Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday Film Review: Christmas Favorites

Since it’s Christmas today I thought I’d mention some favorite movies and TV shows of mine that it’s just not the holidays unless I’ve seen them. I’ll start off with the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” because it’s just not Christmas without the Grinch, Max, and the Whos of Whoville including little Cindy Lou Who. The Grinch is a character “with garlic in his soul” who finally learns the true meaning of Christmas and that it doesn’t come from a store in packages, boxes or bags.

Then there’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with poor Charlie Brown picking the smallest and dinkiest Christmas tree of all time while Snoopy wins the neighborhood house decorating contest. It ends with Linus telling a simple rendition of the Christmas story to again remind every one of the true meaning of the holiday.

[nggallery id=53]

A story that I didn’t see on it’s initial release, or for years after, but which has become a favorite is “A Christmas Story” in which all Ralphie wants for Christmas is a BB gun and what he, initially, gets is a horrible pink bunny costume from his aunt. And oh, the horrible “leg” lamp his father wins and proudly displays in the family living room window until it’s “accidentally” smashed. I remember the days when all I cared about was that one perfect toy. Now, I hope I care more about the actual reason for all the hoopla.

“Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer” takes me way back. Back to the days when I was just as scared by the Abominable Snowman as were Rudolph and Clarice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows most of the dialogue by heart and can sing along with all the songs sung by Burl Ives.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a classic. It never fails to warm my heart to see just how much one man can change the world around him even if he thinks his life has little meaning. When the town rallies to George Bailey’s aid, I always wipe a tear or two away.

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland are sublime in the 1977 rendition of his production of “The Nutcracker.” Fabulous dancers and magnificent music makes a happy Jayne.

“Joyeux Noel” is a more recent addition to my holiday favorites and depicts a truce which occurred over Christmas 1914 during WWI. For a short time, there was a cessation of the carnage as the two sides met together. Unfortunately, their superiors make several of the officers pay the price for these actions. A sad testimony to what they felt was important.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Yes, I admit it, I’m a fan of two of the Griswold movies and this is one of them. Silly? Yes. A parody of much that is the modern American celebration of Christmas? You bet. Funny enough to still make me laugh out loud at times. It certainly is.

“Holiday Affair” with Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh is a little known film from 1949 when stores still sent out spies to suss out the competion’s pricing. Pretty war widow Leigh’s actions cost Mitchum his job but a romance ensues which suits her son who doesn’t like her other suitor. This is a quiet but sweet story which again shows Mitchum can play a good guy.

“Scrooged” is Bill Murray as, who else?, the man who needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas and survive some ghostly visits. It’s dark comedy and I know I need some of that to spice up the gooey sweetness.

If you haven’t tried the brilliant “The Nightmare Before Christmas” do please. It’s claymation, it’s fantastic, it’s a horror film crossed with a musical fantasy and it’s not to be missed.

Okay, I’ll stop here and invite everyone to list their favorites and comment on mine. “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas” and “Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas, Come this way!”

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

30 Comments

  1. S. W. Vaughn
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 07:07:41

    Scrooged is definitely a favorite. Also, the first Diehard – which IS TOO a Christmas movie, because it takes place on Christmas. :-)

    Happy holidays, y’all!

  2. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 07:28:35

    @S. W. Vaughn: LOL, yes it is a Christmas movie.

  3. Carolyn
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 08:30:37

    I’d have to add Miracle on 34th Street. A true Christmas classic. And besides it stars Maureen O’Hara! One of my favorite actresses.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  4. joanne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 08:36:21

    Okay, if going to go to the not-for-kids Christmas movies then a must-see is ‘We’re No Angels’ with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Ustinov. Three criminals and a snake do Christmas. Wonderful cast (the snake: not so much).

    DEFFINATELY: Die Hard *grin*

    And my all time absolute, without a doubt favorite: The Bishop’s Wife (THE ORIGINAL, PLEASE! not that weak Whitney Houston re-make) with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven and a glorious Monty Woolley.

    Happy Holidays Jayne

  5. Sarah
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 09:12:40

    Excellent list but its simply not Christmas without The Muppet’s Christmas Carol!

    I’ll have to check out Joyeux Noel and Holiday Affair, they sound interesting!

  6. Angelia Sparrow
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 12:40:58

    It’s not Thanksgiving without the Star Wars Holiday Special and it’s not Christmas without A Wish for Wings That Work. Yes, my family is sick.

  7. becca
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 13:41:59

    for us, it’s Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather that makes Christmas.

  8. HK
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 16:22:12

    How about The Ref? We love this movie.

    “Go gag your grandma.”

  9. Karmyn
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 17:25:32

    I’ve always enjoyed “White Christmas”. It’s the only musical I’ve found where all the singing actually makes sense.

    Can’t forget “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol”.

  10. amy
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 18:34:27

    I like the one with the island of misfit toys. Rudolph maybe?

    and Love Actually with Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Emma Thompson.

  11. Bonnie
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 18:48:00

    I like The Family Man, too. With Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni.

