Holiday Movies and Specials, Again

There is something about watching the same shows and movies every year that is a big part of holiday fun for me. And with DVDs, and no commercials, the experience is easier, and more enjoyable. I did a previous entry on family holiday movies, but we’ve continued, sometimes with all four of us, and sometimes with just my husband. And with It’s a Wonderful Life, it was just me.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I’d never seen this before, which is strange, given how many, many times I’ve seen the original recipe. Funny but mostly forgettable, with a very young Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis, and a very big-haired Julia Louis Dreyfus.

Holiday Inn. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire fight over girls. I’m on team Fred. His dancing is way cooler than Bing’s singing. Most famous for its introduction of “White Christmas”, but less famous than the film of the same name, since this one has a troubling sequence in blackface that was interestingly edited out of the version we watched on AMC.

Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas with Jim Hensen’s Muppets. The Russell and Lillian Hoban Christmas book was a favorite in my family, though now out of print. Still available, though, is the DVD of the muppet adaptation, which skews a bit more to the sweet than the bitter; the book was more balanced. Be sure to watch the “out takes.”

Year without a Santa Claus. Heat Miser and Snow Miser. The kids enjoyed this one, and it reminds me fondly of being a kid at Christmas.

The Shop Around the Corner
. MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE. Anyone who doesn’t smile and laugh during this romantic comedy is a grinch. There’s sad stuff, too, but really, the whole thing is just lovely. If you haven’t seen it, do.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. This is the one with the penguin and Winter Warlock. It also has some trippy musical interludes, during which 4yo Guppy asked, “Is this still part of the story?”

It’s a Wonderful Life. Only the second time I’ve seen it, I was again struck by the very dark undercurrent that’s easy to ignore with its “happy” ending. George Bailey dreams of getting out of his small town and becoming an architect. Instead, he stays and works at a savings and loan, gets married and has four kids. While I love, love, love the scene when George and Mary are walking home from the dance, the rest of the film is depressing, the more I think about it, e.g., he’s still going to have to pay back the $8000.

I’m going to try and watch Meet Me in St. Louis, and I think that’ll be all for this year. I’ve never yet seen A Christmas Story or Scrooged, and I’d like to see Love, Actually again, so I’ll keep them in mind for next year.

3 Responses to “Holiday Movies and Specials, Again”

  1. Amy Says:

    Love love love A Christmas Story. For some reason, even though I’ve watched it dozens of times, it makes me laugh until I almost cry.

  2. Janise Says:

    About “It’s a Wonderful Life”:
    I LOVE this movie; it is one of my all time favorites because it is more than just a “feel good” movie. It addresses our feelings of insigificance and failure in the world when we don’t meet our own expectations and when life doesn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.

    I think that the dark aspects are what make the whole movie work. If George had not experienced so much disappointment and pain throughout his life, his recognition that he still wanted to live would be less significant. Even with everything appearing to go wrong, his life is worth living, and it turns out that he wasn’t as big a failure as he thought; he just wasn’t using the right measure for success. True, Potter still “won” in the sense that no one found out he took the money, but between the money collected by Mary and the loan Sam authorized, the $8000 is going to be replaced, and I doubt anyone is going to ask for a reimbursement. The money collection is also a neat corollary to the time that George gave his OWN money out to people when the bank was closed. This time, they are giving him the money from their pockets when HE needs it.
    For me, the depressing or dark elements to the story only serve to highlight the larger truth that George learns at the end, that life is worth living and that we all have more influence on the world than we suspect.

  3. girldetective Says:

    Thanks for that insightful reading of the end, and I think you’re right that what makes it work is that it is more complex than a feel-good movie. We are aware of what he’s given up, but also of what he’s gotten for his compromises which weren’t the things he thought he wanted, but have become them in the end. It does still nag a bit that what he gets in the end is so white-bread, white-man traditional–family, home, small town, etc. that his reward doesn’t feel that complicated, even if his having come to accept it is.