Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Zero Hour! (1957)

This evening we continued our recent tradition of watching a hokey disaster film on New Year's Eve.

On New Year's Eve 2006 we watched TWISTER (1996). In 2007 our New Year's Eve film was SKYJACKED (1972), which was delightfully entertaining.

Tonight's movie was even more fun: ZERO HOUR!, which has to rate as one of the best bad films of all time. Sterling Hayden also gives what must be one of the most unintentionally funny performances of all time.

Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) has never gotten over a bad war experience of a decade earlier, when his decision to go ahead with a mission led to several men in his flight squadron crashing in foggy weather. When Ted's wife Ellen (Linda Darnell) leaves him, Ted follows her onto her airplane flight despite the fact that flying makes him break out in a cold sweat.

The pilot and copilot make the fateful decision to have fish instead of meat for dinner and are incapacitated by food poisoning. As the doctor who just happens to be on board tells the stewardess: "Our survival hinges on one thing: finding someone who not only can fly the plane, but didn't have fish for dinner!"

As it turns out, there's only one man on board who has any hope of landing the plane: Ted, with Ellen serving as his co-pilot. And wouldn't you know, Captain Martin Treleaven (Sterling Hayden), the pilot on the ground who's going to talk Ted through flying a jet for the first time, is -- of course! -- one of the men who flew with Ted during the war. Ted and Martin are not exactly friendly but have to work together to safely land the plane.

Dana Andrews is an excellent actor, as always, and nothing much can injure his dignity; he plays it absolutely straight and is very believable. However, he's surrounded by classically hokey dialogue, situations which probably seemed contrived even to 1957 viewers who hadn't seen AIRPLANE!, and Hayden's deadpan, unbelievable line delivery, which in a couple spots had us laughing till we had tears in our eyes. ("Flying's just like riding a bicycle!") Linda Darnell does what she can with her part, but the moment near the end when they chose to have her look straight into the camera as she gazes admiringly at Dana Andrews was another unintentionally hokey moment.

ZERO HOUR! provided a reunion for Andrews and Darnell, who costarred in the 1945 noir classic FALLEN ANGEL, reviewed here.

As recounted at the website Something Old, Nothing New here and here, the spoof AIRPLANE! (1980) lifted entire sections of dialogue from ZERO HOUR! absolutely verbatim. (Unfortunately the video links that accompany these posts are no longer active.) AIRPLANE! also borrowed from THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and AIRPORT, but AIRPLANE! basically remakes ZERO HOUR! ZERO HOUR! is so much fun I'm not sure how AIRPLANE! could improve on it, but I'll have to watch that one in the future.

Along for the plane ride are Peggy King as the brave stewardess and Jerry Paris as her boyfriend. Geoffrey Toone plays the calm doctor.

ZERO HOUR! was directed by Hall Bartlett, who co-wrote the screenplay with Arthur Hailey (AIRPORT) and John C. Champion. The movie was shot in black and white and runs 81 minutes.

ZERO HOUR! is available on DVD in the Terrorized Travelers Cult Camp Classics boxed set, or as a single title DVD release. May 2017 Update: ZERO HOUR! has been reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.

It'll be hard to top this one next New Year's Eve, as it was grand fun.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Update: Thanks to Carrie and my dad for mentioning that January 1st is the centennial of Dana Andrews' birthday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tonight's Movie: High Wall (1947)

Robert Taylor's first scene in HIGH WALL (1947) finds him driving at a breakneck pace with the eyes-wide-open corpse of a woman seated next to him. This creepy scene is not exactly a typical opening for an MGM movie -- or a Robert Taylor movie -- in the '40s. While MGM made some hard-hitting movies, particularly from the late '40s on, it was the most glamorous studio in Hollywood and not typically associated with such visually disturbing images.

That sequence sets into motion a riveting black and white film noir in which Taylor plays a brain-injured amnesiac who is arrested for murdering his wife (Dorothy Patrick). Taylor's character is locked up in a mental hospital, where his only options seem to be life in the insane ward or a murder trial and most likely the electric chair. After brain surgery to relieve pressure from an old injury, Taylor slowly regains his memory and begins to doubt that he really was the murderer. He tries to reconstruct what actually happened with the help of his doctor, played by Audrey Totter. The movie runs 99 minutes and holds the viewer's attention throughout.

