Friday, December 25, 2020

5 X 5: CHRISTMAS FILMS

 

5 facts about 5 Christmas films . . . 

(Although not featured as one of the five films, I recommend watching a new Australian Christmas film, a Stan original called A Sunburnt Christmas.  If you don't have Stan, check the internet.

Kate and I loved it and watched it a second time a few days after the first viewing.

HOLIDAY INN (1942)

 


Story: 

Bing Crosby runs an inn that opens only on holidays (sounds like a good way to lose money) so there’s lots of singing. His friend is Fred Astaire so there’s also a lot of dancing. Oh, and Bing falls in love.

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Bing Crosby’s song “White Christmas” did not come from the film of that name. Instead, it was written by Irving Berlin specifically for the film Holiday Inn. Until 1997, "White Christmas" was the best selling music single ever. It was passed at that time by "Goodbye, England's Rose", the Elton John rework of "Candle in the Wind" done for Princess Diana's funeral. These two songs still rank Number 1 and 2. 

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Capitalising on the popularity of the song “White Christmas”, Paramount Pictures made the “White Christmas” film in 1954 which again starred Bing Crosby and which featured the above song. The movie was a smash hit. 

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The Connecticut Inn set for the film “Holiday Inn” was reused by Paramount 12 years later as a Vermont Inn for the film White Christmas (1954). 

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Kemmons Wilson, who founded the "Holiday Inn" motel chain in 1952, named it after this movie. 

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This is one of the first examples of how a hit song can help propel a film's box office. In this case, the song was Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas." Later examples include the title tune from Ghostbusters, Whitney Huston's "I Will Always Love You" from The Bodyguard and Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. 

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Movie quote: 

Linda Mason: My father was a lot like you, just a man with a family. Never amounted to much, didn't care. But as long as he was alive, we always had plenty to eat and clothes to keep us warm. 

Jim Hardy: Were you happy? 

Linda Mason: Yes. 

Jim Hardy: Then your father was a very successful man. 


MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947) 



Story: 

A store Santa who claims to be the real Santa Clause falls foul of the no-nonsense manager who seeks to have him declared cuckoo. A court case has to decide whether he is crazy or is the real deal. Set against a background of Christmas v commercialism. 

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Valentine Davies got the idea for the script while struggling through the Christmas shopping crowds, trying to find a present for his wife. The commercialism he saw made him wonder what the real Santa Claus would make of it all. 

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The film received a "B" rating (morally objectionable in part) from the highly influential Legion of Decency because Maureen O'Hara played a divorcee. 

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This is for you Diane M: 

The song that the little Dutch girl sings is 
"Sinterklaas Kapoentje, 
Leg wat in mijn schoentje, 
Leg wat in mijn laarsje, 
Dank je Sinterklaasje!" 

One translation is: 
"Saint Nicolas Little Rascal, 
Put something in my little shoe, 
Put something in my little boot, 
Thank you little Saint Nicolas!" 

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Despite the fact that the film is set during Christmas, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that it be released in May because he argued that more people went to the movies during the summer. So the studio began scrambling to promote it while keeping the fact that it was a Christmas movie a secret. 

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Unusually, there were two Christmas films nominated for Best Picture at the 1947 Academy Awards - this one and Henry Koster's The Bishop's Wife (1947). They join It's a Wonderful Life (1946) the year before as the only three Christmas movies to be nominated for Best Picture. 

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Movie quote: 

Alfred, Macy janitor: Yeah, there's a lot of bad 'isms' floatin' around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it's the same - don't care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck. 


LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)



I love this film, have watched it many times. Okay, so I’m a softie. 

Story:

The film follows the lives of eight couples in London dealing with their love lives during the month before Christmas. 

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Kris Marshall returned his paycheque for the scene where the three American girls undress him. He said he had such a great time having three girls undress him for twenty-one takes that he was willing to do it for free, and thus returned his cheque for that.

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The airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of this movie is real. Writer and director Richard Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week, and whenever they saw something that would fit in they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage. 

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A speech given by Hugh Grant in this movie (where he extols the virtues of Great Britain and refuses to cave to the pressure of its longstanding ally, the United States) was etched in the transatlantic memory as a satirical, wishful statement on the concurrent relationship with George W. Bush. Tony Blair responded by saying in 2005, "I know there's a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in Love Actually (2003) and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there's the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause." 

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Karen expresses surprise at the inclusion of (at least) two lobsters amongst the characters in her daughter's school Christmas pageant ("there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?"). Although there is a variety of small lobster (Palinurus elephas, also known as the common spiny lobster) native to the Mediterranean Sea, its habitat doesn't stretch as far east as the land that is now known as Israel. Furthermore, since Jesus' family was Jewish, and shellfish such as lobster is forbidden to devout Jews, who observe the rules for keeping Kosher, Karen is correct that it is highly unlikely that there was any lobster present at Jesus' birth. 

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In 2017, a handful of the main cast members re-united for a one off special for Comic Relief. Aired on the BBC in March 2017. The sketch lasted ten minutes and followed-up on some of the cast members and their lives in 2017. One highlight was Hugh Grant dancing to Drake's Hotline Bling. 

