“The Ten Commandments” pulled off another of its holiday ratings miracles over the weekend, delivering ABC’s best non-sports Saturday since — the last time ABC aired “The Ten Commandments” about a year ago. It also pulled off ABC’s best non-sports Saturday among the younger viewers who are the currency of broadcast TV since the network aired the flick “Transformers” on Christmas Day of 2010. ABC’s 32nd broadcast of “The Ten Commandments,” the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille biblical flick that stars Charlton Heston, scored 7 million viewers in primetime Saturday night.
They need to be films that everyone knows, or at the very least, have stars that everyone knows. They don't have to have a direct correlation to a holiday (Life isn't really a Christmas movie, for example), but it certainly helps. They need to be able to play on free TV - ABC shows Commandments every year - so that it can have the widest audience. They should probably be feel-good movies as well, or at the very least, they should end on an up note. And they absolutely should remain in black-and-white (unless, y'know, they were originally shot in color). Here's what I came up with:
- Yankee Doodle Dandy for Independence Day. Duh. This one's a no-brainer. I watched it again recently and enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the first time I saw it. When I was in video retail, I would play it if I was working on July 4th. It's hard to see how anyone could resist a movie like this: yeah, the patriotism stuff is over-the-top, but if that sort of thing can't play on America's birthday, when can it play? Besides, it's so awesome to see Jimmy Cagney dance.
- To Kill a Mockingbird for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. To be honest, I don't feel comfortable about this choice. Given the parameters of this experiment that I set for myself, it fits perfectly, but I would much rather see a movie like Do The Right Thing playing on MLK Day instead - a movie written and directed by a black man. Still, it would never play on free television given its language, even though that language is necessary to the story. So I figure it's either Mockingbird or something horribly outdated and schmaltzy, like - ugh! - Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.
- The Great Escape for Memorial Day. Um, don't hit me, but I've never actually seen The Great Escape... but I do know how highly regarded it is as a war movie! It's got manly men doing stuff! It's got Steve McQueen on a motorcycle! And most importantly, it's got American soldiers (and others) resisting the Nazis and being heroes, and let's face it, what better time would a movie like this play than on a holiday devoted to those who served this country in times of war? Plus, it's in color.
- Casablanca for Valentine's Day. This is another questionable choice, I think. To me, this is a war movie with romance added, but I suspect many, many more people see it as a romance movie with some war stuff added. Who's right? I say we both are. Still, when you think of the great movie love stories throughout history, few can top this, so I guess my view of it doesn't count for a hill of beans in this crazy old world. Besides, if any movie should be available to watch every year on free TV, it's this one.
- Holiday for New Year's Eve. Perhaps not as well known as these other movies, but it's got two of the all-time biggest, most beloved movie stars ever in a light romantic comedy with a New Year's Eve scene in it. I think if it were played often enough on New Year's Eve, it could catch on. Besides, it's called "Holiday"; I kinda think it deserves to be associated with an actual holiday, don't you?
So what do you think?