Friday, December 2, 2011


Topic #4
Favorite Holiday Movies/TV Specials

I don't remember the first Christmas movie that I ever saw, but it was probably Miracle on 34th Street, which remains to this day my favorite Christmas movie. It had everthing, especially magic that may or may not have been real. I still get chills at the end when they find the cane by the fireplace.

I remember when there was a station that ran It's a Wonderful Life in back to bakc showings from Christmas Eve through Christmas day. It's a good movie, but I have pretty much had it with that movie. I avoid it like the plague.

However, I can see White Christmas over and over again. I don't even mind seeing the stage production of it (which I just reviewed recently--stage show isn't nearly as good as the movie).

I love the old movies. Loretta Young looking luminous in The Bishop's Wife while Cary Grant plays an angel sent to earth to help her minister husband remember the real meaning of Christmas.

I love the original Christmas Carol story versions (I specify "original" because at their root, pretty much most Christmas movies contain all the same elements--a grinch, a good guy, a little kid, an element of magic, and a happy ending). From the Reginald Owen 1938 version down through the Muppet Christmas Carol they have all been good.

I even love the silly tear jerkers like Elf...though many wouldn't think of Elf as a tear jerker, but it has a tenderness to it that makes me tear up every time.

Nowadays we are flooded with Christmas movies, so many of them that they have to start showing them 24/7 on the cable stations to get them all in. Most of them are pretty schlocky and made for TV, but even among the schlock there are movies I will watch.

There is one called The Christmas Gift, which stars John Denver, the only reason I watch this movie. I do like John Denver, even though his acting talents were somewhat iffy. In this movie, he played a widowed New York City architect who takes his young daughter on a Christmas vacation and ends up in a small mystical town in Colorado where everyone belives in Santa Claus. That's the IMDb definition. Actually, this is just another version of The Christmas Story, where Denver's boss (Scrooge) sends him to buy up property in the little town, which will change it into some big metropolis which will make big bucks for the boss. There is a guy whose house is going to be foreclosed (the Bob Cratchit character). With the help of Jane Kaczmarek, who is certainly the ghost of Christmas present, Denver magically gains a spine, stands up to his boss, falls in love with Jane, and decides to settle down in the little town. And, like Scrooge's transformation, the whole thing takes place in 2 days. Magic.

There are all those other classic Christmas animated things that I watched because our kids watched them and didn't admit to watching them because I liked them too!

The grandaddy of them all, of course, is A Charlie Brown Christmas, which has to be on everybody's favorite. I believe this was the first of the Peanuts movies and I wasn't sure how I felt about having actual voices put to the characters I knew so well from the comics, but fell in love with it. And who can pass by a scraggly Christmas tree, left on an old tree lot without thinking that if you wrapped a blanket around it and gave it a lot of love, it would magically become a beautiful tree? God bless us every one.

But then there is How the Grinch Stole Christmas and sweet little Cindy Lou Hoo gathered with the other Hoos singing even though there are no Christmas presents.

And there is Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, which was a real favorite around here. How can you not like a story about an elf who wants to be a dentist?

I have the opportunity to see all of these movies and made for TV movies on Saturday night, when I shall be reviewing the stage show Every Christmas Story Ever Told. And it is. I've seen it three times now and am still looking forward to seeing Gustav the Green-Nosed Rein-goat (to avoid copyright infringement) again.

But (shhh...don't tell anyone)... I will be glad when I can surf through my ComCast directory and see something other than hundreds of Christmas movies from which to choose.


phonelady said...

I also like the christmas gift with John Denver . I would like to think that John is now an angel himself . Yes the charlie brown christmas stands out too . miracle on 34th st also . I hope we all have a good holiday season .

Harriet said...

I don't usually watch "It's a Wonderful Life" any more either. I "discovered" it long before it was famous; it was one of the also-rans that the studios palmed off on local TV stations. They aired it at something like midnight, and I was babysitting... Little did we know how popular it would become.

One of our local colleges is showing a film, or remastered kinescope, of the 1958 version of "A Christmas Carol," with Basil Rathbone as Scrooge. I've seen that story too often as well.