Hello, hello, hello, my friend!
It’s time for round three of Disney!
I’ll bet you thought you knew the bulk of Disney films out there – WELL, CHUM, PREPARE TO BE CHALLENGED. ?
We’ve been told that we’ll have access to this crammed vault of goodies this November, since Disney claims that “all” Disney movies will be available on their streaming service. But, frankly, I find the statement “all” highly suspect.
There are dozens of old Disney TV shows and movies that have faded into almost total obscurity with no indication that they’ll ever be resurrected in the way they deserve. For some of them, Disney is even actively removing every trace of their existence (pulling them off Youtube, etc).
It makes me sad to look at the old classics and see how far Disney has moved away from these original films. There used to be a time in Disney’s history where they made quality live-action films that could be enjoyed by THE WHOLE FAMILY (Walt’s original dream). Not animated movies that are so silly adults are going to groan their way through it or adult films full of demented-looking CGI sure to give kids (or any sensitive being) the horrors. Sprinkle both adult and kids movies with a dose of liberal propaganda and we have modern Disney.
But, enough lamenting. I only included this intro to raise awareness of Disney’s shifting motivations and to emphasis the special quality of the films I am about to share with you. This is supposed to be a Disney post, which means fun and happy! So, by all means, let us proceed to the fun and happy.
Emil and the Detectives (1964)
When Emil travels to Berlin to visit his grandmother, his money is stolen, causing the 10-year-old to employ a group of street-wise youngsters to help him track down a thief, but, in the process, the children uncover much more than they bargained for.
This is a quirky, sassy little movie with a tongue-in-cheek humor and a ponderously self-aware German atmosphere that is intriguing as well as funny.
It doesn’t take long for a pack of boy detectives (as well as one annoyingly funny girl reporter) to get up to their eyebrows in trouble, culminating in an explosive (literally) finale – the perfect ending to a film that is full of thrills, laughs, and street smarts.
I grew up watching this movie so many times (our family still uses the term “scrink” to describe a disputable, revolting person). This film also features one of my favorite child actors, the ridiculously talented and delightfully cocky Roger Mobley is brilliant as Gustav, the leader of the gang. The main boy is a little flat but with a piece of dynamite like Roger – it isn’t necessary for anyone else to do anything but feed him lines. One smirk from Gustav keeps the scene going and the minute he struts onto the camera, he takes over.
You can watch the first few minutes HERE. You can also rent it on Amazon.
For The Love Of WillaDean (1964)
A nostalgic tale of two brothers and their new neighbor who all fight over the attentions of the pretty girl in the farmhouse down the road.
This movie is largely built around the endlessly amusing scenario of seeing little boys kill themselves to win the not-so-worthy affections of a pretty girl. The snappy dialogue between the three boys is absolutely hilarious as they strut around like mini men in displays of he-man machismo and competitiveness that is sure to have you rolling with laughter. This film also stars Roger Mobley, as well as other Disney child actors such as Michael McGreevey and Billy Mumy. I’m not usually a fan of Billy Mumy, but he is adorable in this movie, and suitably disgusted with his older brothers “love-lornity.” Thrown in a little mystery, a haunted house, and a peculiar traveler into the mix – and we have a delightful childhood film that harks back to an older, simpler time.
You can watch the movie RIGHT HERE.
The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963)
Dr. Syn, a country priest, leads a rebel band against the King’s naval press gangs. Syn conceals his secret identity by disguising himself to look like a scarecrow and carries on activities ala the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro from his parish base.
OH. MY. GOODNESS. THIS SHOW IS THE BEST. It’s a straight-up adventure in it’s purest form. It’s a swashbuckling costume drama. It is full of thrills, twists, humor, and it even has a dash of romance to lure in that particular crowd who likes romance.
Patrick McGoohan’s acting skills never fail to captivate me. He is a subtle but altogether brilliant actor with a mesmerizing charisma that is felt whether he’s playing the devilish scarecrow, the fuddly vicar, or the scheming mastermind.
