I saw a preview of "Jack the Giant Slayer" last week, and when asked my opinion, my reply was, "It reminds me of Saturday mornings and Ray Harryhausen." It was fun and silly and the effects were a little bit cheesy. Nicholas Hoult as Jack and Eleanor Tomlinson as his princess make a cute couple; Ewan McGregor has fun as a good knight and Stanley Tucci has more fun as a bad, bad man. Of course, nothing will measure up to my memories, but this "Jack" made me think of those larger-than-life stories I saw on a very small screen.
Here are 10 movies that remind me of those Saturdays in front of black and white TV, when there was no one playing in the courtyard of the apartment building on Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn where I grew up, and my older sister wasn't forced to take me to a matinee at the Granada Theater on Church and Nostrand avenues. ("The Wizard of Oz" doesn't count because it was on in prime time.) In the films that come to mind, there was almost always a dashing guy, a feisty lady and an exotic location. A horse, dog or chimp - some faithful animal - was a plus. Visual effects, YES! Saturdays were not the time for musicals or the Marx Brothers, for some reason. It was either a TV Western, a cartoon or a movie with adventure and derring-do. Here's wishing I had seen these movies on the big screen:
- "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) - Maybe it's a good thing that I couldn't see how green Errol Flynn's tights were the first time I watched this, but it remains one of my favorite movies.
- "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) - Even post-George Lucas and Peter Jackson, I still love the special effects. Free spirit Sabu was an inspiration, and I love that the Jaffar character and the giant genie resurfaced in Disney's "Aladdin." Not to be confused with the Steve Reeves "Thief of Bagdad" (1961), about the search for a blue rose, which I also like.
- "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958) - When I think of Ray Harryhausen's magical creatures, this is the movie that comes to mind first, probably because it seemed to play more often than "Jason and the Argonauts" when I was a kid.
- "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (1962) - I may have seen this in color the first time, but I was fascinated by Russ Tamblyn's Tom Thumb. It came out when I was 5 and I don't remember how old I was when I saw it, but it's the first movie I can recall really wanting to know, "How did they do that?"
- "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932) - Love in the jungle with Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan and Cheetah.
- "The Crimson Pirate" (1952) - Lest we forget that Burt Lancaster was a great athlete and circus performer, there's plenty of great stunts in this high-seas frolic with his acrobatic sidekick, Nick Cravat.
- "The Mark of Zorro" (1940) - Are we noticing a sword-play theme here? Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell were a great-looking couple, for those of you who can't get Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones out of your heads.
- "Captain Blood" (1935) - Before he was Robin Hood and she was Lady Marian, Errol Flynn was a wronged doctor turned pirate and Olivia de Havilland was the object of his affection.
- "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1961) -- Best picture? Well, it's certainly a fun ride with fabulous locales. I might have seen this one in color, too, but it was still on a screen that seems small for its amazing scope.
- "Brigadoon" (1954) - OK, so it's a musical. A magical one, though. And Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse are magic, too, so I get a pass.
What movies did you grow up seeing on TV that you wish you could see on the big screen?