Saturday, December 01, 2012

TCM in December: Christmas Movies

As always, Turner Classic Movies has a wonderful lineup of Christmas movies scattered throughout the December schedule.

There's a nice mix of old favorites with more recent rediscoveries, as well as films which are not necessarily thought of as "Christmas films" yet feature Christmas at some point.

TCM has a great 90-second reel of Christmas movie clips to set the appropriate seasonal mood; it's refusing to embed properly but can be seen here.

TCM will present "Christmas Double Features" on the first four Sunday evenings of December. TCM also has special nights planned focusing on "Christmas in Uniform," "Christmas in Song," and "Christmas in New York," as well as Robert Osborne's annual Christmas Eve Picks.

Some of the most popular titles, including THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), and HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1947), will be shown more than once, so be sure to consult the TCM schedule for complete listings.

The Christmas Double Features begin Sunday, December 2nd with LITTLE WOMEN (1949) and ALL MINE TO GIVE (1957). I've avoided ALL MINE TO GIVE, starring Glynis Johns and Cameron Mitchell, as I understand it's a real tearjerker, but I love MGM's colorful LITTLE WOMEN, starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, and Margaret O'Brien. I have fond memories of watching this version of LITTLE WOMEN at Christmastime on the Los Angeles station KTTV Ch. 11 when I was growing up. How much nicer to see it commercial free and unedited on TCM!

NEVER SAY GOODBYE (1946) turns up for the first time this month on December 4th. This romantic comedy includes an amusing sequence with Errol Flynn running around dressed as Santa on Christmas Eve. Eleanor Parker costars.

Sunday morning, December 9th, the lineup includes Margaret O'Brien in TENTH AVENUE ANGEL (1948) and one of my favorite new-to-me Christmas movies of recent years, SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954). SUSAN SLEPT HERE features some classic '50s Christmas decor -- love the white tree with red balls.

The Double Features continue on the evening of the 9th with a film I'm very interested in seeing for the first time, WE'RE NO ANGELS (1955). Also playing that evening is the classic "Christmas noir" LADY IN THE LAKE (1947). WE'RE NO ANGELS stars Humphrey Bogart, Joan Bennett, and Peter Ustinov; Raquelle wrote about this one a while back at Out of the Past. LADY IN THE LAKE stars Robert Montgomery in his unusual "first person" experiment, with the camera serving as the eyes of Detective Philip Marlowe. The Christmas theming provides an interesting contrast with the murder mystery throughout the movie.

December 12th features AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED (1936), with Edith Fellows trying to break up her mother Mary Astor's romance with Melvyn Douglas when they're snowed in at a California ski resort. This film reruns on the 24th.

Also airing on the 12th are THE MAN I LOVE (1947) and BACKFIRE (1950), two noirish titles which feature Christmas as an incidental part of the plot.

The night of Barbara Stanwyck films scheduled for December 12th includes REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940), a touching Christmas film which has been discovered by new audiences in recent years thanks in large part to its exposure on TCM. Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are wonderful, with excellent support from Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, and Sterling Holloway.

On the 16th there's an unusual pick, a 1964 Rod Serling TV-movie titled CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS. This TV-movie stars Sterling Hayden and Eva Marie Saint, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It's paired with the Alastair Sim version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951).

Christmas in Uniform will be the focus on December 17th, with five titles including Cary Grant and John Garfield in Delmer Daves' DESTINATION TOKYO (1943) and Van Johnson, John Hodiak, and Ricardo Montalban in William Wellman's BATTLEGROUND (1949).

December 18th starts off with THE THIN MAN (1934), which isn't a Christmas film in the traditional sense but includes that wonderful scene with Nick Charles shooting the ornaments off the tree with his new air gun.

Later on the 18th, Christmas in Song will include Judy Garland and Van Johnson in IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949), which is actually set almost entirely in December; the evergreen MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) with Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien; and ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951) with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. I've always loved the song "Merry Christmas, All," sung by Doris in a caroling sequence.

The lineup for Christmas in New York on December 20th includes Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in the excellent HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949); Ginger Rogers and David Niven in one of my favorite movies ever, BACHELOR MOTHER (1939); and Bob Hope, Lloyd Nolan, and Marilyn Maxwell in THE LEMON DROP KID (1951). I caught THE LEMON DROP KID last Christmas and can't honestly say I liked it all that much...but it's the source for my favorite "secular" Christmas song, "Silver Bells," which is beautifully staged.

