Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas movies forever...

By now you have probably been swamped by Christmas movies, mostly from Hallmark who have at least a hundred Christmas movies to show each year. And too make sure there's room for all of them they have three different channels.

There's the original Hallmark Hall of Fame channel, which usually is a major network like CBS. Then there's the Hallmark Channel which they own and which carries regular episodic TV series as well as Christmas movies in the evening. They also have other family and holiday movies during the rest of the year.  And now they have the Hallmark Movie Channel also.

How many Christmas movies do we need?

Well, more. 

Lifetime Channel has a few Christmas movies as does ABC Disney and I'm sure there are other movies about Christmas for the other 500 channels.

And then there's all the Christmas movies that go back to the1940's, movies like Miracle on 34th Street (1947( and of course It's a Wonderful Life (1946). And you can't forget the annual marathon for A Christmas Story (1983) that plays for 24 hours on TBS, beginning Christmas Eve.

Where does it say that man and woman should have so many Christmas movies?

Christmas, or at least what we call Christmas is a mix of Christian, pre-Christian and secular holidays, including honoring the southern solstice and is celebrated by a few billion people.

And I had my little piece of Christmas also. If you follow this blog you'll remember when my movie, The Town That Christmas Forgot, played it's first run in 2010. After that it continues to play at Christmas time along with all the others.

I also have a connection to Christmas Story, mentioned above, as the editor, Stan Cole, edited my first feature, Ghostkeeper. Needless to say the only comparison to my movie was the presence of a lot of snow. Tons of it.

My personal favorites (besides mine, of course) are 3 those mentioned above as well as White Christmas. I'll have watched all 4 sometimes in the next two days. My Christmas movie, like other Hallmark movies, played and replayed as early as November but I like to wait till today. After all there's only so much Christmas viewing.

My story was actually based on three separate events in my life, two of which had to do with Christmas. Ironically the screenplay turned out to be 3 consecutive acts of the classic 3-Act story.

The first act involved a family whose car breaks down, leading to spending 2 days in a small town in Oregon. This actually happened. 

In the second act the family becomes involved with townspeople in a dying coal mining town. That also happened when I was filming a documentary in the Canadian Rockies and spent a few evenings in the town's bar.

 And the 3rd act revolved around a Christmas Pageant which was based on the Christmas Pageants we had in my little village in Canada.

Screenplays usually don't all into place as easily as this one did, and none of it was "created", it was based on real people and real places. And it's pretty rare to find that.

Then there's  1974's Black Christmas.

Arguably the best suspense-horror film was another Canadian film that "celebrated" Christmas. The storyline was about a maniac killer (who else?) comes back to a private school and begins killing the pretty teen-age girls.

And guess what? Stan Cole also edited that movie. 

It was made again a few years ago and there are some other horror/suspense movies out there also, but not as good as Black Christmas.

And there's one more movie that inspired me to write a Christmas story and that was Susan Slept Here (1954). Never heard of it? Probably not.

I first saw it around the late 50's as a kid, and never forgot it, nor the theater I saw it in. I just loved it. A troubled teenage girl is handed over to a Hollywood screenwriter for the Christmas holidays and of course he doesn't want to be her guardian. Great movie.

It actually inspired me to write a spec screenplay which might just get made next year.

Hallmark movies tend to be family-friendly, in other words anyone should be able to enter the room and watch a movie and not feel awkward or uncomfortable. Black Christmas obviously doesn't fit, but who knows?  

There are a lot of sad Christmas movies, I remember a TV movie with Lloyd Bridges (Jeff's dad for those of you who don't know who he is). It was about two lonely people who meet at a hotel and find some friendship. It was appropriately called Silent Night, Lonely Night (1969). Great title!!

Then there's Home Alone (1980) and Polar Express (2004) and if you really get into it 1938's A Christmas Carole, still one of the best ever. And for action fan's Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988) and Lethal Weapon (1987) with Mel.

As far as my movie, it's not as great as the classic ones mentioned here, but it did have some feeling that came close. 

So have a great Christmas and try to catch some of the more obscure Christmas movies, especially on TCM which brings me a piece of nostalgia and finding movies I had never heard of before.

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