By Candace Wiggins, Tawfik Zone Contributor
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”, 1965. One of the best. You know this one. If not… time’s a wastin’. This year is the 50th anniversary of this staple and the network has pulled out all stops with a salute, as stars and celebs sing songs against a backdrop of the Peanuts special itself. This introduced the now-classic “Christmas Time is Here” by the inimitable Vince Guaraldi and is, simply put, a fun offering without being saccharine.
“Holiday Inn”, 1942. This B&W film features Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire as a songwriting team with a young Marjorie Reynolds. And the most popular song ever, “White Christmas”, is written and sung in a charming scene. But when I finally saw the unedited print a couple of years ago, there was a scene where Bing and Fred and the wait staff at the hotel put on a minstrel show with our heroes as the holiday headliners. You read that right. People in blackface when it was still considered okay to do that. Nothing says The Holidays like white privilege.
“The Bishop’s Wife”, 1947. Charming fantasy with a heavenly (literally) Cary Grant as Dudley, an angel sent to help David Niven’s stressed-out minister. Some great sequences and a nice turn by Elsa Lanchester as the housemaid. The trimming of the tree by Dudley is still pretty fantastic and this is pre-CGI. Pure magic.
“Scrooged”, 1988. Because, Bill Murray.
“A Christmas Carol”, 1999. TNT’s made for TV movie has Patrick Stewart as the best Scrooge I’ve seen. Ever. Yes, I know I am Sacrilege Incarnate for saying he’s better than Alastair Sim but that’s how I roll.
“How The Grinch Stole Christmas” always warms the cockles of my black little heart and I have a friend who always sends me cards addressed to “Little Candy Lou Who”. Plus, Boris Karloff narrates and Thurl Ravenscroft sings one of the best paeans to curmudgeonry ever. What’s not to like?
“Rare Exports”, 2010. Do yourself a favour and watch this gem. It’s a very different Christmas story from Norway where a mountain excavation uncovers the real Santa who is quite, QUITE different from the jolly old St. Nicholas we all know and love. A great blend of comedy and horror told from a young boy’s POV.
“Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony Christmas Carol”… probably one of my favourites although I rarely watch it. From the Pre-code era, and barely 8 minutes long, it’s worth the view. One of the hot toys is a zeppelin. Check it out.
“The Snow Queen”. The 1950s Russian animated film. Rarely seen in its intended form now, it was “revamped” for American audiences with new music, and — horror of horrors — the dubbed voices of America’s then-sweethearts, Tommy Kirk and Sandra Dee. I kid you not. But other than that, T and I both saw the original version and there is no way to impress upon you how good it is. Incredible.
I have favourite television shows just like everyone else and I almost always enjoy their Christmas episodes. Solving murders while decorating the office and making peace with mom and dad issues is de rigeur for holiday fare, especially for CBS primetime. One of my LEAST favourite Christmas eps, however, was from My So Called Life wherein a visiting angel is actually the ghost of a young geetar-strumming runaway who froze to death after a fight with her mother… boohoo. The next week, OTOH, was the New Year’s episode, one of my favourites. Go figure.
Happy holidays, however you do it.