Sunday, December 19, 2021

CONTINUING: TOP 10 + 2 CHRISTMAS MOVIES




A Sunburnt Christmas:

This 2020 Stan original is a delightful Australian outback Christmas film that is a worthy inclusion in my Top 10 + 2 Christmas films.

Daniel Henshall plays a small time crim seeking hidden stolen loot on a farm where the kids mistake him for Santa, an illusion he continues to get them to assist him.

It’s quirky, wacky and sweet, well worth a viewing.

According to Brad Newsome, film critic for the Sydney Morning Herald on Rotten Tomatoes:

“This new Christmas comedy flick has a heart the size of the Outback, and it's as Aussie as two vanilla slices with a sprig of wattle on top.”



Holiday Inn:

This 1942 American musical film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, deserves inclusion if only for introducing the world to the song White Christmas (a white Christmas nonetheless being completely alien to us here in Oz). The only Oscar the film received was for Best Original Song for that Irving Berlin number.

Some facts and trivia from a past Bytes post:

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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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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.



White Christmas:

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

In summary, a successful song-and-dance team (Crosby and Danny Kaye) become romantically involved with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney, George’s aunt, and Vera Ellen) and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general (Dean Jagger).

A Christmas classic.

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Some facts and trivia:

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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.

However, an update in the 2009 edition of The Guinness Book of Records named both to be "winners" by stating that John's recording is the "best-selling single since UK and US singles charts began in the 1950s," while maintaining that "the best-selling single of all time was released before the first pop charts," and that this distinction belongs to "White Christmas," which it says "was listed as the world's best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and—remarkably—still retains the title more than 50 years later."

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For the song "Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army", there is the lyric, "Jolson, Hope And Benny all for free". This is a reference to three wartime entertainers: Al Jolson, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. The original words were "Crosby, Hope and Jolson all for free", but the lyric was changed because with Bing Crosby in the cast the original lyric would break the fourth wall.

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White Christmas (1954) was the first film photographed in Paramount's widescreen VistaVision process. A radical departure from the other widescreen formats of the era, VistaVision did not extend the width of the screen as much as it raised the height, which produced a significantly clearer image. Not surprisingly, the hundred or so films shot in VistaVision (notably High Society [1956], North by Northwest [1959] and White Christmas) have provided the most vivid clarity when transferred to high definition home video formats, as VistaVision applied the same principle and was, in effect, the first experiment in high definition.

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The Vermont inn is the remodeled Connecticut inn set from Bing Crosby's earlier movie Holiday Inn (1942)

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The "I'd Rather See a Minstrel Show" sequence points to changing times in terms of Hollywood's sensitivity to racial norms. The set design, props, costuming and musical arrangement are all typical of vintage minstrel shows, but the performers are not in black-face. This was progress, as Holiday Inn (1942), which inspired this production, featured a black-face number only twelve years earlier.




The Shop Around the Corner

This 1940 American romantic comedy film starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan is the inspiration for the 1998 film You've Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but without Christmas.

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realising that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Watch it if you get the opportunity, an oldie but a goodie (much like a pot of us).

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Some facts and trivia:

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In You've Got Mail (1998), which is based on this film, Meg Ryan's character owns a bookstore named The Shop Around The Corner.

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