Sunday, December 22, 2013

Is your favorite Christmas movie based on a book?



Edmund Gwen and Natalie Wood/Miracle of 34th Street 1947

My Christmas shopping exceeds my remaining Christmas shopping days so for right now, I'm gifting myself with a wee bit of extra time by reposting this holiday missive. I'm stunned to see I put it up on Christmas eve a couple of years back; I'm impressed at my former super-organized self! A rarity I can assure you.

12/24/2011 Merry Christmas everyone! Just about to start baking before heading over to my husband's family for Christmas Eve supper and present opening. Tomorrow we'll celebrate Christmas here, Mark will cook the turkey and the roast and my whole crazy family comes here. Just enough time for a quick Christmas post before I go!



One of my all-time Christmas classic favorites is Miracle on 34th Street.The version with Natalie Wood as the little girl of course, not any crummy remake done in the 70's or 80's or 90's.That film still brings tears to my eyes. The movie was based on the book by Valentine Davies and starred Maureen O'Hara and John Payne and Edmund Gwenn as Santa. Or more precisely, Kris Kringle. 


He was spectacular as Santa but don't take my word for it, he actually won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Father Christmas. That's what my own parents - being British - often called Santa when I was growing up. What I love about the movie is how it resolutely shoos cynicsm down the chimney. Watching the movie, long past our own believing-in-Santa days we ache for those simpler and innocent times. Innocent enough that a little girl is allowed to visit with a strange old man alone! We want to believe. We want to feel innocent and hopeful. We want to believe in the magic of the man from the North Pole. Watching that movie, we do. 

Miracle on 34th Street brings out the Believer in Beiber in this Macy's commercial from 2013.


I hadn't even heard of A Christmas Story when I met my husband, Mark, who introduced me to this funny funny film. My taste, as you can see, runs more to the sappy side. I might not even have cared for it much as a Christmas classic on first viewing but over the years it has become a must see in our house. 



Ralphie, and his gun, his friend's tongue sticking to the pole, his mother warning him "You'll shoot your eye out", the dogs eating the turkey, the sexy leg lamp, Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant, and of course, and the foul language all first appeared in two short story collections by Jean Shepherd. In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash  first published in 1966 and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories published in 1971 are the works of the comic writer and radior personality who delved into his own midwestern childhood memories as a source of great humor. 





The stories that shaped the film have since been gathered into one collection called accurately enough, A Christmas Story. Go to Barnes and Noble to purchase HERE



I also love A Christmas Carol — especially this British version of the Charles Dickens classic starring Alistair Sim; it's the one I saw on television when I was growing up. I was the narrator of the play back in 7th grade in Niagara Falls, my first behind-the-scenes job. The drama teacher said I could sit on a stool at the side of the stage — where everyone from Princess Elizabeth School could see me as I read my part — or behind the curtain at the sound booth. I chose behind the curtain!  There have been so many retellings of the classic tale, I've been a fan of the many manifestations like Scrooged - based, however loosely on the Charles Dickens classic. 

Two more on my all-time fave movies for Christmas. Love Actually. Heart-searing and so romantic and funny, no it's not based on a book but who cares. And It's A Wonderful Life; a movie so perfect and beautiful, I wish it were based on a novel so I could get to know all the characters even better! Well, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! I just found out the movie is based on a short story, The Greatest Gift by Howard Van Doren. The story didn't sell so Van Doren sent it out to a couple of hundred people as his annual Christmas Card which is how it finally found it's way to a studio! And no, just because the poster is in color, doesn't mean the movie is. Like Miracle on 34th Street, it's best to see this classic Christmas movie in its original black and white.



Check out this expanded trailer for Miracle on 34th Street.  I love this glimpse into how they used to promote Hollywood movies. How about you? What do you think of the trailer? And do you have a Christmas movie you just have to see every year? Tell me or I may just have to tell Santa you've been very, very naughty this year.




MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
AND
TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!

Enjoy the holiday and thanks for sharing a few minutes of your time with me.

1 comment:

  1. I love Tomie de Paola--I'll have to look for his illustrations for Miracle on 34th Street!

    ReplyDelete

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