This may be my favorite time of year for movies on TV. There are so many great stories that have been told and retold throughout the years.
A Christmas Carol – This is to me a great “parable” of God’s love and that redemption is possible even late in this life. The version with George C. Scott (1984) is my favorite as Mr. Scott has captured the Ebenezer Scrooge character with a good balance of cold, curmudgeon and redeemed man perfectly. But it is such a great story that the movie industry has given it many, many updates and variations on the theme:
- (1999) With Patrick Stewart beams in from his Captain Picard persona at Star Trek: The Next Generation. He brings a more “traditionally British” flavor to the story.
- (2000) Vanessa Williams pulls me farther out on the version limb with Diva’s Christmas Carol.
- (1995) Susan Lucci as Ebbie brings the story to the “ridiculous” but definitely good for a late night hot cocoa and my Snuggie.
- (2004) The Musical with Kelsey Grammar gets an “OK” from me and since I am so sentimental at this time of year, I do usually end up watching it – while surfing the web or playing electronic Solitaire.
Miracle on 34th Street – Black and white does not detrack from the perfection of Natalie Wood’s childhood portrayal of Maureen O’Hara’s “jaded” daughter in the 1947 version. John Payne is a little to affable for a lawyer but Edmund Gwenn sets the character bar high as Kris Kringle. Fortunately in 1994, Richard Attenborough was willing to put on the famous red coat in the more modern version with excellent results. This is a must on my viewing list also.
It’s a Wonderful Life – (1947) It’s hard to imagine that both of these movies came out in the same year. I make myself watch this movie every year because it does remind me of what my life can mean in the lives in others – for better or worse. The scenes of the city without “George” is a grim reminder of Edmund Burke’s warning: ‘For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good men to do nothing.’
White Christmas – (1954) rounds out my Must List during this holiday. Musicals are non-existent these days, due in part, to some fallacy that only movies with copious amounts of blood, sex, and high-tech special effects are worth producing. Great music and dance with a believable storyline, like postwar struggles and triumph, have stood the test of time to make this possibly the most well-known Christmas (non-animated) movie ever made. Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen could have taken the gold if dancing had ever been in the Olympics!
The Nativity Story – (2006) It is unfortunate that most movies that have been made based on Biblical stories fall short for me in their accuracies and agendas. I prefer to read Luke or Matthew’s gospels and allow my own “internal video screen” to provide pictures in my mind about what I am reading.