Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Year 2011

Today is the final day of 2011 and I cannot say that I am unhappy to see this year go. From a personal standpoint this has not been a particularly good year for me. Indeed, 2011 will always be to me the year that my best friend died. It was on 12 June of this year that my friend Brian passed on. I must confess that I still am mourning him and I still miss him a good deal. This past holiday season was a particularly difficult one for me because of that.

Even if my best friend had not died, however, it would be hard for me not to view 2011 as a year of death. Many of my favourite celebrities died this year and in such quantities that I swear I spent the first six months of this year writing eulogies in this blog. I am guessing the big news as far as celebrity deaths go this year was the passing of screen legend Elizabeth Taylor. As much as I loved Elizabeth Taylor, however, she was not the celebrity I mourned the most this year. Indeed, there were others I mourned more and a few I actually shed tears over. I am guessing that many of us felt the passing of Peter Falk more intensely than we did Miss Taylor. The reasons go far beyond the fact that he played Lt. Columbo. Mr. Falk was a multi-talented actor who also had a career not only on television, but on the screen and stage as well.  I believe many of us also mourned a good deal over Jane Russell. Miss Russell was well known for her physical attributes, but it was for her wit and her talent that we all loved her. She was both on screen and off screen the perfect combination of brains, beauty, and wit. Of course, she was not the only beautiful brunette to pass this year that I found myself mourning. Elaine Stewart was an actress on whom I had a crush since childhood. She was beautiful and quite versatile. I think because of her beauty her talent was often underestimated, something I hope will change in coming years.  I also found myself mourning John Neville. Most people probably knew him as Baron Munchausen from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), but he played may more roles, including Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Terror (1965) and the Well Manicured Man in The X-Files.

Others of my favourite actors worked primarily in television. This was particularly true of James Arness. Most of us know him as Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke, but Mr. Arness also appeared in such films as Big Jim McLain (1952), The Thing (1951), and Them! (1954). What made me feel Mr. Arness's death even more acutely was that he left behind a letter in which he thanked his fans for his career. It's the only time I have ever seen an actor do that. This year also saw the passing of what may have been the most popular of The Doctor's companions on Doctor Who of all time. Elisabeth Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was the first of The Doctor's companions to whom I was ever exposed and she still one of my favourites. In fact, in my humble opinion Sarah Jane ranks alongside Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and Honey West as far as independent female characters who could think for themselves on television. Arguably Cliff Robertson was as much of a film actor as a television actor, but it was on television where I first encountered him. He was a frequent guest star on television shows in the Sixties, including The Twilight Zone and Batman. Of course, he also had an extensive career in film, appearing in such movies as PT 109 (1963), Sunday in New York (1963), and Charly (1968).

Of course, actors were not the only celebrities who died this year. Director Sidney Lumet, who helmed such films as 12 Angry Men (1957), Fail-Safe (1964), Serpico (1973), and Network (1976) , passed this year. This year also saw the passing of screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, whose screenplays for Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958) turned Hammer Pictures from an obscure British studio into the studio most identified with horror movies besides Universal. The world of television saw the passing of three men who had a huge impact on my life and on Anglo-American pop culture. Sherwood Schwartz created Gilligan's Island, arguably one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. David Croft co-created several successful sitcoms, including Dad's Army, Are You Being Served, and 'Allo 'Allo. Bert Schneider was the co-producer of The Monkees. He went onto produce some of my favourite films, including Head (1968), Easy Rider (1969), and Five Easy Pieces (1970).  The world of comic books was also hit hard this year. Les Daniels, the comic book historian died at a terribly young age of 68. Jerry Robinson, the creator of The Joker and well known advocate for creator rights, also passed this year. Legendary comic book artist and writer Joe Simon, who created Captain America and other characters, died only months after his creation finally saw life on the big screen in a major motion picture.

While there were many deaths this year, in many ways 2011 was unremarkable as far as pop culture goes. The biggest movies this year were primarily sequels--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, a third Transformers movie, a fourth Twilight movie, and so on. Even when a movie wasn't a sequel, it was often a remake (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) or based on existing properties (the various superhero movies and so on). If anyone wants to use a year as an example of the possibility that Hollywood has run out of idea, 2011 could well be it.

