There’s been a lot of buzz online the past few weeks about the film "Love Actually," and not all of it has been good. Actually, much of it has been negative. If you’ve never seen the film, it’s one of those rom-coms that has multiple plots running through it and a star-studded cast. And it takes place at Christmastime, which got me thinking about my favorite Christmas movies. And so I compiled a list. Some of these movies are going to be obvious, so I’ll leave them off. I'm talking about "It’s a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story." Those two are a given. And I know there are multiple versions of "A Christmas Carol" and "Miracle on 34th Street." But what about the other ones, the modern classics?
In no particular order, they are:
"National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation"
Since its premiere in 1989, "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" has become a holiday classic. It’s the third in a series of "National Lampoon" movies starring fictional family the Griswolds. It grossed more than $11.7million. And because I love useless trivia, here’s some about the movie, courtesy of IMDB.com:
—The house fronts from "Bewitched" (1964) and "The New Gidget" (1986) appear in the home movie Clark is watching in the attic.
—"Christmas Vacation" was written by John Hughes and is based on his short story "Christmas ’59," the second vacation story to be published in National Lampoon’s magazine (the first was "Vacation ’58," which was the basis for the first movie).
—The Griswolds’ neighbors' house is the same house Murtaugh and his family lived in in all of the "Lethal Weapon" movies. The houses on this street are on the Warner Brothers Studios back lot.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
No, I’m not talking about the live-action Jim Carrey movie. I’m talking about the original 1966 Chuck Jones TV special that starred the voice talent of Boris Karloff. Of course, it’s based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, which was published in 1957. Thurl Ravencroft, who sang "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," did not receive screen credit for his singing. Dr. Seuss attempted to rectify this by sending letters to every major columnist in America, identifying Ravencroft as the singer. And if his voice sounds familiar, it’s because Ravencroft was also the voice of Tony the Tiger in the cereal TV commercials.
This movie has made more than one Christmas movie list as it’s becoming increasingly noted as such. Actually, if there is a Christmas horror-comedy genre, this would top the list. It was released in theaters in 1984, and it’s a bit of a strange one, with the plot revolving around a young man who receives a new pet known as a mogwai. And with this mogwai comes three rules: Don’t get it wet, don’t shine bright lights on it and don’t feed it after midnight. Of course, all of the above happens, and all hell breaks loose. And it should be noted that Howie Mandel of "America’s Got Talent" fame is the voice of Gizmo.
I don’t care what anyone says, this is one of Bill Murray’s finest performances. A modern take on Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," the 1988 comedy was directed by Richard Donner of "Superman: The Movie" fame, and the music was composed by one of my favorites, Danny Elfman. I love that the film was marketed with references to "Ghostbusters," which was released four years earlier. The tagline of the film was "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one."
Yippee-ki-yay, mother f&$^#^. That’s one of the best lines in movie history. The 1988 action film starring Bruce Willis, back in his "Moonlighting" days, and Alan Rickman is based on the 1979 novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp, which was a sequel to Thorp’s 1966 novel "The Detective," which was also adapted into a 1968 movie of the same name. It starred Frank Sinatra, who was offered the role in "Die Hard," even though he was 73 at the time. He turned it down, and the film was pitched as a sequel to 1985’s "Commando." Schwarzenegger turned it down also, as well as a host of other top action stars at the time. When Willis was finally chosen, the studio didn’t think he could pull it off because he was known as a comedic actor at the time. And, can I just say, I love that one of my favorite lines in the film, spoken by Hart Bochner, "Hans … Bubby, I’m your white knight!" was ad-libbed and that Rickman’s look of confusion was genuine.
And so, as you celebrate Christmas this week, take time to watch your favorite Christmas movies with the family. And make some memories with Bruce, Bill, Chevy and all of the others who help make the holiday season bright. And if you've got a favorite Christmas movie that I didn't mention, add it to the list in the comments below.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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