Tuesday, December 01, 2015

TCM in December: Christmas Movies

Here's a guide to the many wonderful Christmas movies showing this month on Turner Classic Movies!

TCM will be showcasing Christmas movies in prime time on Friday nights, plus there are even more titles scheduled on Sundays, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. There are also Christmas movies scattered elsewhere in the schedule, and Treasures from the Disney Vault on December 17th features seasonal fare.

Many of the Christmas favorites listed here are playing two or three times, while some only show up once. A thorough overview is below, and please also consult the schedule for complete listings.

Click any hyperlinked title below for the corresponding review; titles are only linked on the first mention.

The festive titles begin on Friday, December 4th, leading off with a Christmas film which many have discovered in recent years thanks to TCM, IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE (1947). IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE stars Don DeFore, Gale Storm, Charlie Ruggles, and Ann Harding.

The December 4th lineup also includes Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Capra's MEET JOHN DOE (1941) and MGM's Technicolor version of LITTLE WOMEN (1949), starring June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, and Margaret O'Brien. PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962) and the weeper ALL MINE TO GIVE (1957) round out the evening.

Saturday, December 5th, brings us Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds in SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954), which has amazing mid 20th Century decorating! It's part of an evening of films about screenwriters. SUSAN only airs once this December.

Several Christmas films are scheduled during the day on Sunday, December 6th, starting with the MGM version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938). This short and sweet version with Reginald Owen and the Lockhart family is probably my favorite.

The 6th also includes the month's first showings of Monty Woolley and Bette Davis in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) and HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh.

A terrific return to TCM's December lineup is the 20th Century-Fox film SUN VALLEY SERENADE (1941); the showing on the 6th is the only time it will be seen this month. John Payne, Sonja Henie, and Glenn Miller star. While there isn't an overt Christmas theme, the story is about a big band opening at a Sun Valley ski resort on Christmas Eve. It's wonderful seasonal viewing.

Friday, December 11th, brings additional showings of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER and A CHRISTMAS CAROL, along with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949), SCROOGE (1970), and the TCM documentary A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: MERRY CHRISTMAS! (2011).

Sunday, December 13th, is a terrific day including the month's first showing of CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945). Mixed in among the day's Christmas movies is the wonderful APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948), a Fox film with Jeanne Crain and William Holden as a WWII vet and his pregnant wife struggling while he goes through college on the GI Bill. It's not a Christmas film but its overall tone fits right in with seasonal movies.

The evening of the 13th there's a lineup of Christmas noir. I'm absolutely delighted that TCM has licensed Deanna Durbin's Universal film LADY ON A TRAIN (1945). Christmas meets crime in this fun mystery which features a tremendous cast including Dan Duryea, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Morison, Allen Jenkins, and many more great faces. Don't miss this one!

Also in the "Christmas noir" lineup: ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), in which Blackie (Chester Morris) entertains at a prison on Christmas Eve, and the Philip Marlowe mystery LADY IN THE LAKE (1947). The Christmas title cards and jolly music in the latter film stand in ironic contrast to the murder mystery.

Overnight that evening TCM will show the TV-movie CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (1964), starring Sterling Hayden and Eva Marie Saint.

Treasures From the Disney Vault returns on December 17th. This quarterly franchise began in December 2014 and has been a great addition to the TCM lineup. The evening begins with Burl Ives, Beulah Bondi, and Bobby Driscoll in the heartwarming Americana SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948), which was very warmly received at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

The evening continues with seasonal fare such as Pluto in the snowy cartoon short RESCUE DOG (1947), Annette Funicello in BABES IN TOYLAND (1961), and the documentary WHITE WILDERNESS (1958).

Friday, December 18th, brings the month's first airings of I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten and REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. (I have tickets to a 75th Anniversary screening of the latter film at the Academy on December 10th! Update: Here is a report on the screening.) The evening also includes CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, HOLIDAY AFFAIR, BUNDLE OF JOY (1956), and LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938).

On Saturday, December 19th, the evergreen THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940) makes its first appearance of the month, as part of an evening of films starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It will also be shown on Christmas Eve. (Update: I've just written a new review of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER for ClassicFlix.)

December 20th brings repeats of some films shown earlier in the month, plus family fare with Shirley Temple in THE BLUE BIRD (1940). Also showing on the 20th is a movie which isn't actually a Christmas movie but feels so much like one I like to include it in my holiday viewing: COME TO THE STABLE (1949), starring Loretta Young and Celeste Holm as nuns working to build a children's hospital. It glows with the warmth of the very best Christmas films.

...One of my favorite Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy films, DESK SET (1957), has a Christmastime setting which makes it good December viewing. It's airing on December 22nd.

The marvelous Christmas special HAPPY HOLIDAYS WITH BING AND FRANK (1957) airs on December 23rd, as part of Frank Sinatra's Centennial Star of the Month lineup.

Christmas Eve starts off with the Australian film BUSH CHRISTMAS (1947), followed by THE GREAT RUPERT (1950) starring Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake, and Terry Moore. Many titles shown earlier in December are run for the second or third time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Movies making their first appearance of the month on Christmas Eve are Ginger Rogers and David Niven in BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) and Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), while debuting on Christmas Day are the Katharine Hepburn version of LITTLE WOMEN (1933) and the John Wayne version of 3 GODFATHERS (1948).

Robert Osborne's Christmas Eve picks are Rosalind Russell in AUNTIE MAME (1958), Greer Garson as MRS. PARKINGTON (1944), and James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, in addition to the previously mentioned THE BISHOP'S WIFE.

Family fare on Christmas Night includes ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952) with Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, who just passed away; Shirley Temple in CURLY TOP (1935); and Virginia Weidler in BAD LITTLE ANGEL (1939).

