retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    Coming on Oscar weekend, it was appropriate that the Washington Post business section had a piece about the management styles of three Academy Award-nominated directors - Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg.

    One would expect that three directors with such different styles would have divergent leadership approaches. But while nobody would mistake Spielberg for Allen, or Allen for Scorsese, the amazing thing is that they all seem to share a belief that collaboration - not a dictatorial approach - is the best way to achieve their ultimate visions. (And, by the way, it probably is critical that they all have a vision for their projects ... they don’t use technology for the sake of technology, but in service of the content.)

    In Scorsese’s case, the story says, “His leadership style is equal parts structure and improvisation, reverence and irreverence. It’s a duality that stretches back to Scorsese’s early years growing up on New York’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood of contradictions.” Scorsese believes in rigorous preparation, but “coupled with Scorsese’s sense of a higher order and purpose, and perhaps out of it, comes an instinct for how to successfully bend the rules.” Longtime collaborator Robert DeNiro refers to it as “a structure for the improvisation.”

    The story says that the “attention Scorsese gives to process, this execution of his own vision by coaxing the best out of others, doesn’t only happen with the A-list stars on his films. Scorsese’s cinematographers say he imagines and then draws out every shot, each angle and all camera movements. Then he enlists their input, often offering them a chance to do things they never have done before ... Still, the freedom of experimentation Scorsese provides each member of his team acts in concert with, and toward the greater goal of, his vision.” And, people who have worked with him say, Scorsese maintains a sense of humor on the set, which keeps people wanting to work for him again and again.

    Woody Allen is another director who seems to be able to get pretty much any actor or actress to work for him anytime, anywhere - usually for relatively little money and on projects that will never be blockbusters. For many of these people, it is because Allen has a Zen-like approach to directing; he doesn’t even “direct” the actors very much, because for him it is all about casting - making sure the right people are in the right jobs, and then making sure that he gives them the freedom to do their jobs.

    A Woody Allen set, the story says, “lacks the self-importance, the preciousness of many movie sets run by less accomplished directors. For instance, Allen does not retreat to his trailer while the crew is setting up the next shot. In fact, he has no trailer, which tends to diffuse any complaints an actor may have about his or her own accommodations. Between takes, Allen remains accessible to cast and crew as he sits in any nearby chair, talks to his assistant or his producer (who is also his sister), reads the paper or practices his clarinet until he’s needed again ... It also helps that the hours are reasonable, and the actors aren’t overtaxed. Allen works mainly in single master shots and doesn’t bother shooting coverage from numerous angles. This alleviates the need for actors to do the same scene over and over again just so that the editor will have different shots to use within the scene. So what appears to be a stylistic choice — a minimalist aesthetic — is actually just Allen’s way of staying on schedule by eliminating a lot of repeated takes. In his usual self-deprecating manner, he claims he simply doesn’t have the patience to seek absolute perfection. Once he gets a good take, he wants to move on, wrap at a decent hour and get to the Knicks game in time for the tipoff.”

    “It’s not rocket science,” Allen tells the Post. “This is not quantum physics. If you’re the writer of the story, you know what you want the audience to see because you’ve written it. It’s just common sense. It’s just storytelling, and you tell it.”

    Steven Spielberg is described in the Post as “highly skilled at the fine arts of delegating and collaborating, qualities essential to good leadership in a profession that involves orchestrating the work of hundreds of helpers. And yet he also remains an unabashed ‘control freak’ ... Spielberg’s obsessive-compulsive nature helps account for his intense concentration on his craft, his unrivaled technical skills and his insistence on perfection from his crews. But he has learned how to surround himself with a small comfort zone of longtime collaborators he trusts implicitly, including editor Michael Kahn, composer John Williams, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, producer Kathleen Kennedy and fellow DreamWorks executive Stacey Snider. Such people are his filmmaking family, a tightly knit bunch he carries from project to project, drawing creative sustenance from them while demanding a high degree of creative independence within the Hollywood system.”

    One of the things that the story points out is Spielberg’s ability to multi-task ... which, as it happens, is critical to his work process: “Some people would find it impossibly daunting to try to direct a film while also operating the camera and serving as one of the producers — not to mention simultaneously juggling the demands of helping run a boutique studio operation. Spielberg has been involved with literally hundreds of films and television shows as a studio executive and sometimes as a hands-on producer. He and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, have seven children, and Spielberg is unusual in Hollywood in being such an actively involved family man.

