Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Confess

This time of year, Hitchcock films seem to be everywhere, but one of the most overlooked is I Confess. Made in 1953, it is a prime example of Hitchcock, the Catholic. Hitchcock attended Mass daily, and lived the devote life. Many of his films show this in subtle ways, I, Confess is not subtle.

What happens when a man confesses murder to a priest in the confessional? What happens when the man, full aware of the fact that a priest is bound to silence, decides to frame him? This is the simple story told in I, Confess. Simple, but all of the situations that surround the murder, the murderer and the priest are what make it so good. I often wonder if Hitchcock was reading Father Brown stories while making this film, there are a few subtle resemblances.

Shot in Montreal, I Confess is stunningly beautiful. The acting is not the best in a Hitchcock film, but the roles are convincing enough. I've read this is not a good Hitchcock film, especially for non-Catholics, But I have to disagree. It is a great film, but Catholics will appreciate its treatment of confession. This is a great movie for teens, there are a few mature situations, but due to it being 1953, they are alluded to rather than explicit. I love this movie on cold fall nights with a nice hot cup of cider.

Monday, October 29, 2007

on Bella

Cottage Blessings has a post today about the new pro-life film Bella. Check it out!

Ignatius Insight Blog has more on the film.

Update 10/31:
First Things has an article on Bella.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movies Based on Novels and Literature List

If you are anything like me, you love to read and you love the movies. Often times, a movie based on our a book we love will disappoint us.

The following is a list in progress for movies that are recommended for families.

1. Ben-Hur (1959) based on the novel by General Lew Wallace entitled Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

2. Boy's Town (1938) based on the book written by Fulton Oursler and Will Oursler entitled Father Flanagan of Boys Town.

3. Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) based on the biography of the Gilbreth Family by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank Gilbreth, Jr.

4. Belles on Their Toes (1952) The sequel to the 1950 movie Cheaper by the Dozen. Based on the biography of the same name. Written by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank Gilbreth, Jr.

5. Jane Eyre (1944). Based on the book by Charlotte Bronte.

6. The Last of the Mohicans (1992) based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper.

7. The Egg and I (1947) based on the book by Betty McDonald.

8. The Good Earth (1937) based on the book by Pearl S. Buck

9. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) based on the book by James Hilton.

10. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) based on the book by John Steinbeck.

11. The Song of Bernadette (1943) based on the book by Franz Werfel.

12. Lilies of the Field (1963) based on the book by William E. Barrett.

13. Quo Vadis (1951) based on the book by Henryk K Sienkiewicz.

14. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) based on one of the books in the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

15. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) based on one of the books in the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

16. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) based on the last book in the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

17. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) based on the book by Harper Lee.

18. Frankenstein (1931) based on the book by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

19. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) based on the book by Betty Smith.

20. Rebecca (1940) based on the book by Dauphine du Maurier.

21. The Wizard of Oz (1939) based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.

22. Gone With the Wind (1939) based on the book by Margaret Mitchell.

23. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) based on the book by various sources.

24. I Remember Mama (1948)Based on the book by Kathryn Forbes entitled Mama's Bank Account.

25. Anna and the King of Siam (1946) based on the book by Margaret Landon.

26. Captain's Courageous (1937) based on the book by Rudyard Kipling.

27. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) based on the book by Alexandre Dumas.

28. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) based on the book by T.E. Lawrence.

29. Little Women (1949) based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. Note: The original 1933 movie starring Katherine Hepburn is also highly recommended. The more recent one in 1994 starring Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon is not.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Movie Maker Targets Nation's 2.5 million Homeschoolers

The following article appeared in WorldnetDaily last year. This is for those of you who may have missed it.
One can just about hear a collective "at last" from the parents of the estimated 2.5 million homeschool students in the United States.

Now, on the heels of its wildly successful "The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and just a few weeks after announcing an outreach in support of family-friendly films, Walden Media is confirming plans for a national education outreach initiative with the homeschool community...


Friday, October 26, 2007

Hoodwinked - A "spin" on Little Red Riding Hood

My first post here is not going to be sublime. In fact it isn't even one of my most favorite movies. But it is a really good movie at getting one (huge) point considered. A post about Manalive by Ria on Liber Parma brought it back to my mind.

