I’m all for change and progress. I like moving forward. But when it comes to “family” films, they just don’t make them like they used to. One of my favorite childhood memories is curling up in front of the tv on Sunday nights to watch ABC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney.” It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of all things Disney, but I have a special place in my heart for these wholesome, heart-warming, clean, FUNNY, fantastic live-action films.
When it comes to live-action Disney, there are a handful of highly popular films most people are familiar with. (Who doesn’t love Mary Poppins?!) However, there are a few unsung heroes buried in the Disney vault. If you’ve never seen these treasures, I highly recommend checking them out and watching them with your family. We will be watching many of these in the coming year on our weekly family night.
While these films can be difficult to find in stores, I’ve included links to where you can buy them on Amazon.(*The links are part of my affiliate account.) Most of these films can be purchased for less than ten dollars! You and your family will love re-visiting these past films and/or just might discover a new favorite!
1. Napoleon and Samantha
Two child-star legends (Johnny Whitaker & Jodie Foster) shine in this heart-warming story of a friendship between two children and a lion. Napoleon and Samantha travel through the mountains in an effort to save their friend, an old circus lion. This was one of my very favorite Disney films as a child, and I can’t wait to share it with my own children!
2. Toby Tyler
I LOVED this movie as a child. (LOVED!) Kevin Corcoran ( a true Disney legend) stars as lovable Toby, an orphan who runs away to join the circus. This is one I know my kids will thoroughly enjoy.
3. The Apple Dumpling Gang
Three newly adopted orphans find gold and team up with a pair of bumbling outlaws to stage a robbery. This movie is lots of fun and is sure to make your family laugh. (And who doesn’t love Don Knotts?!)
4. The Shaggy Dog
I will admit – I’m not a huge fan of remakes. The Tim Allen version was cute – but I’m just a sucker for these classic Disney movie originals. (As a bonus – this movie features some true Disney acting legends: Fred MacMurray, Kevin Corcoran,Tommy Kirk, and Annette Funicello!) My kids (all dog lovers) are going to LOVE this movie. Watch as teen Wilby is transformed into a dog.
5. The Absent-Minded Professor
The remake of this movie (Flubber) pales in comparison to this outstanding original. The Absent-Minded Professor, again starring icon Fred MacMurray, is the tale of a lovably quirky professor who discovers a gooey substance with amazing properties. Truly hilarious and a must-see!
Casey (played by Jodie Foster) sets out to trick the owner of Candleshoe estate into believing she is her long lost grand-daughter. Hidden inside Candleshoe is a vast treasure, hidden by pirates! Will she find the treasure, or perhaps something greater? Another personal favorite.
7. The Monkey’s Uncle
Sleep experiments, a chimpanzee, and a bicycle-powered flying machine coupled with Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello make this follow-up to The Misadventures of Merlin Jones a wonderfully funny family film.
8. The Gnome Mobile
True Disney fans will recognize the “Mary Poppins kids” (Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice) in this absolutely wonderful family film. The children stumble upon Jasper, a 2 ft. tall “gnome.” Jasper must find a bride, and the kids set out to help him, and an adventure of Disney proportions ensues.
9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Climb on board the Nautilus and prepare for an epic undersea adventure. This is a masterpiece, especially considering it was made in 1954! My children are familiar with the book and after seeing a local puppet adaptation, are eager to watch this classic film.
10. That Darn Cat!
The genius of Hayley Mills and Dean Jones coupled with a troublesome cat who helps solve a kidnapping/robbery make this a true classic. That Darn Cat is highly regarded, and a true family film.
I hope you will check out some of these wonderfully clean, funny, warm, CLASSIC family films. Gather around, pop some corn, snuggle up and rest easy, knowing that the film you’re showing is appropriate, entertaining, and fun for the whole family.