Meet Windy Darlington, one of my oldest and dearest writing buddies. She’s here today to talk about… wait for it… Christmas movies!
So, I have been asked to write this post, which is. . . pretty cool; also I’ve never done this before so there’s that space of awkward to make me feel just a tad bit uncertain of whatever it is I’m supposed to write. . .
No, no, I’m kidding; I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing!
Today I’m going to talk about movies. But not just any kinds of movies (or going off ranting about them in a review). No, in honor of the holiday spirit and all of the trees beautifully decorated everywhere waiting for presents to be placed beneath their (mostly synthetic, some real) pine-needle boughs, I’m going to talk about Christmas movies.
Unfortunately you probably already guessed what I’m going to be discussing by the title of this post. I need to consider better headlines. . .
Yes, this is Rebekah’s blog. No, I will not abstain from using my beloved gifs; probably because I’m evil more but so because I’ve turned using gifs to express a particular emotion into something of a habit for me. I even say in real life “Ah, I need a gif for this moment” when something happens. So prepare for not only seasonal gifs, but my standard arsenal.
Yeah that means this guy^.
Here’s a list of Christmas movies, and if I’ve left any out, do mention it in the comments. I’ll probably be reading them all despite this being Rebekah’s blog. Yeah, I’m annoying like that. Anyway:
The Christmas Movie List:
- White Christmas: a 1954 American musical romantic comedy film
- A Christmas Story: a 1983 American Christmas comedy film
- It’s A Wonderful Life: a 1946 American Christmas fantasy-drama film
- Miracle on 34th Street: a 1994 (and 1947) American Christmas fantasy film
- The Santa Clause: a 1994 American Christmas fantasy comedy film
- Home Alone: a 1990 American Christmas family comedy film
Now, I’m well aware that there are MANY more films than these, and that people love those too, but I’ve decided that these films I HAVE mentioned are the highlight of all the Christmas movies. Also because if I listed every movie I’d be here for years and years trying to touch on each and every one of them and by then I’d be so tired and my fingers would hurt that I’d just probably be lying on the floor questioning everything I’ve ever done in my life that led me to this point. That would be uncomfortable for all involved, I’m sure.
Now, as to why I’ve chosen THESE particular movies— it’s actually very simple, really.
I’ve watched them all.
And I daresay that most of the known world has watched them too. I mean, there’s a scene in Home Alone where It’s A Wonderful Life makes a cameo appearance. . . in French!
Anyway, all I’m saying is that many of these films are classics, and if they’re not they’re so well-known that it’s only a matter of time (and aging) before they are classics to the next generation. I can’t decide if that’s terrifying or fantastic. On to the movies!
A story about two soldiers who, after WW2 ended, sang and danced their way into the spotlight. Aka the reluctant “I’m a one-man show” ex-captain Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) being pushed and shoved by the exuberant and well-meaningly manipulative ex-private Phil Davis (Danny Kaye). When Phil decides that he wants to play matchmaker, and his pal Bob unknowingly provides the seemingly-perfect woman he’s destined to marry, hilarious shenanigans ensue all for the love of “45 minutes, all to myself!” Because, to Phil’s delight, Betty Haynes’s (Rosemary Clooney) sister Judy Haynes (Vera Ellen) is ALSO a matchmaker, eager for her big sister’s happiness.
You can read the whole plot on Wikipedia, I’m just giving you a brief summary here. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that this film is filled with wholesome moments of laughter, and even a few tearful scenes, from beginning to end. Not to mention the singing and the dancing are fabulous!
A Few Interesting Tidbits About White Christmas:
Danny Kaye was the third choice for the role of Phil Davis. It was initially written for Fred Astaire, because Fred had acted beside Bing Crosby in a movie before, wherein the famous White Christmas song was also sung. But Fred refused the part, so it was instead offered to Donald O’Connor, but O’Connor became ill and had to turn the part down. When it was offered to Kaye, he asked for a salary of 200,000 dollars (which would be around 1.7 million U.S. dollars in 2017) and 10% of whatever the film made in the box office. In the film there’s a reference to that 200,000 dollars. When the housekeeper of the inn (Mary Wickes) overhears Bob talking on the phone to Ed Harrison. Though only ‘100,000’ dollars is mentioned over the line, she inflates it to ‘200,000 in profits for Bob and Phil!’ when telling Rosemary Clooney’s character what she overheard.
Vera Allen (Judy Haynes) could dance, but she couldn’t sing. All of her parts were voice-overs sung by Rosemary Clooney, who could sing very well, but she couldn’t dance! Once you know this, you can’t unhear Judy’s singing parts when you watch the film!
Bing Crosby didn’t like to dance much when he was singing, so when you watch this film, you’ll notice Danny Kaye dancing around him a lot; this was because Kaye enjoyed dancing and it was often how he did his routines. He did it mostly to irk Crosby, and also to get him to participate more in the dancing aspect of their roles.
One of the things I really appreciate about White Christmas is that it’s story about love and communication amid the dancing, singing, and nostalgia. There are all kinds of love, love for a best friend (Phil wanting Bob to be happily settled down), love between siblings (Betty and Judy), love for a role model (Bob and Phil wanting to help General Waverly) and, of course, romance (Bob/Betty & Phil/Judy).