After your kids are familiar with and finally bored with Little Red Riding Hood they can take this movie in. The cartoon starts with a kind of sappy re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story.

Then the police detective gets involved.

He interviews each of the characters one at a time to make sure that the truth comes out. Sure it SEEMS like that big bad wolf did it - easy target! - might as well be "the butler did it". But each interview re-tells the story from a first person perspective. Actions that fit the LRRH storyline may have a context that we didn't see at first. And that context sheds more light on the truth - and more innocence on each of the characters.

THAT is the big point. It is our obligation (and our delight) as rational creatures to seek the truth. That is something that usually requires seeing things from more than one perspective and entertaining things which may not fit our preconceived notions. We NEED to be able to see things from others' perspective. This movie demonstrates the point quite well. And, like any good story, is entertaining at the same time.

Unfortunately, as good as the point is in the movie I would not say it is anything like a classic. The illustration is kind of odd and the characters have modern (i.e. will soon be dated) tendencies and lingo. So I would call it a "see once" movie.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amazing Grace - The Trailer

Although, I have not seen this movie yet, it is on my To Watch List.

Just a word of caution, be careful if you go directly to the YouTube site to watch the video as the comments are not family friendly.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The David Attenborough Nature films

These are the most loved series of nature films we have ever watched as a family. We started with Life of Mammals episodes and went on the Life in the Undergrowth. We get them from Netflix because our library still does not own them.

It is not only the amazing camera angles, superb photography and fascinating facts... it's Sir David Attenborough himself that is the secret to these films. He is charming, earnest, simply delightful.

Next in our queue is his newest series Planet Earth. We can't wait!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Can Be Labeled a "Good Catholic Film"?

Check out Michael P. Foley's article Four and a Half Kinds of Catholic Film in Crisis Magazine online.

It is a very interesting article.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Vatican's Best Films List

USCCB's Movie Site

What movies would the Vatican recommend? Check out the above site to find out. How many have you seen?

You know what? We have the Seventh Seal sitting in our closet and we never watched it. We will have to do so soon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The other pope movie

Karol, A Man Who Became Pope, directed by Giacomo Battiato, produced by Pietro Valsecchi, with Piotr Adamczyk, Malgorzata Bela, 2005 Taodue Film.

My youngest sister in Brazil, a Doctor in History from Navarre, a Major Seminary Professor and a cinematic arts enthusiast, recommends this Polish film as the best movie about our beloved John Paul II.

She says:

Sobretudo mostra mais realisticamente que outras produções a história e a mentalidade polonesas. Belíssima sensibilidade.

(Which means: Above all it portrays, more realistically than other productions, the Polish history and mentality. A film of amazing sensitivity.)

Mother Teresa - The Movie


Last year my family and I watched the movie about Mother Teresa. The following is an excerpt of the review I posted on my blog:
Ms. Hussey does an incredible job of bringing Mother Teresa to life for us. She somehow captured Mother's mannerisms and with a little help of make-up, she looked a little like dear Mother Teresa...but not quite.
The complete review can be found Here

No Price Too High

No Price Too High and A Dinner with Alex Jones with Alex Jones
2001, St. Joseph Communications, DVD 2 hours, 20 minutes

Alex Jones is a former Pentecostal preacher who converted to the Catholic faith, along with his family and his congregation, in 2001. This presentation is a talk he gave a few months before he was formally received into the Church, in which he first publicly told the story of his conversion. It was his study of the Early Church Fathers, in particular, that brought him into the Church. It is followed by a dinner table conversation, including questions from guests - both Catholic and Protestant. Hosted by Steve Ray.

Alex is a powerful and moving (and often funny!) speaker and it's exciting and inspiring to see this larger-than-life character on fire for the Faith. The flip side is that converting to the Faith cost him a great deal - especially among his friends and colleagues. This is a powerful witness, particularly for us cradle Catholics who might have a tendency to take the Faith for granted at times.