    “And yet this seemingly overwhelming lifestyle not only stimulates his creative energies but also helps keep him focused. As he once said, ‘I’ve been doing this long enough to know how I work best. When I focus on one project to the exclusion of all else, I lose my objectivity. . . . I fall in love with every scene that I shoot. I think something is wonderful when it isn’t’.”

    Great movies, I’ve always believed, are as much about alchemy as anything. But as the Washington Post stories made clear over the weekend, alchemy is really only possible with lots of preparation, a great team, an overall vision, and an ability to let people do their jobs and even improvise in service of the broader vision. And then, with luck, magic happens.

    Sort of like any business.

    It’s an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    The Los Angeles Times reports that the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers says that “consumer confidence rose in February for the sixth straight month ... with 29% of the respondents saying they expected the unemployment rate to go down ... The consumer sentiment index rose to 75.3 in February, up 0.4% from the previous month.”

    There was, however, an interesting dichotomy. The story notes that “the percentage of people expressing optimism about the job market was the highest since 2004,” while “for the 41st straight month, the number of households saying their income had declined from the previous month exceeded those reporting greater income. And for the 28th consecutive month, a majority of respondents said they did not anticipate their household income increasing over the next year.”
    KC's View:
    It seems like when it comes to the economy, there’s always a “but.”

    I’m not sure why confidence would be improving while income is seen as stagnant or declining. But while I firmly believe that our economy has some critical structural problems that could cause it to collapse if the wrong thing happens, I also tend to think that confidence is better than depression.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    Royal Ahold announced thus morning that it is acquiring Bol.com, a European e-tailer, for the equivalent of $470 million (US).

    The company said that the move would “accelerate Ahold's online growth,” and that Bol.com would get additional bandwidth from being part of a major retail group.

    Bol.com currently sells products that books, entertainment, electronics and toys, has 3.4 million active customers and last year had sales that were the equivalent of $475 million (US) last year.

    Ahold CEO Dick Boer has said that he wants to triple his company’s online sales in coming years, to the equivalent of $2 billion (US).
    KC's View:
    The acquisition may be in Europe, but one can expect that everything and anything that Ahold learns from Bol.com will be available for export to the US.

    Smart move for Ahold. It is called embracing the future.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    Bloomberg reports that there seems to be a shift in attitude on the part of pet owners, many of whom until recently seemed willing to spend considerable dollars on indulgences for their dogs, cats and other pets.

    According to the story, “The $87 billion pet-product market, once deemed recession-proof, is starting to show cracks as owners struggle to make ends meet. Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys.”

    On the manufacturer side, this means that companies are doing things like reducing package size as a way of minimizing the impact of price increases. On the retail side, companies like PetSmart are ramping up their promotional schedules as a way of keeping customers from “defecting” to Walmart, Target or online alternatives.
    KC's View:
    Could this mean that sanity is returning to the world of pet ownership?

    Maybe it is just me, but I’ve always wondered about why it is so important to feed gourmet, organic pet food to animals that will, in their spare time, lick their genitals.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    Reuters reports that the US Postal Service (USPS) plans to “close or consolidate” 223 mail processing centers and eliminate as many as 35,000 jobs as it tries to cut costs and find a way to stop losing billion of dollars annually.

    According to the story, “Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said the agency needs to reduce $20 billion in annual costs by 2015. Moving processing away from the 223 centers would reduce operating costs by $2.6 billion annually, according to the Postal Service's website.”

    The story goes on: “Lawmakers have been deeply divided on whether to allow facility closures, end the prefunding payment and other measures. Some lawmakers have praised the Postal Service for ‘rightsizing’ its network, while others say the planned closings will hurt the agency's business model.”
    KC's View:
    I know the USPS is making hard decisions, but I cannot help but continue to wonder if the real problem is even being addressed - the incontrovertible fact that the way people share information and messages has changed in fundamental ways, and that the traditional role and structure of the USPS have to change.

    It is a real quandary. The problem for the USPS is that its competitive advantages have always been price, ubiquity and relative speed. The cuts it is making, however, are likely to reduce its speed and ubiquity ... and so while it may save money, it also may lose its relevance at an even faster rate. Which is why I think the real problems aren’t being faced.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    • Walmart announced that it will open its first Los Angeles Neighborhood Market store in that city’s Chinatown, in a 33,000 square foot space in the ground floor of a senior housing project.

