Seven forgotten films to remember while at home

Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It.”

Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It.”

Columbia Pictures / Contributed photo /

Times like these remind us of many things.

What matters. How we overcome when we stick together. Why friends and family need to hear from us. How movies can recharge our sense of commitment to others.

And when we choose movies to watch, especially at times like these, we can experience so much more when we reach beyond the obvious titles.

Here are seven of my favorite “forgotten films” that can be meaningful to remember. And they are all accessible to stream.

The African Queen (1952)

Meeting new people can be a real adventure. Each time we dare to reach out to people we don’t know we may experience something new. That’s one reason “The African Queen” is so important to remember. Another is, of course, that the movie takes place in a jungle in the middle of Africa and involves a great escape from a powerful enemy. And, of course, that the film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won an Oscar) and Katharine Hepburn. Together they make us want to meet as many new people as we can. Available on Amazon.

American Graffiti (1973)

At some point in every life, it’s time to grow up and leave home. We say goodbye to friends and family we may not see for some time as we begin the journey into unknown worlds beyond what is immediately comfortable. Later we will realize that the world does not end at the city limits and that potential is only limited by how we dream. This lovely film from George Lucas perfectly captures what we feel at those moments we stand on an edge and prepare to say goodbye to a community we call home. Available on Amazon and Hulu.

Avalon (1990)

Families need time together. To stay connected, we need the opportunity to focus on each other, catch up on the details of each other’s lives and commit to avoid the distractions that may surface. Barry Levinson’s lovely film takes us back to a time when family gatherings were a priority, electronics were a novelty, and generations regularly gathered to share moments together. The film may help you better understand why your parents and grandparents find it so important to tell you about “the good old days” because, once past, they can easily be forgotten. Available on Amazon.

Breaking Away (1979)

Growing up is never easy, even in the movies. When people believe their opportunities may be few, graduating from high school can add pressure simply because the choices feel limited. While some movies love to tell stories of successful youth who conquer the challenges of life, this special film from Peter Yates dares to reveal how it can feel when a happy ending is no certainty because people feel trapped. The film reminds us how communities can define potential and its limitations. Available on Amazon.

North by Northwest (1959)

Talk about a man who has a tough day. Playing chase can be fun but, as Roger Thornhill learns, cat and mouse can get old if, in every turn, you are always “it.” That’s what happens when he is mistakenly identified as a secret agent in this appetizing adventure from director Alfred Hitchcock. This cinema concoction finds every way to have fun even when the chase turns serious and the hero is less than amused. This deserves-to-be-remembered movie serves its delicious delights in a fantasy world that only this master chef could create. Available on Amazon.

A River Runs Through It (1992)

No family can save every member. Some people we love, regardless of how much potential they may have, seem determined to sabotage their lives in ways we can’t change. Robert Redford, in a film of beauty, asks us to consider why some people turn out one way while others, sadly, turn out otherwise. Through its careful look at one family in the Montana wilderness, the film prompts us to wonder why siblings who have much in common in their early lives take different paths and how even the most caring family members can’t direct their lives. Available on Amazon.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Every family deals with the unexpected in different ways. Some may find the unexpected to be challenging; others may consider challenge to be a lot of fun, even when potentially threatening. For the Robinsons, being stranded on an island in the middle of a great ocean does have its challenges, especially since they have no way to communicate with the outside world and no one has any idea where they may be. Because this is a Disney film from 1960, however, the challenges won't be too intense and, chances are, the ending will be positive. Available on Amazon and Disney+.

At times like these, we remember many things.

And movies that can touch our souls can help us remember what matters.

Enjoy remembering these forgotten films.