Three movies that mean Christmas to me:
Before Christmas passes us by for another year, I thought I would take a moment to wax philosophical about two or three movies that I have always enjoyed watching during this time of year.
It’s a Wonderful Life? Not a chance. I tried watching it once, got bored and turned it off. Miracle on 34th Street? Not my type of movie.
No, I would like to start with a couple of different movies. In the comment that I left for Max Haley’s Christmas Music review, I referenced Bing Crosby. And since I did, I thought I would elaborate on this figure—Bing–the heavyweight champion of the season that he is.
The first movie up is called what? White Christmas? No. White Christmas is a decent movie, but it’s what Johnny Depp is to the character of Willy Wonka– a pretender to the throne. No, the movie we’re talking about here is called Holiday Inn, made in 1942.
An amusing story which revolves around Bing’s character starting up a “bed and breakfast” style Inn, which features song and dance acts on each and every holiday. Of course, the whole thing is basically just a showcase for Bing’s singing talents. There’s an amazing menagerie of FIFTEEN different songs, the most prominent being “White Christmas”.
Yes, despite what most people think, the song “White Christmas” came from THIS movie, and not the movie known as White Christmas. I’ve actually had people try to argue this point with me—I’ve even had people try to tell me that there was no such movie, and the movie I was thinking of was White Christmas. (While the plots do share similarities, I assure you, they are not the same movie. To prove my point, while trying to find pictures for this review, I typed in “Holiday Inn” into Google Images, and about HALF of the pictures that showed up were from White Christmas.)
Oh, and did I mention his co-star is Fred Astaire. Yes, lots of dancing as well. In fact, I think the standout performance of the movie is an “improvised” 4th of July routine done with fire crackers. (See, this is what I mean about the two movies being different. Holiday Inn has the incomparable Fred Astaire… where as, White Christmas only has Danny Freaking Kaye).
Strangely enough, only a small part of the film actually takes place AT Christmas time. But the overall warmth and good feelings this one leaves you with definitely rank it as a holiday classic.
While we’re talking about Bing, can I also mention The Bells of St. Marys (1945). This is another one that you always see on television during the holidays. I’m not exactly sure why, all of about two minutes of the movie takes place at Christmas time—but still a classic that’s worth watching.
Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as a priest and a nun, respectively. What could be better than that? Actually, I think Bing’s role as Father O’Malley is his best character (this movie is a sequel to the more successful Going My Way—another one you should check out).
Again, it’s a movie you see on TV every Christmas, with a surprisingly small amount of the film revolving around Christmas (I think Bing does sing “Silent Night” in it though).
Other than these two, there is only one other Christmas movie I feel like mentioning today and that is the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol featuring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. George C. Scott’s on-screen persona is perfect for the role of Scrooge, and this is a nearly flawless adaptation. I’m currently reading the Charles Dickens story right now, and this 1984 made-for-tv version hits the nail on the head.
It’s virtually performed word-for-word. I’ve seen tons of different versions of A Christmas Carol, performed by everyone from The Flintstones to the Muppets, Mickey Mouse and company and even Jean Luc Picard—I mean, Patrick Stewart—and this one is STILL the standard bearer, and ranks as a must-watch every year. (What amazes me about the Patrick Stewart version is that it was made 15 years later, and looks MUCH worse).
So, if you’re the last person in America who has never been exposed to the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas, this is the one to check out.
Are these the only Christmas movies I like? Certainly not. I’m big fans of A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation and a few others as well, but I just thought I would share with you a few that were significant to me. Thanks for reading.
*As an addition to this article, I’d also like to make a small complaint about a couple of movies. Like the ones mentioned above, they always get some TV play around this time of year, and I have never understood why. The two movies in question– Die Hard and Gremlins. Okay, I KNOW why they show these two movies– both movies DO take place at Christmas time. But, in my opinion, this does not make them CHRISTMAS movies. Oh yeah! Let’s all enjoy Christmas by watching a gremlin explode in a microwave! Nothing says Christmas like Alan Rickman with German accent, shooting guns at people! By saying “these movies take place at Christmas, therefore, they are Christmas movies”…by that rationale, we could film a porno in a church and then claim that it’s a religious movie.