DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hooray, it's the Jungle Red Saturday List, and now that Thanksgiving is over, we are of course thinking about Christmas. But just to take the sting out of all the hoopla of shopping, wrapping, mailing, decorating, and sending cards, I thought we should turn our minds to pure, unadulterated pleasure--Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies, unabashedly, and would happily watch them non-stop for a month if I could find the time.
I meant to say limit your choice to one movie, but since I'm going to cheat and put in two, everyone else can, too.
Oh, so many to choose from! But my very close second spot goes to LOVE ACTUALLY, which I will undoubtedly make my husband watch at least once, and he will complain that it's incredibly sappy but watch it anyway, bless him.
#1, however, must go to A Christmas Story. Although this movie debuted in 1983, I didn't see it until my husband introduced me to it in the mid-nineties, and I've been in love with it ever since. It is a writer's movie if ever there was one, adapted from Jean Shepherd's story, "Red Ryder Nails the Hammond Kid," first published in the December, 1965, issue of Playboy Magazine. (How many of you knew that?) Wonderful performances from Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, and Peter Billingsly as "Ralphie." (Peter Billingsly, by the way, grew up to be quite dishy. Recognize him without the glasses?)
So, Reds, what are YOUR faves?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: LOVE, ACTUALLY, is my favorite. Absolutely. NO question, no second thoughts. I play the album all the time--and people say, isn't that a Christmas movie? And I don't care. Second? Ah...I'm stumped. I do like It's a Wonderful Life, especially the dancing on the swimming pool,but --shrugging. Sometimes I think it's creepy. (What can I say? He was going to kill himself, and leave his whole family?) You've Got Mail? How about that? But I don't like the ending.
JAN BROGAN: Miracle on 34th Street, hands down. What better fantasy than one of those shopping mall Santas is the real guy. And it's got to be the version with Natalie Wood as the little girl. Although I am a big fan of A Christmas Story, I still think my second place goes to It's A Wonderful Life - even if I groan a little at the length of it.
RHYS BOWEN: I have so many favorites, including "You'll shoot your eye out!" but every year I don't feel Christmassy until I watch WHITE CHRISTMAS and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. (And I also love Scrooge, but that would be cheating to slip another one in, wouldn't it :)
ROSEMARY HARRIS: So mean to make us stick to just two! I love all of the movies mentioned - Albert Finney as Scrooge, so brilliant.(But so was Bill Murray.)
A Christmas Carol - must be the Alistair Sim version and Love Actually. I will probably watch that twice between now and New Year's. "I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes....."
DEBS: Hank and Rosemary, I LOVE the soundtrack to Love Actually. It's stayed at the top of my playlist for years. I wonder what ever happened to that darling girl singer?
ROSEMARY: I had googled her a while ago! Her name is Olivia Olson and she's still singing and still cute as a button. Here's a link to her version of All I Want from Love Actually: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H_WKfRDA8w
HALLIE EPHRON: You've named all my favorites! Top of the list, I agree with you, Debs: A Christmas Story. Testament to its staying power: I saw in one of the store ads (K-Mart? Target?) that sexy leg and tassel lamp the father lusts after.
For a little less treacle, I like Home for the Holidays. Holly Hunter has to spend the holidays with her family, where she so does NOT want to be. Brilliant turn by Robert Downey Jr. Plus Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner (Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart at their most vulnerable) - watch it back to back with its adaptation You've Got Mail.
LUCY BURDETTE: Sleepless in Seattle, not completely Christmas but the holiday's in there. Going to watch Love Actually again, along with A Christmas Story and Home for the Holidays. thanks for the suggestions!
JAN: Lucy, I think you just cheated :) Watch out for coal in your stocking from my Macy's Santa.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I must be the oldies fan in the bunch. Two of my favorites are Christmas in Connecticut (1945) and White Christmas (1954.) The first one has the stunningly fashionable Barbara Stanwick who does what we'd call lifestyle blogging today. Except she's a complete fake who lives in a West Side apartment and who can't cook. Caught out by her publisher's offer to host a wounded vet, she has to scramble to recreate her "perfect" rural lifestyle - complete with husband and baby!
Everyone knows the second. How can you go wrong with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and Vera Lynne and the incomparable Rosemary Harris, all harmonizing on "Snow" as they take the train up to Vermont? It has all the hallmarks of the 1950's musical - songs that make no sense, silly romantic mix-ups, and a stage in a barn that's larger than Lincoln Center. I love it.
DEBS: Okay, I'm cheating--how could I have forgotten The Holiday? I love that one, and would watch it over and over just to see Eli Wallach.
I'm putting Home for the Holidays on my to-watch list, and some of the ones I haven't seen in years, like Christmas in Connecticut and White Christmas.
Sounds like a great alternative to shopping!
So, what about you, readers? No cheating--well, maybe a little... Tell us your faves!