Holiday movies are on my mind as Christmas draws closer.
On my viewing list this year is to re-watch the 1941 black and white film, Citizen Kane. Numerous polls and respected film critics rank it the best movie of all time. So did my late father-in-law, Judge Darwin Maples, who introduced the movie to me. He rarely watched anything other than the news on television, yet in his opinion, Citizen Kane was worth watching.
One movie to couple with Citizen Kane is the 2020 release of Mank. Netflix produced Mank, and David Fincher directed it. Mank is the story of Herman Mankiewicz, who some credited with writing the award-winning screen script for Citizen Kane. There is a debate about the true author as Orson Welles claimed he penned the script while Mankiewicz was in Victorville, Calif. recovering from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Welles is indeed famously associated with the film. He directed it, produced it, and starred in it as Charles Foster Kane. Interestingly, neither Mankiewicz nor Welles showed up to accept the Oscar when the film won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
More black and white holiday films and some memorable quotes include “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends,” the key takeaway from the 1946 picture It’s a Wonderful Life. That one starred Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Don’t forget Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994) where Bryan Bedford said, “If this court finds that Mr. Kringle is not who he says he is, that there is no Santa, I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear.”
For folks wanting a laugh, there are plenty of Christmas comedies. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation debuted in 1989 featuring funny guy Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold. Elf came out in 2003 starring comedy actor Will Ferrell. Then there’s one that’ll make you laugh and tug at your heart at the same time, Home Alone. It came out in 1990 and character Kevin McCallister stole our hearts. The 2004 Christmas with the Kranks will keep you in stitches. It’s based on the book, Skipping Christmas, authored by Mississippi’s own John Grisham. I personally never tire of A Christmas Story, the 1983 hit where Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun and gets embarrassed by his father’s famous leg lamp.
In 2009, actor Jim Carrey brought to the big screen the classic story we had been reading for years, A Christmas Carol. In fact, Carrey portrayed eight different characters onscreen including Ebenezer Scrooge at five different ages and the three Christmas ghosts. It’s definitely worth the watch. Speaking of talented acting, we can’t forget Tom Hanks’ memorable voice in the 2004 Christmas movie The Polar Express. His voice rings in my ears like the bell does in the ears of the little boy. For a bit of trivia, we all know that boy, but who knows his name? Nobody does as his name is never mentioned.
I’ve never watched Die Hard, but perhaps I will this year. There is some hype stating it is a Christmas movie. The 1988 flick came out in July and was never marketed as a Christmas movie. However, fans of the movie’s star, Bruce Willis, are quick to point out it is set on Christmas Eve and the soundtrack is filled with Christmas music.
Hallmark movies really set the holiday mood. There are too many to name; still, one worth mentioning is Christmas in Mississippi. It’s set in Gulfport, and the storyline centers around the spectacular Harbor Lights Winter Festival.
What young or old kid doesn’t like the 1964 Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer or the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus tells Charlie his tree isn’t bad, “it just needs a little love.” And finally, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, both the 1966 and 2000 versions, remind us time and again that, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.”
I should probably add popcorn to this week’s grocery list.