Teaching culture

I have a friend who is very interested in cinema and has been lending us various documentaries and other movies to watch. Recently, we were discussing learning about culture and cultural references through movies and this weekend she lent us a Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete movie, to teach me about Mexican culture. We’ve already had long conversations about Cantinflas.

So, now I’m making a list of movies that I think teach or explain US culture or contain cultural references. I think they need to be from before the 90s, since she’s seen a lot of movies since that time, also she’s already seen the Muppet Movie, the Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which she didn’t like).

So here’s my short list so far:

To Kill a Mockinbird
The Cradle will Rock
Some Like it Hot
Roman Holiday
Bull Durham
Pretty in Pink or 16 Candles
Blazing Saddles
Say Anything
American Graffiti
Once Upon a Time in the West

What do you think? Any glaring omissions?

I think I am not including the War genre, but I don’t much like it – or I could recommend that she watch Apocalypse Now and not tell me about it.

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6 Responses to “Teaching culture”

  1. Max Says:

    hmm I’ll think about it, but I think I’d vote On the Waterfront. it’s got cultural references and history and such things. plus it’s a darned good movie.

  2. aj burke Says:

    I’ll have to think about it, but what about a road trip/car culture movie? That’s very America.

  3. Paul Says:

    2001: A Space Odessey, naturally. This will satisfy Amanda’s wish for a road trip (the ultimate) car culture (the ultimate) movie.

  4. barbara Says:

    How about Meet me in St. Louis, or is that going back too far?

  5. aj burke Says:

    Yes, she didn’t list any musicals. Meet Me in StL is great for showing how real people lived in that particular time in the U.S. The family celebrates the holidays, the young ladies start dating, technology is changing…

    Of course, I would also suggest a great Fred & Ginger movie, to show the large-scale production numbers and extravagant sets/costumes of ‘the golden era’ of Hollywood. Just make sure it’s not one where the whole action takes place ‘abroad’, if you’re going for displays of American cultural.

  6. deeb Says:

    Mmmm… good suggestion, I knew you guys would come up with some good things. As for Car Culture, I know she’s seen Little Miss Sunshine and the Chevy Chase, National Lampoons Vacation movie. I don’t know if she’s seen 2001: A Space Odessey and for some strange reason, I think of it as British, although I know it’s a Stanley Kubrick movie. Meet me in St.L. is a GREAT suggestion and so are the Fred and Ginger movies, and I think I’ll put them on the list (Fred & Ginger must be Top Hat, I think.).
    Thanks for the help!

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