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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teddyleevin
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#151 Post by teddyleevin » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:24 pm

Review from the other half of the couch after two episodes of Fanny & Alexander: "It's good but depressing."

I'm really trying to make this a holiday tradition. Really trying.

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Koukol
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Essential Holiday Viewing

#152 Post by Koukol » Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:24 am

Every Christmas Eve I watch the Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL...It wouldn't be Christmas for me without it.
But, a Holiday film I feel is neglected is John Huston's THE DEAD.
It's based on the short story from the James Joyce book THE DUBLINERS.
This film was John's Swansong which was made more poignant because of his health...he was dying.
This loving tribute to his ancestry was written for the screen by his son, Tony and stars his daughter, Angelica.
Being one of the most poetic films ever made it's perfect for the New Year as it takes place in the New Year and is about those we have lost.
My dream is that Criterion release this with the wonderful documentary of him filming it from his wheelchair with an oxygen mask on.

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Re: Essential Holiday Viewing

#153 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:55 pm

Koukol wrote:Every Christmas Eve I watch the Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL...It wouldn't be Christmas for me without it.
But, a Holiday film I feel is neglected is John Huston's THE DEAD.
It's based on the short story from the James Joyce book THE DUBLINERS.
This film was John's Swansong which was made more poignant because of his health...he was dying.
This loving tribute to his ancestry was written for the screen by his son, Tony and stars his daughter, Angelica.
Being one of the most poetic films ever made it's perfect for the New Year as it takes place in the New Year and is about those we have lost.
I usually try to watch the 1984 George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol each holiday season, but neglected to do that this past year. IMHO Scott plays the best version of Scrooge - but, there's probably a lot of nostalgia associated with this for me, since I first saw it when it played on TV back in the mid-1980's - and, IIRC this was the first filmed version I saw of the story. That being said, I think each version of ACC adds something to the story; for example, the Patrick Stewart version was interesting in that it included a couple of scenes of Scrooge's childhood - which, IIRC, may have been absent from the Scott version.

Thanks very much for the recommendation re: The Dead - this post has inspired me to soon re-read Joyce's The Dubliners (one of my favorite short story collections), & then I plan on seeing the filmed version of The Dead. This is possibly my favorite story in Joyce's collection, so it will be interesting to see how well it's translated to film...

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Re: Essential Holiday Viewing

#154 Post by Koukol » Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:30 am

AnamorphicWidescreen wrote:
Koukol wrote:Every Christmas Eve I watch the Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL...It wouldn't be Christmas for me without it.
But, a Holiday film I feel is neglected is John Huston's THE DEAD.
It's based on the short story from the James Joyce book THE DUBLINERS.
This film was John's Swansong which was made more poignant because of his health...he was dying.
This loving tribute to his ancestry was written for the screen by his son, Tony and stars his daughter, Angelica.
Being one of the most poetic films ever made it's perfect for the New Year as it takes place in the New Year and is about those we have lost.
I usually try to watch the 1984 George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol each holiday season, but neglected to do that this past year. IMHO Scott plays the best version of Scrooge - but, there's probably a lot of nostalgia associated with this for me, since I first saw it when it played on TV back in the mid-1980's - and, IIRC this was the first filmed version I saw of the story. That being said, I think each version of ACC adds something to the story; for example, the Patrick Stewart version was interesting in that it included a couple of scenes of Scrooge's childhood - which, IIRC, may have been absent from the Scott version.

Thanks very much for the recommendation re: The Dead - this post has inspired me to soon re-read Joyce's The Dubliners (one of my favorite short story collections), & then I plan on seeing the filmed version of The Dead. This is possibly my favorite story in Joyce's collection, so it will be interesting to see how well it's translated to film...
Great to hear.
It truly is beautiful movie.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#155 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:42 am

About a month ago, I finally re-read Joyce's short story The Dead, then followed that up with the John Huston film version.

