When I was little–okay, when I was young–there was a short list of movies we were allowed to watch on Sundays. These were the films that according to my parents had wholesome language, good morals, and wouldn’t risk the wrath of the Lord for defiling his holy day.
The approved movies fell into three main categories: Biblical, Classic Disney, and when Mum and Dad were feeling particularly generous, Animated Hero Classics.
Now, when I say “Classic Disney” I don’t mean Fox and the Hound, Little Mermaid, or Dumbo. We weren’t allowed to watch any of those movies until we were over 12 for various reasons. (Language, teenage rebellion/partial nudity, and sheer nightmarish qualities.) For us, Classic Disney included The Incredible Journey, (1963 version, of course) The Swiss Family Robinson, and… nope, I think that was it.
Animated movies, especially with talking animals, were also taboo on Sundays.
Throughout the years my parents have grown far more lax, and I admit it makes me unreasonably upset (and somewhat jealous) that my little siblings are watching things on Sundays I wasn’t allowed to see at all until I was in junior high. (RUINERS OF CHILDHOOD!! I EARNED THE RIGHT TO SEE ALADDIN!! WITH MANY MONTHS OF SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION!!) It also makes me sad that they’ve seen The Swiss Family Robinson only once in the past two years and do not have the majority of Ben Hur memorized.
“I said no water for him!”
Out of the meager selections of Sunday approved movies, these are my favourites. I remember watching them over and over and over, learning each scene by heart, and still getting excited when the next Sunday came around and we could watch one of them again. These are the rare films I can watch as many times as there are Sundays in a year and never tire of them. They are timeless and wonderful and no person is a complete person until they’ve seen them.
I knew this film front to back almost before I could spell “treachery.” (Almost. And I could spell betrayal.) Back in my day–so long ago that a Walkman was considered high tech–Judah Ben Hur was a household name. Our parents were told to drive at “ramming speed,” the proper use of a Roman plume was daily discussed, and no one minded if you stole from a sibling, so long as you held your prize up over your head like a stolen spear. Bahaha. Stolen spear scene.
Mesalla’s name and the pronunciation of it hailed jokes about “my sala-d” and the glaringly obvious puns involving “Caesar” dressing. Chariot spokes were just about the most frightening thing imaginable, and for once in my life I didn’t care about a romance. Yes, people. That’s right. Ben Hur is a movie I watch for everything but the Esther scenes. I remember we always sped those conversations–or talked really loudly over them.
“WE’RE GOING TO BE RAMMED! WE’RE GOING TO BE RAMMED!”
This movie has everything. (Except an interesting romance. But I think that’s the point; it’s about a relationship with Christ, not a romantic one.) It has Charleton Heston, though. Enough said.
“Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-One. That’s good. Hate keeps a man alive.”
The Sound of Music
This didn’t fall into any of the approved categories, (I guess if your terms of “history” are pretty broad, it could) but it’s a movie about a family that learns how to sing and dance because of a spunky governess. What’s not to love?
Commercials! That’s what! Our VHS was taped from the telly, so we poor souls had to watch The Sound of Music with Christmas ad interruptions and a really weird basketball commercial involving a countdown clock in green neon lights. When we first owned the DVD it was like watching an extended version because the taped one was edited for commercials.
The Ten Commandments
The quotes we chose to put to memory always astound me. The classic lines like: “Blood makes poor mortar.” “So let it be written, so let it be done.” and “Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel: Let my people go!” of course we know by heart.
However, these were more likely to be heard by us, and are as quotable as the day we first heard them…
“I love you, my mother. But am I your son?”
“You will be mine, like my dog, or my horse, or my falcon, except that I shall love you more… and trust you less.”
“The old windbag.”
“I agree with him.”
“Great King… I will ask but one favor of your friendship. This green stone, from our mountains. That I may give it to your Prince of Egypt. For he is kind… as well as wise.”
“What do you see, Sephora?”
“A MAN!?” ” “What kind of man!?” “Just one man?” “Is he handsome?” “Look at his sandals.” “Egyptian.” “His robe is not Egyptian…”
“Who cares, he’s a man!”
The Swiss Family Robinson
I won’t even put a single quote in this section, because I could carry on to quote almost the entire movie. I’ll just… okay, fine. One quote. “We gotta have those lions and tigers! Or else… well that’s the whole idea!”
My younger siblings were finally watching this the other day and it amazed me how fantastic this movie still is. I’ve seen it more than thirty times, I’m sure, but I find myself laughing over Fritz and Ernst’s fist fights like it’s new each time. It’s the sort of movie that makes you think, “How did they manage to do that?” without the special effects Avatar boasts and the 3D crap that’s so rampant today.
Why don’t they make movies like these anymore? *sigh*
When I hear the word “classic” these are the films that automatically spring to my mind. Whenever one of these movies is lovingly placed in the DVD player, to this day one of the older siblings will pipe up with, “Oh! A Sunday approved movie!”
I’m curious. Did anyone else have parents with a special list of movies clean enough for Sundays? What about traditional holiday films? Any movies you watch only for a special occasion?
“We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well. And live.”