A Christmas Story
A story set around the 1950s (early 60s?) about a kid who only wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and the people in his life making it eternally difficult for him to get what he wants.
I’m sure everyone knows about this movie. It plays every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on a loop. It’s played SO MUCH and I’ve seen it so many times (my family owns two copies) that I honestly can’t stand it. Also because it’s just always seemed a bit dumb to me?
Like, I couldn’t ever really get behind the whole leg-lamp thing and the heater breaking down or whatever it was that kept going out. Not to mention the tongue-stuck-to-the-flag-pole moment just made me feel really uncomfortable. Maybe because it always seemed dumb that all the kid’s classmates just left him out there to possibly freeze to death. I’ve never been able to like it as I really enjoy other Christmas movies. But I suppose it has to be mentioned in passing because it IS, after all, a Christmas movie in the end. To my everlasting regret.
But a lot of people really like it, so I shouldn’t be so mean! Like my aunt; for some reason she ADORES this movie. #DoNotAskWhy
A Few Interesting Tidbits About A Christmas Story:
In the the last scene in the movie, after the family goes out for Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaraunt, none of the actors had been told beforehand that the waiters in the scene were going to sing, so all of those facial expressions? Yep, those were their genuine expressions on the singing.
The man who wrote the book this movie is based off of (In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, 1966) was the narrator, which I thought was fascinating. Also, Jean Shepherd was initially on the set while it was being filmed, but he got a bit too specific about the way certain scenes should be acted out, and began telling the actors how to play their respective parts, so he was asked to leave. But he did get to come back, and you can see him in a fedora and double-breasted jacked in the visiting mall Santa Clause scene!
The soap bar Ralphie has to hold in his mouth for cursing is actually made of wax, so don’t worry about any soap-swallowing (but I’m sure we all know that they wouldn’t really make a kid hold an ACTUAL bar of soap in his mouth.)
I didn’t really noticed any particular themes in this story, besides the fact that you shouldn’t curse because in the end you will always have to eat soap, and that you’ll possibly shoot your eye out if you get a BB gun (I have had several BB guns and never had this issue, same with my brother, so I dunno. . .)
It’s A Wonderful Life
This has got to be one of my absolute favorite movies after White Christmas. I have no idea what it is about me and loving these old-timey films, but I just do. Maybe it has something to do with both of them being Frank Capra films. I have no idea, but they’re good and they have great underlying themes and powerful messages. Like White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life has a message about love.
Learning to love what you’ve been given and realizing that just because you don’t have everything you want (or that you’re living through some excruciatingly lean times) it doesn’t mean God is punishing you. Quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps He’s blessing you, showing you all that you DO HAVE which is family and a warm house and people who love you despite all the pains and problems in the world.
I think that’s a very nice message.
A Few Interesting Tidbits about It’s A Wonderful Life:
The whole thing was printed off as a 21-page Christmas card when the writer, Philip Van Doren Stern, couldn’t get anyone to take to his movie idea. It was purchased from him for the price of $10,000.
Frank Capra didn’t sell the idea right to Jimmy Stewart when he was hitting him up about the role. Fortunately for Capra, Stewart was a good sport and recalled in an interview that he replied “Frank, if you want me to be in a movie about a guy that wants to kill himself and an angel comes down named Clarence who can’t swim and save him, when do we start?” I think that was genuinely nice, especially since even Capra thought his pitch was shoddily done, saying “that doesn’t make much sense, does it?” after he’d finished attempting to explain the film.
The FBI thought the film had something to do with Communism, which I find. . . difficult to connect. Sounds like the government makes wilder conspiracies than the average American citizen, if you ask me. (but no one was. . .)
Miracle on 34th Street
I remember watching this for the first time, and I think I was about six. I myself have never believed in Santa Clause because I’m too smart to have thought that. Not to mention my parents were very open with me and my siblings and explained the whole Santa Clause thing to us. I’ve never felt cheated, lemme just tell you now.
But even though I know who really brings my presents, I hold nothing against this movie. Probably because it’s one of the darlingest films. Also because of the messages it has; similar to those Capra movies, it has a fantastic message about love. But not only love, belief too. Belief in things you can’t see and can’t prove, even when the world is telling you otherwise.
Now I know that might not sound too much of an allegory for God, but to me. . . there’s just something about it. Especially in the courtroom scene where Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott) holds up a one dollar bill and states “what does it say? ‘In God We Trust'” has always been profound for me, especially as people forget about God in this age and think it’s easier to believe in nothing or just believe in themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with having hope, nothing. So I appreciate that about this film, even though it is about Santa and not about God. For me, it’s a strange sort of allegory, and I think it’s almost beautiful.
A Few Interesting Tidbits About Miracle on 34th Street:
Apparently there is an ACTUAL Cole’s store in Australia, which has been in business as long as the fictional Cole’s in this 1994 remake of the original. Also, the reason why Cole’s was created for the film at all is because Macy’s refused to allow their store name to be in the film. Which is rather idiotic. . . The movie is renown and beloved, so Macy’s missed out on cashing in to that. . .
