Another childhood classic that I didn’t actual watch while a child.  Still, I liked it quite a bit.  The one thing that saved ‘Jumanji’ from being one of those ‘well, that was okay but I’ll probably never watch it again’ was the ending.  I really dug the ending.

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2005) – All style and no substance.

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Anna and the King (1999) – Before seeing this, I said “Whoever plays the king will never be able to come close to Yul Brynner” and I almost had to eat those words because Chow Yun-Fat did an excellent job.  Some people say that this movie is boring, but I didn’t find it so at all.  And I liked that Louis had a larger role than in ‘The King and I’ because Tom Felton. (I think I’m the only non-Harry Potter watching person who’s also a big Tom Felton fan.)

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Have you seen any of these films and, if so, do you agree with my opinion of them?  What movies have you watched lately?

Eva

movie review: sky high

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Man.  ‘Sky High’ is one of the very few cult classics where I actually understand why it’s a cult classic.  You’ve got a very fun premise, a story world that lends itself readily to expansion in fanfiction, and some great characters that you can endlessly ship and theorize about because there’s NOT ENOUGH OF THEM. (Like, there’s enough characters for the story.  But not enough information about those characters.)

Plot stuff: Will Stronghold is the son of two superheroes…but he doesn’t have any super powers, something that’s pretty embarrassing, especially when he starts attending Sky High, a superhero high school.  Typical high school drama + evil supervillain drama ensues, with Will learning Important Life Lessons along the way.  Kind of clichéd, but still very entertaining.

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There’s not much I can say about the music, cinematography, etc., because none of them really stand out as anything special.  And besides, what really made me enjoy ‘Sky High’ was the characters.

Will is the main character who goes from being a somewhat deceitful, insecure guy to someone who stands up for his friends and busts down the cliques at Sky High.  For a main character, he’s a bit bland, but still likable.  Then there’s Layla, Will’s best friend, who has nature/plant powers and is played by Danielle Panabaker (the irony and awesomeness are REAL).  I really like Layla.  She’s an independent, outspoken person who’s also really nice. (So, basically Caitlin Snow?  Kinda?)

One of my favorite characters is Warren Peace because his backstory is the coolest.  Seriously.  I want to know how his parents met and fell in love and got married. (Or are they married?  Like, what if they didn’t get married and Warren’s mom raised him and that’s how he got enrolled in Sky High.  See what I mean about the backstory?)  Also, with his fire powers and how he and Layla are (briefly) a sort of couple, it’s like Ronnie and Caitlin 2.0 – *all the heart eyes*. (Even though I don’t ship them.)

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(Will’s parents are super cool, by the way.  Especially by Disney parent standards.)

So, basically, if you like superheroes or teen high school dramedys, watch this movie!

Eva

clavius and other characters of ‘risen’

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After watching ‘Risen’ for the first time, I messaged the friend who’d recommended it to me, saying “Clavius is my new favorite fictional character.  Guess what movie I just watched.” (Of course she guessed right away.)  On re-watching the film, my good opinion of Clavius was only strengthened and I also began to notice the other characters more.  Many Christian films these days go for the “believers good, unbelievers bad” sort of thing which makes for shallow characters.  ‘Risen’ doesn’t have that problem – I mean, the main character is an unbeliever for most of the film! – and I want to dive deeper into these characters because they’ll stand up to the scrutiny.

For starters, there’s Clavius.  When we first see him, he’s wandering through the Judean desert, alone and weary.  That image doesn’t stick with us for long, however, because in the next scene (a flashback that shifts us into the bulk of the film) he’s a capable commander, leading his men to victory against a force of Jewish insurrectionists, led by Barrabas (who Clavius ends up executing).  You get the feeling that this is day to day life for Clavius. (Not that he enjoys it, though.  His wish for ‘a day without death’ later on makes that clear.)

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I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for the ‘tough on the outside, vulnerable on the inside’ characters.  All Clavius wants is to fulfill his duty for the emperor and, hopefully sooner rather than later, make his way to Rome itself, finished with fighting.  However, his plans come to halt with Pilate’s directive: make sure a certain crucified Nazarene is dead.  From there, Clavius is plunged into a confusing, new world (even if he doesn’t know right away that it’s a new world), a confusion that only intensifies once he comes face to face with the resurrected Christ.