Don’t worry, it’s not all about that ugly scarecrow – the guy behind the mask is much better looking. See?
I am sick to death of pastors or any “man of the cloth” being portrayed as wishy-washy ineffectual fools. Here, at last, we have a pastor who is not hiding piously behind a pulpit but is actively pushing back against a corrupt government by smuggling goods to provide – Robin Hood fashion – for the parish under his care. A pillar of justice, the Scarecrow also rescues men who are brutally recruited by Navy press-gangs and sends them on their way to freedom. HE IS SUCH A COOL HERO.
Syn has an entire network of scarecrows (spies) that assist him in his epic smuggling and rescues, but only two top lieutenants know his true identity. A wealthy teenage socialite and Syn’s loyal sexton.
And these are the amazing scoundrels that make it all happen.
You can watch the opening theme song (goodness, I love that old fashioned musical intro and narrator!) and you can watch parts of the mini series HERE and HERE.
Almost Angels (1962)
Supported avidly by his mother (and more reluctantly by his father) a working-class Austrian boy joins the Vienna Choirboys, where he proves to be unusually talented.
I am a big fan of the adorable child actor, Vincent Winters. This is a charming and heartfelt movie built around the power and beauty of singing and about a little boy who loves music so much, it bubbles out of him. His father doesn’t understand it at first but, fortunately, his mother recognizes his talent and pushes to let him audition for the Vienna Choir Boys. Sometimes painful, often hilarious, it’s an adorable coming of age story full of rivalry, boyish friendships, and the love of family.
One of my favorite moments in the movie features the worship song Omnes de Saba Venient. The English translation of one of the refrains is: All they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord. Alleluia. The song stirs me, inspires me, and gives me cold chills.
You can watch the movie HERE.
The Brat Patrol (1986)
A group of military brats uncover a plot to steal base equipment.
An irrepressible group of 5 military kids who were (B)orn (R)aised (A)nd (T)rapped in the military life style and shuffled from one base to another. Their goal? “To stick together through thick and thin and to alleviate boredom no matter what the consequences.”
This film also features a very young and utterly adorable Sean Astin (picture above). He and the young Joe Wright who plays a junior marine and Sean Astin’s arch rival eat up the screen with their attitude. Possessing more moxie than common sense, spies and traitors don’t stand a chance when they come toe-to-toe with the Brat Patrol.
You can watch the movie HERE.
Diamonds on Wheels (1973)
Three kids get mixed up with jewel thieves and stolen diamonds in a 24-hour road rally across England.
Do not let the horrible 70s styles turn you off from this delightful film. This movie is exciting, funny, and full of atmosphere. Disney really had a flair for doing end finales that were both hilarious and tense. The end sequence had me alternately biting my nails and laughing till I cried.
This movie also features a VERY young Peter Firth. I’ve usually only seen him as villains (for those who have seen Risen – he played Pontius Pilate) and to see him here as the teenage hero was surprising.
You can watch it right HERE.
The Horse Without A Head (1963)
A group of French slum children who share only one toy – a headless wooden horse on wheels – foil a robbery when a thief stashes the key to his hiding place inside the horse.
This movie also features Vincent Winter (a little older in this film than in Almost Angels) as well as a very young Pamela Franklin (Flipper’s New Adventure).
Based on a French children’s novel, this delightful romp of a movie is a true gem. Despite having a mostly English cast, this film feels like French film – full of the 60s clothing, grubby stone streets, and a certain continental flair that is as indescribable as it is undeniable.
This film also features the marvelous and charming Jean-Pierre Aumont as the kindly police officer with a soft spot for children and a yearning for big-city challenges – a yearning that is satisfied by the movie’s exciting conclusion!
You can watch the trailer for this adorable movie HERE.
Escapade in Florence (1962)
U.S. art students (Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello) find forgets have an interest in their work.