Click on the following link to view: 

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Movie quote: 

Prime Minister: Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around. 


THE SANTA CLAUS (1994)


Story:

Tim Allen accidentally causes the death of Santa Claus (a great start to a movie for the littlies) and finds that he is obliged to take Santa's place before the next Christmas arrives. A lot of weight related comment that probably wouldn’t be acceptable today, as we watch Tim metamorphose into the fat guy with the red suit. 

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For one week in November 1994, Tim Allen had: 
- the #1 movie at the box office (this movie), 
- the #1 rated television show (Home Improvement (1991)), and 
- the #1 New York Times best-selling book ("Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man"). 

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Tim Allen has a criminal record, and Disney has a no hiring of ex-cons policy. An exception was made in this case. 

From Wikipedia: 

On October 2, 1978, Allen was arrested in the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport for possession of over 650 grams (1.43 lb) of cocaine. He subsequently pleaded guilty to felony drug trafficking charges and provided the names of other dealers in exchange for a sentence of three to seven years rather than a possible life imprisonment. He was paroled on June 12, 1981, after serving two years and four months in Federal Correctional Institution, Sandstone in Sandstone, Minnesota. 

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During his tour of the workshop, Allen as Santa Clause tries out a tool belt then shakes his head as if to indicate that tools aren't for him. This is a reference to Tim Allen's then-hit TV show, Home Improvement (1991) where his character's life (Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor) revolved around tools. 

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At one point of the film a brief exchange between Scott and Laura takes place in which Laura hands Scott a piece of paper with Neal's mother's phone number on it. Scott then says "1-800-SPANK-ME. I know that number." In the United States, the exchange was removed from all home media releases of the film except for the VHS releases and most digital downloads starting with the 1999 DVD release after a 1996 incident in which a child from Steilacoom, Washington called the number (which turned out to be an actual, working sex line number) and incurred a phone bill of US$400 (equivalent to $652.07 in 2019).[15] The line is also removed from the Disney+ print. On television broadcasts, the number is changed to 1-800-POUND. 

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Elves are scattered throughout the movie in Scott and Charlie's world. The little blonde girl walking away from the window at the opening of the movie, the little boy putting his jacket on and wearing a red scarf as Scott and Charlie are led to their seat in Denny's, the girl walking behind the bench when Scott has kids lined up at Charlie's soccer game, the girl in the purple coat who walks by Scott and Charlie in the park when Scott wants Charlie to stop talking about the Santa Claus, and the attentive little boy in the blue turtleneck behind Charlie's desk during show and tell are all elves. They show up as a group at the end of the movie when Scott flies away from the Miller house, and they are the kids who run and skip off. 

When Charlie is at school you can see an elf behind him in class meaning they were keeping tabs on him and his dad. 

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This was Tim Allen’s first lead film role.

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Movie quote: 

Dr. Neil Miller: [in a light-hearted psychiatry tone] Scott, what was the last thing you and Charlie did, before you went to bed Christmas Eve? 

Scott Calvin: [sarcastically] We shared a bowl of sugar, did some shots of brown liquor, played with my shot guns, field-dressed a cat, looked for women... 

[honestly] 

Scott Calvin: I read him a book! 

Dr. Neil Miller: What book? 

Scott Calvin: [sarcastically] Uh, "Hollywood Wives." 

[Laura puts her hand into her face, giving off a resentful gesture] 

Scott Calvin: [honestly] "The Night Before Christmas", folks, come on! 


BAD SANTA  (2003)



Don’t watch this if you’re looking for a traditional feelgood Christmas movie. 

Story:

Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic loser who works as a store Santa at Christmas. With an accomplice dwarf who is his Christmas elf, they rob the department stores for which they are working. Things get complicated when he hooks up with a woman who is attracted to Santas and a kid who believes that he is the real Santa Clause. 


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Billy Bob Thornton said that he's had eight year olds approach him about his role in the movie. Thornton was stunned that parents would even allow their kids to watch that movie at that age. 

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Billy Bob Thornton has said that he was genuinely intoxicated during some of filming. 

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This was John Ritter's final acting appearance in a movie and it is dedicated to his memory. 

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An editorial in The Washington Times likened the movie to an "evil twin" of Miracle on 34th Street and chided The Walt Disney Company for allowing such a beloved figure as Santa Claus to be trashed by Miramax Films, then a Disney subsidiary. 

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Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film ​3 1⁄2 stars out of four, writing how Bad Santa was a "demented, twisted [and] unreasonably funny work of comic kamikaze style". 

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Movie quote: 

Willie: [the kid on his lap stares blankly at him] Well, what do you want? Great. Another fucking Mongoloid. Marcus, get this kid off me before he pisses on me, all right? What the fuck are you doing, Don't fuck with my beard. 

Kid: Its not real. 

Willie: No shit. 

Willie: Ya see, it was real, but then Santa got sick and all the hair fell out, so I have to wear this fucking thing 

Kid: How did you get sick? 

Willie: I loved a woman who wasn't clean. 

Kid: Mrs. Santa? 

Kid: No, it was her sister




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