Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Picks on TCM for the Day Before Christmas & Christmas Eve

If you are like most classic film fans, then you will want to spend much of the day before Christmas and Christmas Eve watching classic movies. Of course, the problem is that there are only so many hours a day and very few of us can afford to spend a whole day watching movies. To make thing easier for you, then, I decided to share my recommendations of the films to watch that are airing on Turner Classic Movies on 24 December 2014. Set your DVRs!

The Great Rupert (1950) at 9:30 AM EST/8:30 PMCST: The Great Rupert is an odd little film and one that has been largely forgotten at that. The film centres around the Rupert of the title, a performing squirrel. The Great Rupert benefits from fine performances from Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, and Tom Drake, as well as the incredible stop motion animation of George Pal. Reportedly, the stop motion animation was so convincing upon the film's release that many people thought Rupert was a real squirrel! While the film is certainly a bit goofy, it is also a whole lot of fun.

It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) at 12:15 PM EST/11:15 AM CST:  This is one of my favourite holiday films of all time. It Happened On 5th Avenue centres on a hobo, Aloyisius T. McKeever (played by Victor Moore), who  has a unique way of surviving winter. He simply moves into the vacated mansion of the 2nd richest man in the world, Michael J. O'Connor (played by Charles Ruggles), and leaves shortly before Mr. O'Connor returns in the spring. Needless to say, Mr. McKeever's usual winter stay at Mr. O'Connor's mansion is soon complicated inthe course of this film. While It Happened on 5th Avenue takes a while to get started, once it gets going the laughs are nearly non-stop. It benefits both from a good script, as well as an excellent cast that not only includes Messrs. Moore and Ruggles, but also Don DeFore, Gale Storm, and a young Alan Hale Jr.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) at 4:00 PM EST/3:00 PM CST:  I really don't have much to say about this film, with which I assume most classic film buffs are familiar. It is one of the best known Yuletide films of all time, and with good reason. It is one of Ernst Lubitsch's very best films, with an excellent script by Samson Raphaelson and an uncredited Ben Hecht. The film also benefits from fine performances from Jimmy Stewart and Frank Morgan.

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941) at 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM CST: Like The Shop Around the Corner, The Man Who Came to Dinner is one of the best known holiday films of all time. This is for good reason. Based on Moss Hart and George Kaufman's play of the same name and with a script by Julius and Philip Epstein, it is one of the funniest movies ever made. While Bette Davis received top billing, it is Monty Woolley who is the true star of the film, playing curmudgeonly radio celebrity Sheridan Whiteside. The rest of the cast shines as well, including Miss Davis, Richard Travis, Ann Sheridan, Billie Burke, and Mary Wickes as the poor nurse charged with caring for Mr. Whiteside.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945) at 10:00 EST/9:00 CST: Christmas in Connecticut is my second favourite Yuletide movie of all time after The Apartment (1960). I think it is one of the most underrated comedies of all time, complete with Maltese Falcon references and one line that I am surprised made it past the MPAA Production Code Administration. It also features Barbara Stanwyck at her absolute sexiest. I don't think she has ever been more desirable in any other film, not even The Lady Eve (1941) or Ball of Fire (1941). Christmas in Connecticut has one of the best casts of any Yuletide film as well, including Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, S.Z. Sakall, and Una O'Connor. If you can only watch one holiday film this year and you don't have access to The Apartment, then this is the one to watch!

Merry Christmas, Glad Yule, and Happy Viewing, everyone!

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