TV Guy: Why do some movies resonate and endure?

Staff Writer
Times Herald-Record
The 1964 musical fantasy "Mary Poppins“ airs on Freeform.

Somebody called for comfort food. The schedule features three classic movies some have all but memorized.

-- A busy banker (David Tomlinson) and his suffragette wife (Glynis Johns) turn over their children, Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber), to an enchanting nanny (Julie Andrews) in the 1964 musical fantasy "Mary Poppins" (8 p.m., Freeform, TV-G). Eventually, dear old dad wins back their affection with a song about compound interest and a vow to take up kite-flying. But not before his respectable middle-class children are taken in by a chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke) with the wobbliest Cockney accent ever memorialized on celluloid.

A charming movie by any standard, "Mary Poppins" had a number of cultural factors in its favor. It was released in 1964, a year when there were millions of young kids under 12, just the right age for a movie about a gravity-defying nanny.

For more sophisticated types, the film starred Julie Andrews, who had enraptured Broadway audiences with her performances in "My Fair Lady." The movie version of that play was also released in 1964, but starred Audrey Hepburn with her songs dubbed by Marni Nixon. Musical purists thought Julie Andrews had been robbed of a role she had immortalized. And they were overjoyed the next spring when Andrews won a best actress Oscar for "Mary Poppins," a rare feat for a "kids'" movie.

Lastly, 1964 was the year of Beatlemania. The musical "British Invasion" had nothing to do with "A Spoonful of Sugar," but it arrived during a period when Americans embraced just about anything or anyone with a British accent. How else to explain Herman's Hermits?

-- Released two decades later, "Footloose" (7:30 p.m., AMC, TV-14) stars Kevin Bacon as a Chicago-bred dancing machine who teaches a small town under the thumb of a fire-breathing preacher (John Lithgow) how to cut loose.

"Footloose" was released at a time when MTV was first broadcasting Madonna videos into homes across America and when the political power of the fundamentalist "Moral Majority" was at its zenith. So the cultural divide portrayed in "Footloose" touched a nerve and perhaps explains why the film still resonates.

Look for Lithgow in a supporting role in the forthcoming HBO adaptation of "Perry Mason."

-- Equal parts comedy and fairy tale romance, "The Princess Bride" (8 p.m. and 10 p.m., BBC America) was released in 1987 to modest box-office success, only to become a cult favorite so beloved that its star, Cary Elwes, has gone on record begging for it never to be remade.

One of a series of touchstone films directed by Rob Reiner in the 1980s, it appears on his resume between "Stand By Me" and "When Harry Met Sally." And like director Reiner's first feature, "This Is Spinal Tap," it features Christopher Guest.

Witty and knowing and yet accessible to the kids, "Princess Bride" boasts both Wallace Shawn ("My Dinner With Andre") and Andre the Giant.

-- Disney has spent much time and money to adapt the "Artemis Fowl" novels into a 2020 thriller debuting on Disney+ today. Will it become a memorable classic? Check this space in the year 2060.


-- Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo oversee "World of Dance" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG).

-- A surrogate moves in with the parents-to-be in the 2020 shocker "Dying for Motherhood" (8 p.m., LMN, TV-14).


Human traffickers on "MacGyver" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... "WWE Friday Night Smackdown" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Kevin Bacon, David Dobrik and Christine and the Queens on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).