Holiday Favorites

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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domino harvey
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#126 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:30 pm

My dad pulled the ol' switcheroo and put the TV on Cheech and Chong, not A Christmas Story, during family breakfast this morning, so I guess we all have room for new traditions

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teddyleevin
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#127 Post by teddyleevin » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:50 pm

Got my family drunk enough to watch Mr Hankey's Christmas Classics last night. New traditions via intoxication.

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Emak-Bakia
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#128 Post by Emak-Bakia » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:33 pm

It's that time of the year again! My absolute favorite Christmas film (and one of my favorites films overall) is The Shop Around the Corner, which I've been watching regularly since I first saw it on TCM when I was in my early teens. I think it's one of very few perfect films I've ever seen, so I feel like its greatness is self-evident. Of the tangential classics already mentioned in this thread, Brazil and Die Hard are two others that I find endlessly re-watchable. Last year, I started a new tradition of watching Satantango this time of the year, since I've always got time off work in December. It was quite appropriate, watching the film unfold as the gloomy winter light, changing in intensity from morning to afternoon and then to darkness, seeped through the curtains.

My most recent discovery is Holiday Affair (1949). I watched it for the first time last weekend and was delighted with the gentle nature of the film. The two people vying for the same love interest premise is one that, in Hollywood, too often seems to end with one of the courters portrayed as the enemy. Holiday Affair, though, never tries to vilify any of its characters. If this were a different film, it would be easy to imagine Carl (Wendell Corey) trying to prove his masculinity by fighting Steve (Robert Mitchum) for the rights to Connie (Janet Leigh). Instead, the two men are always polite to one another, and Connie is always portrayed as a woman capable of making decisions for herself.
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In the police station, Carl defends Steve, even disregarding suspicions about Steve and Connie’s relationship by saying something to the effect of “that’s irrelevant to the matter at hand.” In the next scene, Steve compliments Carl at the dinner table by calling him something like “one of the nicest fellows I know,” (pardon me for not having the exact text in front of me at the moment) just before he makes a marriage proposal to counter Carl’s.

It would be easy for Carl to come off looking like a sap, but his character is handled delicately enough that I don’t feel that was ever the case. His actions seem to be not the result of some weakness of character but, rather, the result of his utmost respect for Connie’s wishes. Both of the men, in fact, always respect Connie’s words. When she asks Steve to leave after his marriage proposal, he does so without a fight. Carl, likewise, quietly steps aside when he later realizes that Connie’s real love is Steve.
The film’s humanistic spirit is felt not just in the central characters, but even in tangential ones that are common targets for ridicule. Authority figures such as the police lieutenant (played by Harry Morgan), with his memorable temple rubbing, are more likely to stir up laughter than contempt. Even the owner of the department store, Mr. Crowley, is, amazingly, a warm human being who is totally receptive to Timmy’s story. You can call it sentimental, sure, but this, my friends, is what the holidays are all about.
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Plus, the surprise Twilight Zone-style ending will blow your mind! :)

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#129 Post by ntnon » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:08 am

Michael wrote:I always keep my eyes open for undiscovered holiday films. Last year I discovered The Shop Around The Corner. For a holiday film that old, the Lubitsch film is surprisingly subtle without getting mushy and Jimmy Stewart is fantastic as usual. During my recent visit to DVDBeaver, Christmas in Connecticut's review came up. I simply couldn't resist the fact that Barbara Stanwyck is in it so I'm going to pick up the DVD.
I watched both for the first time last year, and can't wait to watch both again this year..! I've also been pleasantly surprised with the two Shop Around.. remakes: In the Good Old Summertime (Music shop; Judy Garland) and today the modernisation You've Got Mail (Internet; Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan).

I think the original is by far the best version (and best cast) of the three. The Garland one has some good moments, but is very long and drags a fair bit. The AOL product-placement version is arguably more... I hesitate to say 'realistic', (although that may be the closest word) and is also very much more sentimental and 'sweet' than my memories of the others. I liked that Ryan's shop was called "The Shop Around The Corner" - the first time; after that it began to grate..

