Copy Editor/Entertainment Editor

Frank Pieper is a copy editor and entertainment editor at The News-Gazette, and the author of Frank's Faves and Frank's Weekend Faves. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@frp308).

FF 20000 Leagues Under the Sea

A giant squid attacks the Nautilus in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954).

Listen to this article

“Sometimes a man can learn more from other men’s dreams than he can from his own.” – Jason Robards in “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (1983)

I get all sorts of good faves suggestions from all sorts of folks just about all the time these days. I count that a good thing. And I appreciate it probably more than you know.

For one, it means folks are reading — and not just reading, but participating ... maybe even buying into the whole Frank’s Faves philosophy that life is full of favorite things if you just know how to look — and how to recognize them when you see them. Especially when you’re talking movies and music and other such art forms that help people share perspectives and expand their own.

And second, admittedly, it makes my job a whole lot easier when creative and like-minded folks come up with fave ideas for me.

Which is why I can’t express my appreciation too often nor too profusely, nor can I remind folks too often to be patient when you submit a faves suggestion, because some need to percolate longer than others in the old faves processor.

You just never know what will inspire a list of faves. This week's prime example started late on a recent weekend night when my wife and I couldn't find a blessed thing of interest to watch on TV.

Such is the case with this week’s Faves idea, suggested to me nearly a year ago via Twitter by @RJWJason22 in response to my list of favorite animated Disney movies.

After complimenting that column, identifying themselves as “huge Disney fans” and agreeing with my decision to separate Pixar films from consideration of the top Disney animated features, there came this inspired request:

“Would love to see your top Disney feature films from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, with people, of course.”

Old live-action Disneys, huh? Well, that rules out those mostly live-action faves that used even partially animated sequences, like “Mary Poppins,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Pete’s Dragon” and “Tron.” But it’s still a pretty sizable category.

In fact, it’s not only a great idea for a follow-up column, it’s a timely reminder that it’s been a year since I referred to the Pixar movies as “a class all their own, just like Disney,” and with last weekend’s release of “Toy Story 4,” this just might be the right occasion to revisit that particular topic as well.

So this double dip of faves is dedicated to ...


— “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” (1954). Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre star in Disney’s adaptation of the Jules Verne tale, the first science-fiction film shot in CinemaScope. Never mind the scene featuring Douglas on ukelele singing “A Whale of a Tale” to a sea lion, the film is best-remembered for its giant-squid battle sequence, for being the granddaddy of the steampunk genre, for Mason’s iconic turn as Nemo and for its two Academy Awards for art direction and special effects.

— “Old Yeller” (1957). Yes, this movie has appeared on a number of previous faves lists, due in no small part to the heroic title mutt and the tragic end he comes to in defense of his human family in post-Civil War Texas. But never mind its famous reputation for making otherwise hardened he-men misty-eyed. As a classic coming-of-age story or as one of the best dog tales ever, Old West or otherwise, bolstered by a stellar cast that includes Tommy Kirk, Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker and Chuck Connors, this one is a fave for life — even if we hardened he-man types have to pace ourselves in how often we see it ...

FF Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jonathan Pryce as Mr. Dark leads his Pandemonium Carnival into Green Town, Ill., in Ray Bradbury's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' (1983).

— “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (1983). Ray Bradbury adapted his own novel for the film adaptation of this uncommonly dark, coming-of-age story about a pair of 12-year-old boys and their encounter with Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival, run by a diabolical Jonathan Pryce. Co-starring Jason Robards, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier.

— “The Parent Trap” (1961/1998). You might expect an old-school cinephile like me to prefer the original version of this lightweight family comedy starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara to its remake with Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. Except I don’t. Both movies feature irresistible casts, delightful teen stars in dual roles as identical twins, and loads of charm and G-rated humor. You’ll have fun watching either. Or both.

— “The Absent Minded Professor” (1961)/”Flubber” (1997). Again, another call too close to make — for me anyway — but for different reasons. Both versions, original and remake, are examples of Disney comedies at their best, featuring a likeable comic actor in the lead and terrific special effects to carry the action. But comparing Fred MacMurray to Robin Williams as the college prof who invents an anti-gravity substance is apples and kiwi, folks. They’re both masters at very different styles of humor. And again, you won’t go wrong with either — but obviously, I recommend both.


— “The Incredible Journey” (1963)

— “The Journey of Natty Gann” (1985)

— “Never Cry Wolf” (1983)

— “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” (1989)

— “Angels in the Outfield“ (1994)


— “The Incredibles” (2004)

— “Toy Story 3” (2010)

— “Finding Nemo” (2003)

— “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

— “WALL-E” (2008)

Have a question, suggestion or fave nomination for Frank? We’d love to hear from you. Please email it to