Wednesday, December 19

The Film Fatales Best Holiday Movie Picks

The Film Fatales are decking the Halls with some of our favorite holiday movies. Egg nog, anyone?

elizabeth: Each year cable stations around the country drag out some of our favorite holiday movies. Nicole, it is a real shame that these movies are not shown any other time of the year. My people handle the holidays a little differently.  Every July 4th, you could hear Christmas songs coming out of my parents’ house. After a while the neighbors got used to it and just joined in singing along with us. We weren’t allowed to date their sons for fear that this tradition could be passed on to their grandchildren. God forbid.

Nicole: That actually explains a lot. Don’t let the department stores hear you say this…they’ll push up Christmas sooner than they already do now.

Elizabeth’s Picks

"Scrooge": A Christmas Carol. 1951. Starring Alastair Sims as the best Scrooge there ever was in all of London and the world. 

An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by ghosts on Christmas Eve. (imbd)

There is only version of this movie that does justice to one of the masters of Victorian literature. Dickens’ novel is about a man in need of a little redemption on a snowy Christmas Eve in London. The B&W film makes the poverty and bitter cold of London even drearier and Sim’s brilliant performance as Ebenezer Scrooge is not to be matched by the likes of The Muppets, The Smurfs (this borders on being sacrilegious), Jim Carrey or Vanessa Williams’ take in A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000). I will give Reginald Owens, who took on the role in the 1938 version, a little shout out. I am doing this for my mother who was outvoted every year when it came to who was the best Scrooge in my house. She was so wrong.

But this is a beautiful movie and the life lessons in it are many. We learn that even the bitterest man can be saved when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future come a knocking. This is a movie for our time.  Maybe at this time of the year we need to reflect on what is really important in our lives – the love of friends and family or the coolest tablet ever made?  Can you imagine Scrooge with an iPad in the pocket of his frock coat? Or no prisons? Or no workhouses?

The Nightmare Before Christmas.  1993. Directed by Tim Burton.

Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn't quite understand the concept. (imbd)

The first time I saw this movie I wanted to spend a week inside Tim Burton’s brain. This movie is all about the unleashing of one’s imagination and the end result is Jack Skellington, Sally, Dr. Finklestein, Ooogie Boogie, Santa and the rest of this fabulous cast of characters. And kids of any age will love this. In fact when this came out in video, I got it as a Christmas present from a friend’s kid.  They knew a big kid when they saw one. 

A Christmas Story.  1983. Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin.

Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s. (imbd)

I remember when this movie came out. I had no desire to see a kiddie movie. But my friend Sharon kept on all of us until we made our way to the theatre. We all fell in love with the trials and tribulations of a nerdy kid trying to get what he really wants for Christmas. Man, we could all relate to that. I think the enormous charm of this movie is the love of family in a simpler time and a foul-mouthed father who gave the movie its edge.  In fact when Gavin McGavin passed in 2006, I felt a little sad. I never did get to ask him what he was saying when he buried that leg lamp in the backyard.

Nicole’s Picks

Holiday Inn. 1942. Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Majorie Reynolds.  

At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer. [imdb]

God, I’m such a sucker for a ‘40s Fred Astaire musical, and despite how much I love the pairing of Fred & Ginger – this remains my all-time favorite Fred Astaire movie. It’s probably in part because my mom made watching it a tradition in our house – a tradition I love to this day. Bing Crosby plays a hard-on-his-luck songwriter who leaves the big city for rural Connecticut where he opens a country inn complete with musical entertainment – but only on all of the major holidays of the year. Fred is his conniving friend looking to steal his thunder and go Hollywood. Nothing’s sacred – not even Bing’s gal. Every musical number is a delight. Part slapstick comedy, part heartwarming love story – it’s pure perfection. Especially the scene when Bing sings “White Christmas.” Tip: Opt to watch it b&w, not the colorized version.  

It’s a Wonderful Life. 1946. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed.

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. [imdb]

Come on – does it get much better than Jimmy Stewart running down Main Street in Bedford Falls—a new lease on life after having glimpsed a possible world in which he’d never been born?  A tale of how one man’s life has so much impact on the world and community around him. Frank Capra’s wonderful direction and Jimmy Stewart’s tender, yet feverish portrayal of George Bailey combined to turn this film into the classic it is today. I’m glad it’s played ad nauseum on TV every holiday season. It’s not only entertaining, but it’s message is universal and everlasting. No man is a failure who has friends… Indeed.

Elf. 2006. Starring Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan.

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity. [imdb]

Silly, silly, silly – but terribly fun…and so quotable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and Will Ferrell might annoy some people, but I gotta say he is just so loveable in this movie. Playing the na├»ve “elf” Buddy, Will gets away with a lot of crass, immature humor (every bit of which is hilarious). And as far as modern holiday movies go, this one’s pretty original in concept. If the doctor’s office scene doesn’t make you laugh—check your pulse. No doubt, the season’s going to be hectic, dramatic and stressful for a lot of people – so do yourself a favor, unwind a little by renting Elf and have a laugh. 

So, now it's your turn: 
What are your favorite holiday movies?
Tell us in the comments section of this post. 


  1. Miracle on 34th Street
    A Christmas Story
    Meet Me In St. Louis

  2. A Child's Christmas in Wales
    Miracle on 34th Street (original)
    Christmas in Connecticut (original)
    Holiday Inn
    Scrooge aka A Christmas Carol (1951)
    The Bishop's Wife (1947)
    It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    A Christmas Story