How on Earth is it Christmas already? Wasn’t it just Halloween?
Seems like each year, November flies by so fast we hardly have time to soak it all in. Maybe it just feels like it flies by as the moment Halloween ends Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” comes blasting out of every radio whenever you turn it on.
Season tunes aside, it’s also time to break out our favorite Christmas films. This month I’d like to talk about a few little-known Christmas movies, but first, let’s touch on what we have coming for you at The Capitol in December.
We will have the return of last year’s wildly popular screening of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Much like last year, we have two shows for you, both on Dec. 8, at 6 and 9 in the evening. It hasn’t sold out yet, but don’t delay if you really want to come; we’re anticipating that both shows will sell out.
Also this year, due to popular demand, we’ll have “A Christmas Story” as well on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
I’m so excited we can bring both of these beloved comedies to The Capitol screen, and I hope you’ll come to join us for both. See if you can figure out what connection “A Christmas Story” has to the 1974 proto-slasher film “Black Christmas.” There is one — and I’ll tell you all about it.
I have three obscure Christmas favorites I want to talk to you about, and all three will be appearing on Turner Classic Movies at least once in December — your homework for the month is to seek out when and watch or record them.
I call these obscure, though only one of them is truly obscure; the others are beloved favorites in the classic film community that I hope to see become enjoyed by more people. These three films are 1942’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” 1945’s “Christmas in Connecticut,” and 1967’s “Fitzwilly.”
“The Man Who Came to Dinner” is based on the stage play of the same name and stars Monty Woolley and Bette Davis in one of her rare comedy roles. Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside, a noted radio personality, author, lecturer and wit whose yearly Christmas Eve radio broadcast has become synonymous with Christmas. Davis plays his assistant Maggie, and they both find themselves trapped at a house in a midwestern town as Christmas is approaching and Whiteside is nursing a broken hip.
The film is a witty romp with a wonderful cast and script. My favorite line in the film is after Whiteside’s nurse chastises him for eating candy he responds: “My Great Aunt Jennifer ate a box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be a 102 and when she’d been dead for three days she looked better than you do now.” This is a must watch for me every year.
If there is one movie I could about become a street preacher for, it’s “Christmas in Connecticut.” I’d go so far as to say that not only is this one of my favorite Christmas movies, it’s one of my favorite movies, period.
Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, the Martha Stewart/Ina Garten of her day. Lane shares her recipes in her monthly magazine feature and also shares stories of her life with her husband and baby at their ideal farm in Connecticut.
Only thing is Lane is single, can’t cook and lives in an apartment in Brooklyn. The whole conceit is a concoction of Lane’s and her editor’s imaginations. Not that anything was going to come along to ruin this ... until the magazine’s publisher decides that a stranded-at-sea war hero should spend Christmas with Lane at her family farm. Complications ensue, and what follows is one of the most delightful and charming films anyone could ever hope to spend time with.
“Fitzwilly” stars Dick Van Dyke as Fitzwilly, a butler and head of household to a rich widow who spends her days doing charity work. The only thing is the rich widow is actually broke and doesn’t know it. How is she able to keep up her charity work? Fitzwilly and the other house staff arrange elaborate cons and robberies to keep her bank account in the black. This is another little charmer that is a great deal of fun. It seems to have gotten a little more attention in the last few years, and I’d think you’d find it worth seeking out.
That’s all for this month, I hope you’ll check out my recommendations and I hope you and yours have a most wonderful Christmas season!
‘Til next time, I’ll see you at The Capitol.