Barbarbara Stanwyck's 'other' holiday films - Meet John Doe and Remember the Night are also excellent. The TVM remake of Christmas in Connecticut isn't awful, and it's almost a point in it's favour that Kris Kristofferson is such an odd casting choice! (I can't decide if Tony Curtis is great, awful or weird - possibly all three!)

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JamesF
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#130 Post by JamesF » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:54 pm

Having been introduced to it last Christmas, I fully intend to squeeze in another festive viewing of French thriller 3615 Code Père Noël (a.k.a. Game Over), a bizarre, violent combination of Home Alone and Rambo where a spoilt rich-kid tools up to defend himself against a psychopath in a Santa suit. Trailer here - seek it out if you can!

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#131 Post by LavaLamp » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:33 pm

One of my favorite underrated & dark Christmas films from the last several years is The Merry Gentleman (2008), directed by & starring Michael Keaton. Keaton plays a hit man during the holidays in Chicago; he sees a possible "witness" to one of his hits and has to decide what to do about this. Excellent small indy film, with fantastic acting all around.

Also on this list is my all-time favorite noir flim, Blast of Silence (1961) - this takes place during the holidays in NYC & also features a hit man....Hmmm, I wonder if Keaton is a fan of BOS?!.....

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ex-cowboy
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#132 Post by ex-cowboy » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:12 am

Fanny & Alexander and Where Eagles Dare

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domino harvey
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#133 Post by domino harvey » Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:53 pm

I recently watched the Upside of Anger (Mike Binder 2005) and I can already tell I'll be instituting a yearly tradition of watching it around the holidays even though the film doesn't focus directly on the season. Rather it embodies this time of year with its portrayal of one of the warmest, most inviting, and well-observed family dynamics I've encountered in a film, so much so that the picture put me in mind of some lost James L Brooks / Desplechin collaboration. A husband and father of four young adult daughters abandons his wife (Joan Allen) and family and the film tracks how the five women and Kevin Costner's sottish ex-baseball player neighbor function going forward as a newly reconstituted family in the wake of this shake-up. Every character is afforded such wonderful humanistic touches that even what passes as the ostensible "bad" guy in this crowd, played by writer-director Binder himself, comes off remarkably affable (and has a great monologue about the virtues of dating younger women) and relatable, and this is some of Costner's best work-- it's an absolute crime that Costner and Allen along with Binder's script didn't manage Oscar noms. I picked the disc up for nothing in the WBShop sale (which is still going on-- the film can still be yours for the no risk commitment of $3.59-- with free shipping) and watching it was one of those great, impossible to predict experiences of a movie being so much better than you could possibly have anticipated.

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domino harvey
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#134 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:06 pm

Great Atlantic piece on the inexplicable popularity of Love Actually as a modern Christmas classic-- I just recently saw it out of curiosity after much prompting by many fans and I was surprised at how awful it was. I'm not immune to the charms of romantic comedies or mainstream fluff, but this movie was borderline offensive in its messaging of "love" and the article is dead-on on several points. Also, for a film that seems to be enjoyed and marketed to such a wide audience, I was a bit surprised at how much nudity there was-- I'm guessing viewers on TBS or whatever don't even know Martin Freeman's in this!

If you really want to depress yourself, read the comments section, where anti-intellectualism rears its ugly head and "It's just a movie" becomes a defense :roll:

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Gregory
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#135 Post by Gregory » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:57 pm

The one from last year that I recall watching with family was Christmas in Connecticut, which lazily uses some well-worn screwball tropes and tosses around a lot of one-liners. The problem is that it's never really funny, and Stanwyck only gets a couple of brief opportunities to do anything memorable. Still, it was enjoyable and I'm sure at least a thousand times better than the 1992 TV remake, directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger!

