Because Oklahoma leaves a lot to be desired

Several years ago I went with my mom and sisters to a college production of the musical “Oklahoma”. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was amazed to realize for the first time that many songs I’d heard before were actually from the musical. Among others, I loved “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and “Surrey with a Fringe on Top”. This evening for family movie night, I happily plugged in the movie, thinking fondly of the various songs I loved.

I forgot how different a movie can feel when you’re in different company. Specifically, children. And you suddenly realize that a fair number of the songs (ones you don’t even remember) are full of innuendo, and some of the dialogue isn’t much better, and there’s also a fair bit of other..stuff…that makes you squirm.


Thanks to the fast-forward button, we ended up shortening (and thus cleaning up) the movie by at least 20 minutes. Yeah, some of the songs were really fun. But ideal family fare it was not.

Recently we watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, another old musical. It was much better than Oklahoma– I didn’t cringe as my kids watched it. And the pacing and the action in the movie made all singing tolerable, even to my teen boys (who often get bored with musicals).

So I’m wondering: what old movies have you seen that were family-safe AND fun?

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  1. “The Adventures of Robin Hood”(1938–with Errol Flynn-LOTS of fun and adventure), “Bringing up Baby” (1938–crazy madcap comedy fun), “Heidi” (1937-Shirley Temple), “The Little Colonel” (1935-Shirley Temple again), “Little Women” (1933-Katherine Hepburn is Jo in this version), “Meet Me in St. Louis”(1944-Judy Garland musical),and saving the BEST for last– “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952–Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds–the MUSICAL of all MUSICALS and so much comedy that the kids love) .
    There ya go–Oh and “The Little Princess” (1939 with Shirley Temple. Not exactly true to the Book by the same name but still very good movie. Most Shirley Temple movies are fun and clean)

  2. We love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at our house! We also love the Sound of Music, although it could be scary for young kids at the end ( it is set in Austria as Nazy Germany is taking control) Another great one is State Fair, get the one with Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews, there is another version that is not worth the effort. Singing in the Rain is another great one. The King and I is also good. Also try Summer Stock and Brigadoon.

  3. Oh, yes, Brigadoon & Singing in the Rain. My favorites!

    One caution about Shirley Temple is that we got a couple of DVD’s of her very early stuff a few years ago, the stuff she did as a 4 year-old, and THOSE were FULL of innuendo! I was totally floored and we have never watched them again. I think I threw them away.

  4. I loved “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” That was from a long time ago.

  5. Yeah, there’s nothin’ quite like having your preschooler sing “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No”. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

    Funny how my view has changed since becoming a mother. All sorts or movies have been deleted from the viewing list. Don’t even think about “South Pacific”.

    “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is one of our favorites.

    As far as musicals, my kiddos love “Singing in the Rain”. Love it. Got it for Christmas years ago.
    “Music Man”
    “Fiddler on the Roof”
    “Sound of Music”
    “Meet Me in St. Louis”
    “White Christmas”

    Old movies, they like the Laurel and Hardy stuff, “The Court Jester” (has witch in it), “My Fair Lady”, the Andy Griffith Show, Little House on the Prairie…

  6. We also edit Oklahoma for our 4 1/2 and 6 year olds. They love Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sound of Music and sometimes Phantom of the Opera (although it scares them). Another movie they like that’s not a musical is Princess Bride.

  7. I just experienced this same cringing and turning the movie off halfway through with “Marley and Me”. NOT a kids movie I find out. SO disappointed. Now as for old movies…Music Man (the old AND new versions!) is great! I see another commenter recommends Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…another favorite of ours! Sad thing about some of the old movies is because they are old, we think they are harmless…some are worse than now, only more subtle! 🙂 Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a Disney fav of ours. Combines people and cartoon!

  8. Princess Bride
    Mary Poppins
    Original Nutty Professor
    The Love Bug
    The Wizard of Oz

  9. I have had that too!!! Even more so now that my kids are older, as now they understand all the the induendo!

    Movies that we pretty much all like are:
    Left Behind series
    Love Comes Softly series
    Narnia series
    Sound of Music (for my daughter and I)
    Anne of Green Gables (for my daughter and I)
    The Wizard of Oz
    Black Beauty
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Most of the old Disney movies (and some of the new)
    The Swiss Family Robertson is fav for the boys

  10. multi-taskingmom says:

    We did this recently with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We couldn’t think of anything wrong with it, but I decided to pre-watch it anyway. Wellllll so glad I did – the first part was great and the last part was too, but the middle where the father was telling a story and they ended up going to Vulgaria… we skipped that whole part. So we watched up until they were getting ready to leave the beach (to go to Vulgaria) and skipped a bunch and then started back up as the made up story ended and they were back in the car on the beach.

