Sunday, December 26, 2010

Elementary school

TCM is showing The Red Balloon overnight tonight at 1:15 AM ET. If you haven't seen it, the movie is about a balloon with a life of its own that befriends a boy in Paris, and is told with almost no dialogue. But, you probably did see it back in elementary school. I did, an only recently learned that apparently lots of copies were distributed to school districts across the US for showing to the little ones.

It's not the only such movie. People of a certain age may remember the 1957 movie Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot. I saw this one in elementary school as well. Unlike The Red Balloon, it at least has an obviously plausible claim to be educational. (How accurate its history is is another story.) Imagine my surprise when a few years later, on a family trip that included a day in Colonial Williamsburg, the introduction included this movie! For some reason, I had always thought that it had been made by Disney. At least, my young eye saw that the production values in that movie look similar to those in Johnny Tremain, another colonial movie that I saw in school which was released about the same time, which was produced by Disney. No; apparently the Williamsburg movie was purpose-made for the folks at Colonial Williamsburg by Paramount. One other interesting fact about the movie is that the main star is Jack Lord, who would go on to star in the original Hawaii Five-O TV series.

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