The film has outstanding performances by Taylor as the tormented man and Totter as his doctor. They are both simply terrific and carry the film, appearing in most of the scenes. Taylor, who spent roughly a quarter century as MGM's longest-running star, has been written off too often in the past as just a "handsome face" and not received the appreciation he deserves as an actor. As I read various books and websites, I think that may gradually be changing as movie fans and historians take a fresh look at his career.

The few scenes Taylor and Totter aren't in feature Herbert Marshall, an excellent actor himself; his character may hold the key to what really happened to Taylor's wife. The fine supporting cast includes Morris Ankrum, John Ridgely, Moroni Olsen, Warner Anderson, Elisabeth Risdon, H.B. Warner, Jonathan Hale, and Irving Bacon. Familiar faces such as Ray Teal, Milton Kibbee, and Hank Worden can be spotted in bit parts.

An article in a recent edition of the NOIR CITY SENTINEL, published by the Film Noir Foundation, discussed overrated versus underrated film noir, and listed HIGH WALL among the underrated gems which should be seen. Author Eric Beetner approvingly notes Taylor's "subdued slow burn" and also writes that "HIGH WALL gets more and more noirish as it goes along. By the final third, the screen is as pitch-black as the story." The rainy, shadowy climax is as noirish as noir gets.

When I reviewed LADY IN THE LAKE, which Audrey Totter appeared in the same year as HIGH WALL, I linked to an interesting interview she gave in which she discusses her career. It's worth linking to again here for those who might not have come across it in the past.

HIGH WALL was directed by Curtis Bernhardt, who made this film for MGM after making a number of highly regarded films at Warner Bros., including MY REPUTATION (1946), DEVOTION (1946), A STOLEN LIFE (1946), and POSSESSED (1947). Bernhardt seems to have brought a bit of the more hard-edged Warner Bros. style to the production -- particularly that first Taylor scene I mentioned at the top of this post.

HIGH WALL can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer can be seen here.

I was able to see HIGH WALL thanks to the kindness of Carrie at Classic Ramblings. I have been blessed getting to know so many nice people, including Carrie, thanks to the Internet!

Robert Taylor movies previously reviewed here, listed in the order they were reviewed: WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951), SADDLE THE WIND (1958), MANY RIVERS TO CROSS (1955), ROGUE COP (1954), PARTY GIRL (1958), FLIGHT COMMAND (1940), SMALL TOWN GIRL (1936), and ABOVE AND BEYOND (1952).

Taylor fans may also want to check out my review of his recent biography RELUCTANT WITNESS.

HIGH WALL provides an excellent evening's entertainment. Recommended.

December 2010 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

There is also word this month that the Film Noir Foundation will be collaborating with UCLA to preserve the film in a 35mm print, which currently does not exist for this movie.

April 2011 Update: I was very fortunate to see a gorgeous 35mm print of this film at the opening night of this year's Noir City Festival!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

20 Favorite Actors

I thought during the holidays it would be fun to do a followup post to my 20 Favorite Actresses. (Click the title of this post for the link to that list.)

I found this list somewhat least up to No. 18 or so! Then it became very difficult deciding who to include and who will have to linger just outside the Top 20.

Generally speaking, these are movie actors whose primary work was done up through the early '60s. As with the Favorite Actresses list, I'm willing to try watching them in the majority of their films, even if it's a bad one...but I exclude from that movies made after the mid-'60s. For instance, as much as I love Charlton Heston, you couldn't pay me to watch PLANET OF THE APES or SOYLENT GREEN.

Virtually all the actors on the list worked primarily as leading men, sometimes moving into supporting roles later in their careers, but there's one longtime character actor I enjoy so much I had to include him on my list.

The list is in no particular order, although the first two names are my favorites, and the list is very roughly divided into the Top 10 and then the next 10 names.

My Favorite Top 20 Actors:

Cary Grant:

Tyrone Power:

Dana Andrews:

Robert Montgomery:

William Powell:

Joel McCrea:

Robert Taylor:

Robert Mitchum:

Richard Widmark:

Ray Milland:

James Stewart:

Stewart Granger:

John Wayne:

Gene Kelly:

Fred Astaire:

Clark Gable:

Charlton Heston:

Ward Bond:

Fredric March:

Randolph Scott:

I didn't list one of my all-time favorite actors, James Garner, as most of his movies were made after the early '60s...while I love several of his movies, I most appreciate his TV work.

