Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season
by Jeremy Arnold
Review by Lee Sobel (12/4/20)
5 out of 5 stars
"Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!"
Is It's A Wonderful Life one of your favorite movies and do you watch it every year at Christmastime and does it always bring a tear to your eye? What? It doesn't - you must be a Grinch with a heart of coal then! Well if you love that movie as much as I do, as well as yuletide classics like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, then you're going to want this book which has all your favorites plus a number of films you may not know. The only xmas movie I watch with my kids every year that somehow did not make the grade is Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and featuring such lines as, "Who told you you could eat
my cookies?!" and maybe the only movie ever made where Jim Belushi doesn't get on my nerves.
Like all of the Turner Classic Movies books published by Running Press, Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season by Jeremy Arnold is loads of fun to leaf through and enjoy the gorgeous photographs from the movies. Author Arnold always zooms in on the most relevant details of these films from a critical perspective but also reveals interesting things about the making of the movies such as:
* James Stewart displays dark emotions in It's A Wonderful Life that he had showed in his movies done before, paving the way for him to play traumatized and obsessive characters in Alfred Hitchcock movies.
* Lionel Barrymore, who played the Scrooge-like Mr. Potter in It's A Wonderful Life was actually supposed to play Scrooge in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol but was unable to appear in that movie due to an accident that left him confined to a wheelchair from then on.
* When A Christmas Story opened on November 18, 1983, by Christmas it had been edged out of movie theaters altogether by its competition. Can you imagine? You couldn't see A Christmas Story on Christmas Day the year that it came out? Unbelievable.
* For the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where "Snots" the dog chases a squirrel in the Griswold house, the dog and squirrel had been trained for months but on the day when they went to shoot the scene the squirrel suddenly died. "Squirrel don't live very long," said the trainer.
* The screenplay for Home Alone was based on an idea that came to John Hughes when he and his family were getting ready to leave for a trip and he was going over a list of things not to forget. He wondered what would happen if he forgot his youngest child at home. He scribbled down some notes, went on his vacation, came back, and then knocked out the entire screenplay in one week. The movie made almost $500 million worldwide and took a week to write the script!
You may not be able to stuff this book into a Christmas stocking (unless it's a really big stocking) but this is a good one to put under the tree for your loved one who is a movie nut.