Anonymous asked this question about parents in general, but I am making it just mothers for mothers day.
When we were kids, my mother used to do a terrible horrible thing, what my sister and I call “The Mom Trick”. She would suggest a movie, and we would say “NO! I don’t want to watch it, it looks boring and weird, no no no no no!”. And then she would say “what if we just watch the first five minutes, and then you can stop if you don’t like it?” And of course we always did like it and then she would trick us into watching something we enjoyed and broadening our horizons and all those things. EVIL! The companion to the “why don’t you just try one bite and see if you like it?” food bargain or the “I’ll just read you the first chapter” book deal.
Anyway, thanks to our mother’s evil trick, we discovered Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly, and Cary Grant. More generally, we discovered that any movie is worth trying. That you shouldn’t judge them by your prejudices, you should try them, even if it is just the first five minutes.
The rule of our household when we were growing up was that if we were home sick, we got to watch one movie a day. On Friday nights, we got to rent two movies of our choice and we could rewatch one of them on Saturday morning. They were “our” choice, but they were choices guided by our parents. Mom and Dad took us from Disney cartoons straight to classic films. We never even briefly stopped off in the “childrens” department. Mom’s little trick steered us straight from animated into black and white.
The most magical Mom-related movie memory is from seeing a movie in a theater, not one of our at home movie nights. When Aladdin came out, we all really really liked it. And it is a good cartoon! Clever and fun and good songs and all that. Anyway, there was one day we were at the mall shoe shopping and there was an Aladdin show starting and Mom announced we were going to go see it again, it no big family plan in advance or anything, just a spontaneous movie! It was amazing! My sister and I were both stunned. And then she didn’t have the cash for the movie, so we ran ran ran too the car and zipped over to an atm and then ran ran back to the theater and bought tickets and came in late. I think that is the only time in my memory that we just up and went to a movie like that, without planning it out and waiting for Dad to be off work or anything. It was like magic, just going to a movie on impulse in the middle of the day.
Mostly as kids we were allowed to watch anything we wanted. Because we were such cowardly kids, we only wanted to watch happy non-violent no-sex films anyway. But there were two movies we/I was forbidden to see as a child:
- Mary Poppins: My Mom didn’t like it because it made fun of suffragettes, but specifically I wasn’t allowed to see it because my big sister had somehow seen it before me and it scared her so Mom didn’t let me see it. Why it scared her, no idea! Kites? Weird dancing cartoon animals? Something else I don’t know about because I still haven’t seen it because it is Scary?
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Because it is a terrible terrible message movie and makes light of rape and kidnapping, so we weren’t allowed to see it. I have seen this one in a fit of mad rebellion in college. Terrible plot, but song sequences are truly amazing. Just make sure to get a cinemascope version, not cropped, to fully appreciate them.
Oh, and there was one other semi-official rule. My mother seriously loved stage musicals, she had original cast albums of all kinds of shows (pre-1968 mostly, from when she was growing up) and she saw a lot of those original cast performances too, my Poppie used to take her into the city as a little girl to go see them. And she does not like movie versions of stage musicals. So while we watched every Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire musical ten million times, we never saw The Sound of Music because the “real” Sound of Music was the stage version with Mary Martin of which we had the cast album. Just like the “real” My Fair Lady was the stage version with Julie Andrews, the “real” Hello Dolly was the one with Carol Channing and so on and so forth.
I think that last prejudice is as big a reason that I am now watching Indian movies as the “try five minutes of anything” movie rule. We always had a sense that there was a difference between musicals that were made for movies and musicals that were forced from stage to film. Indian film is the epitome of musicals made FOR FILM, nowhere else. We are watching the best most artistic perfect form of this story.