I don't like to think of myself as a total sap, but when it comes to holiday movies I seem to like them syrupy sweet and starring Bing Crosby. What am I talking about?
I love those movies from the 1940's and 1950's that are my strange harbinger of the holiday season. The holiday movie genre pulls out all the stops when it comes to tugging at your heartstrings. These are tales of generals missing the war, elderly mothers from Ireland reuniting with their priestly sons, mistaken motives, unrequited love, all coupled with people bursting into songs often on elaborate Hollywood backlots. Here are my top three:
Holiday Inn (1942), my all-time favorite, is the movie in which the song White Christmas was introduced by Irving Berlin. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way through the holidays in pursuit of a special young woman, Linda Mason, who only wants the simple things in life:
"Linda: My father was a lot like you, just a man with a family. Never amounted to much, didn’t care. But as long as he was alive, we always had plenty to eat and clothes to keep us warm.
Jim: Were you happy?
Jim: Then your father was a very successful man."
How can you lose with dialog like that?
White Christmas (1954), follows two buddies home from the war who become successful performers. They unwittingly end up at a Vermont inn run by their former commanding officer and you can pretty much figure out what happens next. Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby sing, dance and joke alongside the Haynes sisters played by Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney. A favorite in this film is gazing at Rosemary Clooney's rather large hands that are almost always crammed into full length evening gloves. The white sparkly ones cause shock and awe in our household.
Going My Way (1944), stars Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O'Malley, a new priest, who joins a parish headed by a crusty, old Irish priest worried about being edged out. Of course, Bing wins him over, and in his spare time forms an angelic choir with the scruffy neighborhood boys. When Bing croons Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, while Father Fitzgibbons embraces his 90+ year old mother it is off the charts on the holiday sap-o-meter, but who can resist it? There's not a dry eye in the place.
What are some of your favorites? I think I need to get out of this Bing Crosby rut.
I think you need to slowly work your way to a very cynical Christmas movie. Start with "Christmas in Connecticut", then "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and finally "Bad Santa."
Thanks, Lisa. You're right, Billy Bob Thornton is the anti-Bing. I'll be staring my slide into decadence tomorrow.
I'm generally not a huge fan of Christmas movies (though I also love Bing in White Christmas and Holiday Inn - I think I just like musicals), so I was surprised to find that I look forward to seeing Elf again every year. It's unexpectedly good, mostly thanks to a great cast. Buddy the human-raised-as-an-elf is a great fit for Will Ferrell - sometimes his goofiness can be a little too over the top and obnoxious, but in Elf he's just sweet and earnest. It only gets better from there: Zoey Deschanel plays (and sings!) his department store co-worker; James Caan his curmudgeonly biological father; Ed Asner is Santa; Peter Dinklage has a great cameo as an enraged children's book author; the best of all is Bob Newhart as Papa Elf - the shot of a gigantic Buddy sitting on his tiny lap always cracks me up.
You might try "The Man Who Came to Dinner" with Monty Woolley and Bette Davis, a cracking comedy that takes place at Christmastime.
Thanks, always looking for a new one and this one looks great. I ran downstairs and have already checked it out. White Christmas has been on AMC so many times lately, it may take me a few years to watch it again : )