This year I chose Black Christmas to watch with a bunch of friends, having seen it once 8 or 9 years ago. I'm having a tough time thinking of much to say about it that hasn't already been said in the horror list thread. I was disappointed to discover that the Blu-ray has botched (slightly out-of-sync) audio.

I also caught up with Frances Ha, which has a wonderfully executed Christmas sequence. I loved the impressionistic effect of the rapid montage of fragmentary scenes that convey everything that is effortless and comforting about finding security and familiarity in a respite with loved ones.

And then, a couple of days late, I finally saw Home for the Holidays for the first time (I wasn't aware that it took place at Thanksgiving, but that hardly matters) and was really impressed. It blows way past most of the "crazy family reunion" and "holiday season fiasco" cliches and creates real, living characters. The exception is the unfortunate Aunt Gladys character, as the film seemed to alternate between humiliating and ridiculing her and trying to evoke sympathy for her, sometimes within the same sequence. Hunter is as great here as she was in Broadcast News, and the writing and directing is nearly that strong as well. I especially surprised by Robert Downey Jr., who I don't remember liking in anything I've seen him in before, and his entire character and alternative family depicted in the film, which was surely a big strike against the film's commercial success. Another flaw, I thought, is that the Dylan McDermott character seemed badly miscast. But it's a film I'd recommend highly and one I'm sure I'll enjoy repeat viewings of.

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Koukol
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#136 Post by Koukol » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:27 pm

Does anyone else watch John Huston's THE DEAD based on James Joyce's THE DUBLINERS?

The story takes place during a New Years party in Dublin...it's Huston's Masterpiece.

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Terri
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#137 Post by Terri » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:01 pm

I'll add:

Holiday (1938)
The title really refers to a different sort of holiday, but the big engagement party at the center of the movie takes place on New Year's Eve.

The House Without a Christmas Tree (1972)
Okay, so this was a TV movie, but it's on DVD and Jason Robards is in it and it's good.

And I'll throw in another plug for The Bishop's Wife.

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Forrest Taft
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#138 Post by Forrest Taft » Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:08 am

Anyone here familiar with the Chzeck Cinderella film from the early 70s? It's on TV every Christmas here in Norway, and - having two sisters - I must have watched it at least 25 times. It is very charming, and a film it would be interesting to see in it's original version. Norway is not a country where films are usually dubbed, but for one reason the only version ever aired of this one has one actor, Knut Risan, dubbing all the voices. This is the version shown every year, and the print is old and worn, and also cropped I believe.

Another one shown every year the day befor christmas is a comedy short called Dinner for One. I always thought this was British, but it's apparently German, and according to the IMDB trivia page, has never been shown in the UK. It's popular in many countries though, but outside of Norway it's usually shown on New Year's Eve. Not excactly a major work, but I do enjoy Freddie Frinton's performance. It's another film they show from an old an worn print. I imagine showing restored versions of these would be unpopular, messing up people's traditions.

A third film I watch almost every year, is a very lovely animated Swedish short, Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton, written by Tage Danielsson. It tells the story of Karl-Bertil who, inspired by Robin Hood, decides to bring some Christmas joy to the down-and-out, by redistributing the Christmas presesents of the wealthy. Well worth seeking out by those who haven't seen it.

Edit: Whoops! I see I've mentioned the Swedish short in this very thread before. Oh well, I'll probably recommend it again next year :wink:

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swo17
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#139 Post by swo17 » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:48 am

RobertAltman wrote:Anyone here familiar with the Chzeck Cinderella film from the early 70s? It's on TV every Christmas here in Norway, and - having two sisters - I must have watched it at least 25 times. It is very charming, and a film it would be interesting to see in it's original version. Norway is not a country where films are usually dubbed, but for one reason the only version ever aired of this one has one actor, Knut Risan, dubbing all the voices. This is the version shown every year, and the print is old and worn, and also cropped I believe.
Three Wishes for Cinderella? It's an absolutely wonderful film. Libuše Šafránková is Cinderella.

