It’s no secret that I have a fondness for old movies. It doesn’t matter what genre: action, mystery, comedy, romance, sweeping historical epics, musicals, you name it, I’m up for watching.
Now, as I introduce our kids to various media I’ve brought out examples of some of these old films. Casablanca was an easy choice because it’s only my favorite movie of all time and my children are very indulgent. They don’t really like violence so outside of Casablanca I haven’t bothered with mysteries, westerns or war films. Silent comedies from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are easy for them to engage with and I’m looking forward to checking out some Harold Lloyd as well. We have tried a few musicals with generally good results. Singin’ in the Rain was a great success not to mention all the child-specific fare like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But there is one group of films I enjoy that I had no intention of showing to them, the musicals of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I wasn’t going to keep the kids away from them. I simply didn’t think that they would find anything appealing in a series of singing and dancing depression-era romantic comedies.
I’m not sure if it grew out of a legitimate desire to know more about the things Merran and I talk about or an evil scheme to watch movies during the week. We typically reserve movies and TV for weekends and special occasions since there’s always plenty to occupy us during the week. However, last week we found ourselves with a free summer evening and the kids pleaded with me to let them watch Shall We Dance because they wanted to see the scene where Fred and Ginger dance on roller skates. In the past we had watched “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” by itself but this time they were interested in watching the whole movie. I figured their interest would wander at some point and we would turn it off because they were bored – but that didn’t happen. They watched it all the way through and insisted on watching the short and the cartoon that were included on the DVD as well. On subsequent free evenings they asked to watch Swing Time, Top Hat, The Gay Divorcee, and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (it’s summer, we have a lot of free evenings). At this point they have gone through five of the ten movies and it doesn’t look as if their interest is going to lag. They’ve taken to listening to my old swing playlist and dancing around the house with hiking sticks puttin’ on their top hats, tyin’ up their white ties, and brushin’ off their tails.
What I can’t understand is, where is all of this coming from? They know that I like these movies but I don’t talk about them very often or make much of a fuss about them. Certainly nothing like the fuss I make over Casablanca or the constant quoting of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Did it begin as a ploy to watch movies during the week and turn into a legitimate obsession? Or do they really want to share something that I expressed some interest in? I’ve asked them about it point blank but they just shrug and mumble something about liking the movies. Then at some random point in the day they’ll start singing “Cheek to Cheek” and dancing with abandon. But what about Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars, I ask? To which they shrug – that’s so last year.
1935, however, is all the rage.