The first movie I remember seeing at a theater was The Sound of Music, which came out in 1965. I was 9 and going to the movies was, for my family, a really big deal. My dad was a full-time graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. My mother worked as a secretary at our church. My parents struggled to make ends meet. So entertainment was typically anything that didn’t cost extra money — picnics in the mountains, neighborhood kickball games and potluck dinners at church.
But at some point that spring, we all dressed up in our very best clothes, bundled into the car and turned onto the Denver-Boulder Turnpike for the drive into the big city (about 27 miles as the crow flies). We were with family friends Ivan and Doris Force, who were a bit older than my parents and always treated us like family. I don’t know (nor would any of the adults had told me) if the outing was the Forces’ treat, but I suspect it was.
What I do remember is my sense of awe as we entered the darkened theater and sat, quietly obedient, on the velvety seats. And my complete, enraptured attention as I watched the magical Julie Andrews sing and dance her way through a movie that touched on themes I was far too young to fully comprehend.
The lessons I took away from that experience were these: That movies are very special treats. That music, dancing and a positive attitude can fix almost anything. That falling in love is thrilling, especially if you are “16 going on 17.” And that love is stronger than grief, stronger than duty and stronger than evil.
I was just shy of being old enough to understand the bigger things that were going on that year. Malcom X was assassinated just weeks before The Sound of Music first opened in New York City. Six days after it opened, the first 3,500 Marines arrived in South Vietnam. Later that year, the Beatles released the Help! album and the world certainly needed it.
The narcissism of childhood — and perhaps overly protective parents — kept me blissfully ignorant of these matters. I hummed “Doe, a Dear” and “Raindrops on Roses” and all was well in my world.
So if someone asked me my favorite family film, I would have to say “The Sound of Music.” It is reassuring to know that, even in 2011, it still makes the cut.
We asked readers to tell us their favorite family movie for a chance to win tickets to one of the Valley’s UltraStar Cinemas. The Sound of Music was the movie most often submitted.
Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of others that were mentioned:
Beauty and the Beast
Because of Winn-Dixie
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter (series)
The Lion King
The Wizard of Oz
Where the Wild Things Are
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
What is your favorite family movie–and your favorite movie memory?