Well, the film was amazing! Excellent & extremely faithful adaptation of the source material; Huston actually lifted a lot of the dialogue directly from the short story. I was especially impressed by the extremely sad & poignant ending scenes,
SpoilerShow
when the husband angrily asked his wife (A. Huston) if the reason she wanted to go back to the area where she grew up was to visit an old flame...she sadly responded that the young man had died years before, because he got sick from standing outside in the cold & pining for her.....then, the scene shifted to the husband looking outside to the winter snow falling, and thinking about all who had passed on & all who would pass in the future...wow, truly superb...again, the mental voice-over here was lifted directly from the short story...what a truly amazing film.
I don't want to say or even imply that the film was better than the short story because Joyce's writing is brilliant - however, to fully understand a lot of Joyce's stories you're almost required to have a good comprehension of the social structure/politics of the UK/Ireland at the turn of the 20th century (which I obviously can't grasp completely, due to not having been around at that time) - and, from that stand-point, the film was definitely a lot more accessible since it was visual - at least, for me...
Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#156 Post by bottled spider » Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:32 am

Koukol's & AnamorphicWidescreen's posts prompted me to watch The Dead. What a rich film. So little happens, and what does takes place almost entirely in two rooms, and yet, even without the lyrical closing scene, the film would be emotive and resonant in ways that are hard to account for. Time to re-read the story.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#157 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:47 pm

bottled spider wrote:Koukol's & AnamorphicWidescreen's posts prompted me to watch The Dead. What a rich film. So little happens, and what does takes place almost entirely in two rooms, and yet, even without the lyrical closing scene, the film would be emotive and resonant in ways that are hard to account for. Time to re-read the story.
Glad you liked The Dead film, bottled spider. Superb, and, as I said, IMHO almost as good as the short story - and that's saying a lot, since the short story was brilliant.

In an case, quite poignant & emotional film.

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Koukol
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#158 Post by Koukol » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:01 am

I'm SO glad you guys like it.
I've been requesting this title from Criterion for about ten years now.
Kino owns the rights (or use to) to a great documentary on the making of which never even made it to DVD.
The doc shows John directing from a wheelchair with an oxygen tube...everyone knew he was dying.
This film is perfect for Criterion as its not only the Swansong of an important director but it's John's most personal and arguably best film.
It truly is a great Holiday film for the New Year and an essential desert island film for me.
So far the best release is the R1 DVD but you've got to be careful to avoid the first pressing as a blunder was made and it's missing some scenes.

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Gregory
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#159 Post by Gregory » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:38 pm

Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
Naturally the initial reply may be this or that version of A Christmas Carol (I plan to rewatch the '51 Sim version soon), but I'd like to think that the old-fashioned British Christmas on the screen would never begin and end with Scrooge.

There are the BBC Christmas ghost stories of course. There are several films I could think of that feature someone at a Christmas celebration seeing a ghost, going all the way back to The Mistletoe Bough short from 1904 on the new BFI Nosferatu.

I recently watched the 1987 adaptation of A Child's Christmas in Wales and liked it—nostalgic without being sappy. Scenes of Christmas and New Year's festivities are central to A Long Day Closes too, so that's another one to mention.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#160 Post by filmyfan » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:35 am

Gregory wrote:Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
Naturally the initial reply may be this or that version of A Christmas Carol (I plan to rewatch the '51 Sim version soon), but I'd like to think that the old-fashioned British Christmas on the screen would never begin and end with Scrooge.
I have The Holly and the Ivy-but not watched it yet-hope to watch it this year,along with Scrooge-which I havent watched fora couple of years the Blu is great as far as I remember!

My holiday essentials are Remember the Night -just fantastic and BS is my favourite actress-and leaves me in floods of tears and usually un-festive classics like Letter from an Unknown Woman (plenty of snow) or Ambersons (snow again) and some screwball classics.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#161 Post by Minkin » Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:50 pm

Every year I try to ruin my family's Christmas party with another bizarre Christmas film. At first it was the beloved classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which seems rather mainstream at this point in time - now I gladly await the Christmas Story retail /product hell to develop for this movie (it seems like the US economy is entirely built upon Christmas Story or Star Wars products).

This was followed up by Santa Claus (1959) -which was also parodied on MST3K. Perhaps the first 15 minutes are the best -when you get the Its a Small World songs around the world (the highlight being the Latin American country with the rifles strewn about as country relevant decorations). The main story here is a bit too depressing, but at least you get bizarre gadgets in Santa's spaceship + some great interactions with the Devil's helper: Pitch - who is forced to make kids bad, lest he has to eat chocolate ice cream as punishment. Its nowhere near as fun as Conquers the Martians, but it has a great charm to it + tinges of insanity.

