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Some Good Pro-Social Films

Below is a list my organization, which I founded and ran from 1981 to 1991, the National Coalition on TV Violence, constructed of positive or at least non-harmful films. They are supposed to have minimal harmful effects and the ones with stars are supposed to have positive effects. I am sure that there are many other pro-social film that could be added to this list. More recent ones I can think of include Schindler’s List and The Pianist.

If you want to send me your recommendations for pro-social films, please do. If you find fault with any film below, let me know and I will review it.

The PGV rating (Parental Guidance: Violent but not harmful themes) means that they contain a significant amount of violence but that it is considered to be an appropriate and non-harmful portrayal of violence. Nonetheless, these films would not be appropriate for children under the age of 7 and that parental guidance is needed for children between ages 7 and 12.

The RM rating (Restricted: Not harmful but adult material) (listed at the end of this page) means that the films are considered non-harmful and often pro-social, but contain material making them inappropriate for children or some harmful material such as inappropriate portrayals of alcohol, but that the pro-social material may outweigh the harm for adults who keep this in mind. These are almost all dramas without much appeal to children anyway.

I hope you have many enjoyable and enriching experiences.

Four Stars: Our very highest rating

All The President's Men**** (True story of the Watergate scandal. Excellent entertainment and very educational)

Brian's Song**** (Billy Dee Williams football friend with cancer)

Cry Freedom **** (Docudrama of Steve Biko against apartheid in South Africa. A powerful true story.)

The Killing Fields **** (PGV)(True story of war in Cambodia and an incredible human tragedy. Not for young children)

Gandhi**** (Ben Kingsley & Candice Bergen. Unbelievable true story of the tremendous power of non-violent action.)

Romero**** (1989): PGV (Docudrama of Archbishop Romero’s struggle in El Salvador. A great film.)

Three Stars

Bill*** (Mickey Rooney leaves mental hospital)

The Boat*** (Very popular European-made WW II film of a submarine)

Charlotte's Web*** (Very pro-social children's story)

Children in the Crossfire*** (A true story of courageous children in Northern Ireland)

Citizen Kane*** (Orson Welles classic)

Cries and Whispers (Swedish classic of sharing life at death)

Coming Home (Jane Fonda) RM: Wounded soldier return from Vietnam

Do You Remember Love? (Joanne Woodward, young teacher gets Alzheimer's)

Eleanor, First Lady of the World (Jean Stapleton as Eleanor Roosevelt)

Elephant Man (Anthony Hopkins, Englishman with deforming disease)

Florence Nightengale (True story of English nurse in Crimean War)

Mask (Deformed boy deals with prejudice and falls in love)

Misunderstood (Gene Hackman as a widower with a son)

Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (Hepburn & Gould widow and Jewish doctor fall in love)

On Golden Pond*** (81): (Beautiful 3 generation film with grandparent-child bonding)

The Paper Chase*** (73): (Of academic law school struggles and falling in love)

Places In the Heart*** (84): (Sally Field; KKK drives off vagrant helping a widow; healing ending)

Playing For Time*** (80): PG (Nazi Concentration Camp ordeal; Vanessa Redgraves)

The Pride Of Jesse Hallam*** (81): (Illiterate sells farm to get help for daughter; Johnny Cash)

Rattle and Hum: U2*** (88): (Famous band with peace and anti-apartheid songs)

To Kill A Mockingbird*** (Racial prejudice in South): Very Good

Two Stars

84 Charing Cross Road (American Woman in Britain)

Adam His Song Continues (Kidnapped child)

Amarcord (Fellini's Boyhood)

And the Ship Sails On (1914 Mediterranean Boat Incident)

Au Revoir, Les Enfants (French WW II Drama)

Being There (Peter Sellers political comedy)

Between the Darkness and the Dawn (Liz Montgomery wakes from 20-year coma)

The Boy Who Could Fly (Girl copes with help of autistic boy)

Carbon Copy (George Segal black-white mix-up)

Challenge of a Lifetime (Triathalon sport story)

Champions (True story of jockey getting cancer)

Chariots of Fire (Two runners in England compete)

The China Syndrome (Jane Fonda in nuclear meltdown)

Chocolat (French film childhood in Cameroons)

Christopher Columbus (Well done discovery of America)

Clean and Sober (Michael Keaton on substance abuse in America)

Cross Creek (Mary Steenburgen, a deer and her father drama)

Educating Rita (Julie Waters, Michael Caine, hair dresser in her 20s tutored)

Empire of the Sun (Boy in Japanese prison camp)

Fanny and Alexander (Swedish family at turn of the century)

Fiddler on the Roof (Jews family in Ukraine)

Firefighter (True story of 1st LA female firefighter)

First Steps (True story of woman helped to walk by bioengineer)

Harry and The Henderson (Sasquatch bought home-comedy)

