Part 16 in a 25 Part Series: Maryann's Favorite Christmas Things
You might be saying, "Hey! There are some glaring omissions in that classics list!" I know, I know. As I've said before, It's a Wonderful Life is too depressing for me, even with the ending. A Christmas Story totally scarred me as a child. Leg lamps? Tongues stuck on poles? Eyes shot with BB guns? I can't go back. Some of you might be upset at the absence of Prancer or Santa Claus. Prancer? Too sad. And we had a book of images from the Santa Claus movie and they scared me as a child. It looked too serious, like someone might die or cry in it. I should watch it one of these days. Were you hoping Holiday Inn would be in the list? There's a minstrel number in that film, so it's not making it (though I love it).
So, this list is made up of my Christmas films (some can be considered 'films' in an extremely loose sense) that are not always the first or second or third to come up when people think of holiday movies. Maybe you are like me and these ARE on your classics list. If so, I love you. If not, that's OK too!
5) Disney's Sing-Along-Songs - 12 Days of Christmas (1993)
I grew up with Sing-Along-Songs, but even as a teenager I kept watching this one at Christmas. The original songs are actually 5 times better than you might expect. Well, depending on your expectations. :) It was from this video that I decided to sing "An Elephant for Christmas" (a less melodic version of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas") in my audition for our community's annual production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Despite that, they were kind enough to put me in the chorus. The best part was when I got carried across the stage by a 'fireman.' It was pretty romantic. To an 8 year old.
4) Serendipity (2001)
(This is the ending scene so don't watch it if you haven't seen the movie! Or do because you know how all rom-coms end.)
Write it off as a cheesy rom-com, go ahead! But my former roommate Amber and I used to watch this on repeat for days. Which doesn't actually prove it's not a cheesy rom-com, instead it just proves that Amber and I like cheesy rom-coms. But seriously, there's snow and skating and Christmas shopping in New York and hot cocoa and a WONDERFUL soundtrack. Not to mention John Corbett playing a fantastic new age oboist. The plot is cute, but it's the mis-en-scene of this film that makes it a must-watch for me each Christmas. I mean, the use of the Nick Drake song in the above video. SWOOOOON.
3) Peter, Paul & Mary's Holiday Celebration (1991)
I believe my family watched this when it first aired on PBS. Or maybe it didn't debut on PBS, but that's where we watched it every year after. Mary's shiny silky pajama-esque outfit is forever imprinted in my childhood memories. A few Christmases ago I tracked down the soundtrack for us, and it's been a staple of our holiday mixes ever since. Unfortunately the whole thing isn't on youtube, but various clips are. One of the songs is "Children Go Where I Send Thee", which was a tune they sung back in the 60s. The song I posted, "The Magi (The Heart of Man's A Palace)" gives me such serious chills with the incredible choir accompanying Peter.
For the heart of man's a palace
and his dreams are as the sunlight
They burn away the darkness,
as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher,
as a river through the canyon,
the diamond star shines down upon
a pathway to the soul
COME ON. Another gem: Paul's "T'Was The Night Before Christmas." The whole concert is forever a favorite.
2) The Bishop's Wife (1948)
I don't know why I think this isn't a natural contender for the classics list, except for maybe the fact that it's super old and black and white and has bishop in the title and is $38 on amazon . So I don't think many people (my age at least) have taken the time to watch it. They may have seen The Preacher's Wife--the Whitney Houston remake--which I liked, but the original is the best. Loretta Young is impossibly sweet and kind as the wife in question, David Niven is the perfect worrisome and distracted bishop, and Cary Grant is the dreamboat to launch all dreamboats. I've again posted the end of the movie, which is only matched in my mind by the Easter sermon in Chocolat. So this is my favorite Christmas sermon, and that's my favorite Easter sermon. Sorted!
1) While You Were Sleeping (1995)
What? Another rom-com? YES. God, I love this little movie so much. The family is my favorite in any holiday movie, I think. Goofy and corny and totally devoted to each other. For a brilliant breakdown, read Sheila O'Malley's blog post about it. And of course there's a special place in my heart for a heroine who lives alone with her cat, wears oversized baggy clothes, and has to bring home a Christmas tree all by herself, only to end up going to Florence with Bill Pullman.
Honorable Mention: Julie Andrew's The Sound of Christmas.
What are some of your often overlooked favorites?