Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Film Repertoire

Our Christmas tree is still up, and so are the outside lights, so I feel we have a few more nights of Christmas movies. Every year, it is fitting and right that we haul out the Christmas movies to get us in the good spirit of Christmas. In my collection, and must watch each year are:
  • Irving Berlin's White Christmas-musical with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney (auntie to George) and Vera Allen. This was a family favorite growing up. We all wanted to dance like Vera, sing like Rosemary, and my own crazy mother did plan a family vacation to Vermont that was specifically inspired by the movie plot. We liked Vermont so much that we went the following year making the 1,171 mile trek through lake effect snow and accidentally breaking up the trip in Scenectady, NY.
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol:Frogs, Pigs and Himbug-also a childhood favorite, starting The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Scrooge is played by Michael Caine. Every time we haul this one out, I crack up by hearing some new hidden joke between the lines and Muppet fur.
  • Meet Me In St. Louis-another great musical, and only part of it takes place during the winter, but this happens at the climax of the film with Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." On the right December day, this is a huge tear jerker.
  • Little Women- I grew up watching the 1933 version with Katherine Hepburn as the Josephine lead, and then we came across the 1949 version with June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien (also in MMISL), and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1994, my sister and I were utterly delighted to go to the theater for a modern version of Little Women. I wore out my VHS copy through the college years, so I was delighted to find a $5DVD so I can watch this version over and over again. I am always overcome with grief when Winnona Ryder, playing Jo, must watch her younger sister Beth, played by Claire Danes, go before her in death. There is always much weeping with that sweeping score. Always having had a very tight, even though tumultuous at times, relationship with my own little sister, the sweet connection that Jo and Beth share can only truly be understood by sisters. And those lines, "Promise you will always remain close by" just always get you at Christmas. Dang it!
  • Love Actually-hit the screen in 2003, and just post college I was captivated by the story lines of loving someone who is unavailable. Being a hopeless romantic six years ago, I enjoyed this movie immensely! Since I have turned into a realist with only a smear of romantic through my icy veins, I was bawling my eyes out as Emma Thompson's character is thrown under the bus of her marriage by her husband Alan Rickman's creep of a character. Grrr. I am sure I will keep watching it. Especially since Husband suggested we watch it this year. Huge cast of famous people all connected through this film.
  • The Family Stone-another big list of famous actors, all playing the slightly dysfunctional American family. There are parts of this film that remind me of my own family, in that we have all different dramatic things going on in our lives, and when we all hit that driveway the armor goes up as the barbs and jabs are thrown around the kitchen. This film hits the nerves when a sibling is bringing home that annoying girlfriend/boyfriend for a family holiday...and let's face it! It can be downright uncomfortable and annoying. Another tear jerker for me; when I first saw this in the theater, my grandma had just been diagnosed with lung cancer and she didn't make it to the following Christmas.
  • The Family Man and It's A Wonderful Life- two great films! Since I am at a new phase in my life, up to my knees in babies, I have a new found appreciation for both of these films and the powerful message behind choices and regret. I laugh harder and cry harder in The Family Man but it's got to be the Italian leaking out of Nicholas Cage.
  • You've Got Mail-One of my all time favorite movies! Watch it! I know you'll love it. Meg Ryan+Tom Hanks + books and twinkle lights. Oh yeah, you guessed it! I cry during this one too.
  • Home Alone- Just the first one. I haven't seen this in a long time, but we probably went through a VHS copy as kids. I wonder if I would think this is as funny now that I have a little mischief maker of my very own....
So there is my list of my top 10 Christmas films. All of these happen to be in my own personal collection, or they were when growing up, so I can quote all of those funny lines with my movie comrades (you know who you are) and we also can sing all of the songs from the musicals. You got a problem with that?

Yes, you do not see any of those icky Christmas movies on here like The Christmas Story or that horrible Chevy Chase movie. ICK! Dating not the right person in college, I was somehow conned into watching a completely horrible Christmas movie list. I was absolutely horrified at how much this family laughed and laughed through these movies, while I felt I was being tortured. Imagine my dismay when Husband's Christmas repertoire included these same films! I only realized this after we were engaged, and the Christmas Story movie was playing nonstop on TNT at his parents' house for our first Christmas together. I seem to remember informing him that I would not tolerate this film in our house...and I felt it was a deal I gave him the option. I tend to throw silly old-tomatoes (ultimatums) like that occasionally. I really meant that one.

I am perfectly accepting and appreciative of the strict rules my mother had for movies when growing up. I guess I don't know what I am missing?...and I am perfectly content in my ignorance of these horrid films. Fortunately for me and for I & F, they love black olives and they will love my Christmas movie repertoire as they grow up...because I am the Mom! I love it.

*I also just realized that there aren't any Santa Claus films on my list, and that would be because we did not have Santa at our house, nor do we now. I remember being very surprised when I was in high school or college and caught my dad watching Miracle on 42nd Street and he said, "Oh this is one of my favorite movies!" I was very confused by this because I had never seen it!

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Thanks for the ideas!! Since having kids, I cry at movies all the time. We watched it's A Wonderful Life with them for the first time this year. LOL on what you said about that"horrible Chevy Chase movie."!! I feel like kindred spirits--like I've met the only other person in the world who thinks it's ICK :-) It was fun to read your blog and get some new movie ideas too.