Hope and Glory (WWII affects an English family)

Interiors (Interior decorator stressed by divorce)

Ironweed (Nicholson & Streep, Bum in 1930s)

Jules and Jim (Jeanne Moreau, 2 men and a woman's friendship-Traffaut film)

The Last Emperor (True story of China's last emperor)

Lucas (Teen falls in love with older girl who falls in love with another)

M.A.D.D. (True story of founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving)

The Marva Collins Story (True story of Chicago schoolteacher)

Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews, Dick VanDyke)

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Japanese POW drama with David Bowie)

Misty (Kids tame wild ponies)

Modern Romance (Writer's on and off love affair)

Moscow On The Hudson (Russian musician defects to U.S. and finds trouble)

My Dinner with Andre (Comedy, writer and director discuss philosophy, art, vegetables)

Never Cry Wolf (A biologist in the Yukon for 6 months studying wolves)

No Other Love** (79): (Two mentally retarded fall in love and marry)

Not My Kid** (85): PG (Teen daughter goes in drug treatment)

Nothing in Common** (86): (Execs life interrupted to care for elderly father)

The Quiet Earth** (86): PGV (New Zealand life after atomic apocalypse)

Rachel, Rachel** (68): (Joanne Woodward a teacher caring for elderly mother reflects on life)

A Reason to Live** (85): (Peter Fonda loses his job & wife & becomes suicidal. Son helps out)

Running Brave** (83): (Docudrama of Sioux Indian overcoming prejudice and winning in 1964 Olympics)

Stranger Than Paradise** (85): (Hungarian women seeking paradise tours U.S. Learns there’s no paradise)

A Sunday In the Country** (85): (French film of 3 generations together for a family gathering in 1912)

One Star

Acceptable Risks (Chemical hazard)

Amadeus (Mozart)

American Geisha (American in Japan)

Amy (Teacher at School for Deaf)

An Early Frost (AIDS)

Author! Authors! (Playwright drama)(Pacino)

Baby Boom (Diane Deaton inherits a baby)

Bagdad Cafe (Travelers meet in small town)

Beat Street (dance musical)

Beauty and the Beast

Between Friends (Liz Taylor, Carol Burnett become friends)

Big Top Pee Wee (Pee Wee Herman)

The Bishop's Wife (David Niven, Cary Grant)

The Black Stallion (Boy and horse in Africa)

Blinded by the Light (Kristy McNichol drama with religious cult)

Butterflies Are Free (Songwriter falls in love with neighbor)

Carebears: The New Generation (converts bad guy to good)

Careful, He Might Hear You (Wendy Hill in 2 sisters drama)

A Chorus Line (Michael Douglas on Broadway)

Da (New York playwright meets his father's ghost)

David Copperfield (Based on Dickens classic)

Convicted (Carroll O'Connor falsely imprisoned for rape)

The Country Girl (Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly: alcoholic actor helped recover)

Creator (Professor bring wife out of coma with help of 2 students and love)

Desert Bloom (Anna Gish, Jon Voight: atomic tests nearby, teen girl comes of age)

Don't Look Back (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Donovan on tour)

Dr Seuss: Cat in the Hat

The Dresser (Albert Finney: actor develops madness)

Ernest Saves Christmas (Santa Claus is alive)

Falling In Love (de Niro & Streep in love)

Family Secrets (3 generations of women discover themselves)

A Fight for Jenny (Custody battle of inter-racial couple)

I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can (Valium causes woman temporary insanity)

In Country (Vietnam's impact of vets and families, unfortunate smoking and drinking)

Jeremy (High school cellist falls in love with pretty dancer)

Koyaanisqatsi (Music and images with an environmental warning-no words)

Maid to Order (College girl rebels and is caught for possession of drugs)

Marie (Tennessee woman fights corrupt legal system)

Max Dugan Returns (Woman visited by her long-lost father, Jason Robard, Marshe Mason)

Memories Never Die (Woman adjusts to a small down and deals with tragedy, Lindsay Wagner)

Missing Children: A Mother's Story (Trials of victims of wife-abuse, Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek)

My Side of the Mountain (Pre-teen faces Canadian mountains)

The New Adventures of Pippi Longstockings* (88): G: (The adventures of a precocious girl)

News At Eleven (86): PG (anchor man pressures a positive change in news policy)

Oh God!* (78): (God chooses grocery worker to be the new Moses. Comedy.)

Oh God! Book II (80): (Girl pursues her parents to get back together. George Burns God)

Only When I Laugh* (81): (Alcoholic actress faces her problems)

Peggy Sue Got Married* (86): (Dreams of 1st meeting spouse; tries harder to make marriage work)

The Pilot* (81): (Pilot develops an alcohol problem)

Pinocchio* (84): PG (Classic story not glamorizing violence.)