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D50
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Re:

#140 Post by D50 » Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:01 pm

Michael wrote:I always keep my eyes open for undiscovered holiday films. Last year I discovered The Shop Around The Corner.
I just started checking to see if anyone else posted this. Plays on TCM in a few hours.

Wednesday, December 24 @ 04:00 PM (ET)


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hearthesilence
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#141 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:02 pm

The Music Box Theater in Chicago will be playing Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining tomorrow for Christmas. Completely forgot that the former takes place on Christmas.

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TMDaines
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Holiday Favorites

#142 Post by TMDaines » Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:36 pm

The Shop Around the Corner is an utter masterpiece. Why it isn't more widely known and more readily available, I don't know.

Wikipedia is pretty good for Christmas films: Theatrical Christmas Films and Films relating to Christmas. Seems like there were a surprisingly low number of Christmas films before the 70s and 80.

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swo17
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#143 Post by swo17 » Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:42 pm

It's on four different DVD releases in the U.S., but I guess none in the UK?

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Feego
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#144 Post by Feego » Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:37 am

The Shop Around the Corner is the film Warner Bros. should have released on Blu-ray this year instead of Christmas in Connecticut and the horribly rushed 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, but I guess since it doesn't have the word Christmas in the title, they didn't think people would go for it.

I don't know what it says about me, but the only Christmas movie I've managed to watch so far this season is Christmas Evil...

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TMDaines
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Holiday Favorites

#145 Post by TMDaines » Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:37 am

swo17 wrote:It's on four different DVD releases in the U.S., but I guess none in the UK?
Yup. You know me, I love importing, but it's really difficult to encourage people to watch this one in the UK. I was gonna get a DVD for my Secret Santa contribution at work but there isn't one over here!

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Forrest Taft
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#146 Post by Forrest Taft » Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:18 am

swo17 wrote:
RobertAltman wrote:Anyone here familiar with the Chzeck Cinderella film from the early 70s? It's on TV every Christmas here in Norway, and - having two sisters - I must have watched it at least 25 times. It is very charming, and a film it would be interesting to see in it's original version. Norway is not a country where films are usually dubbed, but for one reason the only version ever aired of this one has one actor, Knut Risan, dubbing all the voices. This is the version shown every year, and the print is old and worn, and also cropped I believe.
Three Wishes for Cinderella? It's an absolutely wonderful film. Libuše Šafránková is Cinderella.
That's the one, Three Nuts for Cincerella as it's known here.

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#147 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:32 am


AnamorphicWidescreen
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#148 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Thu Dec 25, 2014 6:10 pm

Great recommendations here, everyone.

Completely agree about Home for the Holidays (1995): Excellent, funny, and at times sad family reunion film set during Thanksgiving; Especially liked David Straitharn's cameo as the sad-sack plumber/maintenance guy with the perpetual, figurative rain cloud over his head - hilarious.
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I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe during the scene when the wacky, single aunt revealed that she had been in love with the patriarch of the family years before - extremely awkward.


EDIT: Also extremely impressed by Wong Kar Wai's 2046 - this film takes place over several Christmas Eve's & there are many references to Christmas in the film, including holiday lights/decorations, festive atmophere, the famous Nat King Cole Christmas song, green & red Christmas lights reflected in a window, etc. This is despite the fact that Christmas is not the focal point of the film...
Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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colinr0380
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#149 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:55 am

2046 partially is as well, or at least there is one great scene involving a tinsel-clad mirror! (Twinkling Christmas lights in the background also help make the 60s link visuallly with the 2046 stuff too!). And there is also the Nat King Cole version of The Chrismas Song, along with a Shigeru Umebayashi fast instrumental version of it!

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#150 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 9:32 pm

Technically a Thanksgiving movie but I watched Planes, Trains And Automobiles Thursday (in lieu of A Christmas Story, thankfully).

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