A couple of years ago, I taught a high school film history class to a group of particularly bright juniors and seniors. Some of them were a little skeptical at first (“Are you gonna make us watch black and white movies, Miss?”), but I made an initial plea with them to “give it a chance,” and, as luck would have it, they all did.
For the most part.
They loved Chaplin in The Kid, as well as Buster Keaton in Cops, Singin’ in the Rain, which I screened to illustrate the transition from silents to talkies, went over BIG, especially with some of the girls, who fell fast and hard for Gene Kelly. My Man Godfrey was appreciated, and the film led to some interesting discussions about history as well as the nature of comedy. When we got to the 1940s, I hit cinematic pay dirt with, of all things, Mildred Pierce. While Some Like it Hot probably proved to be the class favorite, overall, the Joan Crawford tour de force ran a very close second. There was not one snarky comment about her eyebrows or shoulder pads. Those kids were IN!