I’m not big on Christmas. Dr. A adores it and loves to decorate. We’ve learned to respect one another’s divergent views on the holiday. She also bakes swell cookies and I have a lethal fondness for eggnog spiked with whiskey, brandy, or rum. So, it’s growing on me.
After that ambivalent introduction, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about Christmas movies. For one thing, I’m a film buff, especially when it comes to old movies. For another, the politics of the day are a major buzz kill, so I’d rather write about movies than Dick Cheney’s latest insane rantings about torture. I would sentence the evil fucker to being locked in room with The Little Drummer Boy on a tape loop. Even Vice President Duce would have to admit that that’s torture. Pa rum pum pum fucking rum.
Here are ten Christmas movies that I either like or find campy enough to have watched more than once. They’re in no particular order. Just call me a disorderly orderly but please don’t compare me to Jerry Lewis. I’m more of a Dino type, only without the perennially burning coffin nail.
It’s A Wonderful Life: Along with Gone With The Wind, this is either a great bad movie or a bad great movie. I can never decide which but one thing I can decide on is this: Mr. Potter is my favorite character. His pure nastiness and bile leavens the Capracorn. My favorite line is when George Bailey bids Potter Merry Christmas and the old bastard replies “And Happy New Year to you, IN JAIL.” It’s such a good line that I almost broke down and used an exclamation point but the urge passed. I have standards, after all. Low ones, but standards nonetheless.
Christmas In Connecticut: It’s a farce in Christmas film drag featuring Barbara Stanwyck trying to con her publisher Sydney Greenstreet. What’s not to love about a film that includes SZ Sakall in the cast? There’s apparently a remake of this 1942 classic, which I’ve never seen. I hate remakes, especially when the justification is that the original is in black and white.
Bad Santa: I laugh like a demented hyena every time I see this bit of holiday nastiness. It’s the Christmas movie for people who hate the holiday as well as merry misanthropes everywhere. I occasionally threaten to name our next cat Thurman Merman after the dweeby kid in this flick. I just made that up but I should start doing so.
A Christmas Story: What’s not to love about this 1983 movie featuring a leg lamp? Its director went on to make the Porky’s movies; talk about downward mobility. Sheesh.
Nightmare Before Christmas/Polar Express: Two swell animated opuses that I chose to slot together for some reason. Actually, I’m trying to stretch the list by doing this conjoined entry of which the Tattler twins would surely approve…
Elf: Inspired silliness from Jon Favreau and Will Ferrell. It’s totally goofy and totally charming unlike the somber elves in those pesky Peter Jackson movies…
The Bishop’s Wife: I don’t usually like schmaltzy things, but I adore Cary Grant and David Niven and this stars both of them. They’re also in Gunga Din together but that’s not much of a holiday flick now is it?
The Man Who Came To Dinner: Now that I’ve gone all candy floss on you, it’s time for a cookie with a dash of Tabasco in it. The 1942 version of this Kauffman and Hart classic features Bette Davis and Cole Porter’s BFF, Monty Woolley, in the title role. It’s a tour de farce by the bearded former academic. And I’m neither pulling your leg nor your beard about that.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians: The MST3K version slays me every time I see it. It’s such a seasonal favorite that both Riff Trax and Cinematic Titanic have revisited it or is that re-riffed?
Love Actually/The Holiday: These are two of Dr A favorites. I prefer The Holiday because of the marvelous performance by Eli Wallach as a curmudgeonly old screenwriter. Love Actually is a film with many fine moments but it doesn’t quite hold together for me. Dr A, however, loves it and I love her, so there you have it. I do love the fact that the kid who plays Liam Neeson’s son is in Game Of Thrones. Every time he pops up I call him Love Actually kid. That’s worth something, innit?
It pains me as a Dickens fanatic that there’s never been a first rate movie version of A Christmas Carol but they all have their flaws. The best Scrooges have been Alistair Sim, Albert Finney, and Patrick Stewart but it just doesn’t quite work on the screen. Stick to the text, y’all, stick to the text.
I’ll give Aimee Mann the last word with her stirring rendition of a snarky holiday classic: