by Ginger Marin
There's nothing more comforting than cuddling up and watching your favorite holiday classics year after year. Here are some of mine.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein: This is hilarious, spooky fun by this excellent comedy team. The boys get involved with Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man in this one.
Hold That Ghost: Yes, I'm definitely an Abbott & Costello fan. The boys inherit an old house from a gangster and it's haunted! It's just plain fun to watch and as always, they have such a good supporting cast.
The Wolf Man: This is the one with Lon Chaney, Jr. It's a classic horror tale. You can't help but feel great compassion for his character, Talbot, because he was so saddened by what he had become.
The Haunting: The 1963 version with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson is a superb ghost story. Very few special effects as we know them today, but top-notch acting and storyline make this one very spooky film indeed.
The Fog: I liked this John Carpenter film for its great eerie atmosphere courtesy of a lighthouse and thick rolling fog. When the fog rolls in, weird, dead pirates seek their revenge on everyone around town. It stars Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh and master screamer, Jamie Lee Curtis.
A Christmas Carol: Make sure you're watching the Alastair Sim version because he plays the absolute best Ebenezer Scrooge ever conceived in this version of the great Charles Dickens holiday classic.
A Christmas Story: Little Ralphie won't give up until he gets his Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas despite warnings from mom and his teacher that "You'll shoot your eye out." Set in the fifties, this is warm and hilarious storytelling. Stars Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon.
It's a Wonderful Life: A performance of a lifetime makes this Jimmy Stewart film one of my all time favorites. Besieged with money troubles at his Savings & Loan, poor George Bailey wishes he had never been born. An angel by the name of Clarence convinces him it's a very bad idea. George Bailey, as we see him from boyhood to manhood, is a character to live in history. This is the perfect movie, holiday or otherwise: wonderful, inspiring, complex script, lots of terrific characters and stars. Donna Reed and Ward Bond also star.
March of the Wooden Soldiers: Based on the Victor Herbert operetta 'Babes in Toyland", this wonderful 1934 classic stars Laurel and Hardy as the supreme saviors of Toy Land who have to fight its mean-spirited landlord Silas Barnaby.
Miracle on 34th Street: As far as I'm concerned there is no other version than the 1947 one with Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn and John Payne. Gwenn plays Kris Kringle (aka Santa Claus) and John Payne plays the lawyer who makes everyone believe! Absolutely charming.
The Bishop's Wife: Cary Grant is an angel who comes to earth to answer a Bishop's prayer. While trying to help, he falls in love with the Bishop's ravishing wife played beautifully by Loretta Young. Grant is his sparkling best and David Niven does a wonderful Bishop. This is a lovely magical film.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY:
The Quiet Man: An odd holiday for a movie favorite perhaps but this film starring John Wayne as a former boxer looking to make a quiet life for himself in Ireland is remarkably well done. Also starring Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaghlen. Made in 1952, it is the winner of two Academy Awards including Best Director – John Ford.
The Wizard of Oz: This film is really terrific any time of year but I've gotten used to seeing it at Easter – perhaps it's the wonderful colors of Oz that lend itself to thinking of colorful easter eggs. The story, the songs, the characters and the stars will send you over the rainbow.
Ben-Hur: This is one of the greatest movies ever made. It incorporates historical and religious elements, and, of course, there's the remarkable and unforgetable chariot race. Charlton Heston's acting is impeccable. Don't miss it!