Wednesday, December 12, 2012
My Top Ten Christmas Movie List
What would the Christmas season be without Christmas movies on television? When I was a kid we had a pretty limited selection of Christmas movies specials. Of course, back then we had only the "big three", NBC, CBS and ABC. Each of the networks produced some rather outstanding Christmas specials; back then variety shows were huge so we always had most of the most popular singers hosting Christmas specials. My favorite variety shows for Christmas was Andy Williams Christmas Special and Perry Como's version of the same.
And yes, we were blessed with Charles Schultz and his Charlie Brown Christmas shows. Those were special. But, after that, we viewers were limited to annual showings of White Christmas, Holiday Inn and The Bells of St. Mary's.
Today, the Hallmark Channel begins broadcasting original Christmas movies two weeks before Thanksgiving and continues showing them right through New Year's Day. Disney Family and Lifetime also offers healthy doses of holiday faire as well, except that Lifetime tends to show too many Christmas romance movies that seem to only remotely resemble any relationship to Christmas.
We have also been blessed with some great new Christmas movies over the last decade. Movies like Home Alone and The Santa Claus come to mind. But, I tend to treasure the classic movies made from the 40's through the 60's, as is probably natural since those are the movies I spent watching during the holidays of my youth.
So, though everyone has their own list of favorite holiday movies, I'm offering my "top ten". (I would love for all of you to fill my comments section with your top ten!) Here's mine:
10) Holiday Inn: I love to watch Fred Astaire's dancing, listen to Bing Crosby's singing, and watch the comical interchange between Astaire and Crosby. And, this movie is further noted for introducing the most popular Christmas song of all time, "White Christmas".
9) White Christmas: I watch this move each year and never tire of it. Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye..can't get much better than that. And I love the idea of "rescuing" an old army officer who looked after his troops and having the troops offer a "pay if forward" payback.
8) The Bells of St. Mary's: Ingrid Bergman is her lovely elegant self, Crosby plays the unconventional priest with great skill and several heart-tugging scenes lighten my heart for the holidays.
7) The House Without A Christmas Tree: Old Broadway hands Jason Robards and Mildred Natwick make this Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie extra special. Grizzled old Robards plays a father who, after losing his wife, refuses to ever again succumb to the sentimentality associated with Christmas, but Natwick and young Lisa Lucas, playing his daughter teach him that life, and love, must go on, even in the depths of mourning.
6) Little House On The Prairie's Christmas Episode, "Christmas At Plum Creek": A remake of O'Henry's "The Gift of The Magi" whereby Laura sells her precious pony to buy her mother a stove, while Pa presents Laura with a pony saddle that she has no use for. Lovely movie.
5) The Gathering: A mid 70's holiday movie offering starring Ed Asner and Maureen Stapleton and a stable of attractive future stars playing the roles of their grownup children. The movie deals with a father, facing a medical diagnosis of "weeks to live", longs for a Christmas reunion and redemption in both his marital and family life.
4) One Magic Christmas: A modern take on learning the magic of Christmas. Mary Steenburgen plays the cynic with great skill; evokes something akin to "It's A Wonderful Life" by presenting a scenario where one fails to count their blessings, to appreciate them, until they are nearly taken away.
3) Home Alone: A Hilarious romp; no explanation required...a little boy pitted against two accident prone dolts whose mishaps leave you in happy tummy roiling laughter.
2) It's A Wonderful Life: Jimmy Stewart, America's "everyman", the Tom Hanks of the 40's and 50's, portraying a good and decent man who seemingly stumbles his way through life, always doing the right thing, then finally broken by a series of unfortunate events, only to be saved by those who benefited from his life long "good will piggybank". The amazing thing to note about this magnificent Christmas movie was that it was out of the public domain for decades before being resurrected in the 80's and quickly becoming one of America's all time favorites. I did not see this movie until 1986 and was blown away that something made in 1946 could have been hidden away for so long.
Two Tied For 1st:
1) The Homecoming: The Christmas movie written by Earl Hamner, that evolved into the long time TV series "The Waltons". The movie tells the story of a Virginia family suffering through the depths of the depression and surviving only through great sacrifice and even greater familial love. The language and state of poverty was so closely related to my own family situation so that both the movie and the series has become a favorite "resting place" for me...a chance to relive the days of my own youth, where family was all important.
1)The Christmas Story: Sounds just the right note for angst we kids sometimes felt about wishing for a gift that one or both of our parents said we shouldn't and wouldn't have! Just right for Boomers because we all knew the school bully, a teacher just like that one, the Sears "Dream Book", the one kid in the family that was the picky eater, the bar of soap for mouthing a vulgarity, horribly useless gifts from an aunt or a grandma, or the store display of wondrous gifts. And last but not least, the BB rifle, whether it was Red Rider or Roy Rogers or Singing Gene!
Merry Christmas all! Please share with me your "top ten" Christmas movie favorites!