::Literate Blather::
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
"My Favorite Christmas Movie Is..." (Part 1)

We asked a simple question this Yuletide season. What is your favorite Christmas movie and why? Our distinguished panel of experts gave us some rather remarkable responses.

Be sure to check out Part 2 tomorrow!

Ken Bruen, bestselling author of “Once We Were Cops”

“Me fav Christmas movie is not really a Christmassy movie but it is about the holidays! So it's Home For The Holidays with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Junior, Charles Durning and a whole stellar cast Directed by Jodie Foster. It is so true of family re-unions and funny, deeply moving and beautifully directed.”

Steve Ulfelder, blogger and mystery novelist

A Christmas Story is my fave movie for this time of year -- and the contest isn’t even close, truth be told.

For starters, I never did like D
ickens’s A Christmas Carol. It always struck me as a nasty story about miserable people in a crappy time and place. For crying out loud, the big payoff moment is the purchase of a turkey. That was always hard to get excited about for me, a son of the mid-20th-century suburbs. Shouldn’t that asshole Scrooge have tossed Tiny Tim a bone in the form of a few Hot Wheels cars, at the very least? Maybe a GI Joe?

So A Christmas Carol and it’s thousand and one spinoffs and imitators were out.

Elf was okay, I guess, but I believe I’m five years too old to really get Will Ferrell.

The Santa Clause, too, was pretty good – but for me it (and its annual sequels, which unsurprisingly grow worse each year) remains strictly a flick-I-took-the-kids-to. Ditto Home Alone.

I’ve seen lists that include the great Die Hard as a Christmas movie, but that’s a stretch.

So it came down to A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation. The latter is distinctive in two ways. First, it’s the most recent Chevy Chase movie that you can get me to watch without those eyelid-holding devices from A Clockwork Orange (and it dates to 1989 – nice career, Chev). Second, it gave the world one of cinema’s classic lines, and one that my friends, family and I quote reverently to this day. The line belongs to R
andy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie character. While emptying the contents of his RV’s lavatory into the town sewer, Eddie casually explains to a disgusted neighbor: “Shitter’s full.”

Despite that and other classic moments (not to mention Julia Dreyfuss,
who I’ve always had a crush on), Christmas Vacation comes in second to A Christmas Story.

Why? Sheesh, how do you explain it without killing all the jokes? The movie is just plain funny. The Bumpus Hounds, Darren McGavin’s ineffectual father, his epic yet non-specific cursing, his ongoing battle with the furnace, the bundled-up sprint from the bullies – it’s all perfect, inevitable, timeless.

Not to mention quotable, another measurement of a movie’s appeal. Flat tires are rare these days, but whenever I get one I turn to whoever’s nearest and say, “Time me.” They know exactly what I’m referring to. Likewise, when the kids are around and I’m struggling with some dad chore in the attic or garage, I vent my frustration by cursing McGavin-style: “Frackin’, mackin’, sousitty-muckin’, hossenpfouffer thing …”

And when
’s the last time you saw something marked FRAGILE and failed to say, “Fra – JEE –lay”?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to the basement. The mackity-frackin’ Christmas lights popped a circuit breaker again, and I’m going to fix that ever-sousin’ muckhole of a hossenblatt if it kills me.

Polly Frost, writer and producer of “The Fold”
and "Sex Scenes"

“I don’t like the usual roster of Christmas movies -- What can I say? Halloween and Easter are holidays that inspire the gore movies I’m looking for! But I do enjoy imagining remakes of some of the Christmas movie classics:

It’s a Wonderful Life in a remake by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. When you think about it, the town of South Park is a little like Bedford Falls, the town where Jimmy Stewart lives in the movie, if maybe a little less heartwarming.

White Christmas -- and I actually do love Bing Crosby -- but would love that film being nuked by Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman. Gore by the bucket, bad-taste jokes, and obscene musical numbers ... I’m looking forward to a Troma Xmas!

Miracle on 34th Street as reconceived by Michael Bay. Blow New York City up, Michael! And Macy's! And Santa Claus, too, while you’re at it!"

Michael Marshall Smith, author of “The Servants”

“I'm afraid my answer is desperately un-original. Over the ideal holiday season I'd want to see both It’s a Wonderful Life and Gremlins, and both for the same reasons. Christmas is (or should be) about family, sentimentality, magic, and the kind of community that we like to believe still exists in Smalltown USA. Both these films - in different ways - celebrate all of the above, and have snow in them too. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe A Muppet Christmas Carol, I guess.”

John Cozzoli, blogger, Zombo’s Closet of Horror

“My favorite is A Christmas Carol (Scrooge, 1951). It has ghosts, lost souls, damned souls, and a wicked performance by Scrooge himself, otherwise known as Alastair Sim. His vinegar and salt vocal range is incredible, and adds depth to the cynical Ebenezer’s hatred and disappointment with the world. When the spirits turn him into a new man filled with hope and charity, he makes it all very believable and heartwarming. The movie is uplifting without being mawkish, and brings Dickens' story to vibrant life.”

Ed Gorman, author of “Sleeping Dogs”

“I like A Christmas Story because director Bob Clark was able to keep it winsome without getting mawkish. And because the performances were just so damned tight and on the money.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

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Anonymous watch movies said...
Someone in Hollywood have to come-out with a super-movie for Xmas! not a "fun family comedy" type, something...real, but good.

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