Fortunately, television would at least make an attempt to be original in the 2011-2012 season, although the quality of the end results were often questionable. On the surface The Playboy Club was something different for NBC. Unfortunately, it was also very, very bad. Similarly, its fellow period piece Pan Am was something that ABC usually would not do. Unfortunately it was also a bit of a disappointment. The major networks have made more of an effort to air genre shows this year. Early in the year NBC aired The Cape, a superhero drama that lasted rather briefly. This season NBC and ABC debuted two very different shows that draw upon fairy tales (Grimm and Once Upon a Time). While the networks at least seem to be experimenting with different sorts of shows, they also seem to have lost all tastes when it comes to sitcoms. When it comes to the 2011-2012 season, it may be remembered as the Season of the Banal Sitcom. Up All Night, Whitney, and How to Be a Gentleman also seemed to demonstrate that NBC and CBS have forgotten what a good sitcom is. Indeed, his might be particularly true of NBC. Late this year NBC shelved the best comedy on television, Community, but is keeping the frightfully unfunny Up All Night and Whitney  on the air!

There is somewhat better news in the world of music, particularly for those of us who worry that Justin Beiber and The Jonas Brothers may be taking over the world.  Indeed, tween heartthrobs figured in none of the top ten albums. What is more, some of the top ten albums came from vocal talents who can actually sing. Adele, Lady Gaga, and Michael Buble held the top spots for the year. Even better, rock music seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Albums by both Coldplay and Mumford & Sons ranked in the top ten. Another upside is that not one of the top albums was by a rap artist, something those of us fear that particular musical genre could make a comeback have to be thankful for. On the downside, the top ten albums of the year worldwide also included what I call "pop rubbish." Both Rihanna and Beyonce had albums in the top ten.

Whatever the impact had on myself personally, I have to say it was not overly remarkable year with regards to pop culture. While television and music seem to be improving, motion pictures seem to be stuck in a rut of sequels. I suppose we can only hope that movies follow the course of television and music in trying something different. Sadly, that might not be 2012, as there seem to be more sequels on tap.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas Has 12 Days!

Yesterday I went to WalMart. The huge Christmas tree that one saw just as he or she walked into the store was gone. There was no trace of holly to be seen. Worse yet, there was no eggnog in the dairy section, nor were there any cherry cordials anywhere in the store. It was as if as far as WalMart was concerned, Christmas was over.

Now I now that some reading this may point out that yesterday was 29 December, four days after Christmas Day. While this is true, it ignores the fact that Christmas is not one day, but a festival that is twelve days long. Traditionally Christmas took place from the evening of 24 December (Christmas Eve) to the day of 6 January (Twelfth Day). And while I must confess no one outside of churches seems to have recognised the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas in my lifetime, when I was a lad there was at least some recognition that the period between 26 December and 1 January was part of the Christmas season. Oh, radio stations generally ceased playing Christmas music after 25 December and most TV outlets would not show holiday oriented specials and movies after 25 December. But all businesses would keep their Christmas decorations up, including their trees, until at least 2 January. In the days when I was growing up, it was generally recognised that New Year's Day was a part of the Christmas season, even if almost everyone stopped celebrating the holidays before Epiphany.

Of course, WalMart apparently forgot that Christmas lasts twelve days long ago. While I seem to recall that even as recently as the Naughts they kept their ornaments up longer, I also remember an advert they ran back in the Naughts beginning 26 December (it may have first aired on 25 December for all I know). The commercial began, "Now that the holidays are over..." Ummm, it's not even New Year's Day yet! From the commercial it would appear that WalMart believed the holidays ended with Christmas Day. The fact that they had no ornaments up in the store yesterday demonstrates that they apparently have not learned any differently since that advert aired.

I would not be so irritated at WalMat for taking down their Christmas decorations so early if they did not put them up so early as well. I went to WalMart on 1 November this year. I was confronted by the huge Christmas tree at the front of the store and Christmas music playing over the intercom. One would have thought it was the middle of December! Going by this, I almost believe that WalMart thinks the holiday season begins the day after Halloween and ends on Christmas Day. No, it doesn't. In fact, I think the vast majority of Americans do not think of it as "Christmas time" until Thanksgiving at the earliest. Many of us don't think of it as the holiday season until much later!