Christmas movies will be shown all day on Sunday, December 23rd, with the official Double Feature films that night starting with one of my very favorite Christmas films, THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven. That's followed by a film I saw for the very first time last Christmas, IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947). I thoroughly enjoyed IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE, with a deep cast headed by Don DeFore and Gale Storm, and recommend it.

Other movies showing that Sunday including the perfect 1933 version of LITTLE WOMEN with Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Frances Dee, and Jean Parker; 3 GODFATHERS (1948) with John Wayne and the John Ford Stock Company; and BEYOND TOMORROW (1940), a fantasy with Jean Parker and Richard Carlson.

The Christmas film festival continues all day long on December 24th, reprising a number of the titles shown previously in the month, and adding in Laurel and Hardy in BABES IN TOYLAND (1934), along with MEET JOHN DOE (1941), which is also featured as part of the Barbara Stanwyck lineup on December 6th.

Robert Osborne's Christmas Eve Picks include Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), Loretta Young and Celeste Holm in COME TO THE STABLE (1949), and Monty Woolley and Bette Davis in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942).

A further note on COME TO THE STABLE: Osborne has in the past chosen late '40s Fox films such as CHICKEN EVERY SUNDAY (1948) and MARGIE (1946) for Christmas Eve, although they're not Christmas films, and COME TO THE STABLE fits with that tradition. The closest it gets to Christmas is a scene where Elsa Lanchester is painting a nativity scene, but COME TO THE STABLE has the same warm feeling as the very best Christmas movies and is very appropriate viewing for the season. I highly recommend it, and it seems especially appropriate to watch this holiday season given that Celeste Holm passed on this year, and the centennial of Loretta Young's birthday falls the week after New Year's. COME TO THE STABLE, which was nominated for multiple Oscars, was just released on DVD for the first time in the Fox Cinema Archives line.

Christmas Day features GOING MY WAY (1944) with Bing Crosby, as well as a series of religious films including THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943) and KING OF KINGS (1961). Then it's on to an evening of half a dozen Andy Hardy movies.

The Christmas movies don't stop on Christmas -- don't miss MY REPUTATION (1946), showing in another lineup of Stanwyck films on December 26th. This film, costarring George Brent and Eve Arden, includes significant scenes set at the holidays, as well as a sequence at a winter ski lodge, making it excellent seasonal viewing.

Additionally, the TCM special A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: MERRY CHRISTMAS! (2011) can be seen this year on December 9th and 16th.

Some titles often shown by TCM in December are absent this month, including the MGM version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938), LARCENY, INC. (1942), SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947).

The strangest thing about this month's schedule: Barbara Stanwyck is Star of the Month in December, but CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) is completely missing from the schedule? What's up with that?!

Recommended Christmas films not being shown on TCM which are available on DVD: in addition to some of the better-known titles such as HOLIDAY INN (1942), IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), and WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954), I particularly recommend Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in the moving I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) and Deanna Durbin in the absolutely delightful LADY ON A TRAIN (1945).

For more on TCM this month, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM Star of the Month: Barbara Stanwyck.


Blogger Crocheted Lace said...

One of my favorite Xmas movie is "Bush Christmas" which is on December 22. Some children blab to strangers and as a result their father's prized thoroughbred mare and her foal are stolen. Naturally, their father is very angry! They ask to go camping for a few days and their mother says "Yes, come back when your father calms down." The kids find the rustlers... Will they succeed in recovering a herd of the stolen horses and catching the criminals?
Now, what kid wouldn't enjoy a story where they get to ride horses deep into the hills for a few days and have exciting adventures?!?

3:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for pointing out that title, Crocheted Lace. I'm not familiar with that one at all, will add it to my recording list for the month! :)

Best wishes,

3:35 PM  
Blogger Crocheted Lace said...

I forgot to mention, this movie was made in Australia, where Christmas is high summer, making this Holiday adventure especially fun. It was filmed in the Blue Mountains of NSW, with geography somewhat like the US southwest: plateaus, gorges, mountains, but milder climate.
This film was very popular worldwide when it was released.

4:48 PM  

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