For more than 19 years, this column has celebrated how movies create shared family experiences. And, for more than 40 years, my mother-in-law, Marge Holland, was one of my favorite movie buddies. Together we shared countless hours tapping our toes to musicals and chuckling over comedies. And though she would occasionally accuse me of liking every movie I see — which isn’t quite true — she knew which ones she liked.
Each week, when the Ridgefield Press arrived, Marge first turned to this column. A year or so ago, I asked her to watch Sally Sanders, Steve Coulter and me “shoot” our Arts and Leisure television talk show for the HAN Network. Marge was fascinated by the cameras, computers, screens and microphones. And she made sure to stay quiet during the broadcast!
My dear Nano, as we called her in our family, passed away on Nov. 25 at the age of 98. Over the years, the two of us watched hundreds of movies together. Here are some of our favorites that you may want to share across your generations, with the people you love.
Just as I cherish my movie buddy, Nano.
The Music Man
Nano loved to remember when she saw this musical on Broadway in 1959. Every time we watched the movie version, her toes would start to tap with the downbeat of the overture. She cherished how the movie celebrates “old fashioned values” and portrays the eccentric population of a small town in Iowa. Perhaps the movie reminded her of the small town in Texas where she was raised.
The Sound of Music
Nano never tired of revisiting this classic musical. She appreciated the movie even more after we visited locations in Austria where it was filmed. Nano liked how the story shows parents and children enjoying music and celebrating what they mean to each other. Because she knew, deep in her heart, that we can overcome any obstacle when those around us offer unconditional love.
Nano rarely teared up while watching a movie but the end of this Bing Crosby classic got her every time. While she looked for any film with crooner Bing she especially enjoyed this recreation of those calm days of the 1950s when people looked back at World War II with nostalgic memories. No matter how many times we watched this one, she never tired of hearing Bing sing the title song.
The Glenn Miller Story
Nano loved the music of Glenn Miller and cherished how this biopic captured the sounds of the famous bandleader. From Elmer’s Tune to In the Mood she was ready to tap her toes any time she heard his music. And when we attended a live performance of the new Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Ridgefield Playhouse in 2016, she remarked, “this is even better than the movie!”
Nano cherished her first visit to the Prospector Theater in Ridgefield in 2015 when the Disney studios released this live action version of the classic fairy tale. She marveled at the costumes and the “silly performance” by Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother. But what she remembered of that day was how touched she was by the mission of the Prospector and the opportunities it provides.
Nano loved to laugh. And she had a wonderful laugh filled with gusto. Because Nano enjoyed comedy and the holidays, she never turned down an opportunity to watch this classic about a family that leaves a child at home by mistake. Despite the film’s silliness, she was charmed by its heart; though she did comment that the parents should have been better organized.
More Movies With Nano
By Mark Schumann
When we share movie time with family and friends, we say so much about what matters in our lives.
I will always cherish the chats I had with Nano after the movies as much as the times watching the movies.
Here are a few more films we shared over the years.
Places in the Heart
Nano was proud of her Texas heritage and she could spend hours telling stories of living in small towns. When we watched this tale about a woman from Waxahachie, Texas, she liked the lady’s determination to hold her family together during the Great Depression. Nano then shared her stories of how her father kept things together for his family. There’s just something about those Texans.
Because Nano liked any story with a patriotic message, she and I spent a memorable July 4th a few years ago sharing this musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While she did comment that the movie was a bit long, she found the ending to be moving and the message to be stirring. And she savored any opportunity to talk about the values of our country.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Nano, when she moved to our home in Ridgefield in 2014, formed a special friendship with Chance, our family dog. Part of her “job” as a member of the house was to feed Chance and let him out. And he knew how to charm his Nano. Perhaps that’s one reason why she loved this Disney animated classic about “parents” who will do anything to protect their offspring.
Nano, like me, loved any movie with Julie Andrews, starting with this Oscar-winning portrayal of the magical nanny. Nano remembered taking her children to see the movie in Midland, Texas, in the mid 1960s when it opened. She liked how the parents and children learned to appreciate each other. And she loved when Dick Van Dyke danced with the penguins. Those toes were tapping.
Nano and I – as well as sharing many movies – also attended many a Broadway show together over the years. We re-watched this film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical shortly after seeing the Tony-winning revival on stage in the 1990s. She especially enjoyed the dancing at the train station in the “Kansas City” production number. And the beautiful landscapes.
Nano loved any movie about family. She appreciated how this movie reminds us that, to stay connected, we need the opportunity to focus on each other, catch up on the details of our lives and avoid the distractions that may tempt us. While Nano realized that day-to-day realities disrupt many moments families can share, she wanted her family to stay in touch. And we do.
The Bells of St. Mary’s
Nano’s faith defined her view of a world in which people should always commit to bring out the best in each other. She respected how this film – featuring Bing Crosby as a priest and Ingrid Bergman as a nun – captured the essence of a faith that binds, the hearts that stir, the memories that fulfill. And she always chuckled during the scene when young children re-enact the birth of Jesus.
On Golden Pond
Nano felt that a joy of family is the chance to celebrate across generations. But she realized that, as people age, they change, and change can challenge. So she chuckled how Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn portrayed the older people in this story, reminding her of some of her relatives, as well as the people she worked with as the Director of the Senior Citizen Center in Midland, Texas.
Thank you, Nano, for all the movies, for all the years.