My older children (ages 12 and 14) and I really enjoyed his talk. Conversion stories are so exciting and hopeful - a great place to see the hand of God at work in our world today.

Available from Nineveh's Crossing

Thursday, October 18, 2007


We don't watch musicals that often--and admittedly I am not a huge fan of the genre--but we have some favorites. These we watched recently:

Sound of Music: my personal all-time favorite movie. Flawless!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: we picked it up from the library last weekend. Wow, did the kids enjoy the action! And the girls were singing the songs for days!

Old Romantic Movies List for Moms

The following are for the mom who would like to enjoy a romantic move with her dear husband or by herself. They are some of my favorite romance movies. All prior to 1960:

1. Summertime 1955 Katherine Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi

2. The Enchanted Cottage 1945 Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire

3. Three Coins in the Fountain 1955 Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire

4. Now, Voyager 1942 Bette Davis and Paul Henreid

5. An Affair to Remember 1957 Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr (who died today. May she rest in peace).

6. Sabrina 1954 Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden

7. Rebecca 1940 Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier

8. Jane Eyre 1944 Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles

7. The African Queen 1951 Queen Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn

8. Backstreet 1941 Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullavan

9. Imitation of Life 1959 Lana Turner and John Gavin

10. Magnificent Obsession 1954 Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson

Top 15 Film Misquotes

Mahalo to Alicia for inviting me to join as a contributor.

I thought you film lovers would enjoy the following list:

Top 15 Film Misquotes

How many of the movies listed have you seen?

Lest You Think We're Only About "Serious" Films

Here are my personal favorite Disney movies (in no particular order):

Darby O'Gill and the Little People
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
101 Dalmatians (1996)
Robin Hood (animated)
Lady and the Tramp
The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Heidi (1993)

What are your favorites? Or do you allow Disney in your house?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

The 1928 French silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc is beautiful: amazing and powerful. Suitable for teens (certainly acceptable for anyone mature enough to watch the Passion of the Christ - though this film is mature mostly because of its intensity).

It might be worthwhile to discuss the historical position of the Church's relationship with Joan of Arc and the intentions of the filmmaker who, focusing on Joan's trial and death, might be viewed as having some degree of an agenda. It would also be fair to consider the controversies surrounding the Passion of the Christ for providing a similar, limited focus.

The DVD (available from Netflix) provides English subtitles and a choice of no audio or a background score.

The commentary was quite interesting and helpful. I love how the Danish film expert refers to her in the familiar French/Danish Jeanne (sounds like Shen) in this English commentary.

The Passion of Joan of Arc was listed on the Vatican list of best films.

Links Up from the Comments Box:

Esther has a post about this film here.


The Road Home

The Road Home, Chinese.

This is another G-rated foreign gem! The photography and the pace of this movie will draw you in for a delightful experience--at least that was was my case. A truly wonderfully told love story, with depth beyond what meets the eye!

Watch the trailer here.

IMDb did not have much information on this title so here is a link to Sony Classics and its official website.


Harold Lloyd

I never thought I'd say this about a silent film, but Harold Lloyd's Safety Last is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It's available from Netflix on disc 1 of the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection. I saw a documentary on Harold Lloyd quite a few years ago, but it's only with the popularity of DVDs (and Netflix) that so many of these old movies are becoming so readily available. I also appreciate that this is a high-quality tranfer compared to the cheap-o editions of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy I've seen. It does make some sense that the art of physical comedy would have been mastered during the silent era. Ask Father (which is also rolling-on-the-floor funny) only includes a few lines of dialogue.

Please note: Not all of his films (or all of the films on this particular DVD series) are suitable for children.

Terri and Bernie's Favorite "School" Movies

Two of my daughters made this list up for me when they were eight (Terri) and six (Bernie) years old:

David Macaulay Building Big Series

Rick Steves' Best of Europe (the ones they've seen - not by any means all)

Nature (the ones they've seen - I think Bears, Dogs and Horses are particular favorites)

Pope John Paul II (the "new" one with Cary Elwes - i.e. Wesley from The Princess Bride - Bernie says... "I LOVE the Pope movie!")

