Friday, December 16, 2016

Here Are Five Certifiable Classics, Plus . . .

Christmas movies, music, plays -- all have a special allure. And many of them are perennials. They return again and again. They're become classics -- and with good reason.

Here are more of our favorite Christmas classics:

1) Have A Holly Jolly Christmas - The original version by Burl Ives is still the best!

2) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Jimmy Boyd original is tops! It reached number One on the Billboard charts in 1952, and on the Cash Box magazine chart at the beginning of the following year. The song was commissioned by Neiman Marcus to promote their Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow, who drew for the New Yorker magazines for many decades.

3) Christmas Time's A 'Comin (and I know I'm goin home) - Don't settle for anything less than the Bill Monroe bluegrass version.

4) It's A Wonderful Life - If you miss this classic Frank Capra Christmas movie, you've missed Christmas itself!

5) A Christmas Carol - Watch ONLY the black and white 1951 movie version (pictured) of this classic tale starring Alistair Sim. No others can match it.

Christmas reached a sort of zenith in America in the 1950s. It was a glorious time for home, family and Christmas. Maybe it was the aftermath of the war and the prosperity that followed that made everything so Christmasy.

Or maybe it was just those crazy 50s novelty songs, all that sentimentality and brave new inventions like spray snow and angel hair that made the difference. Who knows?

But, wait -- we have to expand our list just a bit.

Here are a few post-1950s favorites:

1) Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas - This Muppets Christmas TV event is a heart-tugger and remains true to the Christmas spirit -- a childhood favorite that carries on into adulthood.

2) A Charlie Brown Christmas - Surprisingly meaningful, if not downright religious. The music, the meaning, the simple, heartfelt animation and the distinct characters all make it super-special.

3) Home Alone - The first movie (not the sequel) is still the best. The whole story revolves around Christmas.

4) O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. about a young couple who are short of money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. Unbeknownst to Jim, Della sells her most valuable possession, her beautiful hair, in order to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch; while unbeknownst to Della, Jim sells his own most valuable possession, his watch, to buy jeweled combs for Della's hair. The essential premise of this story has been copied, re-worked, parodied, and otherwise re-told countless times in the century since it was written.

5) Christmas In Connecticut. The original film with Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet is great fun.

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