Tommy Kirk is a footloose and fancy-free student studying architecture in Florence who nearly runs down Annette Funicello on his moped and promptly falls for her. With typical American chutzpah, he puts his head down and begins a headlong pursuit of the lady fair, not realizing that their chance encounter was the deciding tap to a tower of dominoes that inadvertently affected a ring of criminals.
The teens soon find themselves in fear of their lives as they become involved with the art thieves. Top off all this chaos with a handsome Italian rival for Annette Funicello’s affections and Tommy Kirk’s ordinary life as an exchange student is turned topsy-turvy.
Dripping with atmosphere, loaded with panache, and seasoned with a generous amount of humor (and, of course, a few Annette Funicello songs),
You can watch a hilarious scene from the movie HERE.
The Secret of Boyne Castle (1969)
Spies chase a U.S. exchange student (Kurt Russell) and his buddy across Ireland to the learn the secret of Boyne Castle.
I’m not usually a fan of Kurt Russell, but he gives a solid (and less goofy) performance in this film. A great film for “bro” relationships, as the film focuses tightly on Kurt Russel, his older brother (who happens to be an American spy) and Kurt Russell’s best friend, a wily young Irishman. The three of them make a tenacious team as they take on a cold-blooded enemy and dive headlong into a quest for the truth and a race against time. It’s a spy thriller full of suspense as the boys are chased across Ireland and stumble from one scrap to another until a thrilling finale involving glider planes and cannonballs (yes, you read that correctly – watch it yourself if you don’t believe me!)
You can watch the movie HERE.
The Blue Yonder (1985)
Jonathan Knicks, travels back in time to 1927 using his elderly neighbor’s time machine to try to stop his young-at-the-time grandfather, Max Knickerbocker, a pilot who is planning to fly across the Atlantic in an adventure that will cost him his life.
This is a poignant coming-of-age story that is vaguely reminiscent of Secondhand Lions, as a boy has to come to grips with what he knows about his grandfather and what he wants to believe. Can he really change the past? And if he can, will that really change his present? There is a wonderful vintage flair to this whole movie along with an almost Jules Verne vibe in regards to the time machine. The child lead is also unbearably adorable and is precious in every single scene. Be warned, his sweetness is so great, it makes all the terrible things that happen to him even more stressful. Fortunately, he has a young and awesome grandfather to keep him out of danger, played by the charismatic Peter Coyote.
The whole movie really rests on this fabulous relationship. One scene in particular between this remarkable duo reduces to me to warm fuzzies every time. It is a truly beautiful moment. Their chemistry is amazing – you can feel their deep affection and respect for each other in their unique interaction.
You can watch the movie HERE.
HANDS UP ALL YOU WHO HAVE SEEN EVEN ONE OF THESE MOVIES? EVEN ONE OF THEM??
What are some of your favorite, older, less-widely known Disney movies? If you don’t have one, you should. ?
Tell me everything, Disney fans. Are you going to watch the movies listed above? IF YOU DON’T, I’M GOING TO CHASE YOU DOWN.
You’ve been warned. Just saying.
GUYS, turn off those NEVER-ENDING REMAKES OF ANIMATED DISNEY MOVIES AND WATCH SOME ORIGINAL CLASSICS, I BEG YOU.
The list above doesn’t isn’t even include some of my other Disney favorites like The Third Man On The Mountain, The Moon-Spinners, The Darn Cat!, The Sword and the Rose, The Fighting Prince of Donegal, Blackbeard’s Ghost, Never A Dull Moment, The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes, No Deposit No Return, The North Avenue Irregulars, The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark, Newsies, Shipwrecked, White Fang, Iron Will, The Treasure of Matacumbe, or The Sword and the Rose. Have you seen ANY of these???
OR ANY OF THESE? (Please remove your hats for this one, this video is basically MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD).
ME RIGHT NOW –
Come on, people, restore my faith in humanity and tell me you recognize at least one of these films.
And if nothing else, give one of these amazing films a try and tell me what you think of it. You won’t be disappointed!