Other names lingering just outside the Top 20: Robert Ryan, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Brent, Franchot Tone, Howard Keel, Errol Flynn, Dennis Morgan, Dick Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Young, Claude Rains, Ricardo Montalban, James Cagney, Van Heflin, Gregory Peck, Joseph Cotten, and Van Johnson.

If anyone else would like to put together a Top 20 Actors list or post, be sure to let us know about it in the comments!

Monday Update: Here's a list from the Classic Maiden.

Monday Night Update: And here's Anne's list at Just Muttering -- which seems to have been recently renamed Still Muttering.

Update: David has made a list at Classic Flix, which includes interesting choices such as Harold Lloyd and Thomas Mitchell. He also includes Mickey Rooney; a few days ago my dad mentioned that Cary Grant was once quoted as saying Rooney was the finest actor he knew.

January 11th Update: Here's a brand-new list by Lauren at The Life Cinematic.

January 13th Update: Here's an interesting list posted by Campaspe at Self-Styled Siren.

January 21st Update: Here is Raquelle's list at Out of the Past.

January 27th Update: Here is Jacqueline's interesting list at Another Old Movie Blog.

January 30th Update: And here's a great list from The Shelf.

New 2015 Post: 20 More Favorite Actors.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Right Cross (1950)

RIGHT CROSS is an interesting three-character study set against the world of professional boxing.

Johnny Monterez is the current boxing champ who is secretly plagued with worry about his fragile right hand. Johnny loves his promoter's daughter Pat (June Allyson) but is conflicted about breaking his contract with her father so he can take a deal elsewhere which will provide long-term security. The third wheel in Johnny and Pat's relationship is sportswriter Rick (Dick Powell), who is Johnny's best friend but also yearns to have Pat for himself.

I'm not particularly interested in boxing, but I found the film quite involving thanks to its three appealing leads. Allyson's hairstyle and costumes are relatively unflattering, but her charm is intact. Perhaps the filmmakers thought her character had to look less feminine to be believable as a woman in the boxing world. Through no fault of her own, Allyson's character is probably the least developed of the three lead roles, but she successfully conveys a woman who is comfortable in a "man's world" and also able to handle her tempestuous relationship with Johnny. Allyson and Montalban's scenes have a heat which is somewhat atypical of Allyson's other films.

Montalban is oh-so-handsome, and an excellent actor as well, portraying the many aspects of Johnny's personality. I sometimes think Montalban's acting ability has been underrated over the years. Montalban is third billed, as he was not as big a star as Allyson and Powell at the time the film was made, but if billing were based on an actor and his character dominating a film, I think he should have been billed first.

The film's examination of ethnic relations is quite fascinating, especially given the era. Johnny is reluctant to introduce his girlfriend to his family or take her to his old neighborhood, and he's also insecure about making it in what he sees as a "Gringo's" world if he loses the championship.

Along those ethnic lines, I also found a scene where Johnny throws his arm around his black sparring partner (Smoki Whitfield) for a photo notable for the time the film was made; this was only three years after Jackie Robinson began playing for the Dodgers. It made me think of the story of Pee Wee Reese putting his arm around Robinson's shoulders.

Powell raises the film's energy level as the sardonic sportswriter who carries a torch for Allyson. (At the time the film was made Allyson and Powell had been married for half a decade.) Powell and Montalban have an excellent rapport, and Powell even sings a song in Spanish in a nice scene with Montalban.

The supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Teresa Celli, Barry Kelley, Marianne Stewart, and Frank Ferguson. Robert Mitchum's brother John can be spotted as a reporter; the Mitchum profile is hard to miss. Marilyn Monroe has a single scene as the improbably named Dusky Ledoux, who exchanges some dialogue with Powell in a restaurant. The same year Monroe appeared in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and ALL ABOUT EVE.

RIGHT CROSS was directed by John Sturges, who directed Montalban in the excellent noir MYSTERY STREET the same year. The movie was filmed in black and white and runs 90 minutes. The atmospheric musical score is by David Raksin (LAURA).

