Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Monday - A Stocking Full of Christmas Films

Lots more holiday viewing this week:


Holiday Inn (1942)

[Bing Crosby; Fred Astaire; Marjorie Reynolds; Virginia Dale; Walter Abel; Louise Beavers]

Plot: Tired of the bright lights of showbiz, Jim Hardy retires to the countryside to become a farmer. He converts the farm into the Holiday Inn, open only on holidays, then competes against his pal for a singer-dancer's affection.

This was my very first viewing of this classic, and I shouldn't have waited so long. Musicals aren't really my favorite kind of flick, but this one is fun and the songs are great. All are great in their roles, especially Crosby and Astaire. Great combination.

This film was also the first appearance of the perennial Christmas classic song "White Christmas". Great song, great film.


White Christmas (1954)

[Bing Crosby; Danny Kaye; Rosemary Clooney; Vera-Ellen; Dean Jagger; Mary Wickes]

Plot: Crosby and Kaye play war buddies turned entertainers who fall for a pair of sisters. The boys follow the girls to a resort, which is owned by their former commanding officer, and he's in danger of losing the place. What better reason to stage a show than to keep the resort out of hock?

Another classic I had always missed, this year I made a point of watching it. And I like it, even more so than "Holiday Inn". Crosby and Kaye make a great team, and paired with Clooney and Ellen, they really shine. Music is great throughout, including the title track.

Also love seeing Wickes, she has been a favorite character actress of mine for years. Always fun seeing her in anything, and I probably would have watched this one years ago, had I realized she had a part in it.


The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas (1996)

[Sam McMurray; Ann Magnuson; Bug Hall; Sandy Baron; Mary Woronov]

Grandpa has accidentally captured Santa Claus and two of his elves, while Lily is trying to win the local neighborhood Christmas home decorating competition, and Marilyn has invited family and friends from the "old country" to stay for Christmas. And Eddie is sad, and nothing seems to cheer him up.

Hoo-boy. Sometimes, I just wonder how movies get made. This flick is just bad. Not funny, at all, ever. The plot is thin, at best. And the actors barely work to bring the Munster family to life. Just not good, at all. Bleh!

Couldn't find a trailer, and you are better off for it.


A Very Brady Christmas (1988)

[Florence Henderson; Robert Reed; Ann B. Davis; Maureen McCormick; Eve Plumb; Barry Williams; Christopher Knight; Mike Lookinland; Jennifer Runyon]

Plot: The entire Brady family manages to overcome personal obstacles to spend a happy holiday together.

I will be the firs to admit that this movie is schmaltzy. It is a guilty pleasure flick if ever there was one.

That said, I like it. It is goofy, moralistic, cheesy. But it is what the Bradys were always all about and stays true to the family I (and many of us) grew up on. The only major "flaw" I have with it is the fact that the actress who originally played Cindy (Susan Olsen) was unavailable for this reunion, so Cindy is played by the 80s cutie Jennifer Runyon. Having Olsen would have made this movie near-perfect.

I realize some of you may be shaking your heads, but I stand by this flick. It is just a good old holiday visit with some old friends. Recommended.

This is part one, but the whole movie (I believe) is available to watch on YouTube!


Black Christmas (1974)

[Olivia Hussey; Keir Dullea; Margot Kidder; John Saxon; Marian Waldman; Andrea Martin]

Plot: Terror reigns inside a sorority house a few days before Christmas break as a series of menacing phone calls -- and the discovery of a dead girl's body -- transform yuletide cheer into fear. This 1970s horror gem comes from director Robert Clark, who told a much happier holiday tale with his 1983 classic, A Christmas Story.

This is my favorite holiday-horror flick, it is just so well done and so damn creepy! The killer is SO freaking crazy, we are left scared for the characters and ourselves. And we are left wondering so much more about this madman. Great early 70s stuff.


It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

[James Stewart; Donna Reed; Lionel Barrymore; Thomas Mitchell; Henry Travers]

Plot: Frank Capra's inverted take on A Christmas Carol stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good man who's spent a lifetime giving up on his dreams in order to keep life in his small town humming. When a guardian angel named Clarence finds a despondent George poised to jump off a bridge, he shows George what life would've been like had he never been born.

I don't really need to say much about this one, it is a classic, and deservedly so. The unrealized ambitions of a small town man lead him to believe his life has been meaningless. But he soon comes to see otherwise.

The ending of this flick always gets to me. I know what is coming, I have seen it before. But when you watch the movie from the beginning, by the time you reach that final scene you are just wrapped up in the whole story. Moving, indeed.



  1. will have to check out black christmas, dont know that i have ever seen it...shmaltzy...what a cool seems to fit the brady's

  2. Check it out, Brian, if you are in the mood for a Christmas scare!

  3. Coincidentally, I was planning to watch Holiday Inn and White Christmas for the first time this year as well. Glad to hear they're worth watching.

    I saw A Christmas Carol (the original B&W) for the first time in its entirety yesterday.

    A Very Brady Christmas I saw years ago. Cheesy yes, but it wouldn't be the Bradys without a rather large serving of cheese :)

  4. Another set of great reviews. Do you know they turned White Christmas into a stage show (not as good, I don't think it translates to the stage well). I'll always love the Bradys because Barry Williams (Greg) once came to my house for dinner when I was growing up. True Story! And there goes my 15 minutes.

  5. Great picks...i am looking forward to seeing The Bishops Wife (the 1947 original), and Miracle on 47th Street(also'47) So far i haven't seen them listed on the tube. Have a great Christmas!

  6. My all time favorite feel-good movie for Christmas is It's A Wonderful Life. There are a number of comedy Christmas movies that I love with Christmas Vacation and Elf edging out a lot of the others.

  7. High five for Black Christmas, it has recently overtaken SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT as my new favorite Christmas horror flick as well!

  8. Jennifer Runyon as Cindy... blaspemy!!