Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have always been a Christmas fanatic. Christmas albums comprise my largest collection of music which I listen to year round. I start my countdown in October. I buy beautiful holiday wrapping paper despite my hatred of wrapping gifts. I put my tree up before Thanksgiving. AND I adore Christmas movies, which is why I wanted to share a list of my favorites for this blogathon.
In speaking of this holiday, I must admit, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. No trendy flocked tree for me this year, I’m sticking with my favorite red and gold. I love the aspect of the holiday which celebrates family over busyness, thoughtfulness over commercialism. And I still believe that the real reason for the season is the birth of Jesus. Continue reading “The Happy Holiday Blogathon – My Ten Favorite Christmas Films”
Alfred Kralik is the longest serving employee at Matuschek and Company in Budapest, Hungary. Personally taken under the wing of Mr. Matuschek, Kralik has worked his way up the ladder to become the store’s top sales clerk. He is joined by his four other fellow employees Vadas, Flora, Ilona, his good friend Pirovitch and the errand boy Pepi who have all formed a special camaraderie with each other. They aren’t just co-workers but a family of sorts.
But things begin to change and upset Kralik’s life of routine. First, Matuschek hires the beautiful but snippy young Klara Novak. Kralik and Klara do not get along. She constantly challenges his authority and he resents her rudeness to him. Then, Kralik’s formerly close relationship with his employer shows some fractures. He cannot fathom why Mr. Matuschek is suddenly treating him so coldly. The one bright spot in Kralik’s life is his growing closeness with his anonymous female pen pal. Though he has never met her, he begins to fall for her, recognizing her as a kindred spirit. Just when Kralik believes he is getting a raise, he is unexpectedly fired instead. On the same night, he goes to meet his pen pal and discovers Klara waiting in the same restaurant. Things look pretty bleak for him. But Christmas is a time when anything can happen.
The Man Who Invented Christmas gives a new and welcome spin to A Christmas Carol by telling its’ creation through the eyes of the author Charles Dickens. Despite his previous publishing success, Charles Dickens is in financial straits. With a growing family, an expensive new London townhome and a spendthrift father, funds are very limited. His most recently published books haven’t been as successful. For this reason his publishers are hesitant to back a new book. Not to mention Dickens is struggling with writer’s block. Dickens close friend and agent, John Forster, encourages and support him through his difficulties, until inspiration strikes. Despite the lack of demand for a holiday story, Charles Dickens insists it is a tale that needs to be told. As such, he decides to self-publish putting his family in even further financial peril.
As Dickens writes his story, he faces several challenges. There is the growing disconnect between himself and his neglected wife. Another battle he faces is with his main character, Scrooge, who challenges him more than he expects. A third is the fractured relationship with his father who unexpectedly arrives for a visit. This also forces Dickens to wrestle with the ghosts of his own past history. It creates an intriguing intertwinement of the author’s life with that of his character.
Three wealthy but lonely older men invite strangers into dinner on Christmas Eve. Displaced Texan James Houston and Jean Lawrence, a teacher join not only George, Chad and Michael, but also their housekeeper, former Russian countess Madame Tanya for a surprisingly merry Christmas. The three older men form a strong bond with the young James and Jean and act as matchmakers for the new couple.
As months pass, those bonds grow tighter and transform not only the lives of the elderly men, but also Madame Tanya. They become a family of love if not blood. When the three men pass away, they continue to watch over Jean and James from the here after, determined to see them happy. But James rise to instant fame as a singer brings with it many temptations and challenges his relationship with Jean. Will the men’s supernatural guidance be enough to keep them together? Continue reading “Classic Film Review – Beyond Tomorrow (1940)”
Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is a famous and beloved columnist for a national magazine. Her monthly articles feature delicious recipes for fancy meals. They also describe her idyllic home life as a loving wife and mother who lives on a farm.
Her publisher Alexander Yardley(Sydney Greenstreet) receives a request to provide a family style Christmas for a naval war hero. So, he decides Elizabeth should be the host and invites himself along.
His demands through Elizabeth into a panic. Unbeknownst to Mr. Yardley and her public, she is a fraud. In reality Elizabeth Lane is a single woman who writes her articles from her New York apartment and has zero talent in the kitchen. Her close friend Uncle Felix (S.Z Sakall) actually provides the recipes which she features in her articles.
In danger of losing her job, Elizabeth agrees to an engagement with her friend John Sloane (Reginald Gardiner) who just happens to have a farm in Connecticut. They decide to continue her ruse and even manage to find a baby to pose as their child. Uncle Felix accompanies them to cook the meals Elizabeth Lane is famous for.
However, all these plans are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan). It is love at first sight between Elizabeth and Jeff, but he thinks she is married. Further complications ensue as Mr. Yardley starts making plans for the Elizabeth Lane “family” in order to increase his circulation. Meanwhile, Uncle Felix contrives to keep Elizabeth from marrying John.
Everyone who knows me, knows how much I adore Christmas. And anyone who reads this blog should also be aware of how much I love movies. I have a whole list of Christmas films which I enjoy and watch every year, many of them classics. Since I already made a list of classic holiday films for The Silver Petticoat Review, today I decided to focus on my favorite made for television movies.
While Hallmark and its’ sister channel Hallmark Movies and Mysteries are renowned for their holiday offerings, Lifetime also has some special Christmas movies. Thankfully, the quality of television films, particularly those featuring Christmas themes, continues to improve. So, my list continues to grow each year. And I’ve already added to it for 2017 even though there are still many new movies yet to air. I have found that many times a Christmas movie appeals to me because of the actors and not necessarily the story. Because as all Hallmark aficionados know, we don’t watch these movies for their predictable story lines. Continue reading “My Favorite Television Christmas Films”
The Holiday is not just one of my favorite Christmas films, but one of my favorite films period. This story which is now a decade old follows two women who decide to switch homes and lives for the holidays. In the process, they both meet new people, including potential love interests, and learn something about themselves.
Although there are many implausibilities about this film, I really don’t care because it has charm, warmth and heart. It harkens back to the days of classic films when you fell in love with a movie, because you fell in love with the characters and the story was moved along not by CGI action and graphic sex scenes but by great dialogue.
So, to rip off one of my favorite poets (I’m looking at you Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and without further ado…
How do I love thee, The Holiday, let me count the ways:
Arthur played by Eli Wallach -Arthur is the elderly next door neighbor who Iris (Kate Winslet) befriends and who becomes a pseudo-therapist/mentor to her. I love the way they each see the truth about each other and encourage one another to live more meaningful lives. My favorite scene of Arthur is towards the end when he thinks he’s been forgotten and he walks into a benefit in his honor. I cry every single time, because who wouldn’t want to come to the end of their life and realize that they have made a difference and are remembered well. I want an Arthur!!