Nanny McPhee

  • Directors: Kirk Jones
  • Producers: Lindsay Doran, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
  • Writers: Screenplay, Emma Thompson, Books, Christianna Brand
  • Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton, Kelly Macdonald, Thomas Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Jennifer Rae Daykin, Holly Gibbs

Taking place in 19th century England, widower and undertaker 41-year-old Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) has seven children: 12-year-old Simon (Thomas Sangster), 10-year-old Tora (Eliza Bennett), 9-year-old Lily (Jennifer Rae Daykin), 8-year-old Eric (Raphaël Coleman), 7-year-old Sebastian (Samuel Honywood ), 5-year-old Christianna (Holly Gibbs) and 1-year-old Aggie (Hebe Barnes and Zinnia Barnes). He loves his children very much, but spends little time with them, unable to handle raising them all on his own. The children have had a series of seventeen nannies, whom they systematically drive out; it is a point of pride for them to get rid of each nanny as fast as possible. They also terrorize the cook, Mrs. Blatherwick (Imelda Staunton) but are cared for and loved by Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald), the young scullery maid.

Cedric attempts to hire another nanny from the agency that sent the past seventeen nannies, but the agency refuses him, as the children have sent the past nannies away, terrorized. Desperate to find another nanny, Cedric heeds the advice of a mysterious voice from the house, which says, “the person you need is Nanny McPhee.” After a series of mysterious events, an unusual and hideous woman named Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives at Brown home, introducing herself as a “government nanny”. With discipline and magic, she transforms the family’s lives. In the process, she herself transforms from ugly to beautiful. The children, led by Simon, attempt to play their tricks on her, but gradually start to respect her and ask her for advice. They change into responsible people, helping their hapless father in solving the family problems, and making Nanny McPhee less and less needed. (The storyline is, at this point, very similar to Mary Poppins).

Interestingly, not all of the lessons are for the children. In addition, the last one can vary depending on interpretation.

National Velvet

  • Directors: Clarence Brown
  • Producers: Pandro S Berman
  • Writers: Helen Deutsch, Enid Bagnold
  • Genres: Drama, Family, Sport
  • Actors: Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury, Reginald Owen, Terry Kilburn

National Velvet is the story of a twelve-year girl, Velvet Brown, living in Sewels in Sussex, England, who saves a horse from the knacker’s yard and trains it for the Grand National steeplechase, aided by her father’s hired hand, a young drifter, Mi Taylor. The fictional horse which Velvet Brown trained and rode in the National is called “The Pie”. However, when she discovers that the Latvian jockey hired to ride the Pie doesn’t believe he can win, she disguises herself as a male jockey and rides the horse to victory herself.

Beauty and the Beast

  • Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
  • Producers: Don Hahn
  • Writers: Linda Woolverton
  • Genres: Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Paige O Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers

In the prologue, an old beggar woman arrives at the castle of a young, spoiled and unkind French prince. The old beggar woman asks for shelter from the bitter cold, and in return, offers the young prince a rose. Repulsed by her appearance, the prince turns the old beggar woman away. It is then that the old beggar woman reveals that she is a beautiful enchantress and conjures a powerful curse, transforming the heartless prince into a hideous beast (as a reflection of his inner cruelty and hatred), his servants into anthropomorphic household items, and the castle into a dark, forbidding place, so that he will learn to not judge by appearances. The curse can only be broken if the Beast learns to love someone and receives the other’s love in return before the last petal of the enchantress’s rose withers and falls; if not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for the rest of his life. As the years passed, the Beast stayed hidden in the gloomy castle, convinced no person could love such a hideous beast.

Ten years later, a beautiful young woman named Belle has moved to a French Provençal village, where she is seen as eccentric yet very special due to her preference for reading books and dislike of being courted by the “rude and conceited” local hero, Gaston. At one point Gaston arrogantly offers his hand in marriage to Belle, which she politely but firmly rejects.

The last scene shows Belle and the prince happily dancing in the ballroom, in front of many guests, which includes Maurice and the now-human assistants of the castle. Everybody is happy, and they live happily ever after.

The Manchurian Candidate

  • Directors: John Frankenheimer
  • Producers: George Axelrod, John Frankenheimer
  • Writers: Richard Condon, George Axelrod
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh

During the Korean War the Soviets kidnap an American infantry patrol and take them to Manchuria, in Communist China. There, the Communists (Russian, Chinese and North Korean) implant false memories in the soldiers’ minds to cover the kidnapping, and to provide a subconscious trigger in the mind of one soldier, Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw. Brainwashed, the soldiers are covertly returned to their lines and, after reintegration into American society, unaware of what they went through.

As part of the process, Captain (later Major) Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), Sgt. Shaw (Laurence Harvey) and the rest of the platoon believe their lives were saved in combat by Shaw, for which he is awarded the Medal of Honor. Also, when asked to describe him, each of his fellow soldiers automatically says: “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” Privately, however, they know that Shaw is a cold, sad, unsociable loner. As Marco puts it: “It isn’t as if Raymond’s hard to like. He’s impossible to like!”

After the war, Marco suffers a recurring nightmare: a hypnotized Shaw kills two of his platoon before the assembled Soviet, Chinese and North Korean brass while watching a practical demonstration of the Communist brainwashing technique. He wants to investigate, but receives no support from Army Intelligence, for whom he currently works, because he has no proof. This changes when he learns that another soldier from the platoon has been suffering the same nightmare and has identified the same specific Communists. Deciding that this is too much of a coincidence, Army Intelligence agrees to set up a task force to look into the matter.

Marco’s attempt to free Raymond from Mrs. Iselin’s control appears to fail. Raymond enters the convention hall and takes up a position to carry out the assassination. When the moment comes, however, he takes his revenge by killing his stepfather and mother instead. He then commits suicide while wearing his Medal of Honor.