Now I'm guessing many reading this might ask why celebrating the Yuletide at least until New Year's Day is such a big deal. Well, for me there are several reasons. The first is simply tradition. Until the 20th Century, when the holiday season became convoluted with the holiday shopping season, Christmas was observed as a festival that lasted for the traditional twelve days. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was first published relatively recently, in 1780 in England. Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, makes reference to the twelve days of Christmas. Even when I was a growing up there was some recognition that Christmas did not end with Christmas Day. It has only been the past twenty years that certain merchants and media outlets have forgotten that Christmas is twelve days long and New Year's Day is a part of the Christmas season. In ignoring this tradition we effectively break with the past, we break with what our ancestors practised for years. This sets up what could be a dangerous precedent. If we forget the twelve days of Christmas, what is to keep us from forgetting Christmas all together?

The second reason is that Christmas is essentially a winter holiday. In both the United States and the United Kingdom its imagery deals with winter--snowmen, snowflakes, sleighs, and so on. Now winter does not begin until 21 December or 22 December. In insisting that the "holiday season" runs from 1 November to 25 December, then, WalMart and other merchants are placing the bulk of the Yuletide during autumn! Unless we are willing to change Christmas imagery to fallen leaves and pumpkins (not unlike Halloween and Thanksgiving), then we need to keep the Yuletide in its proper season.

Of course, that brings me to the third reason for observing the Twelve Days of Christmas. In the United States, at least, we already have holidays that take place in autumn. Both Halloween and Thanksgiving are very big holidays here in the States, and both are closely tied to their season. Unfortunately, for many years Thanksgiving has been in danger of losing its own identity. Almost all major stores have their Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving, if not as early as WalMart (who put them up 1 November). Worse yet, in the past some networks and cable channels have aired Christmas movies on Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is very much in danger of becoming just another part of an overly long Christmas season. Given how early many stores are putting up Christmas decorations and start selling Christmas ornaments, I have to wonder that in a few years Halloween may not be as well! Of course, if society began observing the Twelve Days of Christmas again then we probably would not see stores putting up Christmas ornaments until later, adn Thanksgiving would remain its own special day rather than an mere extension of the "Christmas" season.

As to my fourth reason for celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, it is simply that I believe the average American needs a break after a long year of work. The way we celebrate Christmas now the average American does not receive much of a break Far too much emphasis is placed on shopping for gifts to be given on 25 December. making a time that should be one of joy all too stressful for the average American. If we celebrated the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas, then gifts could be given on any of the twelve days, not just Christmas Day. This would give people more time to shop for gifts, which would reduce the amount of stress people experience during the holidays. I might also point out that it could also bring in more money for retailers like WalMart who seem to turn Christmas into an autumn holiday!

Of course, there are signs that at least the period between 25 December and 1 January may be increasingly regarded once more as part of the holidays. At least since the early Naughts the DMX Holidays and Happening digital music channel has continued to play Yuletide tunes until 31 January when it switches to what I can only describe as "party music." Various television outlets have also shown signs of regarding the period between 25 December and 1 January as part of the Christmas season. This week AMC showed The Polar Express several nights in a row beginning with the night of 26 December. Oxygen showed the movie Elf this week, after 25 December. This trend has been taking place for a few yeas now, so one can only hope that it continues to grow.

Indeed, I am hoping it will continue until even WalMart, the veritable Grinch of late when it comes to the holidays, realises the error of their ways. It is bad enough that WalMart seems to believe that 1 November is a good time to put up Christmas decorations. It is even worse that they think 26 December is the day to take them down. Christmas is a winter holiday, not an autumn one, and it should be observed as such!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The "Thin Man"/"It's a Wonderful Life" Connection

(Warning: This post deals with some very important plot points in the "Thin Man" films. If you have not seen all of the "Thin Man" movies, then, you would be advised to skip this post. Here There Be Spoilers!!!)

