The Season Of Movies
Christmas is a time when families gather to celebrate the holidays. For my family, it is also a time when we join together in front of the big screen TV to watch Christmas movies.
If you knew our history, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the love of movies was passed on to our children through my husband. He particularly enjoys the movies of Hollywood’s Golden Era (1920-1960). Following in his footsteps our daughter went on to study film in university, and now writes for movie magazines as well as a film journal called Cleo, in which she is an editor.
We always kick off the season with National Lampoon Christmas Vacation, the story of a Clark Griswold, who attempts to create the perfect Christmas with disastrous results. We always laugh at the same places every year when Aunt Bethany is asked to say the blessing at the dinner table. She can’t hear very well and ends up pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States. I’ve been trying to figure out why we laugh in this spot because I also have a hearing loss. I think it’s simply the chance to laugh at ourselves. No-one is perfect after all, and we must learn not to take life too seriously.
National Lampoon is usually followed by A Christmas Story. Set in 1940s Indiana, Ralphie plots and plans to get a Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. His mother, is against it of course, because she’s worried he will “shoot his eye out.” The comment is so recognizable to parents around the world. I declare, there must be a manual for mothers with a list of appropriate parental comments to keep children in line. Whether it’s an air rifle or a pair of roller skates (my all-time favorite Christmas gift), it reminds us of our own childhood Christmas’s and how we longed for that one wished-for gift, to be under the tree.
One movie follows another: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Scrooge, Charlie Brown, The Holiday, Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn, and of course, White Christmas.
This year we will be watching It’s a Wonderful Life at the local movie theatre in town. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, wishes he had never been born. An angel named Clarence makes his wish come true and he learns what life would have been like if he hadn’t existed. What a treat it will be to see Jimmy Stewart as he was meant to be seen (on the big screen) during his days as matinee screen idol. I can hardly wait.
It is interesting to note that It’s a Wonderful Life did not do well initially at the box office back in 1946. It is now considered one of the 100 best American films ever made and has become a classic Christmas movie for the whole family.
The Lion in Winter, and The Shop Around the Corner, are not considered traditional Christmas movies. But because they are both set during the Christmas Season, they are both considered Christmas viewing in this household.
The Shop Around the Corner, another Jimmy Stewart favorite, takes place in Budapest where shop workers Alfred and Klara, unknowingly write love letters to each other via a post office box. Sound familiar? It should, the movie You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is based on this movie.
The Lion in Winter stars Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole as Eleanor and King Henry II, who struggle to determine which of Henry’s three sons will take over the throne after his death. Hepburn is stunning in this movie as Henry’s erstwhile wife. For much of the year she is locked away in a nearby castle, only to be released at Christmas to spend time with the family, and Henry’s mistress.
This offering of movies should last until Christmas day when we begin viewing all the movies we receive from Santa. There will undoubtedly be classics, documentaries, science fiction, comedy, British period pieces, adventure, and mystery. Popcorn anyone?