    The company currently has 167 Neighborhood Markets operating. No opening for the LA unit has been announced.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    The Associated Press reports that there is a “a decidedly un-communist development” taking place in North Korea - “a new culture of commerce is springing up, with China as its inspiration and source. The market-savvy Chinese are introducing the pleasures of the megamart to a small niche of North Koreans, and flooding the country's border regions with cheap goods. And they are doing it with the full approval of North Korea's leadership. The new consumerism is part of a campaign launched three years ago to build up the economy, and so the image of new leader Kim Jong Un.”

    There is some ways to go: “Outside Pyongyang, much of the country remains impoverished. Millions rely on state-provided food, but poor agricultural yields mean they'll get only a fraction of what they need to survive, according to the World Food Program. Still, there are signs that a newfound consumer culture is taking hold both in Pyongyang and in the border towns where Chinese-made goods are bought and sold every day.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    with brief, random, italicized and occasionally gratuitous commentary...

    Bloomberg reports that Starbucks plans to open hundreds of stores in Europe, including the UK. According to the story, this will add to the existing fleet of 17,000 Starbucks currently operating in what is referred to as the EMEA region - Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

    I wonder if any of these will be in Greece. If you read Michael Lewis’s Boomerang, you get the impression that the Greeks have plenty of money to spend on lattes because nobody there pays their taxes.

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Ben & Jerry’s is jumping on the Greek yogurt bandwagon with four flavors - Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Fudge Chunk, Banana Peanut Butter and Blueberry Vanilla Graham.

    It is not a bad bandwagon to get on; as the story goes, “Greek yogurt, overall, has had one of the fastest growth spurts the food and beverage industry has seen in recent history. In each of the last three years, sales of Greek yogurt have boomed more than 100%, while non-Greek yogurt has crept along at single-digit speeds, according to consumer data tracker Nielsen.”

    And, the Chicago Sun Times reports that this isn’t the only bandwagon on which Ben & Jerry’s is jumping - one of its Massachusetts stores has introduced an ice cream named after NY Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. “Taste The Lin-sanity” reportedly included vanilla frozen yogurt, lychee honey swirls, and bits of fortune cookie...until the company decided to replace the fortune cookies with waffle bits.

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Taco Bell is changing its slogan, from “Think Outside the Bun" to “Live Mas,” as the fast feeder looks to emphasize “food as an experience instead of fuel.”

    The story notes that this is just one of several initiatives launched by the Yum Brands-owned chain. It “recently debuted a First Meal breakfast lineup, and it began testing a more health conscious Cantina Bell menu, which could position Taco Bell as a stronger competitor to newer Mexican chains such as Chipotle.”

    I’ve been asked by MNB users to stop hating Taco Bell so much. So I’ll give them as pass on this one, even though I’m dying to quote Roberto Duran...
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    (Your Views is broken into two sections this morning. This one is about business issues, and the second section is about other stuff.)

    The other day I took note of consultant Don Peppers’ recommendation that retailers could make a profit by charging admission (which is what club stores do), and suggested that “Peppers really is using hyperbole to make a bigger point - that price and accessibility simply are not differentiators anymore, because anybody can underprice you, and anybody can be more accessible. Enlightened marketers instead have to focus on the value of the product, the values behind the product, and the ultimate utility of the product in a person’s life.”

    MNB user Mike Franklin wrote:

    Your thoughts were right on…anybody can copy a company’s products…price…etc…it’s difficult to copy a company’s personality…and that’s what differentiation is all about. There are only three ways to compete…lowest price, differentiate, or copy…only differentiation gives long-term benefits.

    Exactly.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I had to think about it for a few minutes and decided Don Peppers was right.  If you want your business to be a few steps ahead of the competition, it ought to be special enough that you could charge admission.  Not saying you would charge, you could just call it your competitive edge.   Costco's membership fee is really an admission charge and it works for them.




    We had some discussion recently about statistics showing that four out of 10 meals in the home are being prepared by men, which sort of surprised me.

    One MNB user wrote:

    I'm not surprised by the percentage of men cooking dinner, given the way the recession hit men.

