Posted by Larry Gleeson
For me, it just doesn’t get any better than the RKO Pictures It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, “the richest man in the world.” Often overlooked as the film was at its release, is Donna Reed’s performance as Mary. In addition, Lionel Barrymore delivers an unforgettable performance as dastardly Mr. Potter. In the end, it’s all George Bailey exemplifying and embodying love, honor, and charity. Directed by the legendary Frank Capra who had just wrapped up several war propaganda films.
Growing up in a big family, I related to McCauley Culkin’s character, Kevin McAllister, in Home Alone (1990) Culkin portrays an eight-year-old troublemaker who must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern turn in riveting performances as the lovable would-be robbers outsmarted at every turn. Catherine O’Hara and John Heard bring it home as the warm and distraught parents who forgot their son as they hurried off to the world’s busiest airport.
White Christmas (1954) with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen made the list as I finally watched the classic film this week, despite being a long-time owner of the Bing Crosby Christmas Album. The film follows two war buddies who go on to a high-profile entertainment career performing live routines to rave headlines in Variety. Made during the era of big-budget musicals, White Christmas doesn’t disappoint.
Bad Santa and Bad Santa 2 with Billy Bob Thronton and Tony Cox round out the list and need a warning for some adult content sure to offend and spark the ire of any parent who is anticipating a film to watch with their adolescent children. A word of caution – don’t even think about it. Watched in tandem, the films, made thirteen years apart, reach a crescendo at the end of Bad Santa and Bad Santa 2 provided a slippery descent into degradation and vulgarity not expected in a Christmas film. Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks joins the cast for the sequel. Expect the unexpected!