Well, it's getting colder here in Missouri and the snows will definitely be coming on soon. When the temperature changes and it grows colder, I always wrap up in a balnket like most people and look for a great holiday movie to watch. Now, let em tell you, there are tons of them out there, and I don't just watch the mainstream stuff simply because everyone esle likes it. I will admit, there are at least a few ( and I mean a few !) that I do agree with. However, the ones that I really love are hardly ever shown anymore except occassionally on certain networks on television, such as ABC Family during their 25 Days of Christmas run starting shortly after Thanksgiving.
So, what I wanted to do was to show some great options ( other than 'A Christmas Carol', 'A Christmas Story', or 'It's A Wonderful Life') that will be great if you are a family person or just single and alone. So, without further ado, here are some of the greatest of the Christams stories that I have ever had the privilege to view:
1) White Christmas
I can't go through the holidays without seeing this film at least once. Now, while Bing Crosby was not the, let us say, honorable and nice person (according to his family), the man did know how to entertain. Having other entertainers such as Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Miles footing the bill, there was definitely magic to this film.
Trivia: When the film had just wrapped for shooting, the royal family from Sweden had arrived to see the studio as well as the final shoots of the project. When Bing Crosby was asked if they could do the last musical number again, he made a hasty retreat and said that he was going to go play golf! That's as bad as when Ashton Kutcher popped a top while he was visting the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans! Talk about faux pas!
2) A Christmas Carol - starring Alistair Sim
There have been many versions of this film shot, but this to me, by far , was the best one. This version filmed in 1951 starred British notable comedian, Alastair Sim. Origianlly called Scrooge, this black-and-white version that was made for television was what I would call the closest. Most version did not delve into the darker side of the story concerning the Ghost of Christmas Future. If they did, they merely gave you a brief glimpse and then moved on. They would either glance over it or would make it so comedic as to be insulting. If you have never seen this version, I would highly recommend it over the various versions that are available.
Easter Egg: If you watch the film closely towards the end, there is actually a scene that was done where the sound editor was caught on screen during the shoot! I thought it was HYSTERICAL! You may have to rewind a few times to catch it because it is very quick, but when you see it, the first thing you might say is 'what the duece?'
3) The Holiday
This film to me was another one of those hidden gems that people either didn't know about or just simply passed up due to lack of interest. Starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and the late, great Eli Wallach, the story centers around Iris and Amanda, a wedding columnist for a British newspaper and an overworked Los Angeels Movie Trailer creator and editor, whose lives have taken a drastic turn in the love department. In a happenstance meeting online to swap homes for the holidays, the two set off on their own personal journies where they begin to understand love, life, themselves, and what really matters.
Eli Wallach to me was also fantastic in this as elderly former screenwriter Arthur Abbott, who though is very forgetful ends up becoming a valued friend to Iris as well as a sage and wise counselor as she tries to sort out her troubled life.
This film is absolutely wonderful, and if you have not seen it, another great film for a different change of scenery.
Trivia: Cameron Diaz's first movie? The smash hit opposite Jim Carey, The Mask!
4) A Garfield Christmas
One of the most heartwarming Christmas specials ever created! Garfield and Jon heading to the farm to spend Christmas with the family. But, what warms the heart the most is when Garfield inadvertantly answers a Christmas wish for someone very special.
Trivia: Garfield's home, Jim David Productions, cannot be found on any map! The building itself is in the middle of nowhere in the state of Indian (where Jim Davis is from), and the only identifying marker that would tell you where the studio is comes from a simply paw symbol, which Davis says is Garfield's signature!
5) A Charlie Brown Christmas
This special to me is like tradition. Every year since I was little, I would have to watch this special. While controversial when it first aired, it is still, to me, the best special that was ever created for around the Holidays.
Trivia: This special almost didn't air, and when it was presented to ABC when the filming was completed, they refused to air it due to the 'religious nature of the content.' When that happened, Coke sponsered the project and later it finally aired on CBS in 1966.
7) Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
This little-known classic narrated by country legend Roger Miller, was done by Rankin-Bass Studios in 1977. The story centers around Nestor, a misfit donkey that no one wants due to his excessively long ears! Thrown out into the elements with his mother, Nestor's mother passes and he is left to fend for himself. Aided by a cherub, he soon learns of his destiny, which will be to play a very large and unknown part of the Nativity story.
This was a beautiful cartoon, and well worth watching. I have had difficulty in finding a copy, but I am still hard at it. For now, I was at least able to find it on the Web:
7) The Little Drummer Boy
In 1968, Rankin-Bass created this wonderful Nativity story about the little drummer boy, Aaron, who lost his family to marauders when his home was burned to the ground and everything stolen. Alone in the world, he only has two animals, a camel and a baby lamb, left to call family. But, when Aaron happens upon a couple of con artists who want to exploit his talent for talking to animals with the use of his drum, the young boy ends up on a journey that leads him to Bethlehem, in the company of Three Wise Men. When the boy arrives, he learns about the powers of love, hope, forgiveness, faith and humility.
The soundtrack, sung by the Vienna Boys Choir was stellar, and moves the story along with a beauty that I have never seen in a Christmas special.
Trivia: Rankin-Bass only got its beginnings in stop animation and holiday specials. Later on, they found phenomenal success as the creators of the 80's hit series', Thundercats and Silver Hawks.
8) Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas
This baby was made and produced in my home state of Oregon back in the hey-day of when the California Raisins were the in-thing. By today's standards, it would be passe compared to what we have available with CGI. But, Will Vinton was a master of clay animation, and this special is a very creative and impressive experience.
Trivia: Will Vinton was also the creator of the film The Adventures of Mark Twain, a film that documents two children as they have an adventure with the famous author as he travels through his books and thoughts, as well as overcoming a painful memory.
9) The Little Drummer Boy II: Bells and Drum
In this sequel made in 1976, we revisit Aaron as he tries to find the sacred Silver Bells that rang on Christmas day. Another great sequel to another great story!
Trivia: Rankin-Bass has also had many multiple successes with other shows, such as 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, The original Frosty the Snowman (narrated by Jimmy Durante), and also a not-so-well known Thanksgiving cartoon, Mouse on the Mayflower (narrated by country legend Tennessee Ernie Ford).
10) The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold
In 1981, Rankin-Bass made a very different Christmas story, set on the Emerald Isle and was told and sung by Art Carney (who you may know as Morton from the classic TV series, The Honeymooners) . The story revolves around a young cabin boy who accidentally releases a banshee when he plucks it from the ground for the captain of his ship. Now, the boy must do everything he can to not only get the banshee put back, but to keep the leprechaun's Christmas gold.
A great story that is very different for the holidays! The special is below:
Well , this is my top ten. What's yours?