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5 Family-Friendly Halloween Movies for Baby Boomers And Their Grandkids

Maren, a Baby Boomer, has taught pre-school through college. She loves holidays, and playing in the snow.

Halloween Spookiness

Jack-O-Lantern votive holders.

Jack-O-Lantern votive holders.

Baby Boomers Can Share These Movies With Little Ones

These are flicks from “our era.” We grew up in the good old days when a certain level of propriety in language was demanded in public entertainment. None of the following recommendations are made-for-television children’s specials; they are films from our lifetimes produced for the general public. Today they all would be rated G.

However, a little bit of spookiness and scariness is present in each of the movies. You will need to decide what your grandchildren can handle.

Only one of these movies includes “questionable language,” and that is the most recent film in the list: E.T

All of them would be fun to share with grandkids.

However, children are not necessary to enjoy them... one more time.

E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Color. 115 minutes. Fantasy sci-fi.

Don’t you get a nice warm, squishy-lovey feeling inside just remembering this movie? It is the story of a little lost alien and the human boy who helps him.

It makes the list because Halloween trick-or-treating occurs near the end of the story and is integral to the plot.

Memorable moments:

  • The silhouette of Elliot and ET on riding across the sky on a bicycle with the full moon behind them.
  • And then the whole gang of friends being lifted up to similarly ride.
  • The dialogue: “E.T. phone home”
  • At the very end, when E.T. is about to leave, and touches his heart with his finger, saying Ouch! Then Elliot doing the same action, touching his own heart and saying “ouch.”

This is a precious story about love and loyalty.

Also, the film's music score is by John Williams of Boston Pops fame, so the music is incredible.

Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944 ) B & W. 118 minutes. Comedy mystery romance.

With Cary Grant’s superb comic delivery, you can’t go wrong.

Other fantastic cast members include Josephine Hull and Jean Adair as his Eccentric - with a capital “E” - aunts, Edward Everett Horton as a perplexed doctor, and Peter Lorre as the quintessential bad guy. Frank Capra directed this classic black and white movie.

The story follows a sophisticated writer marrying the girl who grew up next door to him in Brooklyn. After the civil wedding ceremony on Halloween Day, but before the honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls, the groom visits his elderly aunts, and discovers they have a horrible secret. This puts the honeymoon on hold as the groom tries to fix things.

The script is incredible for both the who-done-it side and the comedy side.

Memorable moments:

  • Brother “Teddy Roosevelt” and his call to “CHARGE!” up the staircase.
  • Yellow fever victims.
  • Cary Grant sitting at the window seat with a corpse beneath him.

There are a few glimpses of Halloween begging during the daytime as was the custom in Brooklyn around the thirties and forties.

Black and white cinematography is something all children should learn to appreciate.

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz (1939) Starts as B & W but switches to color in the land of Oz. 101 minutes. Fantasy musical.

A teenage girl, played by Judy Garland, from Kansas and her dog are hurled into a land of make-believe. She makes friends with three characters and they all set off to find a wizard who is said to have the power to help them. However, the Wicked Witch of the West, the fantastic actress Margaret Hamilton, terrorizes them through their entire quest.

Back when there were only 3 TV channels in the USA, this was always aired at Halloween. Elementary school teachers told stories of how awful the students were after the Halloween trick-or-treating and the movie between being sugared up and frightened of the witches and flying monkees.

Memorable moments:

  • The soldiers marching into the Wicked Witch’s castle singing “All we own, we owe –oh.”
  • Dorothy declaring, “Toto, I think we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
  • Munchkins.
  • The Wicked Witch's threat: “I’ll get you my pretty.”
  • “I’m melting! I’m Melting!”

When I saw this movie as a child, I did not realize that the actors and actresses playing the Kansas folk were also playing the Oz characters. Maybe you’ll want to clue in your grandchild, or maybe you’ll wait and see if she figures it out.

Bell, Book, and Candle

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) Color. 106 minutes. Comedy romance.

Kim Novak plays a modern bookstore owner (and magical witch) who falls in love with the fiancé of one of her rivals. The hapless human is played by Jimmy Stewart. After light twists and turns, it ends happily

I feel that they were probably put together in this movie because they had just completed Vertigo together.

Memorable moments:

  • The best part is Jack Lemmon as the witch’s beatnik bongo- playing warlock brother. He gets to show off his incredible talent and diversity playing a real happy-go-lucky goofball.
  • Actresses Elsa Lanchester and Hermione Gingold also excel as real "characters.",
  • The cat, Pyewacket, has a name that has been used for many a cat since.

I Married a Witch

I Married a Witch (1942) B & W. 77 minutes. Fantasy romance comedy.

This is a very light and silly farce which could be titled “Revenge of the Witches.” Two condemned witches from Puritan times find their way into the forties and try to wreak havoc on the heirs of their Puritan nemesis. However, one witch, played by iconic Veronica Lake, falls in love with her enemy.

This film would be a fun way to discuss with children the progress of film technology.

Memorable moments:

  • Some of the effects in this movie are simple and awkward – such a lightning bolt strike. Other effects - such as smoke and flying objects – work quite well. I think it is great to see that the story works without 3-D spinning, twirling or computer effects.
  • Also, I like the soundtrack. It fits very well.

Grab the Popcorn and Enjoy

I think of Halloween as a season rather than a day. It is when the daylight hours shorten, and the outdoors gets cold and spooky. So, grab the treats of your choice and rent one of these classic Halloween movies. They are classic because they are enduringly good.

© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on November 01, 2011:

Thanks, amerben.

amerben on November 01, 2011:

Archibald Alexander Leach, according to Google

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on October 31, 2011:

Melovy, the first three are definitely the higher quality films. But the last two are in the spirit of gentle entertainment. I also love Arsenic and Old Lace. Did you know the inside joke that one of the headstones in the church cemetery in A & OA has Cary Grant's real name? I think it is Archibald ....

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on October 31, 2011:

RedElf, thanks. I can't understand why someone would want to watch blood and gore psychopath movies when these are available. Sorry to hear about the monkeys and you. For some reason, I didn't fear them that much!

Yvonne Spence from UK on October 31, 2011:

I’ve never seen your last two choices, ET and Oz I’ve enjoyed a couple of times, but my favourite of these is definitely Arsenic and Old Lace. I love Cary Grant movies and this one is funny, funny, funny and very funny.

RedElf from Canada on October 31, 2011:

What a grand list of films, though i must admit that those flying monkeys scared the pooh out of me when I was a kid. They were far scarier to me than the witch ever was.