    My husband cooks dinner most nights and has for several years. One big difference between our styles is that he researches every dish and develops his own version after reading a number of recipes (books and online sources). He uses what he considers the best step from each recipe and OMG - have we been eating well. Only problem: he never writes it down, so we can never have the same dish twice.


    Another MNB user chimed in:

    I'm not at all surprised by this statistic.  Almost all of my male coworkers share the dinner preparing responsibilities with their wives.  My husband cooks dinner more than 50% of the time (who gets home first cooks dinner . . . . and, frankly, he is a better cook than me . . . . he gets home first a lot!).  My son cooks a heck of a lot more often than my daughter.  Not to mention the fact that the statistic depends on how the question was asked.  I don't know any man who can tell me he never participates in meal preparation.  Are you saying you don't? Not even on the grill?

    No, I do. When I’m in town, I do 90 percent of the cooking. But the four-of-10 statistic surprised me.




    I love it when I get emails like this one:

    I’ve yet to have a customer experience so bad and so good in the same night, that requires me to write and tell you about it. Well, that all changed last night.

    My fiancé and I are 3 months from being married. This weekend we will be sending out our invitations and with them the registry cards of the retailers who we’ve selected to have our guests spend their money at.

    First, allow me to explain our experience with Target’s Club Wedd program. Upon registering a few months back we were informed that we needed to order our registry inserts from a 1-800 hotline number. Mind you, no other details were given other than just simply call them and they will send you as many as you need. Last night rolls around (perhaps we waited a little late but we were not told timelines existed) and I call Target’s hotline number and get a gentleman who claims to be the “Supervisor” for that shift. I go through the rigorous process of even getting him to pull up my account and tell him I need 250 inserts. He proceeds to tell me that the maximum number of inserts I can place in one order is 180 and that to get the additional 70, I have to call the number back, go through the process again, and they will place another order. Upon calling back, I get a female who also claims to be a “Supervisor” who tells me that what I’m requesting can’t be done so she forwards me to her “Supervisor” which ironically is the first gentleman I talked to. He proceeds to tell me that my request for 250 inserts is going to take Senior Supervisor approval from the Minneapolis office and to please CALL BACK tomorrow morning between the hours of 7am-5pm. An added bonus? They have a two week lead time to send out these inserts, which is not mentioned anywhere with any of their registry info.

    Flash forward to Sears about an hour later:

    My fiancé and I discovered that the registry inserts given to us from Sears, which come with convenient discount coupons on the back, were expired. Now, unlike Target, I’m actually able to go to a Sears store to resolve this problem and hope to get more inserts in person with no two week lead time or maximum number per order. However, our night was continuing to slide downhill when we were informed by the Manager on Duty that Sears had recognized the problem with the expiring coupons and were currently ordering more that had non-expiring coupons. Instead of suggesting I come back tomorrow, like Target did, to resolve my issue, the following happened. The manager took down all of our information, how many inserts we needed, and was going to call every Sears in the area to see if they had any in-stock that were either the non-expiring or will not expire by our wedding date. THEN, they were going to have them shipped to us and we can expect them by Friday.

    Two wedding registries, two different retailers, one customer service experience that will lead to continued customers and one that will not.

    I plan on calling Target back today to plead that they override their “system generated” response to not sending more than 180 inserts and request they overnight them to me to redeem their lack of customer service. If they will not, I will kindly inform them that the 150+ items we are registered for that amounts to several thousand dollars in merchandise will be removed and our registry closed.

    I know this was very long winded, please feel free to edit for length. I just felt compelled to share something that is talked about daily on the MNB and something I feel you find very important to the success of any retailer and something I find important not only personally but professionally


    Great object lesson. Thanks for sharing.



    Regarding a Parisian bus stop designed to smell like baked potatoes (it is an ad for McCain), one MNB user wrote:

    I hope this is an 'opt' in feature for smell-o vision....as a strong smell of coffee give me the dry heaves.....it started with the pregnancy of my 2nd child, but my body never recovered.  I sometimes am forced to avoid the coffee aisle in the grocery store if the odor is strong. It also forced me to 'other' bookstores, rather than B & N because of the Starbucks in the bookstore.  Not all B&N have the strong Starbucks coffee smell, or at all times, but I know as soon as I walk in if I will be able to stay or need to leave.

