MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH (1934)
Why you should see it: This is a poignant drama, about the Wiggs family who live in poverty and give thanks, even though they do not have a turkey for Thanksgiving. Mrs. Wiggs (Pauline Lord) has quite a few children, and the girls are all named after continents. A very young Virginia Weidler plays Europena. And while there may not be enough money to go around to raise the children decent-like, there is plenty of love to make up for it, and kindness from Mom’s friend Miss Lucy who gives them a turkey. The family is equally surprised when another turkey shows up: their ne’er-do-well father played by Donald Meek.
More reasons: W.C. Fields is a neighborhood bachelor that a love-starved neighbor lady, played by ZaSu Pitts, is trying to get her hooks into! Don’t ask why, because I haven’t figured out why anyone would want to marry Fields.
THE ASTONISHED HEART (1950)
Why you should watch it: Noel Coward wrote the original play and the screenplay, plus he performed the lead role in the film. He also composed the score, and I must say that even though the story is not one of his best, and his acting is not as good as other men of his generation, he has crafted a most superb piece of music.
More reasons: Costars include Celia Johnson and Margaret Leighton, both adding considerably to the film’s value.
LADYBUG LADYBUG (1963)
Why you should watch it: This film provides a unique glimpse into an era just after the Cuban missile crisis, when bomb shelters and emergency drills for nuclear attacks were commonplace. In this case, an east coast school, which frequently conducts such drills, experiences a wave of terror when a false alarm is believed to be the real thing. Educators are told to take the children home, and along the way, some very shocking (and tragic) things happen. The best scenes involve a bossy young girl who refuses to let anyone in or out of a bomb shelter; and a teacher, played by Nancy Marchand, who must face her own fears during the journey.
More reasons: The film ends on a very intriguing and ambiguous note, because some of the participants, especially Marchand’s character, seem to still believe that the United States is under attack.
AUDREY ROSE (1977)
Why you should watch it: this is a supernatural thriller about reincarnation (with some Catholicism mixed in) that screams for repeat viewings. Anthony Hopkins, years before his frightening turn as the cannibalistic Hannibal Lector, is a man convinced that his daughter was reborn to an unsuspecting couple (Marsha Mason & John Beck). When the girl in question begins to experience powerful sensations of a past life, Hopkins steps out of the shadows and into their lives.
More reasons: it’s directed by Robert Wise, who previously helmed THE HAUNTING. Also, it uses flashbacks in a way that no other film does.