Friday, December 9, 2016

Classic Holiday Movies and Where to Find Them This Year

I tend to watch Christmas in Connecticut (the 1945 version) a few times every year around this time. Barbara Stanwyck is irresistible as a popular magazine writer who pretends to be an expert on everything domestic when she hasn't a clue how to keep a house, with Dennis Morgan as the handsome military man who dreams of a homey holiday dinner at her place. To accommodate the war hero, Babs will have to borrow a home in Connecticut, complete with husband and baby, and find a talent for flapjack flipping. "Cuddles" Sakall steps in as a friend who happens to run a restaurant, while Sydney Greenstreet is her demanding boss. This year, TCM will air Christmas in Connecticut Sunday the 11th at 1 pm Central time, at 9 pm on December 15, and at 7 pm on December 24.

Another romantic comedy I can't do without is The Shop Around the Corner, the sweet, sentimental movie about two shop clerks at a Budapest parfumerie who think they hate each other when they're really in love as pen pals. Like Christmas in Connecticut, The Shop Around the Corner is part of TCM's Christmas Classics lineup, airing December 15 at 7 pm and December 24 at 3:15 pm.

My third must-see rom com is Holiday, the 1938 Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn charmer where she's a rich girl and he's a self-made man who thinks he's in love with her snooty sister. Unfortunately, Holiday isn't showing up anywhere that I can find it between now and December 31. Not to worry: I have it on DVD because I really, really love this movie and I don't want to spend New Year's Eve without hearing "Happy New Year, Johnny," in Katharine Hepburn's voice. Still... Somebody at some network needs to get cracking and find a slot for Holiday.

One of my other favorite Christmas movies is Elf, a Will Ferrell vehicle from 2003 that casts him as a full-sized human accidentally raised as an elf at the North Pole. When he sets out to find his real father in New York, things get funny. And sweet. And charming. With Bob Newhart and Ed Asner in supporting roles, Elf can't go wrong. The newly dubbed Freeform network is offering Elf on December 12, 13, 18 and 19. The times are a little wacky (8, 6, 8:50, 5:50) so check your local listings to be sure you know when it starts. Or you can save your Elf for the big screen, since the Normal Theater will screen this holiday classic on Sunday the 11th at 7 pm.

There are, of course, a million zillion different versions of A Christmas Carol running around out there. The one with the Muppets will be on HBO at 5:40 am on December 16, while the 1938 black-and-white version with Reginald Owen as Scrooge airs on TCM at 8 am on December 18. TCM is saving the 1951 Alastair Sim Christmas Carol that has become the standard from endless TV reruns until December 22 at 10:30 pm, while it will offer Albert Finney's musical Scrooge at 7 pm on December 18 and then again at 9:30 am the day before Christmas. If George C. Scott's A Christmas Carol is more your style, Scott will be humbugging on AMC at 7 pm Central on the 17th and then again at noon on the 18th. The Muppets Christmas Carol and the Reginald Owen Carol are also part of the Normal Theater's holiday schedule, with the Muppets on December 17 at 1 pm and Reginald on Tuesday December 20 at 7 pm.

White Christmas isn't among my own faves, but it and It's a Wonderful Life certainly seem to sit at the top of everybody's else lists. Bing & Co. will be  extolling the virtues of snow snow snow on December 14, 16, 18, 22 and 24 at the Normal Theater, or at 9:30 pm on the 17th on the AMC channel, if you'd like to watch in your jammies in your own living room. Jimmy Stewart will illustrate all the reasons to live in It's a Wonderful Life at the Normal Theater on December 15, 17, 21 and 23, or on the USA network on the 10th (7 pm), 11th (8 am) and 16th (7 pm). All of these Normal Theater choices start at 7 pm.

A note about times: I tried to be careful and put everything in Central time, but it is a good idea to double-check what's what for you if you really don't want to miss one of your own faves.

Along with Holiday, I don't see Holiday Inn, Scrooged or the 1947 original Miracle on 34th Street* anywhere on the dial throughout the rest of December, although Scrooged and the Richard Attenborough remake of 34th Street are available on Netflix and Amazon can always hook you up with the others if you really need a copy or an instant view. I'm just happy I have copies of my own so I won't be left out in the cold. Cary and Kate will do acrobatics, Fred will dance with firecrackers, Bill Murray will get smacked with a toaster and little Natalie Wood will believe in Santa Claus at my house, anyway.

* I did see Miracle on 34th Street on demand on HBO, so it is out there!

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