    I know what you mean, because I have the same reaction when I’m in the same room with egg salad.




    Regarding my recent observation that the use of internet sensation Kate Upton on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue demonstrates yet again the power of social media, one MNB user wrote:

    So true. Social media has become a gateway to self-made people everywhere. It amazes me that people can do anything from modeling to singing to asking for $1MM and have success (that last one blew my mind).

    I was at a pizzeria with my wife last night and noticed a story come across the TV. It was referencing Kate Upton and how she was the niece of a prominent politician. I thought your story was interesting because as effective as social media is in jumpstarting her career, she has also caused a media firestorm for her uncle. It amazes me how many ripples one photo shoot tweet/status update can make due to how connected we are all.


    I never understood why having a niece in the swimsuit issue should be a problem for a Congressman. Just goes to show you that some people will try to make a political issue out of anything and everything.




    We’ve had some discussion lately about why young people often do not want a career in grocery retailing. One MNB user chimed in:

    I work for an independent grocer that prides himself in giving .10 and .25 raises. I am always amazed how we treat our front line workers. They are the first and last person that see our customers . I am always fighting to change this. When do you ever hear of a high school graduate say I am going into the "grocery industry". You just don't. The industry demands great customer service, yet the people that see our customers the most get paid minimum wage.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    The pay scale is not the only problem for companies that try to trying to recruit workers. In eight and a half years with one company I have worked at three different grocery stores in the chain. In that time I only know of one person who has gone from a part time position to a full time position. That person is a cake decorator. I am in my sixties so I don't expect much more than a dead end job. If I was in my twenties I would take a pay cut to leave this organization.

    I have worked with a number of people who I felt would make wonderful managers, much better than most of the managers I have actually had. Come January the hours of new employees get cut drastically. The first year they might suck it up. The second year one of two things happens: either they leave or they go from trying to make a contribution to putting in their time until they figure out what they want to do. This is a great way to decapitate a company.

    When employees are treated shabbily the ones you would like to keep are the ones that tend to leave. The ones who stay are the ones you would just as soon leave.





    Regarding the growth of Chipotle, MNB user Mark Raddant wrote:

    The first time I went to a Chipotle, I thought it was a local chain.  It was located in a sort of “hip” area and had the correct arty/funky vibe.  Later, others sprang up and I thought the chain, having some success was expanding, but still local, and they all still had the same feel to them. Later, I discovered that some friends of my Iowa farm girl wife  had gone to work raising cattle and hogs for Chipotle because Chipotle wanted their products raised the way Carl and Melody wanted to raise them, hormone free, and walking around in the fresh air.

    It is great to see the success has continued.  When my family is crunched for time, Chipotle is our go-to quick, healthy and VERY filling dinner.  It doesn’t hurt that the Barbacoa goes well with a glass of red wine, either.  You can’t say that about any other “fast” food I can think of.


    I’m with you. Chipotle is a great example of a fast food chain that reaches higher than the lowest common denominator...




    On another subject, from another MNB user:

    I'd like to comment on the idea of bringing "sustainable" foods to food deserts.

    The word sustainable is being bantered about quite a bit by food conglomerates who want to spin their grocery stores into something we all think is good for the world.  On another level the term applies to the ability to farm using methods that care for the land rather than depleting its resources.  I can't think of any grocery stores that can truly lay claim to this definition.

    While it is an excellent idea to provide good food choices to areas that have not had the availability of such choices, it seems like there are alternatives that would provide for a greater good for all.  What about providing garden sites, education, seeds, tools to people living in "deserts" so that they can learn to develop truly sustainable food resources for themselves and others?  This method not only provides good food, it has the added benefits of a healthy form of exercise, neighborhoods working together, satisfaction of seeing hard work produce great results in the form of really nutritious and sustainable food.





    And, another MNB user wanted to contribute to our discussion from last week about the importance of getting buy-in to a company’s mission statement:

    Regarding the debate over a company’s mission statement and whether it makes sense for people to literally sign on to a company’s mission, what is being missed is not whether mission statements are a good thing or a bad thing, but whether a company’s leadership truly believes in their mission.  If the leadership lives the brand, not just in words and deeds, but in their very character, then the mission statement can be the powerful rallying point that Steve Stoute espouses.