Last Thursday Turner Classic Movies showed a "Thin Man" marathon. That is, they showed all six "Thin Man"  movies back  to back. Of course, it is also the holiday season, which means NBC showed the classic It's a Wonderful Life multiple times. In watching both "The Thin Man" marathon and It's a Wonderful Life I learned something I should have realised long ago given how many times I've watched the films. Quite simply, "The Thin Man" movies and It's a Wonderful Life are connected more than one would think. Several actors who would go onto appear in It's a Wonderful Life appeared in "Thin Man" movies. It was not a small number of actors who did so, nor was it always actors who played only supporting roles in It's A Wonderful Life who appeared in "Thin Man" movies. Indeed, both leads appeared in "Thin Man" movies before they ever appeared tin It's a Wonderful Life.

Of course, the most obvious connection between "The Thin Man" series and It's a Wonderful Life is not through actors but through writers. Husband and wife writing team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich wrote the first three "Thin Man" movies--The Thin Man, After The Thin Man, and Another Thin Man. They also wrote the screen play to It's a Wonderful Life with Frank Capra. If It's a Wonderful Life has so many great lines, then, it is because it was written by writers who had written more than their fair share of witty lines.

Beyond sharing the writing team of Hackett and Goodrich, the first movie in the series, The Thin Man, also shared an actor with It's a Wonderful Life. Charles Williams may be best known to many as Cousin Eustace from It's a Wonderful Life, George's cousin and clerk at the Bailey Building and Loan. In The Thin Man he had an uncredited role as a fighter manager.

While Charles Williams had only a bit part in The Thin Man and only a supporting role in It's a Wonderful Life, After the Thin Man would feature none other than George Bailey himself, Jimmy Stewart, in a major role that was as different from George as one could get. Jimmy Stewart plays David Graham, who has long carried a torch for Nora Charles' cousin Selma (Elissa Landi). In the end we learn David is not only some poor guy suffering from a case of unrequited love, but he is stark raving mad. Indeed, Jimmy Stewart, who played self sacrificing George Bailey, is guilty of murder in After the Thin Man! Mr. Stewart would not be the only actor from It's a Wonderful Life to appear in After the thin Man. Ward Bond, who played Bert the Cop, appeared in a very small role as a party guest!

Like After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man would also feature two actors who would go onto appear in It's a Wonderful Life. Sheldon Leonard played Nick the Bartender in It's a Wonderful Life. In Another Thin Man he plays a much more sinister character, Phil Church, who has been threatening Colonel McFay (C. Aubrey Smith).  Phil Church has very little in common with Nick, as he is even more menacing than Nick was in the reality in which George Bailey was never born! In addition to Sheldon Leonard, one of the police detectives in Another Thin Man is also played by an actor with a minor role in It's a Wonderful Life. Dick Elliot played the man on the porch who urged George Bailey to kiss Mary Bailey "...instead of talking her to death" and then complains, "Youth is wasted on the wrong people!"

Like After the Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man featured one of the leads of It's a Wonderful Life. Donna Reed played Molly Ford, girlfriend of the murder victim, Paul Clarke (Barry Nelson). Miss Reed would be the only actor in Shadow of the Thin Man who would go onto appear in It's a Wonderful Life, but the next "Thin Man" movie would make up for this. No less than three actors who would appear in It's A Wonderful Life appeared in The Thin Man Goes Home, although none of them would be in major roles. Sara Edwards, who played Mary's mother (Mrs. Hatch) in It's a Wonderful Life, played a passenger on a train. Tom Fadden, who played the bridge caretaker in It's a Wonderful Life, played another train passenger. Charles Halton, who played Carter the Bank Examiner in It's A Wonderful Life, had a slightly larger role as R. T. Tatuam, one of the employees of banking tycoon Sam Ronson (Minor Watson).

Song of the Thin Man would be the last "Thin Man" film, but like After the Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, and Another Thin Man, it would have a very strong link to It's a Wonderful Life. Gloria Grahame, Violet Bick herself, played Fran Page, a very sultry jazz singer. Al Bridge, who appeared as the sheriff in It's a Wonderful Life, appeared as Nagle the Waterfront Policeman. Charles Sullivan, who played a bartender at Nick's in the reality in which George Bailey was not born, played a police sergeant.