This movie isn't available on DVD or VHS, but it can be seen as part of the library at Turner Classic Movies.

June 2013 Update: This film has been released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tonight's Movie: The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945)

John (Robert Walker) and Mary (June Allyson) wed after a whirlwind courtship of just a few hours at the start of the WWII comedy THE SAILOR TAKES A WIFE.

The rest of the film depicts John and Mary actually getting to know one another after the wedding ceremony, as their attempts to be alone to celebrate their honeymoon are thwarted at every turn. Mary's jealous boss (Hume Cronyn), an eccentric Romanian neighbor (Audrey Totter), and a ramshackle apartment building add to the complications. It's not a classic, by any means, but it's a cute little movie which fans of June Allyson will probably find entertaining, as I did.

Totter is amusing as John and Mary's war refugee neighbor, and there is also a funny turn by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as the superintendent of the temperamental apartment building. The supporting cast also includes Reginald Owen.

The lovely photo to the right is from the archives of Life magazine, recently made available online.

THE SAILOR TAKES A WIFE was directed by Richard Whorf. Whorf was also an actor in films such as BLUES IN THE NIGHT (1941). The movie was shot in black and white and runs 92 minutes.

THE SAILOR TAKES A WIFE can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. It's not available on VHS or DVD.

The trailer can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas at Disneyland: Storybook Land Canal

Last summer I shared some photos of Disneyland's Storybook Land Canal, one of the park's original attractions.

Storybook Land Canal can only be found in two Disney parks: its original home in Disneyland and also at Disneyland Paris, where it's called Le Pays des Contes de Fees.

In the spirit of the season, here are some photos taken last week of the ride decorated for Christmas. The miniature trees, ornaments, poinsettias, garlands and red bows make this ride extra-special in December. Click any photo to enlarge it and examine the details.


The Three Little Pigs' house:

Snow White's cottage:

A home in the village below Cinderella's castle:

More of Cinderella's village:

I love the miniature poinsettias decorating this village (click to enlarge):

Merry Christmas!

NORAD Santa Tracking 2008

The North American Aerospace Defense Command will be tracking Santa's progress through the night skies on Christmas Eve.

Santa Claus "is escorted through Canada by four C-18 fighter jets prior to handing off the duty to F-16s as he heads into American airways."

This is the 53rd consecutive year NORAD has provided Santa's status to children around the world.

Disney Drops Narnia Film Series

I was sorry to learn that Disney won't be filming the planned third film in the NARNIA series, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.

Apparently Disney is concerned that the film would not make enough money to justify an anticipated budget of $200 million. ($200 million?!)

DAWN TREADER would have been released in May 2010.

Update: More from the Los Angeles Times.

Merry Christmas to All

Best wishes to all for a very happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Coming to DVD: Magnificent Obsession (1935/1954)

Fan of classic movies can look forward to a great new DVD set from Criterion in January, which will contain director Douglas Sirk's 1954 version of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, as well as the 1935 original, which stars Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor.

Extras include a commentary track on the '54 version, as well as an 80-minute documentary on Douglas Sirk.

The two-disc set will be released January 20th.

I don't think I've seen the Wyman-Hudson version since I was a teenager, and I've never seen the older version, which stars two of my favorite actors, so I'm very much looking forward to enjoying these movies in 2009.

Bret Baier Named Anchor of Special Report

Today was Brit Hume's last day anchoring SPECIAL REPORT on Fox News Channel.

I'm sad about Brit's departure, as SPECIAL REPORT has been a constant in my life for over a decade. He truly was "fair and balanced."

I haven't actually seen today's show yet, as we were visiting relatives to celebrate Christmas, but I'll be watching it tomorrow. The last few minutes of the show can be viewed online.

Today Fox announced that Brit's Friday fill-in, Bret Baier, will be the show's permanent host. Bret's a nice guy, but somehow he's not who I envisioned helming the show on a permanent basis. I'm kind of surprised they didn't name Deputy Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon, who was hired late this past summer.

In any event, I wish both Brit and Bret well as they enter new phases of their lives.

Monday, December 22, 2008

God Bless Them All

The Washington Times published a very interesting report today on the extensive behind-the-scenes efforts which have been made by both the President and the Vice President to comfort bereaved military families and wounded soldiers.

