My beloved spoke, and said unto me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines in blossom give forth their fragrance. Song of Solomon
Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty. Shakespeare, A Winter’s Tale
spring when the world is mud-
when the world is puddle-wonderful E. E. Cummings
These movies celebrate the return of longer days, milder breezes, and a sense of promise and renewal.
1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Bachelor mountain men brothers capture young women from the town one winter so they can marry them. An avalanche blocks off the pass and keeps their families from coming after them. But the women are furious and banish the men to the barn — until spring thaw, when everyone comes outside to enjoy the weather and sing Johnny Mercer’s lyrics: “Oh, the barnyard is busy in a regular tizzy, And the obvious reason is because of the season. Ma Nature’s lyrical, with her yearly miracle. Spring, Spring, Spring.”
2. The Secret Garden There are three excellent versions of this classic book about the sour orphan and her ailing cousin who are both made whole and healthy when they find a locked garden and bring it back to life. My favorite is the British miniseries, which is the closest to the text, but I love them all.
3. State Fair The only Rodgers and Hammerstein show written directly for the screen takes place at the end of the summer, but it has one of the greatest songs ever written about spring, the Oscar-winning “It Might as Well Be Spring.” The lovely Jeanne Crain sings, “I am starry eyed and vaguely discontented, like a nightingale without a song to sing, O why should I have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring.”
4. Random Harvest One of the sweetest love stories in the movies is about a merry young woman who falls for a man who has lost his memory. They get married and are very happy until he regains his memory and goes back to his old life, no longer able to remember her or their life together. A lot more happens over many years, and the final scene takes place by the lilacs on a spring day that shows us — and the couple — all we need to know about renewal.
5. Where the Boys Are Four girls leave their snowy college campus for spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was considered very racy back in 1960 for its discussion of premarital sex (including one character who pays a very heavy penalty for having sex with a boy she barely knows) but is something of an artifact these days. Still the performances by Dolores Hart (who later became a nun), Jim Hutton, and Paula Prentiss and the themes of finding a way to balance intimacy and self-respect still hold up.
6. Bambi “Nearly everybody gets twitter-patted in the springtime,” says the owl in this animated Disney classic about the young fawn. The spring scenes are among the most enchanting in a woodland story about young animals growing up. (NOTE: some scary scenes including a forest fire and a hunter who shoots the deer)
7. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring An isolated Buddhist monastery sits on a quiet lake in the middle of a forest, where one monk and his very young apprentice live a life of quiet prayer and contemplation. The film takes us through the seasons of the younger man’s life, from childhood through old age, with the final spring as a time of renewal, the now-old monk teaching his own young apprentice about life’s cycles and interconnections.
8. The Four Seasons Alan Alda wrote and directed a film that takes four couples through a year to the music of Vivaldi. It begins with a spring trip to the country, when they cook an elaborate dinner and plan the rest of their trips together for the rest of the year. But one couple breaks up and the husband wants to bring his new young girlfriend, it leads to some mid-life questions about meaning, trust, and loyalty. Alda’s wise script and sensitive direction and outstanding performances from Carol Burnett, Len Cariou, Jack Weston, and Rita Moreno make this one of the best films ever about grown-up friendship.
9. “It Happens Every Spring” Ray Milland stars in a sweet fantasy about a baseball-loving professor who invents a chemical that acts as a wood repellent. He realizes that if he rubs a little on a baseball glove, it makes him the greatest pitcher in the world because the bats cannot connect with the ball. Written by the author of “Miracle on 34th Street,” this is a gentle fairy tale with some of Hollywood’s greatest character actors among the players and a hark back to an era before steroid scandals and superstar salaries.
10. The First of May This modest little gem is the story of a boy named Cory (“Cougar Town’s” Dan Byrd) who runs off one spring to join the circus. It is a sweet, episodic story with many magical moments, including delightful backstage glimpses of life in the big top. Co-stars include the brilliant Julie Harris and Mickey Rooney and Cory even gets some batting advice from Joe DiMaggio, who appears as himself. Families of all kinds will respond to this story about people who triumph over a series of obstacles to create a family for themselves.