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Sense and Sensibility

Book cover: 'Sense and Sensibility'

Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen

Though more serious in nature than Emma, Sense and Sensibility portrays life in a more beautiful, if not always more fair, time. Three sisters and their mother are being turned out of their family estate upon their father's death because of the laws of succession to their half-brother, whose scheming wife prevents him from helping them out financially. After they move to a small cottage in the country, the family find friends and happiness in unexpected places.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (BBC/A&E Series)

Book cover: 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'

After thoroughly enjoying the BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, I was thrilled to see that they also had done the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is one of my favorite stories. Unfortunately, my expectations were completely shattered by this production which is really more of a television series loosely based on the books. It seems intended for those who enjoy rather steamy romance novels.

Pride and Prejudice

Book cover: 'Pride and Prejudice'

This is a lovely, touching, funny, clever and meaningful miniseries (produced by BBC/A&E) based quite closely on the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. While it's certainly a "chick movie", there's enough clever writing and acting in it to allow "the guys" to tolerate at least one viewing and probably get something out of it. The theme of the story, which is set in 18th century England, is choosing a marriage partner, and the morals here are very sound.

Much Ado About Nothing

Book cover: 'Much Ado About Nothing'

This is an admirable portrayal of one of Shakespeare's great comedies beautifully filmed on location in Italy. It is a love story that also laughs at love and a drama that ends up being "Much Ado About Nothing." It is so refreshing to see that Kenneth Branagh (director, adapter and co-leading man) appreciates Shakespeare as Shakespeare rather than trying to add on modern nonsense to make it more accessible. Instead, Branagh assists in making Shakespeare's timeless story accessible through good acting, beautiful scenery and an amazingly faithful script.

In This House of Brede

Book cover: 'In This House of Brede'

This film, originally made for British television, is based on the novel In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. It is an admirable portrayal of a woman entering a cloistered Benedictine Abbey relatively late in life and how she learns to love all - the lovable and the "unlovable" for the sake of Christ. While the glimpses of the outside world (of the 1970s) are somewhat dated in appearance - clothing, hairstyles, etc.

Emma

Book cover: 'Emma'

Based on the novel by Jane Austen, Emma is a fun and frivolous story of a young woman's misguided ideas about matchmaking for her friends that ends up saying some very nice things about friendship. It's funny, clever and great family entertainment. My children and their friends have very much enjoyed the story, the dancing, the music, the dresses, etc.

Gone with the Wind

Book cover: 'Gone with the Wind'

This beloved story of the Old South and its disappearance is one of the great classic movies of all times. It's a very healthy thing for Americans, who predominantly side with the North, to at least have some understanding of the South. This movie isn't a bad place to start. Aside from its historical significance, it is a complex story of love, generosity, hate and thick-headedness. It's the sort of movie I can watch numerous times (like Casablanca) and get a little more out of it each time.

Saving Private Ryan

Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, et al.

Schindler's List

This is a remarkable movie and the heart of the story is very beautiful. Two stories are intertwined. The first is simply the story of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis during World War II. The second is the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, determined to profit from the war by hiring Jews as cheap laborers. He is a womanizer, living the high life through in spite of the suffering around him.

The Scarlet and the Black

Christopher Plummer and Gregory Peck play arch-enemies in this story of a remarkable Irish Monsignor living in the Vatican who runs a network of safehouses for Jews, escaped POWs and others seeking refuge in Nazi-occupied Rome. Monsignor O'Flaherty (Gregory Peck) boldly collects funds for his work at high-profile parties and events and narrowly escapes capture at every turn. As Nazi Commandant Hoffer (Christopher Plummer) realizes the scope of O'Flaherty's threat to Nazi purposes, the good Monsignor's danger increases.

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