Jesus of Nazareth (Terri, in particular, loves big epic religious dramas)

Microcosmos (Terri qualifies - "except for some gross parts")

Amazing Caves (IMAX)

This is America Charlie Brown (Bernie is enthusiastic here, but Terri says "sort of")

March of the Penguins

Song of Bernadette

Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pope John Paul II Movie

A movie originally aired on CBS television, December 2005, 180 minutes, DVD

Pope John Paul II - Jon Voight
Karol Wojtyla up to his election as Pope John Paul II - Cary Elwes
Cardinal Adam Sapieha - James Cromwell
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski - Christopher Lee
Stanislaw Dziwisz - Wenanty Nosul
Cardinal Agostino Casaroli (Vatican Secretary of State) - Ben Gazzara

directed by John Kent Harrison

This is a touching, detailed and very intimate portrayal of Pope John Paul II. Though produced for television, it has some very fine acting, and was filmed on location in Poland and Italy.

The pope's early life and work in Poland as a priest, bishop and cardinal are framed as a flashback at the time when the Holy Father was shot in St. Peter's Square (May 13, 1981). There are a few quick glimpses of his childhood before we are transported back to Krakow, Poland in 1939. Karol is a young man, interested in the theater, when the Nazis invade Poland. He and his friends struggle with how to respond to this invasion, which not only threatens their Jewish friends and neighbors (including some in Karol's close circle of friends), but seeks to destroy Poland as a people and a culture in its entirety. While searching for answers to these questions, he finds himself finally drawn to the priesthood.

There are many wonderful events and ideas woven into these scenes from his youth. We see him as a person with great depth, a fine mind, a deep faith and a great sense of humor. In the movie, his views on a number of issues are expressed (such as his philosophical and theological objections to Communism), but we are also able to see where they came from because the movie gives them some context.

Karol Wojtyla is a rather unconventional priest and bishop who leads camping trips with young people into the mountains for the purpose of recreation and formation. He speaks to them openly about sexuality (this scene is very beautifully done - I let my children watch this). He wiggles around the rules of the Communists in order to keep pressure on the anti-religious government and keep the people strong in their faith. One of the highlights of the film, for us, was a scene in which he simply removes the picture of Our Lady from a frame (in order to comply with rules about not displaying religious images in public) while still holding a traditional religious parade through the streets of Krakow with everyone dressed in their full regalia, the frame fully ornamented with flowers and ribbons and everyone singing with all their hearts.

There are so many interesting and delightful elements to the story that I can only touch on a few here. I found the camraderie between the archbishops of Krakow (Sapieha and then Wojtyla) and Warsaw (Wyszynski) particularly interesting. Another beautiful scene is during the papal conclave when Wojtyla realizes that he may be a candidate for the papacy. He seeks guidance from Wyszynski who reminds him of the story of Quo Vadis. It is difficult to explain the beauty of this scene, but it is thoughtfully done and is subtly pivotal to the story.

When Karol Wojtyla is elected pope, Jon Voight takes over in the leading role. The latter half of the film portrays events that are more familiar to the American public. The director personally interviewed Pope John Paul II's longtime secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and his spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls to uncover many beautiful and touching details about his papacy that were included in the film. The actors playing the Pope's personal secretary and the Vatican Secretary of State are exquisitely cast and wonderfully portrayed.

The movie doesn't attempt to record every event of his 26 year papacy. Rather, it paints a picture of his personality, of his faith and of his challenges and struggles - whether with Communism, materialism or painful injuries and illnesses. Particularly memorable are his visits to his homeland and his strong connection with the youth there.

On the whole, I would consider the movie suitable for family viewing with the exception of some shooting and other violence (when the Holy Father is shot in St. Peter's Square, during the Nazi occupation and, less so, during the Communist rule) that might be unsuitable for younger children. I would estimate that this would have received a PG rating if it had been shown in the theaters. This also would make a fine introduction to the life of this great pope for those who would like to go on to read more detailed biographies, such as Witness to Hope by George Wiegel.