Pollyanna* (60): (Girl lives with wealthy aunt and teaches everyone to see the good in people)

Project X* (87): (Military exposes chimps to radiation. Soldier realizes the harm being done)

The Razor's Edge* (84): PGV (Bill Murray returns from war and searches for meaning in life)

Santa Claus: The Movie* (85): (Dudley Moore in pro-social Santa movie)

She's Having My Baby* (87): R(13)(Young married college grads have a baby with strengthens the marriage)

The Sure Thing* (85): PG ( John Cusak and Daphne Zuniga as college students develop a romantic relationship)

Sylvester* (85): (Teenage girl runs farm, raises 2 younger brothers, wins prize)

Neutral but not harmful


Beaches (Women's friendship)

Brighton Beach Memoirs (New York in Depression. Upbeat)

Must See

Paper Chase (Harvd Law student falls in love)

Romero (El Salvador bishop opposes military junta)

Wild Strawberries (Professor looks back over life): Highly Recommendedd

On Golden Pond (Hepburn & Fondas relationship)

Playing For Time (Redgraves pianist in Nazi camp)

Pollyanna (Girl helps others deal with life)

The Pride of Jesse Hallam (Widower, son, daughter)

Running Brave (Sioux athlete wins Olympics)

Nijinsky (80): (True story of a famous dancer obsessed with perfection)

No Other Love(retarded couple falls in love)

The Nutcracker (86): (Famous ballet’s story changed. Good family film)

Off Beat (86): R(13): (Meek librarian impersonates police to help friend. Romantic comedy)

One Trick Pony (80): (Aging rock star tries to win wife & audiences back)

Paternity (81): PG (Man falls in love with woman helping him have a child)

Pennies From Heaven (81): (Classic musical comedy of Depression era)

Playtime (67): (French Parisian comedy of man trying to meet his fiancee)

Powaqqatsi (87): (Non-verbal political statement to help the Third World and against Modernism)

Pretty In Pink (86): PG (Rich boy, poor girl film. Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy)

The Right Stuff (84): (Early U.S. astronauts. Based on fact.)

Romance On the Orient Express (85): (Cheryl Ladd & John Gielgud fall in love on Orient Express)

Terms of Endearment (Debra Winger & Shirley McLaine)

Testament (family struggles after nuclear war)

That's Life (architect phobic of death)

We of the Never Never(True Australian wilderness story)

Yentl (East Europe 1904 Jewish musical): Definitely Worthwhile

Sam's Son (writer reminisces)

Santa Claus: The Movie (Dudley Moore)

Silkwood (Streep documents plutonium hazard)

Space Camp (Kids learn to fly shuttle)

The Sure Thing (Colleges students fall in love)

Troop Beverly Hills (comedy running girl's troop)

True Stories (comedy of odd people's worth)

Turk 182 (fights for brother's workman's comp)

Whose Life Is It Anyway? (Euthanasia film)e fake suicide runs: jumping

The Purple Rose of Cairo (85): (Woody Allen, Mia Farrow comedy)

Santa & The 3 Bears (81): (Harmless children’s Santa Claus movie)

The Slugger's Wife (85): PG (O'Keefe, a baseball player, and DeMornay, an actress struggle with marriage)

Stop Making Sense (84): (Musical documentary of British Talking Heads Rock Group)

For Mature Audiences:

Not In Front of the Children (82): RM (Custody battle over live-in boyfriend)

Now And Forever (83): RM (Married man unjustly accused of rape)

Ordinary People (80): RM (Drama of family members being unable to forgive)

Paris, Texas* (85): RM (Woman & child flee abusive husband who later reforms)

Parting Glances (86): RM (AIDS victim cared for gay friend)

Passage To India (84): RM (Indian doctor falsely accused of rape. Some alcohol)

Personals (83): RM (Divorced man finds girlfriend through personals but later finds out she is married)

Platoon (86): RM (Vietnam War shown destructive; Considerable violence and drinking)

The Prodigal (83): RM (Son strays into alcohol, drugs; mother divorces; 2nd son reaches out, helps family)

Ran (85): RM (Japanese adaptation of King Lear. Violence considerable though portrayed as a human tragedy)

The Return Of Martin Guerre (83): R(13) (Frenchman returns but is thought an imposter. True story.)

Reuben, Reuben (83): RM (Self-destructive poet redeems self after falling in love. Tragic ending.)

The River (84): RM (Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson struggle to save family farm)

Romantic Comedy (83): RM (Drama. 2 writers’ have platonic relationship. One becomes an alcoholic)

Salaam Bombay** (88): RM (Story of the tragedies of Bombay’s red-light district)

See You in the Morning (89): RM (Jeff, Bridges, Farah Fawcett deal with divorce and step-family problems)

Silkwood* (83): RM (Meryl Streep exposes Kerr-McGee’s plutonium dangers. Considerable substance abuse)