‘A Christmas Story’ and More: Faculty Film Picks for the Holidays

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The holidays are upon us, and so are the holiday television specials and classic movies. Here at the Blog, our favorites include Christmas Vacation, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Sure Thing, and Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas.

We asked a few faculty members to discuss their favorite nostalgic holiday films with us, and we got some colorful and interesting responses. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “My favorite holiday movie is It’s A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra. This film was a flop when it was originally released. It only became popular later, thanks to TV – the owners didn’t even bother to renew the copyright, so it was free to show. I love the film because it is so dark. I mean, the main character, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), is going to commit suicide. Poor George does everything right, and it leads him to devastating ruin. Somehow Capra and company make his salvation in the last few minutes of the film believable. The film never fails to make me believe in grace.” – David Meyers, Film Department Co-Chair/Course Director
  • “The best holiday movie is Die Hard. It’s a classic Bruce Willis action movie at its best, set at an office Christmas party gone horribly wrong. What more could someone ask for? Eggnog, explosions, and cheesy ‘80s lines go together so well. ‘It’s Christmas Eve In L.A. and the Party Action’s About To Explode… On The Fortieth Floor!’ as the tagline says.” – Jeff Parrott, Game Art Course Director
  • “I have loved the film A Christmas Story since it debut in 1983. Director Bob Clark’s uncanny ability to recreate the 1940s with his attention to detail found in the homes, school, stores, vehicles and every aspect of the film is authentic. I personally wanted a BB Gun as a young boy, which is the main character Ralph’s desire throughout the film. This may be the most important aspect of the film for me. As we look back on our lives, the things we thought were so monumental at the time were really just very small in perspective. – Kevin O’Neill, Film Lab Specialist
  • “In my family it’s become a tradition to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every year. Usually one or more of my wife’s siblings is visiting and someone pops in the DVD, and despite being over 20 years old, the jokes are still funny. I think what makes it such a great Christmas movie is the fact that it’s funny no matter what age you are. When I was a kid, my sister and I identified with Russ and Audrey, rolling our eyes at our parent’s silly traditions and having to deal with the inconveniences of having relatives staying at our house. Now as a parent, I sympathize with Clark’s desire to provide the best Christmas possible to my kids and the inevitable failures that go along with that. Christmas Vacation simply captures all the joy, fun, irritation, and exasperation of the holiday season.” – John-Peter Trask, Psychology Department Associate Course Director
  • “An interesting holiday film everyone should experience at least once is One Magic Christmas. It’s a low budget movie that is certainly not your typical Christmas movie. It’s somber, gritty, and dark. Yet it manages to fulfill our expectations of what we want a holiday movie to deliver. And it is even just as appropriate in today’s tough economic and social climate as when it was first released in 1985. Harry Dean Stanton as the angel Gideon offers a fascinating performance, with interesting and subtle nuances in character quite unexpected at first, yet befitting the flavor and atmosphere of the movie in hindsight. Enjoy!” – Dustin Lee, Film & Digital Cinematography Course Director
  • “Now that I have kids, Home Alone is a family favorite. My boys and I made a huge production of making hot chocolate and popcorn, then piling on the couch with our dogs to watch it. (It’s really awesome when the weather is actually cold.) I love this film because it’s chock full of hilarity that keeps everyone rolling, as well as the poignant, timeless message that family and friends are our greatest gift of all.” – Noelani Cornell, Program Director, Creative Writing for Entertainment Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • “As a child, I looked forward to Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Wizard of Oz, and even Santa Claus is coming to Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which offered only meager darkness with the Winter Wizard, the Burgermeister Herr Meisterburger, and the Abominable Snowman – that is until I saw Smaug, on a pile of gold. Honestly, nothing trumps a fire-breathing dragon curled up like a sleeping cat on a mound of gold. It was November of 1977 when Rankin and Bass released their animated version of The Hobbit. Director Peter Jackson has his finger on the pulse, it seems, in choosing this time of year for all of his releases of Tolkien’s stories. In 2012, we have the final installment of the Twilight sagas, Breaking Dawn part 2 for Thanksgiving and Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated The Hobbit for Christmas. I truly enjoy this trend and hope that the tag-team of serial fantasy films will continue each year at the change of the season.” – Elise McKenna, English Composition Course Director

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/missmandyjay Amanda Adamson

    ‘A Christmas Story’ may be up on a pedestal—and yes, I do love it too—but I would have to say that my favorite holiday film is ‘Meet Me In St. Louis.’ I look forward to TCM playing it every year. Can’t go wrong with a little Judy Garland! After all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was written just for her, even if it’s Frank Sinatra who gets all the glory.