Monday, December 12, 2016

Top 10 Christmas Classics

Tolstoy said, "All happy families are happy in the same way; all unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique way."

This, of course, as has been discussed before in a previous post, is bullcrap. Pure 100% unfettered bullcrap.

To prove it in this particular instance, take my family, please. Growing up, I had a distinct set of Christmas films. I would even go so far as to call them unique. The following list consists of these Christmas films, in no particular order; the numbers are not indicative of quality, simply to count them off.

#1 Captain Newman, MD

My family has, from time to time, described itself as "philo-semetic". that would explain why a group of Irish Catholic New Yorkers know all the words to "Hava Nagila," in English AND Hebrew. This might explain why one of these Christmas movies is written by a man named Leo Rosten.

This movie stars Tony Curtis and Angie Dickinson and Gregory Peck. If you can believe that Captain Ahab is the head doctor of a mental ward in World War II, you have a pretty good idea where this is going. This includes bit parts from James Gregory (Manchurian Candidate, Barney Miller), and also includes a bit part by Robert Duval, (The Godfather I and II, To Kill a Mockingbird).  Duval might also be familiar to people who remember the original film "MASH". If you do not remember these films, please go out and rent them, thank you.

What makes this a Christmas movie? Mostly Act Three, and the conclusion. The themes are present throughout the movie, but you don't see it until the finale.

#2 Desk Set

A charming little Tracy and Hepburn comedy, and one of the few times I really enjoy them together. It's computers versus people ... and it ends at the most wonderful time of the year.  Heh

#3 Bell Book and Candle

Jimmy Stewart is a book publisher, Kim Novak is a witch. Jack Lemmon is her insane brother. When Novak puts Stewart under her spell, the problem really becomes who ends up bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Largely a comedy that takes place over a week, from December 25th to New Years. Hilarity ensues.

#4 The Bishop's Wife

Our current generation might be aware of that particular abomination called The Preacher's Wife, which was not only a criminal waste of the acting talents of Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance, but was a flat-out rape of a good classic film. The original Bishop's Wife starred the always-charming David Niven (Guns of Navarone), Loretta Young, and the ubiquitous Cary Grant (Notorious, North by Northwest, any popular Hitchcock that didn't star Jimmy Stewart). If you have been fortunate enough to avoid The Preacher's Wife, an Episcopal pastor prays for aid, and he gets it in the form of angel Grant. Hilarity ensues.

This film also stars Monty Wooly, the Yale professor - turned- actor who taught Cole Porter. which leads to...

#5 The Man Who Came to Dinner

In this one, Monty Wooly stars as a beloved radio personality who makes Doctor House look warm and cuddly. He come to Small Town America, slips on the ice, and is trapped there. He is confined to the house of the family that was to host him, and proceeds to make their life a living hell, belittling them, their friends, their town, and causing general mayhem.

Also starring Bette Davis as his secretary, in possibly the only role I ever found her remotely attractive or appealing.

Also guest starring Jimmy Durante as the most bizarre deus ex machina ever. 

A more recent version stars Nathan Lane as the titular Scrooge, co-starring the ghost of Jimmy Durante. 

Speaking of Scrooge...

#6 Scrooged

One of Bill Murray's better performances outside of Ghostbusters, recasting Scrooge into the world of modern, cutthroat Wall Street, in charge of a major TV network. The four spirits that haunt this fellow cannot be translated into a Disney cartoon, unlike the original. His female lead is Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). It is dark, and it is funny, despite having Bobcat Goldthwait (okay, he was funny here, and maybe Police Academy).

#7 Lethal Weapon

Even though this film has not aged well, and is populated by more psychos than a Norman Bates family reunion, it has a bizarre charm in its use of Christmas carols. Yes, I grew up with this film. I can't really watch it anymore, since so much of it creaks, but it held up for years.

#8 The Long Kiss Goodnight

A female Jason Bourne, played by Geena Davis, aided by a low-rent PI, played by the grand muthaf****r himself, Samuel L. Jackson. It is a very 90s movie, but still holds up well. It's MacGuffin ... doesn't work today, but it worked then because it was the first one to do it.

#9 and #10 Die Hard and Die Harder

I've done two blogs on why Die Hard is perfect. I don't think I really need to follow it up. But while Die Harder feels like a rehash of the first one, it has some nice twists, an interesting cast, including the late Senator Frank Thompson.

Also, if you haven't already, check out some of the books below.


  1. I watch a lot of Christmas movies with my family. This list should add a couple more to our rotation.


  2. You might consider First Blood as a replacement for Lethal Weapon. It's aged much better.

    1. But was it anywhere near Christmas? I don't recall that

  3. Sure is. Check the sherrif's office dueing the in town battle. Christmas decorations.

    1. Huh. Never noticed. Then again, I was never impressed with the film in the first place.


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