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Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I Saw Three [Christmas Movies] Come Sailing In

Man, I'm on a roll here. I don't know why, but I've been on a Christmas movie tear this week.

I watched White Christmas on Saturday. I really can't explain exactly why I watch that movie every year, other than the simple fact that it's Christmassy and I have it. It's kind of a pile.

For anyone who's never seen it...well, first, don't. And second, the movie is basically the story of how the hottest song and dance team in the country pulls off a Christmas miracle to save the floundering Vermont inn owned by the general who commanded them in World War II. And it's just as compelling as that sounds.

Don't get me wrong, I love Der Bingle. When I was really young, we basically had four Christmas albums in the house: Ed Ames, Elvis Presley, a compilation my folks got from Goodyear--which had Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and Ella doing "Sleigh Ride"--and Bing. I'm a sucker for that album. I even love fucking "Mele Kalikimaka", for Christ's sake.

But White Christmas is built entirely on the premise that "White Christmas" is a great song. That's it. They try to weave some story in there. There's some nice dancing with Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen. And there's a whole lot of really shitty Irving Berlin songs. "What Can You Do with a General"? Sweet rectal prolapse, that's a lame song!

Then there's the fact that, as much as I absolutely love Rosemary Clooney's singing--I could listen to "C'mon-a My House" 'til the cows come home--her acting in this is stiffer than George Bush at the Kennedy Center Honors. Plus, she and Bing have all the chemistry of the last piece of sweaty cheese on the deli tray.

And yet, I've seen the damn thing at least fifteen times. Maybe it's because, even as lame as it is, it beats the living shit out of modern Christmas fare like Deck the Halls or The Santa Clause or Ben Affleck Takes a Steaming Dump All Over Christmas.

Yesterday, as I've already described, I wept my way through my annual viewing of It's a Wonderful Life. Today, then, it was time for the ne plus ultra of seasonal viewing: A Christmas Carol.

Anyone who has any great sentiment for the Christmas holiday has, I'm sure, their favorite filmed version of this venerable tale. There are many people for whom Alistair Sim is the one and only Ebeneezer. Others, I'm told, delight in singing along with the "razzleberry dressing" song in the Mr. Magoo version. Hell, for all I know, there may be people for whom the Fonzie-starring, Depression-set An American Christmas Carol ruined all others. (The scary part of this is that I had to look none of these up on IMDB.)

For me, though, the only Christmas Carol I need stars the late, great George C. Scott. It's a version he did for Hallmark Hall of Fame in the early-to-mid-eighties and I love it.

It's got Roger Rees as Fred; David Warner as Bob Cratchit and Edward "The Equalizer" Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Their Tiny Tim is no great shakes and you kind of want to beat him to death with his own crutch by the time he whimpers his twelfth "God bless us, every one", but, other than that, it's solid.

Seriously, though, my man George the C. is the reason to watch this one. He plays a great asshead throughout and then, after the spirits do their thing, he tackles Ebeneezer's embrace of Christmas so well that he'll make you want to be as good a man as the old city's known.

And so, as Tiny Tim said, "God bless us, every--ouch, my heart exploded!"

"What Can You Do with a General" is the best political commentary on MacArthur EVER!
Wow. I think you have another spammer, Mr. Hairshirt. Check out Senor Carter's "blog". What a crock.
Thank you for revealing the ugly truth about White Christmas... and yet, we watch it every year too.

I think it could be edited down into a pretty decent 30 minute show, though.

Keep most of the tunes (including the title song, of course, and also that great "Snow" sequence on the way to the ski lodge). Lose the plot and dialogue. Keep the modern dance number and the Bing-in-drag "Sisters" sequence in there for bizarro kitsch value.

Then -- maybe. But it ain't no Miracle on 34th St., Wonderful Life, Christmas Carol, Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph, or Charlie Brown Christmas -- that's for damn sure.
Totally with you regarding the White Christmas movie, and also the White Christmas album. Bing always gets the first playing shortly after Thanksgiving, but I never could get into that movie.

Are you going to watch A Christmas Story tonight?
As ridiculous as it sounds, I prefer Michael Caine's turn as Scrooge in the surprisingly effective Muppet Christmas Carol (seriously, it's one of the best adaptations of the story on film, imo. Can it, Cliffhanger-boy).
Ms. Mishap--That's great, but put it in a non-fiction book, please, not a fucking song.

Stephen--I think Bing enjoyed that number a little more than he wanted us to think.

Supergoddess--Somewhere along the line, A Christmas Story fell off of my list of Annuals. I've seen it enough to have it memorized, but I don't own a copy anymore. Could be because I was horribly scarred by the experience of working as an extra on the Gawd-awful sequel. What a turd that was.

Beigey--Again, everyone's going to have their own favorite Scrooge. And Michael Caine is brilliant in nearly everything. But speaking of Cliffhanger, wouldn't a Renny Harlin-directed, Stallone-starring 'Carol just kick ass?
And I've taken the trouble to remove our spammy friends, anonymous. 'Cause they piss me off.
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