Turner Classic Movies has quite a lineup of Christmas movies in store this month!
Christmas films will be shown in prime time on Tuesdays, starting December 6th. Christmas movies will also be shown on Sunday mornings beginning tomorrow, December 4th, as well as on December 22nd-25th and several other dates on the calendar. Three consecutive Mondays celebrating the Charles Dickens Bicentennial will include various versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Some of the most popular titles, including A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938), CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), and HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949), will be shown multiple times in December. Be sure to consult the TCM schedule for complete listings.
With so many Christmas titles scattered throughout the schedule, it can be difficult to keep track! For the convenience of interested movie fans, here's an overview of the wonderful holiday-related movies showing on TCM this month:
...The lineup on Sunday morning, December 4th, contains a good title not often shown at Christmas: MR. SOFT TOUCH (1949) starring Glenn Ford and Evelyn Keyes. Ford is a WWII vet who runs into trouble with the mob and hides out in a settlement house at Christmastime. I was fortunate to see this at the Noir City Film Festival earlier this year.
The other titles on the 4th are FITZWILLY (1967) with Dick Van Dyke, which is one of my children's favorites, and THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), which is in my top two or three most favorite Christmas movies. It's an exceptionally lovely film, and when I hear the familiar voices and dialogue it really feels like Christmas. THE BISHOP'S WIFE stars Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven.
...The Dickens Bicentennial Celebration kicks off on the 5th with several films including the MGM version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938). This short and sweet version is one of my favorites. It stars Reginald Owen as Scrooge and the Lockharts (Gene, Kathleen, and June) as the Cratchits. Ann Rutherford was cast as an atypical Ghost of Christmas Past.
...TCM's brand-new special A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: MERRY CHRISTMAS! (2011) will kick off the prime time lineup on Tuesday, December 6th. It will be reprised December 18th and 20th.
The rest of the evening has a "Christmas Kids" theme, with the lineup including A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983), the classics MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), and Margaret O'Brien in TENTH AVENUE ANGEL (1948). I love Margaret O'Brien but last time I saw it I have to admit I found TENTH AVENUE ANGEL pretty sappy.
...December 9th the centennial of Oscar-winning actor Broderick Crawford's birth is celebrated. The Crawford titles that night include LARCENY, INC. (1942); the film's Christmas Eve finale finds Crawford and Edward G. Robinson hiding from the bad guys by wearing Santa Claus suits.
...Sunday morning, December 11th features NEVER SAY GOODBYE (1946), a romantic comedy about the reunion of a divorced couple, played by Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker. Christmas Eve finds Flynn running around in a Santa costume!
That's followed by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae in the wonderful musical ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951), based on stories by Booth Tarkington. Day's father is played by Leon Ames of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS; Rosemary DeCamp is her mother. Doris sings the lovely "Merry Christmas All."
The 11th is also the month's first showing of CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. Whenever I see the latter film I have the urge to make pancakes!
...The Dickens festival on Monday the 12th includes the TCM premiere of the 1951 Alastair Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I've not yet seen this version but there are those who consider it the best of all CHRISTMAS CAROL films.
That's followed by another showing of FITZWILLY (1967), and then THE GREAT RUPERT (1950), a film I've never seen which stars Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake, and Terry Moore.
The evening closes out with Debbie Reynolds and Dick Powell in SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954) -- check out the gorgeous 1950s set design and Christmas decorating -- and PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962) starring Jane Fonda, Tony Franciosa, Jim Hutton, and Lois Nettleton.
...Friday, December 16th, there's an evening of "Christmas Romance," reprising THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947) and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945), followed by the month's first showing of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940). SHOP stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in the story also used in IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, SHE LOVES ME, and YOU'VE GOT MAIL.
...The 1936 version of the Christmastime Western THREE GODFATHERS airs on December 17th. It stars Chester Morris, Walter Brennan, and Lewis Stone.
...Sunday morning, December 18th, features the 1933 version of LITTLE WOMEN, starring Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Frances Dee, and Jean Parker as the March sisters. Of course, most of LITTLE WOMEN isn't a Christmas film, but the Christmas opening to the film is so memorable it feels like one.