The holiday movies aren't quite over on Christmas. December 26th features Edward G. Robinson in LARCENY, INC. (1942), which concludes with several characters running around in Santa Claus suits.

And on New Year's Eve there's a marathon of THIN MAN films; the original film, THE THIN MAN (1934), is set at Christmas. Who can forget Nick Charles shooting the ornaments off the tree with his new air gun?!

For more on TCM in December, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Blogger Maricatrin said...

I couldn’t agree more about LADY ON A TRAIN (1945), it’s a must see! Comedy, mystery, and Deanna singing Silent Night. Doesn’t get much better than this.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) is to me, the definitive adaption of Dicken’s classic tale. Every frame is perfectly shot, every actor seemed born to play his or her role, and Noel Langley did a brilliant job of faithfully adapting the story (and the few minor additions are inspired: Fezziwig’s loyalty to the “old ways,” and Scrooge’s lost love Alice tending to the poor.)

The “noir” round-up idea is interesting; don’t know if they’re showing BACKFIRE (1950), but that would fit in with the theme. LADY IN THE LAKE is a movie I didn’t think I’d like at all (the POV idea just sounded weird to me), but I actually wound up enjoying it, and the technique grew on me.

Love SO DEAR TO MY HEART; they can’t go wrong with that one. But the 1934 BABES IN TOYLAND with Laurel and Hardy is the version everyone should see... every year!

BUSH CHRISTMAS (1947) is a nice, leisurely little film, and gives us Yanks a fascinating glimpse of life in rural Australia. Riding your pony to school! Love the idea.

I saw BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) for the first time this year, and thought it was hysterical… Gunga Din, Donald Duck, and Tea-pots! Rogers and Niven were great together, and perfectly supported by Coburn, Albertson, and Clive.

I think 3 GODFATHERS (1948) is very well done and quite moving; I know a lot of people like to compare it unfavorably to earlier versions (HELL’S HEROES in particular, but that one is just too nasty for me.)

BAD LITTLE ANGEL (1939) is an unusual but involving film, which Weidler’s sincere performance really holds together (not to say the supporting cast isn’t stellar as well. Particularly liked Reginald Owen as Guy Kibbee's impertinent man-servant, and Ian Hunter's kindly, civic-minded 'father Jim.')

Sounds like the plot premise of LARCENY, INC. (1942) was borrowed for an episode of CAR 54. The episode was really funny, so I bet the movie is too. Need to see this one, as well as several others mentioned here which I have never seen...

9:34 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Mary!

I thought I had answered this the other day but looking back at the post I realized it appears not to have posted!

Really enjoyed your thoughts on all these films -- they are so much fun! I have the LADY ON A TRAIN DVD and plan to watch it again sometime this month. :)

I remember TCM showing BACKFIRE in a noir Christmas lineup in the past but it's not showing this year. Good one to include!

I've never seen BUSH CHRISTMAS so I appreciated your take on that one.

I've also never seen BAD LITTLE ANGEL which I seem to recall my dad liking as well. Weidler is always interesting so I need to catch up with that one.

The Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is on our Christmas shelf still awaiting my first acquaintance with it. I suppose I haven't gotten around to it yet simply because I tend to fall back on my old favorite (1938) or my other favorite (the George C. Scott version) and there's never "room" left to try a new one! Must rectify that at some point. :)

And I haven't yet seen 3 GODFATHERS, either! If I don't get to that one this month, it's a good candidate for next year's "10 Classics" list which among other things has pushed me to fill in the gaps in my Ford viewing.

Thank you again so much for all your comments!

Best wishes,

7:30 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Hi Laura, thanks for the update! Google being google again (lol).

I liked BUSH CHRISTMAS, but be forewarned, it does have a "kids in danger" element;-)

I disagree with Leonard Maltin on many films, but I am in total agreement with him about A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) being such a classic that it can be viewed any time of the year. Maybe that will be the solution for you? In any event, be prepared for a very emotional film experience (as many times as I've seen it, there are at least two scenes during which I simply cannot hold back the tears.) But Christmas morning is all the more joyous, compared to (and because of) the pain and horror of Scrooge's night.

A suggestion: try to see either A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) or 3 GODFATHERS this month, and add the remaining film to your "10 Classics" list? (I'd recommend seeing 3 GODFATHERS first, because it would be best to watch Sim's version when you're not overdosed on the story... just a suggestion; of course the decision is yours!)

I know you like POLLYANNA (1960), so I think you'd enjoy BAD LITTLE ANGEL. Like POLLYANNA, it isn't at all cloying, and there's a nice sense of humor throughout (the endings even reminded me of each other a little.)

All the best, and merry Christmas viewing!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Maricatrin!

Glad I noticed Google had messed up my previous attempt at commenting (grin). Thanks for your added thoughts!

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) and 3 GODFATHERS (1948) are both excellent candidates for next year's "10 Classics" list! I'm not sure I would have thought of CHRISTMAS CAROL before our chat, and I appreciate your suggestions very much. (Now I just need to work on finishing this year's list...it never fails that I ended up watching several at the end of the year, but that seems to work out well given my time off at the end of the year.)

Very interesting comparison of BAD LITTLE ANGEL with POLLYANNA, I'm intrigued. I've got BAD LITTLE ANGEL on a VHS tape, need to rummage in my closet and pull it out.

Thanks for the caution on BUSH CHRISTMAS!

It occurs to me, incidentally, that another great title for a noir Christmas lineup would be COVER UP (1949). I don't believe TCM has used it the last couple times they've had such a lineup, which is a bit surprising as they've shown the movie on other occasions. I enjoyed it so much earlier this year I think I will try to fit in rewatching it this month.

My review of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER has just been posted at ClassicFlix!

Merry Christmas viewing to you, too!

Best wishes,

10:09 PM  

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