As can be seen, it's not a simple case of character actors appearing in minor roles in both the "Thin Man" series and It's a Wonderful Life. The two leads of It's a Wonderful Life each appeared in a  "Thin Man" movie (Jimmy Stewart in After the Thin Man and Donna Reed in Shadow of the Thin Man). Two important members of It's a Wonderful Life also appeared in "Thin Man" movies--Sheldon Leonard in Another Thin Man and Gloria Grahame in Song of the Thin Man. One major member of the cast of It's a Wonderful Life appeared in a minor role in a "Thin Man" movie--Ward Bond in a bit part in After the Thin Man. And then there are the bit players who appeared in small roles in both the "Thin Man" series and It's a Wonderful Life: Dick Elliot, Sam Edwards, Charles Halton, and so on. Even discounting the fact that Hackett and Goodrich wrote the first two movies, there is never anything less than one degree of separation between any given "Thin Man" movie and It's a Wonderful Life.

Today it must seem unusual for so many actors who would go onto appear in It's a Wonderful Life to have appeared in "Thin Man" films. It would be something like several members of the cast of, say, Serendipity (2001) having appeared in "James Bond" movies (admittedly it's hard seeing John Cusack saying "I expect you to die, Mr. Bond...."). What is even more remarkable it that the "Thin Man" movies and It's a Wonderful Life were produced by two different studios--the "Thin Man" movies by MGM and It's a Wonderful Life by Capra's own Liberty Films. It becomes even more remarkable when one considers that Frank Capra had not even worked for MGM by the time It's a Wonderful Life  was produced. Why then are there so many connections between the "Thin Man" films and It's a Wonderful Life?

Much of it is the fact that the "Thin Man" movies were the "James Bond" movies of their day. While most series films were cheaply produced programmers, the "Thin Man" movies were very much "A" pictures. This meant that not only were the leads played by big name stars (William Powell and Myrna Loy), but that MGM would use the best of their young talent. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Gloria Grahame were probably all cast because they were seen as up and coming stars by the studio. Frank Capra, as a director of some importance, would naturally cast big names as his leads in It's a Wonderful Life. Indeed, he had worked with Jimmy Stewart on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As to character actors such as Sheldon Leonard and Dick Elliot, it should come as no surprise that they would appear in both the "Thin Man" movies and It's a Wonderful Life. First, we must consider the fact that character actors generally played a specific type. Sheldon Leonard was known for playing thugs and gangsters, so he was a natural choice for Phil Church. Now he might seem like an odd choice to play Nick the Bartender, except when one considers Nick's  behaviour in the reality in which George was not born--he was not a nice guy. Second, character actors tended to work frequently and in a wide array of  movies, everything from programmers to major feature films. While the leads of It's a Wonderful Life appear in two "Thin Man" movies, many of the actors who played lesser parts probably appeared in other series as well. In other words, It's a Wonderful Life probably has connections to everything from "The Falcon" series to the "Blondie" series (actually, it has at least one connection to the "Blondie" series--Penny Singleton appears in a major role in After the Thin Man).

Regardless, when one becomes aware of the connections between It's a Wonderful Life and the "Thin Man" movies it makes for some rather interesting viewing. Indeed, my favourite could well be After the Thin Man. Not only do we get to see George Bailey as a psychotic killer, but we get to see Bert The Cop as a party guest. One has to wonder what the folks in Bedford Falls would think....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Holiday Movies That Aren't Holiday Movies

Most people if asked to define what constitutes a holiday movie would probably define it as "any movie set at Christmas or any movie in which Christmas plays a pivotal role in the plot." On the surface this sounds like a very good definition. Indeed, I would be inclined to agree with it myself. The problem is that there are movies that fit this description that are not generally considered Christmas movies and ones that do not that are.

A perfect example of a holiday film that is not often counted among holiday films is Billy Wilder's classic The Apartment (1960). The movie takes place from about early November to New Year's Eve, thus encompassing the whole holiday season. What is more, both Christmas and New Year's Eve play pivotal roles in its plot; however, for whatever reason it is not often included in lists of holiday movies. Indeed, I have seen the movie shown in July nearly as often as in December. While I am not about to complain about The Apartment being shown all times of year (it is one of my favourite films), it seems to me that it should be counted as a holiday favourite in the same way that It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Miracle on 24th Street (1947) are.