One of my favorite scenes in ‘Risen’ is when Clavius walks over to the little shrine to Mars and prays, not to Mars, but to the ‘God of the Hebrews’.  He’s searching and questioning and not entirely sure how to approach this…different God.  But he’s seeking and it makes me want to cry and smile all at the same time.

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Also that bit where Jesus asks him what he’s afraid of and he says “Being wrong.  Wagering eternity on it.”  EPIC SCREENWRITING IS EPIC.

My second favorite character in ‘Risen’ (after Clavius, naturally) is Clavius’ new aide, Lucius.  I believe that the last aide was killed in the battle at the beginning of the film, but I’m not sure I’ve ever caught that happening.  Anyway, Lucius is young and quite eager to prove himself – he’s a bit of a contrast to Clavius’ tired, quiet presence (though Lucius isn’t annoyingly perky or anything like that).  Apparently he’s never seen combat and it’s obvious that he wants to make himself as useful as possible to Clavius + move up in the ranks (just as Clavius originally wanted to).  They have a great, respectful relationship, for the most part, almost as equals (though Clavius definitely mentors Lucius).

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(One thing I noticed while screencapping a lot of the movie was how often Lucius stands in the background, simply watching + learning from Clavius.  It’s really neat.  And from what I’ve heard, Tom Felton had huge amounts of respect for Joe Fiennes, which translates beautifully onto the screen.)

Lucius had to have been hurt by Clavius’ betrayal (such as it was) and that becomes clear when he confronts Clavius in the ravine.  Such a good scene, with so many juicy emotions.  I think Lucius is almost more confused than angry over Clavius’ life choices right then (though there’s definitely anger present, too) and I would’ve really liked to see how his life went after that encounter.  I have a theory that he’s driven quite close to the dark side but eventually starts asking questions and coming to a knowledge of the truth, just as Clavius did.

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(In the commentary, the director pointed out that when Clavius says “No one dies today” to Lucius during the confrontation, he’s saying it almost like a promise to himself.  Because now he’s begun to live days without death and that’s become precious to him. *cries*)

Basically, I wrote this post so I could fangirl over Clavius and Lucius and talk about them with you.  Because I love the two of them – as individual characters and friends – and I love the movie and…yes.

And may I say that Pontius Pilate is an interesting character?  There’s a world-weariness about him that’s tangible (bravo, Peter Firth!) and he’s so different from the only other portrayal of Pilate I’ve seen – Frank Thring’s sleazy performance in ‘Ben Hur’ (1959).  I don’t particularly like him, but I do get where he’s coming from in wanting the whole business to just be over and done away with.

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Have you seen ‘Risen’?  Who’s your favorite character in it?

Eva

teens and classic movies

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So, apparently there’s a big thing going on right now about how Millennials don’t watch enough classic films and that they should and, basically, it’s making a lot of Millennials who do watch the classics angry.  The issue was first brought to my attention through this post and I skimmed through a couple other articles online about the same thing.

And it got me thinking.  If this is how older generations view the Millennials’ relationship with classic movies, than what about my generation (iGen)?  Because the thing is, I love and adore classic films and these stereotypes frustrate me. (I’ve been practically living and breathing Do Hard Things for the past few weeks, so my feelings about this are stronger than usual.)

Additional added remark: most of the Best Picture Oscar winners I have seen were pre-1970.  Just saying.

Also, there are my little brothers (ages 5, almost 7, and 10) who defy even my expectations and genuinely enjoy several oldies.  ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, ‘Room for One More’, ‘Swiss Family Robinson’, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’, ‘The Music Man’ – basically, a bunch of musicals and old live-action Disney films, but STILL.  I think it’s awesome. (And when my youngest brother was four, he sat through ‘The Ten Commandments’ tolerably well and actually enjoyed it, I think.)

In conclusion, some Millennials and iGen-ers only watch newer films.  Some mostly watch older films.  Some (like me) embrace a mix of the two.  Everybody’s different and I don’t think anyone should be shamed or left out simply because they’d rather watch ‘The Avengers’ (2012) than ‘Gone With the Wind’ (1939).  Or vice-versa.

Eva