    Some good ones we like are:
    The Music Man
    Hello Dolly – though there were a few times when I cringed a little bit – when Horace used the d— word and there were some inuendos.
    We are watching the Waltons right now. Some of them I do pre-watch, but not all. We are in season 1. I found a site that tells a bit about each episode and pre-watch when I think there might be questionable “stuff”.

    I am so glad to see this post because it’s very hard to find good movies or shows to watch with the kids. We don’t have TV, but do have Netflix.

  11. I had the reverse, Mum is very innocent and she took a friend of mine and me to see “Chorus Line”. I didn’t understand most of it, but still remember hearing the song ‘T*t’s & A**’ I don’t even think it occurred to her there might be questionable content in a live musical.

  12. I second “My Fair Lady” and “Bringing Up Baby.” Both great movies!

  13. Growing up we loved The Great Race (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon, 1965)…your boys may enjoy it more and it’s not a musical, just a crazy slap-stick comedy set in the early 1900s as drivers race around the world. There’s the evil villain dressed in black, and the good guy dressed in white and it’s just a silly fun one. Now I’ve not watched it through the Mom Filter, but I don’t remember anything in it. Must echo Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins and Sound of Music as kid favorites.

  14. Mrs. Sheriff says:

    Some of our most watched family movies are; Harvey (Jimmy Stewart 1950), State Fair (1945), Old Yeller (Disney 1957). Our older children (10 and 14) have very much enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird (Gregory Peck 1962)

  15. Multi-taskingmom says:

    Something else we enjoy is The Planet Earth series.

  16. Not an old one but one we recommend a lot: Second Hand Lions. Lots of over the top sword fights, no blood and, of course, the requisite pet lion.

  17. I grew up w/the classics. We love Danny Kaye movies/musicals here. Hans Christian Anderson and The Court Jester are great ones. Of course the classics like Sound of Music and Swiss Family Robinson are all good. Also Heidi, the Secret Garden, the Little Princess, the King and I, and Pollyanna come to mind as all great classic movies.

  18. I have to second Carla on “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye. I absolutely love that movie as does my whole family!

  19. We watch so many of the old movies that are mentioned above. I didn’t see it’s a wonderful life, so I guess I can add that one to it. Here are some of our favorites:
    -It’s a Wonderful Life
    -The Muppet’s Christmas Carol
    -Anne of Green Gable
    – Old Yeller
    – Toby Tyler
    – All Janye Austin’s movies
    – Swiss Family Robinson
    – The Major and the Minor (the original one)
    – 20,000 leagues under the sea
    – The Marx Brothers
    – Little House on the Prairie TV series
    – Cheaper by the dozen (the original one)
    and on and on…
    We don’t watch TV shows and Friday night is usually our old movie and snack night. Our family always look forward to Friday nights. 🙂

  20. Great movies! I would add~ Cheaper by The Dozen 1950 version, Bells on Their Toes (sequel, 1952), Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables.

  21. Growing up we had a clean version of “Grease” (certain songs and parts were cut out). Imagine my surprise when I saw it when I was older…

  22. This got me thinking to when I was a child and we got our first VCR. My dad took us to the video store and we went right to the Disney section. My dad picked out “Old Yeller.” My siblings and I were excited to see our first movie and my dad had us all hyped up about how good this move would be. In the end, he had three crying kids and one upset wife, as my kept asking him what was he thinking. We still tease him about this.

    I vote for the Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. I also loved Swiss family Robinson. Old Yeller is a great movie, but the kids may cry like my brother, sister, and I.

  23. I don’t know whether I am more shocked and/or saddened by this thread. Just when I thought I had heard everything. Wow. Seriously. WOW.

  24. no one has mentioned the original Yours Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball, With Six You get Eggroll- Doris Day and Brian Keith,
    The Long Long Trailer w/ Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Please Don’t Eat The Daisies Doris Day


  25. You Can’t Take It With You, or any other Frank Capra movie.

  26. Sorry, no recommendations, but this is something I’ve been thinking about lately, too. So many “family” musicals and movies are so suggestive, and often in even otherwise-clean movies, the costumes are very revealing (basically sparkly one- or two-piece bathing suits). My son is only 2 now, so I have a while to decide, but I don’t know if I can, in good conscience, allow him to watch all those “classics” with scantily-clad dancers. Once an image is in one’s mind, it’s in forever.