I turned on the television over the weekend, scanned through the channels at a pretty fair pace, and paused abruptly as my eyes caught hold of a wonderful sight. Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly. This film was made in 1952…well before my time, but it holds a very special place in my heart. I’m sure you’re sitting there asking how an old musical could be special to a person. Or perhaps you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The very first time I saw Singing in the Rain, I was perhaps 12 years old. It was a Saturday—a rare one where my dad had to work. So after the chores were done—yes, I said chores. Back in those days, kids had chores to do before anything else on a Saturday morning. I digress. After the chores were done, Mom fixed lunch, which we all ate in the living room amidst laughter, giggles, and strange noises—most of which were actually coming from my mother, not us girls as one would expect. She turned on the television, and we watched this fantastic musical.
My mom loves musicals. So did my father. It’s no wonder then, that I love them too. My parents introduced me to a whole new world outside of cartoons and comedies. Dad with his love of the music by Glen Miller, big bands, and orchestras. Mom with her love of classic movies, Fred Astaire-type dancing, and music from her generation. They shared their favorites with me, and in turn gave me an appreciation for all of the aforementioned things, and so much more.
Gene Kelly ranks right up there with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Rosemary Clooney, and so many others that it would take me all day to mention.
The first time I saw My Fair Lady, my mother was scanning the channels late at night much as I had done last evening. It was after midnight, and the news had gone off. She saw the movie coming on, and encouraged me to stay up with her and watch it. Well past two o’clock, we were still riveted to the screen, and I fell in love with another old musical.
Another old movie I hold dear to my heart is To Sir, With Love. I was probably 13 years old when I went for a weekend stay with Grandma—my dad’s mom. After a busy morning at her grocery store, we went home and ate lunch. Then we sat down together and watched this magnificent classic. I learned right away from talking to Grandma just who Dad got his list of favorites from.
To date, I own a vast collection of the classics. All of which I’ve seen a dozen times or more. Each viewing is as fresh and alive as the first time I ever saw it. Each one has a ‘first time’ story attached to it, too, because of the wonderful people in my childhood.
Holiday Inn and White Christmas are staples at my house during the holidays. I was with my mom and dad both the first time I watched these movies back-to-back while only a mere 4th-grader. And, let’s not forget North by Northwest or Arsenic and Old Lace or the numerous faces of Lon Chaney. And who can forget such funnies as Abbott and Costello? Or Danny Kaye in just about anything he’d ever done? Remember Ma and Pa Kettle? An American in Paris? Three Coins in a Fountain? Clifton Webb and Cheaper By the Dozen? Oh, the list can go on and on.
And it was safe to have a child view the greats. These are good, clean fun! The sex is hinted at in a way that the adults only know about, and the filthy language is limited to lines like, “Why I otta…” and it goes unfinished. He knows what he otta do, and you know what he otta do, but no one says it in such a way you need to cover the ears of the young and impressionable.
As far as these grand old movies have taken me, there are, of course, movies I watched for the first time with Steve that will become what we share with our children—along with the classics my parents and family shared with me.
Have you got any classics in your movie closet? I’ll bet you do. Tell me about them. Why not even tell me why they’re memorable?
Until next time, stay well and happy viewing of the greats! Valerie
*Author’s Note: I’m sincerely sorry this post did not appear this morning as I scheduled it to appear. Somehow I inserted the incorrect military time and thus nothing appeared this morning as it should have. ~Valerie