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Christmas Movie Talk

Christmas Movie Talk

Earlier this week I chatted about holiday films with my
friend and colleague Alonso Duralde, author of the book Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas. He has some interesting
historical tidbits to share on our YouTube video. Then my daughter Jessie
invited you to submit your “go-to” Christmas movies on Twitter and Facebook.
Check out the results, and my list of unsung and underappreciated Christmas
movies, in our second YouTube posting for the week. If you like what you see, I
invite you to subscribe to the channel, and you’ll be notified every time we
release a new video.

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mike schlesinger

I'd like to throw in one from way out in left field: CASH ON DEMAND, a 1962 Hammer film that reworks "A Christmas Carol" as a bank-heist thriller, with Peter Cushing as the Scrooge-like bank manager who abuses his staff and Andre Morrell as the robber who teaches him a thing or two about humanity. It is absolutely sui generis and played completely straight.

Slightly more traditionally, sad that nobody ever mentions THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.

Jim Reinecke

Thank you, Leonard, for mentioning REMEMBER THE NIGHT, a terrific film that I've always admired. And as this is the first time that I've had the pleasure of listening to Jessie join you, I must say that that's one witty, delightfully acerbic daughter that you have. (The "two Jews" comment was a hoot.) Bravo, Jessie! And now for a confession regarding a really offbeat film for Christmas. I remember about a decade ago, just for the sake of being different, I spent Christmas Eve watching von Stroheim's GREED. No kidding! (Hey, folks, a very key scene takes place on Christmas in that one!) Just the sort of thing guaranteed to spread holiday cheer, right? Oh, well. . . Happy holidays to you and your family, Leonard!

Daniel Delago

I'll be seeing and reviewing 'The Wolf of Wall Street" on Christmas Day. What an appropriate film for the holidays! It's about greed and deception. It is perfect as mass consumers knock each other over at the malls for that useless last-minute gift idea.

Kelly J Kitchens

Two films that found me rather recently are HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) with Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum and Wendell Corey and IT HAPPENED ON 5th AVENUE (1947) with Charles Ruggles, Anne Harding and Alan Hale Jr (The Skipper from "Gilligan's Island"), Don DeFore (you might remember as the dad on "Hazel") and the huggable Victor Moore as Aloysius T. McKeever are 2 new go-to Christmas movies for my husband and me.

PS – I'm surprised people brought up EASTER PARADE and not MEET ME IN ST LOUIS (another of my go-to Christmas movies, but that has been since I first had it on VHS in the '80s)!


12/22/2013 2:04am Leonard and Jessie Maltin , Alonso Duralde
I have Duralde's book, " Have Yourself A Movie Little Christmas" I like the fact he includes so may films, even TV films like, " The Homecoming, A Christmas Story 1971 Walton family movie. Jessie and Leonard mention "A Christmas Tale" 2008 French film. What did this have
to do with Disney's TV special "Prep and Landing," they have no connection whatsoever. One is half TV Xmas special the other a 2 hour 32 min movie, plots are so completely different.


I would also include " Serendipity " well, it's begins at Christmas and ends at Christmas so to me it's a Christmas movie :)

Max Fraley

To me IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a stand alone on a singular pedestal. That being said I enthusiastically vote for "best support" awards to James Knuttel's choice of John Ford's western themed parable, THREE GODFATHER'S and Jean Shepard's Hoosier toned, ever so clever and downright funny A CHRISTMAS STORY. May all three be forever available to see for the generations to come.

James Knuttel

Here are some out-of-the-ordinary choices for my list of favorite Christmas films. First, two John Wayne/John Ford movies: "3 Godfathers" (1948) and "Donovan's Reef" (1963). Then, a Roy Rogers western: "Trail of Robin Hood" (1951).

In response to Mr. Moreno's comment, I like the Patrick Stewart version of "A Christmas Carol" a great deal.

A final item: Not a movie, but the music video of Paul McCartney's song "Pipes of Peace". It shows Macca in a dual role as a British soldier and a German soldier during the World War I Christmas truce of 1914.

Albert Sanchez Moreno

How did you like Patrick Stewart's 1999 television version of "A Christmas Carol"? I thought it was quite excellent; better than George C. Scott's.

Rob Edelman

Each year around this time, Audrey and I watch what has become one of our favorite holiday films: LOVE ACTUALLY.

This film always draws me in– from its opening moments on. There is a bit of narration (by Hugh Grant, who plays the new British Prime Minister) that is extremely fitting, given that LOVE ACTUALLY was made soon after 9/11. The film is connected to 9/11 in this way– and I will add that the beginning of the film bookends the images we see at the end. In this regard, LOVE ACTUALLY brilliantly and touchingly (in my view) connects the actors and the characters they play to real people who are greeting loved ones in airports.

Is LOVE ACTUALLY a perfect film? Well, no. But it is filled with plenty of wonderful moments, and I never get tired of seeing it. I would say that it has become, next to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, my all-time favorite December film. (I love how IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE stresses that every individual is important. You don't have to be wealthy or famous or whatever to positively impact others– and to live a "wonderful life." To my way of thinking, this is a very important message– particularly in our contemporary culture.)


You didn't mention what we consider to be the best Christmas movie, "The Bishop's Wife," with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. How can you possibly ignore this wonderful movie. It has everything, angels, Christmas trees, miracles, etc.


I know you are disqualifying the TV specials like Rudolph, but we should give a shout-out to all of the Rankin-Bass animated and puppetoon spectaculars of the sixties and seventies since they kept some top movie stars as familiar voices for younger generations. In addition to Burl Ives in the most famous one from 1964, we also had Roddy McDowell, Greer Garson, Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney (in more than one), Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton… Intriguingly, there does seem to be a curiously high percentage of ex-MGM employees involved in these small screen musicals. Maybe because they were the last of that breed of movie-making and allowed them to still utilize their best vocal talents in a different era.

I was re-watching THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUSE (1974, Rooney and Shirley Booth) recently and caught some startling blink-and-you-miss "Easter Eggs"… er… maybe that is wrong word for this holiday, I guess. In the South Town USA scene "set before you were born", we see… what appears to be… some sort of Charlie Chaplin puppet in a crowd, complete with cane. This is when the mayor is singing about snow in South Town. I view this as wink to the grandparents watching this back when Nixon was president, still remembering the era just before the first world war… and obviously among those watching. Of course, we kids all knew about Chaplin, but this is nice "period dating" along with the fashions on display. Also… later… Santa shows some preference for a Japanese newspaper over an English language one when reading the support he gets for taking a holiday. This is because most of the production of these TV specials was done in Japan, but very few over there got any credit acknowledgement on the American TV screens.

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