Another movie that has in the past been excluded from lists of holiday movies is Love Actually (2003). Like The Apartment its plot encompasses nearly the whole holiday. And like The Apartment Christmas plays a pivotal role in its plot. Despite this, the first time I ever saw the film was on the USA Network in July. That wasn't an isolated incident either, as I have seen it at other times of year. Here I want to stress I am not going to complain, as I love the film, but it seems to me it is an ideal movie for the holiday season. Fortunately, unlike The Apartment, I think Love Actually is becoming regarded as a holiday classic, even if TV stations and cable channels neglect to show it over the holidays. Quite simply, I know a good many people who watch it every Yuletide (myself included)!

Another film not often regarded as a holiday movie is Die Hard (1988). Die Hard is set during the holiday season and given that a Christmas party is taking place the holiday does play a role in its plot. In fact, it is hard picturing it set during any other time of year. While I know of many who regard The Apartment and Love Actually as holiday movies, I know very, very few people who regard Die Hard as such. I suspect it is because it is an action movie.  The emphasis in Die Hard is not so much on holiday cheer as it is on action. Still, the fact remains that the movie does take place at Christmas and the holiday plays a role in its plot. For that matter, it does have subplots which fit the holiday (McClane's reconciliation with his wife, Powell's redemption).

While there are movies that are set at the holidays and in which the holidays are central to the plots that are not considered holiday movies, strangely enough there are movies that actually have little to do with Christmas beyond relatively few scenes that are considered such. Among these are Meet Me In St. Louis (1944). Indeed, Meet Me in St. Louis takes place from the summer of 1903 to the spring of 1904. The movie then touches upon several seasons besides Christmas. Admittedly, the climax is set at Christmas, but the holiday itself only has little bearing on the plot. For all extents and purposes the Christmas ball of the climax could have been set at spring or summer with very little change to the plot. In fact, it can be argued that Halloween played a more pivotal role in the movie! Now while the holiday standard "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was introduced in the film, that really does not seem to me to be enough to qualify it as a holiday movie. As much as I have always enjoyed Meet Me in St. Louis, I fail to see why it is shown so much in December. It could easily be shown in October or March as well.

Similar to Meet Me in St. Louis is a movie considered one of the Christmas movies, Holiday Inn. The plot of Holiday Inn unfolds over roughly two years and covers much more than just the Yuletide. Indeed, while Christmas does play a pivotal role in its plot, so do many other holidays (including Valentine's Day and the 4th of July). It would be hard to argue against the film being shown at Christmas, but at the same time it seems to me that it could be played at nearly any holiday. Indeed, I rather doubt it was the intention of Paramount to create a Christmas film with Holiday Inn. Despite its close connection to the holiday now, it was originally released in August! Regardless, one could argue that Holiday Inn is a film for all holidays, not just the  holidays.

At least Meet Me in St. Louis  and Holiday Inn do touch upon Christmas. There is one film that at least the media connects to Christmas, if no one else does, that has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday. Every  year ABC shows The Sound of Music (1965) on or around Christmas Eve and several channels have done so before it. Despite this, The Sound of Music has no scenes set at Christmas, Christmas does not play a pivotal role in the film, nor do I think Christmas is even mentioned in the movie! The airing of The Sound of Music at the holidays actually does irritate me, not simply because I dislike the movie, but because it seems to me that they should be showing something that has more bearing on the holiday. While Meet Me in St. Louis and Holiday Inn only touch upon Christmas, I can appreciate why they are shown at this time of year. I cannot understand why The Sound of Music is shown. If one is going to show The Sound of Music on Christmas Eve, then why not The Ten Commandments or Mary Poppins or Gunga Din?! Heck, Alien has much to do with the holidays as The Sound of Music.

In the end I suppose what is a holiday movie for any given person is largely a matter of perception. Indeed, despite my words regarding Holiday Inn above, I do see it as a Christmas movie, thus violating my own definition of the term. If some do not consider The Apartment  as a holiday film, then I assume it is because they do not perceive it as such. Of course, I am still puzzled to ABC and other television outlets considering The Sound of Music holiday fare, but then I also have trouble seeing "My Favourite Things" as a Christmas song too.... I suppose some things just defy explanation.