Last year I showed Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972). Santa manages to get his sleigh stuck in a sandy beach in Florida, without his reindeer to help him continue his journey. A group of kids come to the rescue by offering all varieties of animals to pull the sleigh: an angry pig, a horse that won't cooperate, a guy in a gorilla suit, etc. For no explained reason, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn watch from the sidelines and occasionally offer comments. The kids, dejected, are told the inspirational story of Thumbelina to cheer their spirits. This is the main event for this film -which is unfortunate, as the Santa story is far more entertaining. Thumbelina is just terrifying. Hideous costumed creatures jump about a sparsely decorated set with creepy sounding voiceovers. Thumbelina ends up in mole world, and is nearly married off to some retired mole who wants to settle down in life. Thumbelina manages to escape and all is resolved. Its just a really ugly looking 50+ minutes side-film with very unsettling costuming and decor. I do wish it would have been shortened or ignored. The Thumbelina story concluded, Santa is still stuck in the sand, only to be rescued by a firetruck carrying kids singing a song you can't hear over the blaring siren. This is being driven by the Ice Cream Bunny. An equally terrifying rabbit costume, which never eats ice cream, and just drives off with Santa on the firetruck, leaving the children for dead. This is predominantly an advertisement for Pirates World -a long closed theme park in Florida - of which you mostly just see what appears to be an incredibly dangerous attraction: a roller coaster where you sit atop a horse, without any visible means of keeping you on it as it whips around turns. Wonder how many kids flew off of it. This is just a great Christmas film. I'd perhaps recommend skipping the entirety of the Thumbelina section (especially if you show it at a party like I did -as everyone quickly loses interest when santa isn't around). Its probably the most bizarre film I've seen - and to think that this was somehow intended to entice people to visit some shitty theme park. I highly recommend it.

This year, I thankfully discovered The Magic Christmas Tree (1964) which is again similar in tone to the above films. Set during Halloween, some kid is off to heckle the neighborhood witch, but ends up falling from a tree while saving her cat. The grateful witch gives him some seeds which eventually create the magic Christmas tree. The tree can talk and offers the kid three wishes - which causes him to learn the true spirit of Christmas - but only after he kidnaps Santa, causing Christmas to be ruined worldwide, and the kid gets teleported to some wilderness where he nearly becomes the slave of some giant... Anyway, the film throws in bizarre comedic touches - like the dad's cartoon sound effect lawn mower which is paired with reaction shots from the kid's pet turtle. Or the kid's first wish is to have all of the powers of the magic Christmas tree - thus he turns night into day and causes vehicles to drive off by themselves - with their owners in pursuit. The cartoonish comedy really doesn't work at all - and only manages to make the film more strange / unsettling. BTW - the tree is very snarky/sarcastic (almost like a Dr Smith from Lost in Space) - which is probably the best humor in the film. I'm happy to have again found such a bizarre Christmas film that manages to maintain that strange tone yet innocence that these all seem to share.

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm hoping I might find similar results with The Christmas that Almost Wasn't (1966). Might anyone know of any other similar films that I might be missing? It would be a shame if there were only four of these things. I think there are some short films that are fairly similar that might work (a cursory glance has good promise for Merry Christmas (1950); Spirit of Christmas (1950); or Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen (1951).

Any and all recommendations will further help to traumatize / make my family hate me in future years.

How did we manage to neglect a Christmas mini-list project?

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#162 Post by Feego » Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:34 pm

Last year I watched Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out, 1980) for the first time. While it's often lumped in with Christmas-themed slashers like Silent Night, Deadly Night, it is actually more of a psychological thriller about a man who genuinely believes himself to be a Santa Claus surrogate who rewards good little children and punishes bad ones (only by leaving them bags of dirt). In spite of his good will, however, his warped sense of morality drives him to lash out at anyone who taunts him or stands in his way. Off the top of my head, I remember only two brief moments of bloody carnage. The rest of the film has more in common with Repulsion as we watch our disturbed, sad-sack anti-hero (well-played by Brandon Maggart) fall deeper and deeper into his Yuletide delusion. My favorite scene in the film involves Maggart delivering a load of toys to a children's hospital -- toys that he has stolen from the factory where he works. The hospital crew believes that he has been legitimately sent from the toy factory to donate the gifts, so they happily take them inside. He then yells out a cheeful "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!" to which the delighted doctors and nurses return, "Merry Christmas, Santa!" as a flurry of snow falls outside. Taken out of context, this scene could have come out of a legitimately family-oriented Christmas flick. It has all the feel-good gooeyness of a Hallmark movie. But placed in the center of this dark fairy tale, it takes on a goose-pimply irony.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#163 Post by A man stayed-put » Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:27 pm

Gregory wrote:Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
If you haven't already seen, it the Cushing/Morell (sort of) take on A Christmas Carol, Cash on Demand is fantastic and well worth your time. It's in the Hammer Icons of Suspense set.
Along with The Bishop's Wife and Ma Nuit Chez Maude (with the occasional M.R. James adaptation if time permits) it's a Christmas Eve staple over mine.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#164 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:21 pm

Minkin wrote:Any and all recommendations will further help to traumatize / make my family hate me in future years.
This comes with the proviso that I've not seen the full film, just the following video, but the recent Cinema Snob video on Ms. Velma's Most Incredibly Magnificent Christmas Week is a new eyepopping example of the Christmas film gone horribly, horribly wrong!