There have been countless unreported visits which the White House made without the knowledge of the media.

As Mrs. Bush said of the private meetings, "These are such personal times when people grieve. And we grieve with them. And these are not times when you would want a camera in the room or other people around. They are very emotional, personal times.

"And for all of these families to be in a room with the commander in chief who made the decision to send their loved one in harm's way is, you know, a wrenching time for us and for them. For all of us, the consequences of the choices that a commander in chief makes are clear. It's all about them, and their grief."

President Bush has sent over 4,000 personal letters to families who have lost a loved one serving in the military.

The Times also reports that Vice President Cheney, whom many in the media and politics love to demonize, has spent a great deal of private time with injured troops, including hosting barbecues for soldiers at his home at the Naval Observatory.

The story is accompanied by a wonderful shot of Vice President Cheney practicing casting his fishing line on a lawn while spending time with wounded troops.

I feel that the Bushes and Cheneys conducting these events for over seven years out of the limelight, refusing to use photo ops for positive publicity, says a lot. I have strongly disagreed with the President on some issues -- and, in fact, continue to disagree with some of his recent policy decisions -- but I have always believed he is a good man who has integrity and compassion, and this story further underscores that fact.

Especially at this season of the year, I hope everyone will pause a moment to give thanks and pray for our troops, especially the injured and the families of our fallen heroes.

More Thoughts: They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Early in 2007 I viewed a couple of Warner Bros. WWII shorts and reflected that similar movies could not be made today, even though we're again at war:

"What struck me the most, though, given the P.C. times we live in, was how fearlessly these movies named and spoke against our enemies. These movies could not and would not be made today, when too many people are afraid of giving offense. You just know that today some timid P.C. types would claim that in insulting those who would kill us, we'd be driving them to hate us even more and inciting them to greater violence."

William Katz writes along these lines for Power Line, as part of a tribute to Van Johnson.

Katz writes that "Today, a film like THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO could not get made" and goes on to examine the reasons. It's a succinct and thoughtful essay which is worth taking the time to read.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Three Smart Girls (1936)

One of the most enjoyable movie viewing pleasures over the past year or so has been seeing several of Deanna Durbin's films for the first time.

Tonight I watched Deanna's very first feature-length film, THREE SMART GIRLS (1936). THREE SMART GIRLS was released the same year as the MGM short subject EVERY SUNDAY, in which Deanna costarred with Judy Garland. (That short can be seen on the DVD release of FOR ME AND MY GAL. I saw it in a revival theater many years ago, but that was the only Durbin film I'd seen until the fall of 2007.) MGM let Deanna get away shortly thereafter, and MGM's loss was Universal's great gain.

The THREE SMART GIRLS are sisters played by Deanna, Nan Grey, and Barbara Read, who live in Switzerland with their divorced mother (Nella Walker). When the girls learn their father (Charles Winninger) is about to marry a gold digger (Binnie Barnes), they set sail for New York, where they meet their father for the first time in a decade and proceed to wreak delightful havoc with his wedding plans. Along the way the two older girls (Grey and Read) meet a couple of eligible young men, played by John King and the charming Ray Milland. Milland lights up the screen in each of his scenes and adds an extra dose of sparkle to a good movie.

It's a fun, fast-paced romantic comedy, and of course, Deanna sings several numbers as well. It's easy to see why she immediately became a big star. (In fact, Deanna's impact was such that my mother was one of many little girls named Deanna in the years following the release of THREE SMART GIRLS.) Deanna is surrounded by a large cast of pros including Alice Brady, Lucile Watson, Ernest Cossart, Mischa Auer, Joyce Compton, Franklin Pangborn, and Hobart Cavanaugh.

The film was shot in black and white and runs 84 minutes. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 1939 a sequel was released titled THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP.

THREE SMART GIRLS was directed by Henry Koster. Koster directed Durbin in a half dozen of her earliest films before he moved on to MGM and Fox, where he directed films such as TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON, THE UNFINISHED DANCE, THE LUCK OF THE IRISH, MY BLUE HEAVEN, and two Loretta Young classics, THE BISHOP'S WIFE with Cary Grant and COME TO THE STABLE.

