When I was a kid, Christmas was not just about presents and parties it was about those great animated TV shows! It wasn’t like today where they play repeatedly. You got one shot during the holidays until the following year. And there were always commercials for Dolly Madison cakes, which they didn’t make where we lived, but we heard about them each year and they never quite looked as good as our Hostess CupCakes.
The great ones were Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and my personal favorite How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The only disappointing thing about them was they were over almost as quickly as they began with an average running time of 23 minutes. But then came the movies! What are your favorite Christmas movies? Read on to discover some of our favorites:
A Christmas Story directed by Bob Clark and based on semi-fictional anecdotes from Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Before 1997 when TNT or TBS didn’t play this movie 24 hours straight, again we only got one shot to watch this movie which had at least one moment we could all relate to each year. Whether it was dad trying to get the lights to work or having to deal with a visit from an aunt or uncle who enjoyed grabbing our cheeks or the kid who we all teased until he licked that metal pole. Dan met the young star Peter Billingsley as an adult, and he was very generous with his time and willing to talk about his famous movie role.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been made into so many movies starring everyone from George C. Scott to Mickey Mouse and just about everyone in between. But no one handled the story quite like the guy who made a man fly, the late Richard Donner, and his version called Scrooged starring Bill Murray. This modern version of the Dickens classic added a needed boost of comedy to a mostly grim story until the famous cathartic ending. Bill Murray played the scrooge character named Frank Cross, an evil TV executive, who delivers classic lines like Bah Hum Bug in such a modern way make for a true delight. I remember sitting in the theater while Bill Murray tried to get me and the clean-up crew to sing along while the credits rolled. I never did but appreciated his effort.
The Griswold’s have been making us chuckle since National Lampoon’s Vacation hit theaters in 1983, minus the 2015 remake, with their adventures domestically and abroad. After their takeover of Wally World and their trip to Europe two years later, it was a perfect fit to see one of America’s favorite dysfunctional families stay home for the holidays in 1989. Christmas Vacation is still one of my favorite movies to pull out on Blu-ray during the holiday season or to catch it one of the 23 times it’s on cable the week before Christmas. Cousin Eddie returns in the mobile home from hell just in time to ask for Christmas gifts because receiving about $52,000 is the true meaning of Christmas.
My personal favorite Christmas movie of all time is the classic It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Please never watch this movie in color! This Frank Capra masterpiece was meant to be seen in black and white. This year I get to watch it in a new 4k version. Watching an angel named Clarence show George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) what life would be like if he never existed changes his outlook on his future.
Finally last year brought us a new classic with Mel Gibson playing a not so jolly Chris Kringle in Fatman. With fantastic directing from Ian and Eshom Nelms (Small Time Crime) and cinematography by Johnny Derango (Everyone is doing Great) Fatman isn’t for the faint of heart. Although Fatman has its moments of violence brought to us courtesy of skinny man Walton Goggins it’s a virtual masterpiece of storytelling. If you missed it last year because it was released when most movie theaters were shut down, search it out and put it on your annual list of holiday favorites.