The only down-side is relatively minor, but I believe bears mentioning for movie buffs out there. Though the filmmakers took excellent advantage of beautiful architecture in Rome and Poland, there are just a few crowd scenes, with dubbed-in backgrounds, that came out looking rather fake.

Available from johnpaul2movie.com

IMAX: Amazing Caves

This weekend we rented Journey into Amazing Caves (an IMAX film). It's a beautifully filmed documentary that traces a group of scientists' explorations into caves in the Grand Canyon, ice caves in Greenland and underwater caves on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The scientists are searching for "extremophiles" - bacteria and other small creatures that survive extreme conditions and may be useful for medicines.

Just the natural beauty of these remote places is absolutely breathtaking. But watching the "making of" gives you an even greater appreciation as you realize the challenges and dangers of "extreme photography". Wow.

My children saw this before I had a chance to. I heard them from the other room going ... Woah... Woooah.... Wooooooah... as the team kayaked down a beautiful river.

The movie references the website of one of the team members who also works as a teaching assistant and put this website together for her grade school class...Nancy's Expedition Diary (I especially liked the Q & A in the "Ask Nancy" part.)

We love these kinds of documentaries that "work" for a wide age range and help spark an interest in science while providing some real substance. I have to admit that it was quite delightful the next day to see my 8 year old daughter out in our cold, snowy backyard digging into our sandbox and pretending she was a scientist "out exploring."

(originally posted 3/6/06 on the Love2learn Blog)

My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle

My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle (1990)

Here's another choice for introducing one to French films--and these are suitable for the whole family.

My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle are based on the best-selling memoirs of the author of the two films of this post.

The films revolves the adventures of a French family during their summer vacations in southern France.

Favorite Nature Videos

These are appropriate for all ages. David Attenborough narrates and costars (nature being the star...:)):

Life of Mammals (BBC) These are wonderful nature studies. David Attenborough has such a love for nature and the way creation works together, though he does not put it quite like that. He doesn't harp on the evils of man, either.

The Blue Planet (BBC)

Planet Earth (BBC) The photography is spectacular, but the unique aspect of this set of 5 DVD's is the aerial shots. You get a much better sense of how pack animals hunt, for one thing. Be very careful to avoid the version with Sigourney Weaver as narrator. She can act, but she cannot narrate.

The Living Desert (Walt Disney) This is an older documentary which personifies the animals one views. It's both entertaining and informative.

Amazing Animals series (DK Vision) There are 13 (that I know of) in the series: Animal Appetites, Poisonous Animals, Mini-beasts, Nighttime Animals, Animal Babies, Animal Builders, Animal Journeys, Animal Senses, Animal Survivors, Tropical Birds, Animal Weapons, Animal Disguises, Armored Animals. These are geared to ages 3-7, provide lots of interesting details in an entertaining if somewhat silly format. Our 5 year old son, Will, especially likes the silly aspect. Henry the Lizard is often wrong about something and Will likes the way he's very gracious about corrections. It's also fun for a 5 year old to knooooow someone else is wrong even if he's not sure about the complete truth.


Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring (1986)

If you have never watched a French film... this would make a very nice introductory duo! (Picture shows a two film pack available at stores.)

The renowned Gerard Depardieu stars in this deeply moving study of human greed and the virtues of hope and generosity.

These two films will make a fine teen movie night!

Note: The second film, if I remember correctly, shows a brief scene with nudity. It is devoid of sexual innuendo: the main character bathes in the spring.

Essential Classic Movie Directors

Originally uploaded by mueredecine
These are a few of our favorites (generally appropriate for teens and adults)...

Frank Capra

It Happened One Night
It's a Wonderful Life
Meet John Doe
Mr. Deeds Comes to Town
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
You Can't Take it With You

Michael Curtiz

Adventures of Robin Hood
Angels with Dirty Faces
Yankee Doodle Dandy

John Ford

How Green Was My Valley
The Quiet Man

Alfred Hitchcock

I Confess
North by Northwest
Rear Window
The Wrong Man
To Catch a Thief

George Stevens

Alice Adams
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Greatest Story Ever Told
I Remember Mama
The More the Merrier
Penny Serenade

William Wyler

Ben Hur
Mrs. Miniver
Roman Holiday
Wuthering Heights

There are some others by these directors I should go back and watch again since I don't remember them too well (this pretty much explains the lack of Westerns in the list).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Children of Heaven

Children of Heaven
Children of Heaven is a G-rated gem! All shot in Teheran, it is the story of two poor, loving siblings and their sharing of one pair of shoes between them. Truly, it is a film about how God rewards charity through the circumstances of our daily life. Have fun!

