This week has been odd in that it has really gotten away from me despite an oddly productive Monday. But silly as this sounds, the fact that Christmas was but a few ticks over a week away startled me Saturday afternoon. Whoops! After a smug smile at myself for having my gift shopping finished, I had to buckle down to wrapping said gifts (at which I’m terrible, something no one ever seems to believe). Then I remembered I needed to finish making someone’s gift and took on the task of making two more. Foolish? Probably. But if wanting to make people happy on Christmas is foolish, call me the biggest fool ever, yes? That’s part of the fun!
At any rate, I remain somehow behind with my duties, and didn’t get around to writing a post about my favourite Christmas movies (shockingly, they’re not all old!). Instead, I though I’d take a look at the week ahead and just highlight some of the Christmas best TCM is airing—and offer random commentary on a few other favourites, new and old. All of the pictures will be more…wintry. Mostly featuring Ben frolicking in the snow (blessedly, no snow here yet, though we’re presently under a winter weather advisory). Sound good?
Tomorrow, Thursday, is of course all Barbara Stanwyck all day long. I do not see the charming Christmas In Connecticut on the schedule at all—which is a real shame, as it is a delightful movie. *sigh* It doesn’t appear to be available on Netflix streaming, either, but keep your eyes open and you might be able to find and watch it somewhere. If you don’t have the warm fuzzies all over after that one, I’m not sure what can be done with you! Also, there’s another night of Ernst Lubitsch’s fine films during Friday prime time, including Monte Carlo (1930) and 1934’s The Merry Widow.
Anyhow, tomorrow night TCM celebrates Christmas in New York. Speaking of—yes, Will Ferrel’s Elf unexpectedly resides on my favourite Christmas movies list. Despite the few bits of gross-out humour, it’s a contemporary Christmas flick with an actual heart…and I inexplicably got choked up the first time I saw it during a certain climactic scene. Also, the reindeer in that movie! They were so…real. The special-effects work with them seemed quite wonderful to me.
- 8PM Holiday Affair ’49 I don’t know what it is (well, he’s good), but I like Robert Mitchum’s work more and more these days. He was an understated actor and, I think, doesn’t get enough credit. In this movie, he plays a one of two men war widow and mother Janet Leigh falls for at Christmastime in the Big Apple. Wendell Corey is the other fella, by the way.
- 9:30PM The Lemon Drop Kid ’51 In addition to being the premiere of the lovely song “Silver Bells”, stars Bob Hope as a racetrack bookie trying to raise the money he owes a mobster during the Christmas holidays. Based on a Damon Runyon tale, this seems almost bound to be very fun! Marilyn Maxwell, Jane Darwell, and Lloyd Nolan also star.
- 11:15PM Bachelor Mother ’39 Ginger Rogers is mistakenly pegged as the mother of an abandoned infant—no, no, this is a comedy! David Niven, Charles Coburn, and Frank Albertson star. Ginger had good comedic timing, as did Niven and Coburn; this sort of film is always perfect for her.
- 6PM The Man Who Came To Dinner ’42 SO many people have never even heard of this, and that’s just sad—because this is a scream. Monty Woolley is delightful as a curmudgeonly famous radio host who, after injuring himself at the home of people he’s visiting, decides to stay there—and is joined by an entourage ranging from penguins to movie stars as he meddles in the lives of those around him. This includes his assistant, Bette Davis, when he sicks scruples-free gold-digging beauty Ann Sheridan on Davis’ beau so he doesn’t lose his assistant. Fast-moving, hilarious comedy that also stars Billie Burke, Jimmy Durante in his usual whirl of frenetic hilarity (plus a song!), Mary Wickes, Richard Travis and Grant Mitchell. Do. Not. Miss. This. And I never do that period-after-every-sentence-thing, so do take me seriously.
- 8AM Little Women ’33 I believe this is the first film rendering of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved tale about the March sisters and their mother during the Civil War. Starring Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas, Edna May Oliver, and Frances Dee. Not necessarily a “Christmas” movie, but I know many of us associate it with Christmas, so here it is.
- 8PM The Bishop’s Wife ’47 Heaven sort of comes to earth in the form of angel Cary Grant, sent to gently nudge Bishop David Niven back into line while helping the Bishop and his lovely wife (Loretta Young) raise money for a new church. Another warm-fuzzies movie with fine performances. Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Elsa Lanchester, and Gladys Cooper star.
Christmas Eve—Monday—is when TCM starts to pull out the Christmas movie stops for us, from end-to-end. Whew!
- 7AM Meet John Doe ’41 Capra considered this one of his best films. It gets a little soggy toward the end, but it’s still very good—and stars Stanwyck together with Gary Cooper again.
- 9:15AM Susan Slept Here ’54 When screenwriter Dick Powell decides to keep an eye on spunky (and cute) runaway Debbie Reynolds in order to keep her out of jail during Christmas, all sorts of things begin to go awry. Gets a little odd in spots, but definitely fun to watch.
- 1PM The Bishop’s Wife ’47 If you missed it Sunday, here it is again!
- 3PM Holiday Affair ’49 Ditto.
- 4:30PM Meet Me In St. Louis ’44 Beautiful music, a great cast, and a good story make this a Christmas classic—especially the inclusion of the bittersweet “(Have Yourself) A Merry Little Christmas” and the very fun “Trolley Song”.
- 8PM The Shop Around The Corner ’40 Y’all know I love this movie. One of the finer Christmas-themed romances, and it’ll charm you every single time (whether you’re bowlegged or not!).
- 2:30AM The Man Who Came To Dinner ’42 You know the drill.
Christmas Day falls on Tuesday this year, and TCM’s lineup is once again full of appropriately-themed movies if you need some downtime (or a break from kids hopped up on sugar and excitement!). There are a few I’ve never seen—The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, Song Of Bernadette, or The Nun’s Story—but imagine they fit in with the theme.
- 7:30AM Going My Way ’44 Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley confronts—and wins over—an older priest (Barry Fitzgerald) and a crumbling parish. It’s sentimental, but…it’s also Christmas, and this is a fine script. In addition to Oscars for Crosby, Fitzgerald, and Best Picture, Going My Way also picked up the Oscar for best song, one that I’ve always loved: “Swinging On A Star”. The sequel to this is Bells of St. Mary’s, which I also like (though it’s not airing this day).
For whatever reason, our culture has decided that everything Christmas must be Gone By The Day After, a philosophy I simply cannot subscribe to. But TCM hasn’t anything Christmas-y on the next day, alas (though the Judy Holliday and Dean Martin comedy Bells Are Ringing airs at noon Wednesday) , but don’t let that stop you from watching a few Christmas favourites if you’ve missed them. I think easing our way out of the joyous Christmas season makes much more sense and hold it against no one (and heck, a great movie is a great movie!). I’ve still yet to watch Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (can’t help myself!), the aforementioned Christmas In Connecticut, and my very favourite, It’s A Wonderful Life. Perhaps while making goodies this weekend. 😉