|Index||3 reviews in total|
You won't come away from this documentary about Christmas with any new
insight into Hollywood's take on the national holiday or the holiday
season in general.
Naturally, there are clips from all of the most obvious films ("Miracle on 34th Street," "It's A Wonderful Life," "Holiday Affair," "The Bishop's Wife," and "White Christmas"), and some brief glimpses of the darker side of Christmas with "Bad Santa", "Gremlins," etc.
The only bonus features are a few interviews by some of the participants in these films--most notably Margaret O'Brien who mentions her experience in making "Meet Me In St. Louis".
Another Garland film which should have been mentioned is "In the Good Old Summertime", most of which takes place around Christmas!) and even includes a new Christmas song. Another interesting example would have been a Gothic romance called "My Cousin Rachel" featuring a very important Christmas scene as a key moment in the story.
The woman who played Zuzu in "It's A Wonderful Life" and the little girl in scenes with Cary Grant for "The Bishop's Wife" also shares her participation in those memorable films--and Robert Mitchum's daughter mentions "Holiday Affair" which she only discovered after her father had passed. She liked seeing him tackle a romantic comedy.
But all in all, it's a rather bland take on the whole subject with nothing really new to offer.
A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas! (2011)
*** (out of 4)
The fourth film in Turner Classic Movies' "A Night at the Movies" series takes a look at Christmas themed films and we start off with a detailed look at the countless versions of A Christmas Carol. From this point we move to Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where we learn about how it was made, it's original release and why it took so long for the film to finally catch on. The rest of the movie deals with a variety of films including THE BISHOP'S WIFE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S Christmas VACATION, BAD SANTA, GREMLINS and even stuff like SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT and BLACK Christmas get a quick mention. There's also a small portion of screen time devoted to A Christmas STORY and Robert Mitchum's daughter talks about waking up in the middle of the night and discovering HOLIDAY AFFAIR. Overall this is a step above the first two films in the series but at the same time it's doubtful viewers familiar with these films are going to learn anything new. I mean, it's probably a safe bet that most people know about the history of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE so we really don't learn anything new here but it was still nice seeing Karolyn Grimes talking about the production of this film as well as THE BISHOP'S WIFE with Cary Grant and Loretta Young. Another nice story involved Mitchum's daughter discovering HOLIDAY AFFAIR, which is certainly one of the most up and coming cult films from the Christmas era. Another major plus is that we get interviews with Chevy Chase, Joe Dante, Margaret O'Brien, Chazz Palminteri, Deborah Raffin, Zack Ward, Brian Henson and several others. While this film isn't going to teach you very much it's at least charming in its own right and lets us see some interviews with those who made the movies.
Christmas special from Turner Classic Movies walks through the obligatory holiday perennials in cinema, with interesting background history on how the trend initially started (with silent versions of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" appearing in the early 1900s). Authors, actors, and filmmakers comment on pictures such as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street", though most film buffs will be one step ahead of the speakers. Notable among the missing titles is 1940's "Beyond Tomorrow" (aka "Beyond Christmas") and "Holiday Inn" from 1942. Former child stars Karolyn Grimes (from "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Bishop's Wife") and Margaret O'Brien (of "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Little Women") share some colorful tidbits regarding their films, but overall this TV stocking-stuffer has a been-there-done-that flavor.
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