The Family Film Classics Series is back at Cinemapolis. Featuring handouts and knowledgeable and fun introductions by host David Moreland, films selected by committee play monthly on Sundays at 2 p.m. And this year will introduce a new feature, “Snow Day Movies”. Whenever the Ithaca City School District closes because of snow, Cinemapolis will show “Charlotte’s Web” and “Chicken Run” at 11 a.m. that day.
David Moreland talked to me about the upcoming films in the series through June.
IT: This has to be some kind of record. I haven’t seen most of the films you’re showing in 2020.
DM: “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” (Feb. 16) has an incredibly witty screenplay by Sidney Sheldon, who went on to become a celebrated novelist. Myrna Loy plays this judge, and teenage Shirley Temple is her little sister, who has developed a crush on Cary Grant. Myrna Loy comes up with the impossible premise for Cary Grant to get out of the legal trouble he’s in, he has to break Shirley Temple’s crush on him by going out with her. It’s one of those witty comedies that just gets funnier as the movie progresses, and then it culminates in this scene in a restaurant. It’s just a farcical explosion of comedy at the end of the movie. I think kids are gonna be delighted by it.
IT: I haven’t even heard of “Kirikou & the Sorceress” (March 15) before. It’s animated.
DM: I never had either, but parents on our committee had. It’s a 1998 French film from the director Michel Ocelot. It’s based on a popular West African folk tale. When this young boy Kirikou learns that a sorceress is threatening his village, he leaps into action to save the day. The cinematography is supposed to be beautiful, and just a really absorbing story. People who have seen this movie love it, and the kids love it too.
IT: I saw “The Sandlot” (April 19) when it came out, gave it a good review and forgot about it, and now I see images from the movie on T-shirts, so it’s become part of the culture.
DM: It’s kind of like “A Christmas Story” or “Home Alone,” where the people who have seen it have seen it five times. It touches on some memory of their childhood and baseball and the neighborhood and the kids and the scary grownups and the scary dogs. And I’d never even heard of it, but the people on our committee just love it. It’s for slightly older elementary school kids, whereas “Kirikou & the Sorceress” is fine for the very youngest.
IT: I don’t know much about Gary Cooper, so I’ve never seen “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (May 17).
DM: If you’ve never seen Gary Cooper in a movie before, it’s really fun. He’s amazing. You could take Gary Cooper just the way he was then, the way he looked, the way he acted, the way he talked, and you could transplant him to today, and he would be a star all over again. He died relatively young so he didn’t have his golden years as an actor. It’s a Frank Capra movie, and he plays a small-town guy named Longfellow Deeds who inherits money from an unknown relative, and he decides that he wants to give it away. It’s that Capra thing: small-town guy fights the big bad money people.
IT: There’s a scene in “Shane” (June 21) in “Logan” that becomes the moral spine of that movie, so even though I’ve never seen it, I think I understand “Shane.”
DM: We’ve never shown a Western before, which is funny because Westerns used to be king of the box office in the ’40s and ’50s.
IT: Very hard to make one now.
DM: This one, though, has a child as the central character, which is why a lot of kids relate to this movie. Brandon deWilde plays this boy, and Alan Ladd plays this man defending the boy’s parents from these outsiders trying to take over their land. And Jack Palance plays this incredibly creepy gunslinger who’s after the family. It won the Oscar for Loyal Griggs’ cinematography; it has these gorgeous vistas. And because it’s told from a child’s perspective, it has a great hook for kids.