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#165 Post by reaky » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:50 pm

A few I've discovered just this year: We're No Angels with Bogart, The Lemon Drop Kid with Bob Hope, and Susan Slept Here, with Dick Powell. I also enjoy The Man Who Came to Dinner, and got quite a shock when I heard Ann Sheridan give a speech I recognised as part of the lyric from The Smiths' Cemetry Gates.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#166 Post by Izo » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:12 pm

A man stayed-put wrote:
Gregory wrote:Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
If you haven't already seen, it the Cushing/Morell (sort of) take on A Christmas Carol, Cash on Demand is fantastic and well worth your time. It's in the Hammer Icons of Suspense set.
Enthusiastically seconded, I thought I was the only person who loves this little movie, which I incidentally rewatched over the weekend. Peter Cushing plays the Scrooge role as a London bank manager and Andre Morell's charmingly menacing bank robber substitutes for the Dickens' ghosts, and they each give terrific performances that absolutely carry the film. If the ending is a little too nicely wrapped its more than made up for by the terrific (nearly) one-set suspense and the chemistry of the actors.

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Holiday Favorites

#167 Post by TMDaines » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:20 pm

I'm surprised just how few people have seen Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner; it's an all-time great film, let alone a great Christmas one.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#168 Post by Feego » Mon Dec 14, 2015 3:25 pm

One film that has become something of a New Year's tradition for me over the last three years or so is Garson Kanin's screwball comedy Bachelor Mother (1939) with Ginger Rogers and David Niven. The story begins at Christmas and continues through the New Year, making it an all-around appropriate movie for the season. Rogers plays a department store sales clerk who is one of several employees unceremoniously dismissed after the Christmas shopping season for services no longer required. On her way home, she tries to stop a mother from leaving her baby at an orphanage doorstep and is quickly mistaken by the workers inside for the mother herself. Through a series of screwball complications and misunderstandings, Rogers is saddled with the child and eventually implicates the department store owner's playboy son (Niven) as the father of her little bundle, much to his befuddlement and the joy of his grandchildless father (Charles Coburn).

This film was remade as a musical in the 50s called Bundle of Joy with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, but by most accounts it's a slog.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#169 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Dec 14, 2015 3:36 pm

TMDaines wrote:I'm surprised just how few people have seen Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner; it's an all-time great film, let alone a great Christmas one.
Well, it's MY favorite.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#170 Post by filmyfan » Mon Dec 14, 2015 3:39 pm

TMDaines wrote:I'm surprised just how few people have seen Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner; it's an all-time great film, let alone a great Christmas one.
Yep agree....love it..will hope to get time to watch again this year-is on my pile anyway!

Out of my friends/relatives...no one had heard of it!

Needs a BR release!

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#171 Post by Caligula » Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:44 am

filmyfan wrote:Needs a BR release!
Strongly second that, love the film as well

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#172 Post by filmyfan » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:16 am

Big Business (1929)

:D

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Cameron Swift
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Re: Holiday Favorites

#173 Post by Cameron Swift » Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:20 pm

Gregory wrote:Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
I'm not sure if it's been mentioned previously in the thread, but The Snowman is a childhood favourite. Nominated for a Best Animated Short Oscar in 1982.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#174 Post by beamish13 » Thu Dec 24, 2015 7:35 pm

Cameron Swift wrote:
Gregory wrote:Does anyone have any British Christmas favorites to recommend?
If you haven't already seen it, Bill Forsyth's Comfort & Joy (1984) is a must.

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Re: Holiday Favorites

#175 Post by Gregory » Thu Dec 24, 2015 8:09 pm

Thanks, all, for the suggestions. On the recommendation of Izo and A man stayed-put I watched Cash on Demand and found it to be the perfect kind of small-scale B picture, and Peter Cushing is great it in.

I saw The Snowman circa 1984, and it's still immeasurably better than something like The Polar Express. Raymond Briggs is a genius, but I haven't seen the 1991 adaptation of his books Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes on Holiday featuring the late Mel Smith.

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