Whilst reading the USA Today on my lunch break, I noticed where E! had run an poll on their readers/viewers' favorite Christmas movies. Over at A Small Victory, Michele had written a post on the same subject. So not to be outdone, here's a list of ten holiday films and TV shows that are MY favorites. And yes, most of the usual suspects are on it. Except for the first one, they're not in any particular order of preference. And if you go over to Small Victory, be careful-it's Bitchslap Ted Rall day, and if you like him, you might find yourself drawn into the fray, like me...
1. A Christmas Carol (AKA Scrooge) (1950): This, in my humble opinion, one of the best movies ever made. Period. Good enough to be watched all year long. It features the great Alastair Sim in what I consider one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. I first saw this film on Christmas Eve in 1973, on Channel Four (Nashville, Tenn.)'s "Creature Features" program, hosted by the legendary Sir Cecil Creape. They had to show something on Christmas Eve, and ACC has ghosts, so... anyway, I was absolutely blown away by its gorgeously oppressive, Gothic B&W photography (there are blasphemous colorized versions out there, avoid them like they were coated with Anthrax) and its vividly realized cast, spearheaded by some of the greats of British cinema. I'm not what you could consider a real fanatic about Christmas, but this is one thing I absolutely must do: watch this flick on Christmas Eve.
2. A Christmas Story (1983): Even though this is in danger of being run into the ground by Turner, this is an absolutely delightful, funny flick with scenes and quotes that will stay with you forever. The only nit I can pick is Ralphie's Mom's 1980-something, not 1940-something hairdo. I can't think of many other recent films, especially holiday films, that have become as beloved as this one- I try to watch this once, only once, every year.
3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989): Here's another one that's grown on people to the point where everybody, no matter where you go, knows what you're referring to when you quote from it. Absolutely hilarious, with so many great scenes and quotes that it's hard to remember them all, although I bet many of you can...Gotta love Cousin Eddie, the squirrel, and Aunt Bethany, and Chevy Chase's rant at the end is a classic. "Claahhhrk-where's my stogie?"
4. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964): I love cheesy cinema, and this is a big ol' stinkin five pound block of cheddah. Featuring 6 year old Pia Zadora in a training bra, and a Santa that doesn't ho-ho-ho so much as he gives off a harsh cackling hah-hah-hah that sounds like a crazed dope fiend. They could have taken the entire production budget of this film and bought a candy bar. In 1964 money. Amazingly, there's a remake in the works.
5. Ernest Saves Christmas (1988): Went to see this in the theatre when it came out, with my Christmas fanatic wife. A little bit of Jim Varney's alter ego goes a long way with me, but I found this absolutely hilarious all the way through, with Ernest sneaking onto a movie lot disguised as a snake keeper and his version of "O Christmas Tree" as highlights.
6. It's A Wonderful Life (1946): And a wonderful movie, which I had somehow avoided seeing until about three years ago! It's a classic, imitated and parodied to death, but still charming...and if you don't feel a little happiness for Jimmy Stewart at the end, then there's no hope for your heartless ass. One of my favorite takeoffs of this was an episode of Married...With Children that featured Sam Kinison in the angel role.
7. Die Hard (1988): Yeah, I know, I know-this isn't technically a Christmas movie, but I like it a lot anyway and the whole damn thing takes place on Christmas Eve. Suppose by this criteria 1987's Lethal Weapon qualifies as well.
8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947): By now, I think you begin to realize that I'm just an old softie and this most definitely qualifies as heartwarming. Films like this pretty much shaped how we view the holiday season to this day, for better or for worse.
9. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): The first and still the best of all the strange Rankin-Bass animated holiday specials. Another one that's chock full of memorable scenes and quotes. If you aren't old enough to remember Santa sliding down a snowy hillside in a Norelco razor commercial, then I'm sorry. The only other Rankin-Bass thing I ever had much use for was 1970's Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, which I liked a hell of a lot better when I was 10 than I do now at 42. OK, OK, the one with Heat Miser and Snow Miser isn't terrible, but only when that duo is onscreen.
10. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Forget that horrible and unnecessary stink bomb of a film that came out a couple of years ago...this faithful and well animated adaptation of the great Doctor's book is all that's needed. The narration by Karloff the Uncanny is wonderful. I'm not always Chuck Jones' biggest fan but this one was a winner.
And there you have it. It might not be the most thorough list out there, or the most interesting, but it's my list, by God, and I'm proud of it. And since I have compulsive listmaking tendencies, there will be more. Oh yes. Count on it.
Damn. I've left off A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh well, trust me, I like that one a lot.
One other thing- Ruth passed on a link to me today where you can go and create a virtual model of yourself, and make it try on clothes and stuff! Veritable minutes of fun can be had here.
Music today: Neneh Cherry-Man (see link below), Strawbs-Halcyon Days (the inferior import version), and disc 2 of Captain Beefheart-The Dust Blows Forward.