This is the first on a series of posts I will be working on this fall, shaping up a list of family-friendly foreign films. I will link my posts to the website IMDb (Internet Movie Database) to make it easier for readers to gather more information.

Send suggestions and comments!

Favorite Architecture-Related DVDs

Building Big with David Macaulay (PBS)

This set of five videos by artist/architect David Macaulay provides many hours of insightful entertainment and a great introduction to science and technology on a practical level. Each themed film - Bridges, Skyscrapers, Tunnels Domes and Dams - provides an in-depth historical treatment of the particular structure, interesting stories and overviews from famous structures and basic scientific principles involved in each project.

The set features lots of great location shoots with David Macaulay narrating interesting stories and pointing out details of each site.

To give you an idea, "Tunnels" covers aqueducts and water-carrying tunnels of Ancient Rome, early canal and train tunnels of the 19th century (particularly in England and the U.S.), archaic and modern methods of tunnel digging (particularly under rivers), issues involving tunnel safety (both during the project and during use afterwards) with a special emphasis (in all areas) on the building of the Channel Tunnel in the 1990s between England and France. Each video also includes a "Building Small" segment and pamphlet so that families can tackle simple science projects at home that demonstrate principles of architecture.

There was at least one segment - a few photos from an airplane crash into the Empire state Building in the 1940s - that might be a little too graphic for young children.

David Macaulay: Castle, Cathedral, Roman City, Pyramid

This series based on David Macaulay's best-selling books. Wonderful background on how and why these structures were built. Some history problems and mature content. Better for older children, previewing recommended.

Footprints of God Series by Steve Ray (Catholic)

Informative and engaging tours of the Holy Land teach lots of history and theology. My younger kids love Steve's funny and memorable ways of explaining things and there's nothing like hearing these stories told from right where they happened - except, of course, visiting the sites in person. Titles include: Jesus: The Word Became Flesh, Mary: The Mother of God, Peter: Keeper of the Keys and Paul: Contending for the Faith. Some portions may be unsuitable for younger or more sensitive children.

NOVA: Secrets of Lost Empires (PBS)

These are fascinating projects undertaken by teams of experts and enthusiasts to reconstruct full-scale working replicas of historic structures (or parts of structures) to learn more about them and how they were built.

Titles include: Pyramid, Obelisk, Inca (rope bridge and stone wall), Colosseum, Stonehenge and Medieval Siege (trebuchets).

The series was not designed for children, though most of the content is suitable and quite accessible. Parental previewing (and editing) is recommended.

Rick Steves' Best of Europe (numerous titles)

These are fantastic tours of European Cities (with a touch of Turkey, Israel and Egypt thrown in) that cover history, architecture, culture, food and more. Definitely some history *issues* - but these have been great learning opportunities for our family. My older children's jaws dropped when he boldly stated that Jan Huss (a condemned heretic from the Middle Ages) is considered a hero in his country because "he stood up to authority while staying true to himself." Blech. We love these anyway. We watch them with our kids, discuss them and edit out some occasional bits of mature content. Previewing strongly recommended.

Visions of... Series (Titles include: England, Italy, Greece, France, Germany)

These are beautiful and interesting helicopter-view tours of each country, including scenic and architectural highlights and some stories. Mellow, but engaging.

Black and White Movies that My Kids Love...

Not all are necessarily appropriate for all ages...

You Can't Take it With You
It's a Wonderful Life
I Remember Mama
Song of Bernadette
Safety Last (Harold Lloyd)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Christmas in Connecticut
Boys Town
Mr. Deeds goes to Town
The More the Merrier
The Spirit of St. Louis
The Pride of the Yankees
Bells of St. Marys
Going My Way