1. The Bad Seed (1956)
My mother loves a good laugh. Few movies bring several, long chuckles out of her like The Bad Seed (1956). This film stars Nancy Kelly as Christine Penmark, the mother of a little girl named Rhoda (Patty McCormick) who murders people.
The plot of this thriller may not sound like a laugh fest, but there are moments of hilarity throughout the movie - some intended, others not- that might leave you winded with laughter. Mother loves to run this film whenever guests arrive at her house. My family has a sick sense of humor sometimes.
2. Columbo (ABC, 1971-2003)
It's a classic, but not a film. My mother and her sisters introduced me to this TV detective with no first name who wears a wrinkled trench coat as he solves crimes. Criminals always believe that Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is incompetent, but of course he's not and captures them in the end. My mother often champions the underdog or the misunderstood and she loves a good mystery.
3. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (NBC, 1993-1998)A female physician (Jane Seymour) faces the challenges of balancing work and raising children in the Wild West; this story parallels my mother's life in many ways. The whole family enjoyed the show enough to ask an aunt to record it once while we were on a vacation.
We lived in an area where you get "snow" on the screen, the cause of very poor reception. I recently tried to re-watch one of the tapes that my aunt recorded for us; it's filled with snow. I can't believe we watched it so intently with such poor visual quality, but we loved it.
4. The Fugitive (1993) [or any other Harrison Ford film]
family- is threatened and he must catch a villain alone - is as risky as this family gets, sometimes.
Mother is an adrenaline junkie only vicariously through films. In real life, she must handle the aftermath of humans doing unwise things to themselves. It's understandable that she would like to live as long as she can, thank you very much.
5. The Great Escape (1963)My mother's father fought during WWII. Like his son, grandpa didn't talk about his war days very much. Movies like The Great Escape help mother to understand a little bit what those days were like for her father. Plus, it's filled with action.
The story follows members of the Allied Forces who are grouped together in a POW camp. They plan an elaborate escape. It boasts an all-star cast, including some of mother's favorites -Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Garner.
6. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1964)
Here's another of Mom's favorites that has her in stitches - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It's an all-star cast of comedians -including Milton Berle and Sid Caesar- who dash after hidden treasure somewhere in California.
Mother runs this one for her guests less often than The Bad Seed due to its long run time. Still, its brilliant cameos and constant hijinks always has our family in tears.
- Java's Journey has written a review of The Bad Seed (1956). Read it here.
- 15 Classic Movies for Mother's Day - These are all easily accessible on DVD, on TCM, the Warner Archives or online streaming.
- The Heiress (1949): Her Mother's Presence - A shy young lady (Olivia De Havilland) is haunted by the seeming perfection of her late mother.
- Tomorrow is Forever - A great war drama with Claudette Colbert as a WWI widow who must face the idea of losing her son to WWII. Orson Welles also stars.
What are your mother's favorite films?