Fun Holiday Movies for Suddenly Solos!

Okay.  We all know “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”  These are staples of everyone’s holiday experience.  They are beyond cinematic at this point – they are just part of the season, like menorahs, Christmas trees and eggnog.

But we like to balance our holiday movie-watching with some lesser-known (and less critically acclaimed) fare that make us smile.  Some of these may be hard to find, but we think they will brighten the season even more than a new string of LED lights!

 

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)

Goofy as ever, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) bumbles his way through the holidays as he reluctantly hosts his extended family (including his lumpy brother-in-law, Eddie [Randy Quaid]).  Not Shakespeare, but it never takes itself too seriously as it moves from silly bit to silly bit with the requisite happy ending.  Our favorite take-away line: “It’s Christmas, Russ.  Everyone’s miserable!”

 

“A Christmas Story” (1983)

A classic about Ralphie’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun with the compass in the stock for Christmas. So many great scenes in this film starring Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, and Peter Billingsley. The movie is narrated by Ralphie (the voice of writer and radio giant, Jean Shepard) at a later age as he looks back on his comical family life around Christmastime. This is stuff we have all experienced in our own families.  It was actually once a Broadway show!

 

“The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951)

Bob Hope at his wise-cracking best playing “The Kid,” a Florida racetrack tout who owes a fortune to gangster Moose Moran. He tries to hide from the “hoods” in snowy New York and stumbles on a scheme to raise the cash as part of a fraudulent Sidewalk-Santa scheme, raising money for down-on-their-luck “dames.”  There are Academy Award winners in the cast and instantly-recognized character actors, all of whom seem to be having a great time… as will you.  The movie introduced the Christmas song classic, “Silver Bells.”

 

“Larceny Inc.” (1942)

The plot: three ex-cons buy a luggage shop to tunnel into the bank vault next door. But despite all they can do, the shop prospers.  This sleeper comedy has a gigantic cast that includes Edward G. Robinson, Broderick Crawford, Jane Wyman and Anthony Quinn… all of whom were honored with Oscars at some point in their careers!   Playing the “brains” of the outfit, Pressure Maxwell (Robinson) tries to go straight after a stint in Sing Sing, but old habits are hard to break.  It’s a hoot as they try to keep customers out of the store, but they are unwilling success stories in the neighborhood.  Jack Carson, master of the double-take, is a real delight.  Look for the first-time appearance of Jackie Gleason!

 

None of the above are likely to be double-featured with the real Christmas Classics we mentioned at the outset, but we think they will accomplish their noble goal of making you laugh.  And isn’t that the best gift sometimes?

 

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