Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1939)

You could call this lost gem of a classic film sentimental, but then what’s wrong with sentiment? You could call it naïve but when you recall the best times of your life they probably contained a fair amount of naiveté. It projects a world of morality, common decency and an infectious optimism in “defiance” of the cynical desire for narratives that glorify endless tragedy and suffering. There are plenty of classics that handle tragedy masterfully well and a good few of them were made during the same era as this, hence the bemusement of passing armchair critics at how both cinephiles and normals interested in classic film could like it. “You just don’t get it” is our response. Despite being based on a children’s story, and unlike most Disney productions past and present, it earns the “feel good” undertones and overtones that make 99% of modern movies unwatchable (and does so without an ounce of schmaltz). It’s a genuine window into another world where art and life subsume to make a greater whole and a greater good.

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