    If the company does not live their mission every day, then the statement becomes the “kind of messianic, delusional crap” that Mr. Paschel described in his email last week.  I’ve seen both types of organizations and the difference in morale and effectiveness (and stock appreciation) is like night and day.  Leadership that lives the mission will build an enthusiastic group who want to be on the team.  Those that only pay lip service will be surrounded by ineffective “yes” men looking for an easy paycheck.

    I can also back up that Jim Koch does truly live the brand.  What you see on TV is the same beer enthusiast that runs the company.


    Good to hear. Like I said last week, he’s one of those guys who I would really like to meet - and have a beer with - someday.



    And finally, regarding the hiring of Jim Donald to run the Extended Stays hotel chain, one MNB user wrote:

    Jim is a hard working person with a plan and takes on challenges better than anyone  I know. Whoever hired Jim, is brilliant.

    And MNB user Paul Higham wrote:

    Jim Donald is one of the ablest executives I've worked with.  I think that this appointment bodes well for Extended Stay Hotels.  Keep your eye in this company because he'll lead them to great performance.

    No argument here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    The 84th Academy Awards were last night, and the major winners were:

    Best Picture: The Artist
    Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
    Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
    Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
    Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
    Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
    Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
    Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
    KC's View:
    I got most of these wrong, but that’s okay. (No surprise there.)

    I thought Billy Crystal was pretty funny and certainly seemed to be enjoying himself, the show moved quickly enough ... but mostly, I loved the new series of JC Penney commercials featuring Ellen Degeneres.

    Published on: February 27, 2012

    So on Friday, I responded to a request from an MNB user with a list of “classic” movies that I thought might be good to show 10-year-olds. I mostly was trying to come up with movies that would be accessible to a 10-year-old and expand their frames of references a bit. (Acknowledging that video games have ruined their minds and ability to appreciate pacing.)

    Not surprisingly - and this is one of the things I love most about the MNB community - this prompted a ton of emails from people with their own ideas...

    MNB user Jeff Gartner wrote:

    With three daughters, I'm relying on my own childhood decades ago for recommendations to your reader with the 10-year old boys. The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk, both starring Errol Flynn, are both fun action movies and in color.

    I recall our daughters were immediately turned off by any older movie if it were in b&w.  By the way, they loved the Marilyn Monroe musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

    MNB user Janis Raye wrote:

    I spent many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in my childhood watching old movies. Was it Channel 11 in NY that ran them -- Metromedia? Rings a faint bell to me.

    Now, I know I'm a sucker for the old melodramas (I have to admit that A Stolen Life -- the Lana Turner version -- was one of my favorites at about age 10), and maybe young boys wouldn't be quite so interested in those, but Gone With the Wind might appeal to them. And it's in color (I know my son Ben has nerve enjoyed black-and-white movies, and we started him on the classics when he was pretty young. He really noticed the lack of color.) And how about Treasure of the Sierra Madre -- that's my dad's all-time favorite, and I think a really fabulous movie. Another idea -- it's not a classic, but it might be interesting to the kids -- Seabiscuit.

    That's enough for now. This is fun game to play!


    Maybe Treasure of Sierra Madre. But I’m not sure about Gone With The Wind - while I acknowledge its greatness and placement in film history, I find it pretty dated. I think a 10 year old might find it unwatchable.

    From another MNB user:

    Okay - maybe this is too recent to call a "classic." But my son adored The Secret of Roan Inish, at an early age - maybe first grade.

    A few minutes in to the movie he whispered "when does the exciting part start?" But shortly thereafter he became enthralled enough to offer to see it again with his Grandma, when she expressed interest in it. I picked them up from the movie and he came out dancing to the music and we had to get the soundtrack.

    That was a turning point for him. He learned that a film did not have to include chases and villains to be of interest.


    MNB user Jim Veregge wrote:

    Hi Kevin, thought I'd throw in another good movie for kids, only a couple of years old, but has a great ending.  A co-worker of mine recommended August Rush, with Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Myers, Freddie Highmore and Robin Williams.  I bought the movie on eBay and highly recommend it as a "feel-good family movie" that even kids can enjoy.  If this movie doesn't make you cry at the end, you probably aren't alive.