Next is ALL MINE TO GIVE (1957), a Glynis Johns film which sounds rather tragic, and then another showing of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940).
Later that day SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944) has its first airing of the month. This superb WWII "homefront" film isn't a Christmas film, per se, but it has an extremely touching Christmas conclusion that's guaranteed to induce tears in any viewer with a sentimental heart. It stars Claudette Colbert, Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Robert Walker, and Shirley Temple, with an excellent deep supporting cast.
...The theme on Sunday evening, December 18th, is "houseguests," with the Christmas films IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947) and THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) the featured titles. I hope to catch up with IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE this year. THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, with Monty Woolley in the title role, is a lot of fun. It's interesting to note that Woolley also has significant supporting roles in both SINCE YOU WENT AWAY and THE BISHOP'S WIFE. (December 11th Update: I've now posted a review of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.)
...On Monday the 19th, the Dickens night includes the musical SCROOGE (1970).
...The theme on December 20th is "Christmas shopping." The evening starts with a TCM premiere, GOOD SAM (1948), starring Gary Cooper and Ann Sheridan. I've never seen this one and am looking forward to it!
It's followed by HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949), BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), BUNDLE OF JOY (1956), and IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949). Despite its title, the last film is almost entirely set in the winter! HOLIDAY AFFAIR and BACHELOR MOTHER are particular favorites in our house. HOLIDAY AFFAIR stars Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh, while BACHELOR MOTHER has a really wonderful performance by Ginger Rogers in the title role, supported by David Niven and Charles Coburn.
...THE THIN MAN (1934) may not be thought of as a Christmas film, but it's set at Christmastime...who can forget William Powell's Nick Charles shooting the ornaments off the tree with his new air gun? THE THIN MAN, along with all the other films in the series, will be shown on December 22nd.
Preceding THE THIN MAN is another showing of SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944).
...Christmas films on December 23rd include BEYOND TOMORROW (1940), starring Richard Carlson and Jean Parker, as well as a reprise of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938), followed by the month's only showing of John Ford's 3 GODFATHERS (1948), with John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., and Pedro Armendariz. Next come repeat showings of SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954), THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942), and SCROOGE (1970).
...Later on December 23rd there's an evening of "Christmas noir." The first film is BACKFIRE (1950), with Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, and Dane Clark; the story opens at Christmastime.
Next is LADY IN THE LAKE (1947), Robert Montgomery's "first person" take on a Philip Marlowe mystery. The seasonal setting, including cheery Christmas music over the credits, provides an ironic contrast to the murder mystery. The evening concludes with Dick Powell's Marlowe in MURDER, MY SWEET (1944).
...The morning of December 24th kicks off with LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938) and the 1949 MGM version of LITTLE WOMEN, with June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, and Margaret O'Brien in the title roles.
Frak Capra's MEET JOHN DOE (1941), starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, makes its first December appearance on the 24th, followed by IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947), HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949), IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949), and MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944).
...On Christmas Eve, Robert Osborne's "Christmas Eve Picks" are MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) followed by Jeanne Crain in MARGIE (1946), a hard-to-find Fox film which is beloved by many classic film fans. It's not a Christmas movie, yet viewers should find its warm and nostalgic mood perfect company on Christmas Eve.
MARGIE will be followed by AUNTIE MAME (1958) and one more showing of THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947).
...Christmas Day features films with religious themes, including THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA (1952), BEN-HUR (1959), and KING OF KINGS (1961).
That night, "Christmas By Leo McCarey" starts off with Bing Crosby in GOING MY WAY (1944).
Recommended films which won't be shown on TCM this year but are available on DVD: REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940), starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck; HOLIDAY INN (1942) with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, along with the debut of the song "White Christmas"; I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten; Deanna Durbin as the LADY ON A TRAIN (1945) who sees a murder when en route to visit her aunt for Christmas; and of course WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954). Later this month I'll be seeing a theatrical production of WHITE CHRISTMAS; it will be interesting to see how it translates to the stage!
For more on TCM in December, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM Star of the Month: William Powell.