These characters, respectively, are the bully-turned-baby in “A Christmas Story,” the portly angel (angel second class, that is) in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Ebenezer Scrooge’s not-so-dearly-departed business partner in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
From “White Christmas” to “Elf” … from “Home Alone” to “Holiday Inn” … from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to “Scrooged,” there is a great selection to get us in the holiday spirit.
I know “Miracle on 34th Street” is the favorite of many. But to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had the patience to watch it from start to finish. And I have to wonder why since I think a young Maureen O’Hara (especially in “The Quiet Man”) is about as good as it gets on the big screen.
If pressed to pick my all-time favorite among the three I like most, I will have to go with “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s the one movie that will make me tear up (just a little bit) every time I watch it.
You know the story: George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) puts aside his own dreams, finds himself in a seemingly hopeless situation and then gets the unique chance to see the impact he has had on so many individuals before they bail him out. Or something like that. You try to explain the plot in 25 — or 36 — words or less.
Favorite scene: I love when right at the end of the movie all of George
Bailey’s friends and family come rushing into his living room with money — some of it life savings — to keep him from going to jail and to let him know how special he is to all of them. And, of course, we find out that Clarence the angel finally gets his wings.
Favorite quote: “Ha, ha, ha, ha! My mouth’s bleeding, Bert. My mouth’s bleeding! Zuzu’s petals … Zuzu … There they are! Bert, what do you know about that! Merry Christmas!”
“A Christmas Carol” comes in a close second for me. Who would have thought a novella written in 1843 would still be a beloved story in these times? There have been many movie versions of Dickens’ tale. My personal favorite is the 1984 film, starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. (His best role other than “Patton.”)
It has the same happy ending as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But instead of a good man saved, it’s about a lonely, selfish old man making the most of a second chance.
Too bad when a lot of people hear the name “Tiny Tim,” they think of the “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” guy instead of Dickens’ brave little crippled boy.
Then there is “A Christmas Story,” set in the 1940s in northwest Indiana. This movie about Ralphie Parker and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas is as nostalgic as it is funny.
Darren McGavin as Ralphie’s somewhat-crazy dad is one of the most memorable characters in film — at least for me.
And is there any movie that has more memorable quotes? (OK, maybe “The Godfather” and “Animal House” have more). But here is a sampling:
- “My little brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years.”
- “In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”
- “NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a ‘triple dare you’? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.”
- “Scut Farkus! What a rotten name! We were trapped. There he stood, between us and the alley. Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So, help me, God! Yellow eyes!”
My own eyes — rarely yellow — wouldn’t miss any of these three movies this time of year.
Whatever your viewing pleasures, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, every one!”
Retired Tribune columnist Bill Moor writes a weekly column for Community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.