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It’s Not Christmas Without You

Author Elaine Needelman
Air Date 12/10/1999

It’s Not Christmas Without You Transcript

Here’s Elaine Needelman, with her regular media review.

Since I was a child I’ve loved television during the month of December. I will watch The Nutcracker over and over–even if it’s on ice, and I am instantly drawn to any version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol including the one starring Mr. Magoo. From all the choices out there, there are three films you have to watch with your children to really get into the holiday spirit.

The grandaddy of them all is the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who is, literally, at the end of his rope until an angel named Clarence comes to his rescue. Along with saving him, Clarence shows George what life would be like in his town, Bedford Falls, if he had never been born, and this allows George to see his life in flashback and to realize how important he has been to his community and how much he loves his family–you won’t sit dry-eyed through the film’s final sequences when George rushes home to be with them — no matter how many time’s you’ve seen it.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the animated short based on the Dr. Seuss book, has given us a name and a concept that has entered our cultural lexicon. Victorian England had Scrooge; we have the Grinch–that spiteful creature (Boris Karloff’s voice is perfect for the role) who can’t stand the happiness of the citizens of nearby Whoville, especially at Christmas. So he sets out, dressed as Santa Claus, to literally steal their holiday from them. His plan fails miserably, though, and he learns what Christmas is really about: love and family.

My final must see holiday film is A Christmas Story , written and narrated by one of America’s great storytellers, Jean Shepherd, who died on October 16th of this year. Shepherd enjoyed lampooning sticky sweet holiday sentimentality, and he is in top form in this film about Ralphie, a boy growing up in the 1940’s, and his and his Christmas wish–a Red Rider BB gun–a dream that every single adult he tells about it– from his parents to his teacher, to a department store Santa Claus–tries to squash. It’s a funny and touching nostalgic look at Christmas with wonderful performances especially by Peter Billingsley as Ralphie and Darren McGavin as his father.

So check your t.v. listings or your video store, get the popcorn ready, and shake your holiday spirit awake.

Posted in Film, Holidays