Rochellemariah is correct her Christmas movie list does not have the typical must-see films on it and neither does mine.
MEET JOHN DOE (1941)
Frank Capra hits the nail on the head with this Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck 1941 platitude ridden film. Every year by Thanksgiving we have had a whole year of doom, gloom and crooked politicians, they had it in 1941 and we have it today. So it’s fun to watch a Christmas film about how we ‘the little people’ should act 365 days of the year. People loving their neighbors; people doing good things in their communities to make life better for everyone. What a novel idea and who better to sell those ideas in a classic way than Gary and Barbara with a finale of Ode to Joy playing and church bells ringing in the background.
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (1944)
A 1944 dramatic Holiday Noir starring Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, and written by Somerset Maugham. Christmas Holiday is Deanna’s only foray into drama and she does an excellent job. Her character needs a little redemption and hopes to get it if only she can talk a soldier on leave visiting the local New Orleans brothel where she works/sings into taking her to midnight mass. Durbin said she had to stretch her acting abilities for this role and it shows. Deanna’s poignant rendition of the song ‘Always’ that she sings to Gene Kelly keeps you humming the tune until long after the end of the movie.
Mr. SOFT TOUCH (1949)
I do like my Film Noir and this 1949 Glenn Ford/Evelyn Keyes holiday noir does not disappoint.
Glenn Ford’s character steals back his own money from the mob, is mistakenly arrested as a wife beater, and ends up at a settlement house for rehabilitation with the help of a deaf Social Worker played by Evelyn Keyes. Twists and turns abound, with Santa’s galore, intense fire drama and an ending filled with what we all want sometimes during the holiday season the hope a new beginning.
I’ll BE SEEING YOU(1944)
Does she or doesn’t she??? Tell the soldier she’s met on a train and fallen in love with over the Christmas Holiday that she is on leave from prison and has three more years to go on her sentence. This is the dilemma of Ginger Rogers character Mary. Joseph Cotton the soldier is a neuro Psychiatric soldier (he has PTSD). Shirley Temple plays Mary’s 17 year old cousin that just can’t stop putting her foot in her mouth concerning Mary. Mary’s crime ‘manslaughter’ a man is dead. As Mary explains to her cousin her boss invited her to a party, she shows up for the party only to find she is the only one invited, red flags go up. ‘If she had gotten away before her boss was killed as he attacked her by accidentally falling out an open 14th floor window no crime would have been committed’. Déjà vu? The Sammy Fain/Irvin Kahal popular WWII song ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ plays throughout this David O. Selznick movie I’m sure it was ‘Our Song’ to many couples saying goodbye during the war torn years.
NEVER SAY GOODBYE (1946)
Whimsical??? Yes!!! But after all that drama and noir we need a silly little Warner Brothers romantic comedy to lift our spirits. Parents divorced…six months with dad, six months with mom. What else is little Flip Gayley (Patti Brady) to do but get them back together again. This film features some of the best of Warner Brothers contract players just having fun. Errol Flynn, Eleanor Parker, SZ Sakall, that ever meddling notorious mother-in-law Lucile Watson, Charles Coleman Butler extraordinaire in classic Hollywood, hunky Forrest Tucker, and the inimitable Hattie McDaniel. Patti Brady does a great job as the put upon daughter that sees that Mom still loves Dad, Dad still loves Mom…why can’t we all just get together. This is another movie that takes a 1937 Oscar nominated song ‘Remember Me’ written by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin that sets the tone for the movie. The movie is based on a story by blacklisted writer Norma Barzman.
Two movies not on my list but highly recommend are: Miracle at Morgan’s Creek (1944) an irreverent Preston Sturges movie that has fun playing with the censorship boundaries of the day.
And the 1955 We’re No Angels black humor holiday comedy about three convicts, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray.
So for the next 34 days while Rochellemariah is in a small cabin getaway after Thanksgiving, and a mid-December vacation bonding with her family and I am home shopping, wrapping, baking, and cooking for mine it will be difficult for either of us to work on our favorite pastime of watching and writing about classic movies.
However it is that yearly tradition of watching the characters that seem like old friends and stories that you visit once a year over and over again that helps to get you in the holiday mood. We hope you and yours enjoy the old classics and find some new Holiday classics to add to your own must see Classic Hollywood Holiday watching list.