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Monday, 09 December 2013

Christmas Movies for Elders

More tired than usual one evening last week, I surfed through television channels looking for some mildly distracting entertainment that did not involve reality programs, shopping channels, talent shows or other bottomfeeders of mindrot TV.

That's hard to do during series rerun season in December. Most of what I found were Christmas movies. Lots and lots of Christmas movies, almost entirely of the cheapo variety. But not all.

What I settled on, then, was The Muppet Christmas Carol released in 1972, starring Michael Caine as Scrooge with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife and a passel of wonderfully imagined Muppet town folk - some familiar, others not.

The official trailer gives a good sense of what an excellent production it is.

By the time the movie ended, I was sorry I'd come in late when only about 40 minutes remained but it left me wondering what other Christmas movies I would like to see again.

Not surprisingly for someone without children, grandchildren or interest in Christmas movies as a genre, the ones that came to mind are quite old – things I saw as a kid or young woman and that with one or two exceptions are probably unknown to young people today – and some I don't even like.

Like White Christmas, for example, but god help me, it's the first one that came to mind. Here are the stars, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen with the Irving Berlin title song:

More to my liking is The Shop Around the Corner, a lovely Ernst Lubitsch film from 1940 about two people who work together every day and don't know until Christmas Eve that they have been falling in love as pen pals.

It stars Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan but one favorite scene of mine instead involves Frank Morgan and Charles Smith.

Speaking of Jimmy Stewart, do you think maybe It's a Wonderful Life is the most beloved Christmas movie of all time? Here he is in the scene just after Clarence the Angel saves George Bailey:

There is also Miracle on 34th Street, about a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real deal, starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood when she was a little kid. I can't find a clip I like so, moving along...

We started with the Muppets Christmas Carol and perhaps it is fitting to end with the ending of A Christmas Carol - the 1971 television version from Britain with Alistair Sim as Scrooge:

Certainly there are plenty more but like I said, there aren't a lot on my list so I wonder if you have favorite old Christmas movies you like to see again and again.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Big Brother is Watching You

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A great list of movies (along with some great music).


Well, we used to watch A Christmas Story before it became famous & on 24 hours round the clock, so it seems. Still see snippets of it & find enjoyment. But once you can lip-synch the lines of a movie or tv show, it's time to stop watching.
Enjoy the season everyone!

A science teacher at the high school my kids attended in WA used to tell his students that he was going to show them "a safety video" the last day of school before Christmas, and then would show all his classes "A Christmas Story" while he corrected papers!

For movies, the 1945 version of "Christmas in Connecticut" with Barbara Stanwyck. I also try to catch the Christmas shows of old TV series - Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best come to mind.

One of our favorites each holiday season is "A Child's Christmas in Wales" with Denholm Elliott. It has become a holiday tradition along with "White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn"

"A Christmas Story" is still my favorite. My little secret is my other favorite is "Bad Santa" with Billy Bob Thorton, makes me laugh every time.

Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. We watch it every year and every year I see something to make me laugh out loud.

Ronni, I am confident you will enjoy Christmas Story. Do you remember Jean Shepherd from WOR radio in NYC? He wrote the book. The movie is hilarious and heartwarming.

Alistair Sim in A Christmas Carol is my all-time favorite. I watch it every year and know all the dialogue.

Well, my all-time favorite is a British short film starring someone named Freddy Finton called Dinner for One. The Germans show it on tv every single Christmas.
Enough said. Have a look.

I should have included Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott as Scrooge as one of our traditional holiday viewing. As many times as we have watched it over the years, for me this is by far the best production ever made. Even as an 80 year old male, it still brings tears to my eyes when Scrooge shows up at nephew Fred's home for Christmas dinner.

You've featured my two favorite Scrooges - Alistair Sim and Michael Caine. Watch these two every year, been watching Sim over 60 years beginning on a B&W tv when very young. Also love the Lubitsch film and that ending scene gets me everytime. Merry Christmas to all and peace in the new year.