    MNB user Jackie Lembke wrote:

    I agree with the definition being open to interpretation. The Goonies is great. Musicals are harder for boys that age. Damn Yankees might be good or if they have a sense of the absurd Lil’ Abner. For westerns, The Cowboys is one of the few that actually has 10 year old boys as the stars although would be dependent on the child. I agree with most of the ones you mentioned. I found that B horror films are great for kids, just not sure they qualify as classics. The original The Fly, War of the Worlds, The Thing or Creature from the Black Lagoon are some of my favorites.

    MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

    Some movies to add to your list.

    For Westerns I would look at The Magnificent Seven. It’s full of good stories from the opening story dealing with bigotry, to dealing with one’s demons and overcoming long odds through planning, work and skill.

    For musicals, for 10 year old boys, I don’t know if they would like them or not but how about The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins, both are about family, doing the right thing and in Mary  Poppins about bringing a somewhat aloof family back together.  Both have catchy songs that I still remember at my age.  A great holiday musical is White Christmas but I don’t know if a 10 year old will sit still for that.
     
    For my money, the list you gave is a good one, The Sting is still one of my all time favorite movies.


    Not sure how 10 year old boys will like Mary Poppins, but I think they’ll hate The Sound of Music. I hate The Sound of Music. Mrs. Content Guy, BTW, love sit...and always gets annoyed when I call it The Sound of Mucous. (Which is what Christopher Plummer once called it.)

    From yet another reader:

    You can't go wrong with Sunset Boulevard!

    And you're right, my kid at two-and-a-half LOVES Singin' In The Rain. For about 4 months every night before bed, we had to watch Moses Supposes (and the scene Mommy!) up through when the policeman comes in after the title song. Singin' in the rain is the first song we heard her sing clearly. Huge hit.

    (I also support you in your recommendation of His Girl Friday.)


    A few people asked me, BTW, why I recommended Tootsie and not Some Like it Hot. The reason is simple - while I love Hot, my kids found it really dated.

    Should have raised them better, I guess.




    Also about the movies, I got a bunch of emails regarding my recommendation of the old Walter Matthau movie, Hopscotch.

    MNB user Christine A. Myres wrote:

    Hopscotch I not only watch this movie regularly, I first rented & then owned a Betamax copy of it years ago, so don’t feel bad about feeling old … no matter how old you get, I’ll always be older.

    I replaced the Beta with a VHS tape, then with a subscription to Netflix, and I am looking at the DVD on Amazon so I don’t have to keep renting/streaming it.  I keep worrying that it will lose its charm, but so far, despite being hopelessly dated (pay phones, etc.) it hasn’t.  I still get such pleasure from Miles getting the best of the spooks, I can’t tell you!

    Have you read anything by Brian Garfield? They are difficult to find, many out of print, but all VERY good.

    I always appreciate your movie recommendations, and generally like the movies; thanks for keeping me informed & entertained, as always.


    My pleasure.

    From another reader:

    Hopscotch.  Just one of my most fave movies ever, Walter Matthau at his best.  I tend toward comedy in movies.  When I want to be challenged/moved, I read a book.  When I want to be entertained and simply relax, I usually watch a funny movie.  While this will never make anyone’s top 100 list of “great” movies, have you ever watch Mouse Hunt?  If you can sit through that w/o laughing out loud, well, then, I don’t know what to say.  They remind me so much of Laurel & Hardy, whom I absolutely adore, it’s just eerie.  I could watch Stan and Ollie try to push that piano up the steps over and over and over---which leads me to the 10 year olds and their list in that Laurel & Hardy, while “movies” in the technical sense, are, to us, just shorts.  But I would think they would play well to 10 year olds, and they are considered “classics”---as would The Little Rascals and Our Gang Comedies.  When I was a kid, The Little Rascals and Our Gang Comedies were on TV a lot.  I can still remember simply being entranced w/anything they did, although my favorite ones always centered around their “stage productions” in some barn.

    And, from MNB user Terry Pyles:

    Loved your comments about great spy thrillers, old and new.  I too am a huge fan of the genre and Hopscotch, with the incomparable Walter Matthau, is one of my all time favorites.  I'm reading your comments and feeling a real bond.

    And then you hit me with "Of course, such movies are better if you are sipping a good glass of wine..."

    To which I can only reply - baloney!

    These great flicks were made to be accompanied by a sack of Taco Bell and a cold 6-pack.
     
    To each his own, huh?


    Always.


    BTW...you can read my original list here.
    KC's View: