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Published November 30th 2012
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas movies
The movie factories churn out films every Christmas; some endure and some are just too terrible to consider watching more than once. We all have our own particular favourites and here are some of mine, in no particular order. Feel free to comment and add your own to the list.
The first one that springs to mind is White Christmas from 1954. What could be more synonymous with Christmas than this film, starring the man who presented an annual Christmas show on American television for many years? It may appear rather contrived and was a perfect excuse to reprise the title song that was first heard in the film Holiday Inn 12 years previously.
White Christmas (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
Remaining with the Christmas song theme, Meet me in St Louis, starring Judy Garland has one famous Christmassy scene, the one where she sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Okay, so that's enough of the nostalgia for those lavish old films where actors would break into song at the drop of a hat. It's time to move on to Charles Dickens, a man who practically invented Christmas all on his own with his story of A Christmas Carol. This tale his been adapted over and over again, but I can never resist the 1951 filmed version called Scrooge starring Alastair Sim. It delivers the perfect moral message to all those who don't think of others and is crammed full with English character actors of the period, including George Cole, Hermione Baddeley, Patrick Macnee, Michael Hordern and Kathleen Harrison.
Fast forward to 1999 and it was time for a remake reverting to the original name and starring Patrick Stewart as the old miser who learns how to be benevolent and altruistic. Members of the supporting cast included Richard E Grant, Joel Grey, Dominic West, Elizabeth Spriggs and Celia Imrie.
Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol (Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Between these two interpretations, Richard Donner directed Bill Murray in Scrooged, in a twentieth century re-working of the story of a TV executive. References to his earlier success in Ghostbusters were reinforced with the movie's tagline "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one."
The Muppet Christmas Carol, a musical comedy from 1992 remains faithful to the original tale with a cast performed by a mixture of actors (including Michael Caine) and various Muppets.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia)
In a less festive mood, if somebody buys you a furry Mogwai for Christmas you must remember not to expose it to light, get it wet or feed it after midnight. In the film Gremlins (from 1984 – an apocalyptic year) havoc ensues when Billy is given one of these creatures and accidentally allows it to get wet.
Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, an animated cartoon, has been shown on television practically every year since 1982. It is also regularly performed on stage and has been published as an illustrated book. It is a tale of pure innocence, of a young boy who builds a snowman that comes to life, is taken by him to the North Pole, and has to accept that he will melt away when the weather gets warmer.
The Snowman (Picture courtesy of snowman.co.uk)
I love the animated Father Christmas also created by Briggs, based on his graphic novel of the same name and voiced by Mel Smith. It's the tale of a rather curmudgeonly, grumpy man in a red suit who is working towards 'another bloomin' Christmas'. It's his job and nobody else can do it.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a couple of tear jerkers so I'll start you off with Miracle on 34th Street. This has been filmed twice, in 1947 and again in 1994. The original stars Maureen O'Hara and the remake Richard Attenborough. It tells the story of Kris Kringle, a man who plays the part of Santa Claus in Macy's Department Store. His claim to really be Santa is disbelieved and he is confined to a mental asylum but is released after a court hearing and it is up to the viewer to judge whether he really is who he claims to be.
Miracle on 34th Street (Picture courtesy of imdb.com)
The ultimate Christmas tear jerker is arguably Frank Capra's 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life. James Stewart plays George, an altruistic man who has always put others before himself. His suicide attempt on Christmas Eve is thwarted by his guardian angel, who shows him the difference he has made to so many people throughout his life.
Sit back and enjoy and let me know what you think. Oh and you may need to keep some tissues to hand when watching some of these films.