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Favorite Christmas movies. December 12, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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At Silence Dogood’s suggestion, our friend Ben has spent the past few days Googling “best Christmas movies” lists of all types and stripes to make sure there aren’t gaping holes in our collection. This has turned up some really bizarre results (one reviewer listed “Die Hard” as his favorite Christmas movie). It’s also resulted in more predictable choices, from “A Christmas Story” to “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Naturally, some version of Charles Dickens’s enduring classic, A Christmas Carol, typically turns up on every “best of” list. Typically, the definitive 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge is cited, though our friend Ben was delighted to find that the Albert Finney musical version, “Scrooge,” made several lists. George C. Scott’s interpretation was also on several lists.

Other classics, like “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Holiday Inn,” “White Christmas,” and “The Bishop’s Wife” made most lists. (Silence and I have two versions of “Miracle,” but have ordered both Bing Crosby vehicles, “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas,” since we can’t tell them apart offhand and need to see them again, as well as “The Bishop’s Wife,” which we can’t recall ever seeing.)

Then there are the Christmas downers. Every list gives the obligatory nod to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a movie that’s so relentlessly depressing we can’t bear to watch it. There’s nothing wonderful about watching a man ground down for the length of a film in order to see a two-minute happy ending. It reminds us of Will Smith’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.” No, thank you. At least O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” which is at least as depressing and distressing, didn’t make the lists; perhaps there’s not yet been a movie adaptation. Thank God for small blessings.

All this looking at lists gave me and Silence lots to talk about, especially after we’d looked at our Christmas movie collection and compared it to the lists. Finally, Silence asked what my favorite Christmas movie was. “Is it that Blackadder Christmas Carol?!” she asked suspiciously, referring to one of my favorites, a British comedic version in which the kindest man in London, Ebenezer Blackadder, is tranformed on Christmas Eve through the visit of a ghost into Scrooge.

I do love that, but no. And fond as I am of the original version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” my all-time favorite Christmas movie would have to be a Scrooge. We have many versions, from the original 1934 interpretation through Patrick Stewart’s. Like so many, I remain impressed with Alastair Sim’s defining performance. And I love the Albert Finney musical. But, I must confess, if I could only have one Christmas movie, it would be “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.”

Our friend Ben grew up with Mr. Magoo. As both a fan of slapstick and a very nearsighted child, I loved Magoo and his antics. In my childhood home, reading the entire Christmas Carol aloud on Christmas Eve was a tradition (we all took turns). To combine this beloved tradition with the humor of Magoo was irresistible to the youthful Ben, and the movie, also a musical, had surprisingly good songs.

I still watch the Magoo version of “A Christmas Carol” every year, and I still laugh and sing along. Okay, it’s hardly the best Christmas film ever made, but it certainly spreads a big dollop of Christmas cheer every year here at this house. What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

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