Classic Films and Christmas
When it comes to classic films there are, of course, the Christmas standards that more or less hit us between the eyes with good cheer and flood our ears with the ringing of bells and carols, carols, and more carols. I personally have an inclination to the more subtle expressions of the holiday. You may be surprised to discover a few of your own favorites have holiday ties, not realizing the connection. And yet these very films certainly wouldn’t be the same all-time-favorites without the spirit of the season.
The first one that leaps to my mind is Meet Me In Saint Louis. The funny thing is that it’s a film that takes place over the course of a year but no one seems to remember this. That’s because the most memorable scene occurs on Christmas Eve when Judy Garland sings to Margaret O’Brien in an attempt to cheer up her on screen “little sister”. Through the song Judy implores us all to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It’s a lovely and tender moment that resonates with everyone who sees it. What could be nicer, or more memorable? And so Meet Me In Saint Louis has become a Christmas movie.
Then there’s Mame, or Auntie Mame. Both the Lucille Ball and Rosalind Russell versions (respectively) have a nice bite of good solid Christmas spirit in the middle when the main character meets her true love while working at a department store during the holidays. For that matter there’s actually a bit of Christmas cheer in An Affair to Remember. Besides the climatic scene at least the last forth of the romantic classic is dedicated to the season. And snowy scenery and beautifully trimmed trees decorating the great hall make Harry Potter’s first Christmas a shining one. Even Die Hard, I and II revolve around the festive time of year with Christmas music as backdrop to all the blood and a strong spirit of survival.
Yes, I like Christmas showing up as a background, a scene in passing that will pass again and again in everyday life. Perhaps it is better than a Christmas we take out the day after Thanksgiving and watch every version of A Christmas Carol ever made (though I admit to having a fondness for the Mister Magoo version). We overdose on White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, and dozens of cartoon “Classics.” Some of which in my opinion are more classic than others such as A Charlie Brown Christmas. It gets my thumbs up, but beyond that… ehh? Maybe I have just seen them all too many times. But, tell me, aren’t you glad when you can put them on the back of the shelf again the first week in January?
I like the Christmas that comes easy, warm and fuzzy, all year long, part and party to some of my favorite films. Start thinking about it. There are lots of movies with just that right hit of Christmas warmth (The Apartment, Meet John Doe, even The Thin Man) without turning the screen red and green and gooey. It is not that I want less Christmas. It’s just that instead of a little Christmas right now I want a little Christmas all year long.