During the parade, if you look closely at the trees in Central Park, you’ll notice that they’re BUDDING. Yeah, the reason why is because the filming for that scene was done in April, a long with a large portion of the movie.
The little deaf girl was ACTUALLY deaf. Also she had no idea that the late Richard Attenborough would reply to her question; he asked that that be kept a secret so her surprise and delighted expression would be genuine.
The Santa Clause
IF YOU DID NOT LOVE BERNARD THE HEAD ELF THEN YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF AND WE CANNOT BE FRIENDS. *coughs* Did I just type-scream that?
But yes, Bernard was very adorable and his sarcasm before it was cool for kids to do that. . . Gah, he was just so flawless that HONESTLY, I am still in love with that shirt of his. I wanted to steal it when I was 10. Seriously, that shirt. All the glitteriness and stripes and it just looked so expensive. #YesPlease
Unfortunately I’ve digressed (which, as you know, I tend to do) from the film. Yeah, this film about a guy who doesn’t buy into the Santa Clause thing other than as a way to sell toys but then finds himself with the short end of the stick when he BECOMES Santa and has to start filling in the roll of his vanished predecessors shiny black boots is a laugh and a half. I really loved it and still do.
Again, it has a message of belief and learning to accept things that don;t always make sense, and I think that’s very nice. Also it’s a reminder to not be such a skeptic all the time and to embrace the fun in life; because you never know when you’re time’s up. If you don’t know this movie then I am shocked and GO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY thus we can gush about Bernard and his coat and his sarcasm and his general annoyance at dealing with a man who does not believe. Bernard was the best part of that whole film and he was only a side character. Enough said.
A Few Interesting Tidbits about The Santa Clause:
The film was shot in Canada, despite being called Illinois. The filmmakers made use of the Toronto Zoo and the reindeer. Which I think is actually cool; good reason to not film on-site like Home Alone.
The reason why films 2&3 weren’t as great (in my opinion nothing is as good as the first film. . . Except Thor: The Dark World, that was actually pretty good) was because a new director was hired on. The original went on his way and a newbie was elected to the post, lending Tv-director Michael Lembeck his feature-film debut.
Tim Allen plays the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story (a fact I’m sure a lot of older people know).
There’s a Mickey Mouse head hidden in the moon, look for it if you’re planning on watching this film sometime!
I can officially say that I dreamed of being this horrifying at creating traps when I was a small child. I mean, I was mischievous, but never this fabulous. This kid would do well to teach Loki a thing or two so he can up his “God of Mischief” title. (Between you and me and the wall over there Loki’s more like the god of bitterness and suffering than mischief.)
Home Alone, the story of a little boy in a large family who is left behind at his house after they leave for their Christmas vacation all in a rush after the power goes out and none of their alarms go off (yeah, the day before iPhone alarms, how fascinating).
All things considered, I think Kevin does very well for himself while his parents were away. I mean, he protects his home from adult robbers, goes to church, locks the house every time he leaves, closes all the doors, goes shopping for himself, defeats his fears of the furnace in the basement, washes his own laundry, makes himself food. Like, jeez, this kid was a 21st century tot before that was a thing! #Goals right there, lemme tell you now.
Despite some of the questionable language in this film (which makes me squeamish and I’m 18) I think it’s generally a family film. Out of all the pranks Kevin pulls, the one where he zip-lines out to his treehouse and then cuts the rope is one of my favorite parts. The look of horror on Marv and Harry’s faces is PRICELESS.
It’s not really a story with a message behind it (except for the one about family and how, no matter how much you hate them, in the end you really do love and want them around and the most obvious one of “DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR VALUABLES BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE COUNTRY”) but it is a feel-good film that, in the end, will leave you hugging each one of your family members (even some of the questionable ones) and smiling a little more, glad you’re all together for the holiday season.
A Few Interesting Tidbits About Home Alone:
The role was written specifically for Macaulay Culkin, even though the director, Chris Columbus, let other children audition (probably he wanted to be absolutely certain).
The country of Poland is quite addicted to this film, apparently. It’s become so integral after the first airing on television that when it was taken off the air people were practically rioting! Jeez, go and buy yourself a tape and VCR. . . It was the 90s people! But it wasn’t taken off the air (as far as I know, I’m not Polish. . .) and people tune in by the millions to watch it still.
The tricks and injuries inflicted on the Wet Bandits would probably have killed them both in real life.
And that million-dollar question is answered: the tarantula was real.
And I have AT LAST REACHED THE END OF THIS POST. GOSH THAT WENT ON FOREVER.
I hope you enjoyed this, even though it’s just me rambling about movies we’ve all seen for years. Thank you for taking the time to read all of that blather, and now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go destroy Jotunheim.
Oh, wait, is that not my line? No? Okay, fine. *grumbles childishly*
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🙂 May all your fireplaces be bright! AND DO NOT BURN YOUR DAUGHTER’S REAL CHRISTMAS TREE (wait, that’s not how that goes. . . Whatever, I am done caring.)
Comment below – what’s your favorite Christmas film?
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