Reviving the Double Feature: 10 Unexpected Pairings

In olden times, folks dressed up when they went to the movies. They often did so twice a week since there were no screens in their houses (television or computer) to keep them home. Radio was ubiquitous, but its pictures were hard to see. Those movie visits were almost invariably double features—two for the price of one. Usually, of course, it was a pairing such as an “A” picture like The Fountainhead and a throw-away “B” movie like Ma and Pa Kettle on the Farm.

Ma and Pa Kettle are now on the farm’s back 40, and few B pictures are made today (though some might argue that superhero films are B pictures with A budgets). Today, a visit to the multiplex is a one-shot affair. If two movies are playing that you want to see on the same day, you have to plan carefully to fit them in (and, of course, pay double). You also have to decide which to see first. That’s not a trivial consideration. Recently I was unable combine, on the same day, two movies I wanted to see. But perhaps that was for the best. For those like me, with a wide taste in movies, would you want to view Life (an obvious Alien knock off) before or after Beauty and the Beast?!

But with our home theaters and the selection of discs available we can now create our own double features. They can be related in some way, as in the photo—sometimes they’re sequels, or perhaps they have a common theme, like sports. But it’s more fun to link them up in less obvious or even bizarre ways…

Julie & Julia / Ratatouille Foodies might gag at the sight of a cook-happy rat hanging out in the kitchen of an upscale French restaurant. Beginning with a similarly-themed live action feature (well, sort of similar) might, ah, leaven out the evening.

Manchester by the Sea / The Little Mermaid After viewing the first of these films you might want nothing more than to be under the sea. The second will put you there.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs / The Magnificent Seven Take your pick which of the latter you choose. The former is in a class by itself. But Doc, Sneezy, and Grumpy packing heat? Who knew?

An Inconvenient Truth / Frozen A Song of Fire and Ice.

High Fidelity / High Anxiety Angst over lovers and LPs gets the Mel Brooks cure.

The Thing / Lassie Come Home When I saw the latter as a toddler my mother said I sobbed uncontrollably. But I don’t think the John Carpenter version of the latter would have helped.

Passengers (2016) / Cast Away In the former Jim at least had Arthur and later (controversially) Aurora to relate to. In the latter Chuck only had Wilson.

50 First Dates / Groundhog Day The former could have become a classic like the latter if Adam Sandler had exercised more control over his sense of humor. But there’s a definite link between these two films.

The Lion King / Gnomeo & Juliet Two animated features based on Shakespeare plays: Hamlet for the former, the latter self- explanatory. The first is a genuine animated classic, the second should be (it’s also one of the funniest features of recent years).

Lawrence of Arabia / Das Boot Your friends will feel like they’re being held for ransom after enduring the original five-hour version of Das Boot (originally a German TV mini-series), and Lawrence which is only a little shorter. Keep the refreshments coming.