Friday, 27 November 2015

Movies for When Thanksgiving is Over But It's Not Quite Christmastime

If you're like me the days between Thanksgiving and December 1 are a bit awkward when it comes to watching certain movies. On the one hand it is a bit too late for movies devoted to Thanksgiving (not that there are many of them). It just doesn't feel right watching Plymouth Adventure (1952) or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) three days after Thanksgiving has passed. On the other hand, it is a bit too early for out-and-out Christmas movies. Watching Christmas in Connecticut (1945) or A Christmas Story (1983) would just seem odd when it is still November. The solution to this dilemma is simple. One watches movies that span the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could probably think of more if I put my mind to it, but here are five films suitable for viewing in the last days of November. Of course, since all of them are great films, I would say that they are suitable for viewing any time of year.

1. The Apartment (1960): I'm not sure when The Apartment actually begins, but I get the feeling it is either shortly before Thanksgiving or even the week of Thanksgiving. At any rate, it is already cold in New York City, making it November at the earliest. As to when it ends, well, given the film's iconic status I don't think I am giving anything away when I say it ends with New Year's. The Apartment is my favourite Billy Wilder movie of all time, my second favourite movie of all time, and my favourite holiday movie of all time. It is nearly perfect, with great performances from Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It also has a little bit of everything for everyone--comedy, romance, social commentary... It's as nearly perfect as a film can get, in my humble opinion.

2. Holiday Inn (1942):  Although it is often thought of as a Yuletide movie, Holiday Inn actually spans a whole year and covers very nearly every holiday celebrated in the United States (except Halloween, which I wish they had). This actually makes it suitable viewing for nearly any time of year. Holiday Inn features some of Fred Astaire's best dance routines (his "drunk" dance and firecracker dance have to be seen to believed) and some of Irving Berlin's best songs (including the all time best selling single "White Christmas"). I do have to warn you that you might want to skip the "Abraham" sequence for Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, which includes blackface that most would find offensive today.

3. Love Actually (2003): Love Actually, well, actually features a countdown to Christmas, beginning five weeks before the holiday. In other words, it begins the last week of November, around about the time we Americans would be celebrating Thanksgiving. Love Actually has been called a romantic comedy, but it really has only a little to do with the genre. It is probably better termed a Robert Altmanesque collection of ten interrelated stories examining love in all its forms: romantic love, the love between siblings, friendship, paternal love, and so on. In fact, in my humble opinion the best story is one in which washed-up rock star Billy Mack (played by Bill Nighy) tries to get the coveted Christmas no. 1 song with a holiday themed cover of The Troggs' "Love is All Around"--"Christmas is All Around". Love Actually is very funny and often touching as well.

4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947):  It might seem odd to include Miracle on 34th Street given it is considered one of the Christmas movies. That having been said, it begins on Thanksgiving Day and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at that. It then runs from Thanksgiving to the big day itself. Indeed, as bizarre as it sounds, it was released on May 2 1947! I really haven't a lot to say about Miracle on 34th Street that hasn't been said before. It is considered one of the greatest holiday movies of all time and is still shown frequently on television. I will say this. Avoid the remakes at all costs. Not only are they not nearly as good as the original, they simply aren't very good at all (and that is putting it lightly).

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): The Nightmare Before Christmas is perhaps the only film (or at least one of the very few) that is simultaneously a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie. This actually makes it perfect for viewing any time, from Halloween until Christmas. Not surprisingly, it went into wide release on October 29 1993. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the funniest holiday movies one can ever see--well, one of the funniest Halloween movies one can ever see as well. It has some great stop motion animation, as well as some remarkable voice acting from Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, and William Hickey.

1 comment:

Carissa Horton said...

Great list of recommendations. Love 3 of them already and it's about time to pull them out of my collection and give them a viewing.