  12. Cristiane
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:13:47

    Give Remember the Night a try. A really lovely Preston Sturges script, directed by the seriously underrated Mitchell Leisen, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray (really! He was great in the thirties and forties!). She’s a jewel thief, he’s the ADA trying to convict her. For one reason or another, she winds up in his custody over the Christmas break. He discovers that she’s also from Indiana, decides to give her a ride to her mother’s house, the mother rejects her (in a really devastating scene), and takes her to HIS mother’s farm for the holidays. The first section is charmingly screwball, but once it gets to the farm it really glows. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  13. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:32:30

    @Carolyn: I love Maureen O’Hara. Such a wonderful actress!

  14. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:33:35

    @joanne: I agree that “The Bishop’s Wife” is good. Since I haven’t seen it for a while it looks like a rewatch is in my future.

  15. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:35:32

    @amy: Yes, the island of misfit toys is from “Rudoph.” I enjoyed “Love Actually” too.

  16. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:37:27

    @Cristiane: I’ve never heard of this one. When I think of Barbara Stanwyck and Christmas I always think of “Christmas in Connecticut” which didn’t do much for me. I’ll have to look for this other one.

  17. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:42:27

    @HK: I’ve always meant to try “The Ref.”

    @Karmyn: Blackadder rocks!

    @Sarah: I love the Muppets too.

  18. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:43:16

    @becca: I’ve never read any of the Discworld books. Would I be able to understand the movie?

  19. Jayne
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 19:53:01

    @Angelia Sparrow:

    and it's not Christmas without A Wish for Wings That Work.

    Now how did I miss this? I’m a Bloom County fan from the 80s so I must check out Opus!

  20. Ann Bruce
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 21:29:43

    How about Die Hard? Yesterday, I showed it to someone who’s never seen it and now it’s her favorite Christmas movie, too. She loved hearing Alan Rickman say “detonators” with his faux German accent.

    ETA: And Bad Santa is absolutely hilarious.

  21. pamelia
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 21:42:51

    I second votes for Muppet Christmas Carol and The Hogfather (and no, you don’t need to be a Discworld fan to appreciate it. I’d barely even heard of the Discworld books and I loved it!) I’m also a sucker for Little Women. Merry Christmas!!

  22. dri
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 22:23:56

    Oooohhhh I’m going through such a Robert Mitchum phase at the moment and I adore Janet Leigh and had no idea they did a movie together so yaaaaaaayyyyy, I’m so looking forward to hunting this one down.

    I absolutely adore The Ref. One of my favourite Kevin Spacey films before American Beauty came along. :D

    Wonderful recs!

  23. HK
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 01:28:01

    @Jayne:

    You really should see the Ref, it’s wonderfully disfunctional. :)

    For our favorite movie to watch with the kids, we love the Bugs Bunny version of A Christmas Carol.

    “Bah, humduck.”

  24. Nell Dixon
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 08:12:47

    Muppets Christmas Carol and Elf are our two faves for Christmas.

  25. Magdalen
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 11:29:46

    Love Actually — a guilty pleasure, but it’s also Christmas-y and a nice mix of *sniff-sniff* (have a box of tissues handy) and HEAs. But maybe it’s just Colin Firth speaking bad Portuguese…

    Anyway, the DH and I watch it again every holiday season!

  26. Diane N
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 15:51:33

    One of my favorites, The Holiday, hasn’t been mentioned yet. Jude Law may be kinda skanky IRL but he’s a to-die-for hero in this one, and Jack Black is quirky and surprisingly charming in the B romance!

  27. Leslee
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 04:24:57

    The Ref! “your husband aint dead lady, he’s hiding!” Denis Leary is the best!

  28. Moth
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 05:49:19

    My holiday go-tos are:
    A Muppet Christmas Carol (this is some of my favorite christmas music)
    Love Actually
    The Cutting Edge (it has the New Year’s scene and there’s lots of ice, it totally counts as a holiday movie!!!)
    All I Want for Christmas (which is basically The Parent Trap set at Christmas time. It’s really cute.)

    And, of course, my all-time, traditional, can’t go a holiday without it is Holiday Inn. Bing Crosby. Fred Astaire. And I still think the scene at the end where he hides on the film set and she hears him singing is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen. (And I just fast forward through the Black Face number).

    I also always have to watch the LOTR trilogy during Christmas time. I think because they all came out in late December they have irrevocably been associated with the holidays in my head. Arwen and Aragorn’s kiss at the end is just so breath-taking. I cry every time. Love those movies. :D

  29. Becca
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 15:16:35

    Jayne @18: I don’t know whether you could understand the movie without having read Hogfather first or not… I’ve read the book, so I can’t say for sure. My kids havent read the book (ages 17 and 18) and they love the movie, however.

    I think you need to be aware of Pratchett’s Discworld universe, and who Death and Susan are, at the least, though.

    -becca

  30. Susan/DC
    Dec 27, 2009 @ 20:02:32

    Did no one mention Toy Story? That would definitely be on my list of favorite Christmas movies.

%d bloggers like this: