As an adult I’ve been able to watch films I didn’t get around to watching as a child. I remember my father was nervous about me going to see Dr. Zhivago as an early teen. There are films I’ve watched since as an adult that I have thought would be helpful for young girls to understand what life and people and men and relationships can be really like. Among the many musicals I saw growing up, Guys and Dolls wasn’t one of them. Seeing it as an adult I see some common patterns in relationships. Elmer Gantry, about a womanizing itinerant preacher, would go on my list. Reading a little on Wikipedia I see that it was based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis. Now I kind of wish I had read that instead of or in addition to Main Street in school.
British films about relationships are useful for this as well, where the mothers and fathers and aunties and uncles and sisters and brothers all worry and gossip about who their sister or brother will marry. As immigrants, to the US, I see the United Kingdom as having an older culture and that wisdom is more accessible and available to us immigrant Americans than other cultures just because we know the language.
So many of the stories pumped at little girls are about meeting a prince and riding with him away on a horse to a white castle. I recently watched The Secret, based on a book by Catherine Cookson about a young girl who marries and expects to live happily ever after though her family gave her mixed messages. It turns out her husband is mentally ill and abuses her. “Whoa, girls…. Not so fast,” this film tells us. The numerous Catherine Cookson books made into films are downloadable through Netflix and focus on class and follow young women and men through their lives through struggles that happen to real life people.
So perhaps if you have a daughter or know someone who does, this information will be helpful. I’ll try to add to this column as I watch and rewatch some of these films.