I love the ones you mentioned and would include The Bishops Wife with Cary Grant, A Holiday Affair with Robert Mitchem, Holiday Inn with Fred Astaire and the Christmas scene in Meet Me in St Louis.

a p.s. there is an English-language version of Dinner for One at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1v4BYV-YvA

And actually, it is more of a New Year's Eve tribute, but it's for the holidays.

Very enjoyable post today, Ronni. Thank you. It helped (I've been feeling a bit "grinchy" this year). And I have to say I envied the heck out of Alastair Sim-Scrooge as I watched him catch a running Tiny Tim with only the slightest back-step.

I love to watch The Man Who Came To Dinner with Bette Davis and a great cast.

I have an offbeat favorite that's a Christmas movie only in that it takes place at Christmas time. It's called "The Ref," and features Denis Leary as a burglar who has to pretend to be a couple's psychiatrist during their Christmas Eve dinner with the family while he tries to avoid capture.

The couple are played by Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, and the movie is both funny (okay, it's black comedy) and touching--as I said, in an offbeat way. It was made in 1994.

Alistair Sim is the best Scrooge ever. When he gets giddy with the spirit of Christmas I laugh every time.

The Alastair Sim version was produced in 1951, titled Scrooge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrooge_%281951_film%29

I think Sim did the voice in an animated version in 1971.

Over the last few years, thanks the WWW, a cult following/mystery search developed around the character of Fred's Maid. She had no dialogue, but made quite an impression. Watch the scene on YouTube:

All sorts of theories and names were bandied about. She was finally found and recently interviewed:

Alistair Sim in A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites along with White Christmas and Miracle of 34th Street (1947). I also like Meet Me In St. Louis even though it technicality is not a Christmas movie. I try to watch in during the holidays anyway.

My favorite is Dicken's Christmas Carol no matter who plays Scrooge.

I haven't been able to get the song "white Cristmas" out of my head all month. It may surprise some of you, but Tucson did have a White Christmas about 27 years ago. (If you want the exact year, look it up. I don't have time now.)

A little over-acting never hurt anyone!

Glad you picked the 1952 version of "A Christmas Carol" with Alistair Sims. I think that is the best version that's ever been done

I think the only decent Christmas film, and one I watch most years as I have the DVD, is "We're No Angels". It helps having Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray, Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone and Leo G. Carroll in the cast.

And, although it's not really a Christmas film, "Pocketful of Miracles" is a delight...

"The Gathering" with Ed Asner is, for me, a tear-jerker. Not everyone's life turns out the way they wish it had...

A Child's Christmas in Wales is absolutely the only thing that has been able to get me into the "Christmas Spirit" for the past 10 years or so - It is the BEST Christmas movie ever. Try it and see is you don't agree. Signed, Scrooge

i have a recording of "a child's christmas in wales" recorded by dylan thomas himself that i never tire of hearing.

allister sims version of a "christmas carol" is a must. i like the albert finney musical and "scrouged" is a funny takeoff. didn't like ggeorge c. scott at all!

i'd like to see some of these...

"miricle on 34th st" movie and the made for tv version with sebastian cabot that is never on tv.

"house without a christmas tree"

i love "prancer" and it was made near here.

there is a wonderful british made for tv christmas time movie called "box of delights" with patrick troughton, who also played the 2nd dr. who.

i thought the cartoon version "grinch" was well done.

some good songs in "white christmas" and "meet me in st lois"...i'll be home for christmas...i was 3 and remember singing the title song and didn't we all want to be margaret obrian?

I love the films you mentioned, in addition, some of my other favorites are The Bishops Wife, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Miracle on 34th Street, March of The Wooden Soldiers and A Charlie Brown Christmas. I have not seen The Muppet Chrismas Carol or some of the films listed here, but I am a Christmas film fan, I hope to see some of them. YouTube makes old movies easier to find without having to buy them. Ronnie, as usual you have brightened my morning.

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