THREE SMART GIRLS is available on DVD and video. The VHS print I watched was in excellent condition.

Previous reviews of Deanna Durbin movies: FIRST LOVE (1939), HIS BUTLER'S SISTER (1943), NICE GIRL? (1941), FOR THE LOVE OF MARY (1948), BECAUSE OF HIM (1946), MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938), and THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY (1943).

Update: Here are reviews of the next two films in the series, THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939) and HERS TO HOLD (1943). My review of the 2020 Blu-ray release of THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP is here.

May 2018 Update: I had the joy of seeing THREE SMART GIRLS on a big screen in 35mm at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

Tuba Christmas 2008

They didn't surpass last year's world record of 502 tubas, but there was nonetheless a great turnout of 447 tubas performing Christmas carols this afternoon at the Fourth Annual Tuba Christmas at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.

My husband, a trombone player, once again borrowed a tuba and played in the event.

Here's a shot he took of the pre-rehearsal check-in line (click to enlarge):

A photo album can be seen at the Orange County Register website. My husband is in Photo No. 14, on the left in the second row, wearing a blue baseball cap. (Update: The photo has now been renumbered No. 1, so you may have to hunt for it if they move around again. Thanks to Missy for the alert.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas at Disneyland: New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square is perhaps my favorite area in Disneyland. I love the extensively detailed theming and the wandering streets and hidden corners.

New Orleans Square is especially beautiful at Christmas. Every year we take our children's photos on a staircase hidden away in a little courtyard called Court des Anges (Angels Court):

Unfortunately Disneyland management has turned this courtyard into a miniature Christmas ornament store, but you can still squeeze in and take photos on the staircase.

The tree in Court des Anges:

While we were taking our photos we helped a very nice couple take their photos as well. It turned out they were Trojan alumni whose first date had been at Disneyland, so our families had quite a bit in common!

The street outside Court des Anges by day:

and by night:

Some of the decorations above the Blue Bayou and Club 33:

A balcony and the front windows of the exclusive Club 33:

Finally, a scenic view of the Rivers of America from New Orleans Square, showing the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and the Mark Twain:

I'll be sharing photos of more Disneyland Christmas decorations in the near future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today at Disneyland: Christmas Visit 2008

Today was our family's annual all-day Christmas visit to Disneyland, including breakfast at River Belle Terrace. As we do each year, we spent about 10 hours savoring every bit of "Disneyland Christmas." We also had our first chances to walk through the reopened Sleeping Beauty Castle and to see the after-dark light show at It's a Small World Holiday.

City Hall at Town Square:

No matter how many times we've been to the park, there's always more to see and do, especially at Christmas.

I also love that it's something the entire family enjoys doing together. It's a great place to build memories. I can't count how many times today one of us brought up the memory of something which happened on a previous visit, particularly our visits at Christmastime.

Haunted Mansion Holiday:

I've never cared for the Haunted Mansion and doubt I've been on it in the last 20 years, but the Haunted Mansion Holiday seasonal decorations make for a nice photo!

The sign at the entrance to Critter Country:

Although we've rarely chanced upon celebrities enjoying the park, today was the second time in the past month we've spotted an actor in Disneyland. Last month it was Ed Begley, Jr.; today we're pretty certain we recognized Tia Carrere, the voice of Nani in LILO AND STITCH. (She also played Jade on GENERAL HOSPITAL in the '80s.) She was speaking with a group of employees in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, while wearing a festive Santa hat.

The Toon Town Tree:

Many Christmas items inside the park were on sale 40% and 50% off today. (I could swear the signs said 40% this morning, and 50% later in the day!) I can't recall seeing Christmas merchandise on sale at Disneyland before. Wonder if it's a reflection of flagging sales due to the economy, or just something new they're trying for other reasons.

Poinsettias near the Casey Jr. Circus Train:

A festive window at Main Street's Market House:

It's a Small World Holiday's dazzling lights:

My children enjoy snapping photos inside the park as much as I do. We had fun photographing many beautiful Christmas decorations today. I intend to share more photos from our trip over the next few days.

Merry Christmas!

Previously: 2007, 2006, and 2005.

Saturday Update: Blogger Rick Moore of Holy Coast was at Disneyland last night too -- you can see his photos here.

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