The Last Batch of Christmas Movies (or is it?)

This is the third entry of Christmas movies, (here are the first and second.) Apparently, Connie Willis is not a compatible movie recommender for my husband and me. In the back of her story collection, Miracle, which I enjoyed, she lists a dozen Christmas movies she recommends. I was looking for a new gem in there, but mostly found duds.

The Three Godfathers (1948). On Willis’ list. John Wayne, John Ford, a Christmas western! Should be terrific, right? We watched with the boys, who actually rather liked it, though my husband and I were unimpressed by the heavy-handed symbolism, and he slept through much of it.

The Miracle at Morgan’s Creek (1944), directed by Preston Sturges. Also on Willis’ list. Great comedic director Preston Sturges–should be great, right? The slapstick felt forced and it was a rather strange little movie about a woman who finds herself knocked up at Christmastime. Good, but not one to add to the rotation every year.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
(2011) Not a Christmas movie, you say? Well, it was out at Christmas, so my husband I went on a date to see it. Solid, and very good, it evokes the 70’s both in look and in filmic and storytelling style. Aside from a handful of too-brutal shots, this was quietly impressive, and I loved the performances.

The Ref
(1994). Dennis Leary in his first starring ranting role. This is good. Funny, with some great lines. Not a classic for the ages, but one that we’ll probably watch again next year.

You’ve Got Mail (1998). As The Shop Around the Corner is my favorite holiday movie, many people have asked over the years if I’ve seen this, one of its remakes (the other is Judy Garland’s In the Good Old Summertime.) Wish I’d consulted Timeout Movie Guide before we watched it. They sum it up well: TRAVESTY. And it is. Hated it. Go watch Shop Around the Corner.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) A solid action flick and good date night and popcorn flick. Some dodgy plot points, and Paula Patton as the token female was the weak link in a strong cast, but then she was surrounded by Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, so perhaps she just looked bad in comparison? I’d love to have more than one woman in the next one, and to have them both be awesome, and not just pretty stick figures.

The Sure Thing (1985). Willis’ list reminded me that this is a Christmas movie! And one of my favorites from when I was a teen. Still funny and eminently quotable.

Gib’s friend: Forget her, I hear she only likes intellectuals
Gib: So? I’m intellectual and stuff.
Gib’s friend: You’re flunking English. That’s your mother tongue, and stuff.

Meet John Doe
(1941). Also on Willis’ list. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck directed by Frank Capra–should be great, right? Nope, a slog, and one that gets increasingly preachy and shrill as it goes on. Again, wish I’d checked the film guide before committing to this one.

I thought we were done with the Christmas movies, what with it being Epiphany and all, but in cleaning up we discovered Scrooged, which I’d bought and forgotten about. I wished we’d stopped with Sure Thing and gone out on a high note, since John Doe was such a drag. Not sure whether to just put Scrooged away till next year, or give it a go. Perhaps I’ll consult my movie guide first.

4 Responses to “The Last Batch of Christmas Movies (or is it?)”

  1. gretchen Says:

    I’m a big fan of Connie Willis’s books, especially Doomsday Book, Blackout, and All Clear. I wish I could read them again for the first time! Hope you get a chance to look at them.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Gretchen, Sherry from Semicolon said much the same thing, adding To Say Nothing of the Dog after Doomsday. I’m going to try and fit them in this year. My husband really enjoyed Passage.

  3. Jennifer Reese Says:

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — maybe my favorite movie of the holiday season on strength of that Gary Oldman performance. I love your frank reviews of old “gems.”

  4. girldetective Says:

    Jennifer, I especially loved the contrast between Tinker Tailor and Mission Impossible. Both were well made films, but where MI was all gonzo action and Tom Cruise emoting and tensing his jaw, there was little of action in TTSS and Oldman was astonishing at showing much with little. Made me want to go back and watch The Conversation.