Unconventional Holiday Movies: From Lethal Weapon to Diner to The Long Kiss Goodnight, Readers Chime in on Their Favorites

Jen Chaney
Movies Editor and DVD Columnist, washingtonpost.,com
Tuesday, December 16, 2008; 12:00 PM

There's more to holiday movies than George Bailey and Red Ryder BB guns. To prove it, Jen Chaney, movies editor and DVD columnist for, created her third annual list of unconventional Christmas-themed films that provide an alternative to the usual screenings of "Miracle on 34th Street."

Chaney was online to discuss that list, hear your gripes about what was omitted and discuss your favorite all-time holiday movie moments during an online discussion on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at noon ET.

Chaney oversees movie coverage for and writes the Bonus Points DVD column, which appears every Tuesday on and each Friday in the Post's Weekend section. Along with her co-hort Liz Kelly, she also obsesses daily about the TV show "Lost."

Read the transcript.


Jen Chaney: Hi there, everyone. Welcome to our unconventional holiday DVD discussion, where we are discussing what appeared on, and was left off of, my list this year.

(For convenience, here are links to the

2007 list


the one from 2006


In addition to yelling at me because of my grievous omissions, keep in mind that the chat is not limited to unconventional holiday fare. If you want to sing the praises of "A Christmas Story," by all means, please do. And if you want to serve up your favorite quotes from holiday films, I'd love to hear those, too. Heck, you can even talk about TV specials if you like. ("Christmas Comes to PacLand?" Rocks!)

That dang Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, which I assume is his not-so-subtle way of saying that we should start the chat. So let's go.


Washington, D.C.: When I was a kid, a teacher of mine told us the story that he came home from college on the train, got in late, and had dinner at 11 p.m. in front of the TV sometime in the mid-1950s. The late late movie was "It's a Wonderful Life." He had never seen it, nor had anyone he knew seen it. He said he was completely blown away by it and the next year he made his entire family watch it and by 1960 he convinced all his friends to look out for it. When I asked him if there was a completely unheralded Christmas film left out there, he replied, "Shop Around the Corner." 15 years later that film is pretty well-known (and remade as "You've Got Mail"). I've hunted high and low for unknown Christmas classics, but found very few. Are there any from the war years? 1960s?

Jen Chaney: My mind was also blown the first time I saw "It's a Wonderful Life." This was during the '80s, when it was on TV approximately 800 times a day, but I had resisted watching it for no good reason other than my parents liked it. And parents are, like, so lame when you're a teenager.

Anyway, I got sucked into it one afternoon when it aired on Channel 20 and by the end, was just weeping. I should add that, technically, it's not really a Christmas movie either. It's become that, but quite a bit of the action -- pretty much most of the flashbacks -- occur outside the realm of the holidays.

And I love "Shop Around the Corner," too. That was on my list two years ago.

Now, to the meat of your question: You need to keep hunting because there are tons of movies like this. I have a master list that I started generating last year and it's astounding how many titles are on it now.

The war years, for example, were prime time for movies like this. I urge you to take a look at this page on the Turner Classic Movies site, which lists lots of unheralded holiday films, many of which will air on the channel in the days leading up to Christmas. "The Shop Around the Corner" is there, alongside lesser known options like "Cluny Brown" and "The Cheaters." Enjoy the discovery.


Austin, Texas: How about the Stanwyck movie "Stella Dallas"? The scene with her in the snow, on the outside of the house looking in, seeing the sacrifice she is making while she lets her daughter leave for a better life and other things reminds me of a poignant type of giving. If you want off-beat Christmas. It's certainly not like the other Stanwyck Christmas movies, "Christmas in Connecticut" or "Remember the Night".

Jen Chaney: Hi, Austin. I think someone may have suggested this to me before. If it's there already, it will be added to the master list.


Not from Baltimore, but . . . : "Diner" was a great movie and all the action takes place around Christmas and New Year's. The scene in which Fenwick destroys the creche alone should put it on your list.

Jen Chaney: Oh, thanks for this. "Diner" is one of my favorite movies of all time, holiday-related or not. I had it on my list back in 2006 for the very reason you mention.

Now that Mickey Rourke is making a comeback, maybe people will spend time with "Diner" again. He's fabulous (and pretty sexy) in that movie, along with virtually everyone else in the cast. And yes, I am counting Steve Guttenberg.


Bethesda, Md.: Have you had the chance to check out "The Coppola Restoration" of "The Godfather"? How would you compare it to the original?

Jen Chaney: I have indeed. In fact, I reviewed it and also included it in our DVD holiday gift guide.

I think they did a beautiful job of restoring the films, the first one in particular since it is the oldest and apparently the one that was most damaged over time. It looks even better on Blu-ray, for those of you who have taken the leap into that realm.


Die Hard: some great holiday quotes in the original:

"All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except... the four a------- coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation."

"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

Jen Chaney: Absolutely. If memory serves, I had that one on the 2006 list.


Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk... I'm getting too old for this.: Where's the original Lethal Weapon movie? I looked through all three lists, and didn't see it. Any movie with a drug bust in a Christmas tree lot needs to make the list.

Jen Chaney: Okay, several of you are asking: Where's "Lethal Weapon?" Where's "Lethal Weapon"?

It was on my short list this year and I very nearly included it. The reason I didn't is one that will undoubtedly invite ridicule from the masses. But I cannot tell a lie: I have never seen it all the way through.

I didn't want to include a movie I had not watched in its entirety. I was going to watch it via Netflix -- it's available via auto-play, in case you're wondering -- but my computer wouldn't let me load it. So I just said, oh, forget it, I'll have to include it next time.

And that's the honest truth. So you're quite right, absolutely belongs on the list and I make a vow right now to watch the stinkin' thing before next year.


Bethesda, Md.: Ugh. "Eyes Wide Shut" should not be recommended to anyone, ever.

How about a Christmas action movie? "Lethal Weapon," besides being a fun ride, is actually quite Christmas-y, from the opening credits set to "Jingle Bell Rock," to Riggs's crazy scene in the Christmas tree lot, to the finale in Murtaugh's living room.

Jen Chaney: See what I mean? People love the "Lethal Weapon."

I was one of the few people who appreciated "Eyes Wide Shut." But I completely understand why many people find it maddening: It's slow, it's long, the piano score is incredibly unnerving and often annoying.

But for some reason, I find the experience of watching it kind of hypnotic. (Cue the joke: "It is hypnotic ... if you like movies that put you to sleep!")


Baltimore, Md.: The Scottish director Bill Forsyth (best known for "Local Hero" -- he seems to have disappeared) made a very cool movie in 1984 called "Comfort and Joy". It starred Bill Paterson as a Glasgow DJ who leaves him at Christmas time. But lest you think it's sad, the DJ's radio fame winds up getting him dragged into serving as an intermediary between two Italian families who are having a "gang war" over ice cream truck routes (And yes, there are a lot of Italians in Scotland.) Very enjoyable, once you get used to the accents.

Jen Chaney: This also is on my master list. There really are so many of these once you start thinking about it.

Thanks for the suggestion. This is another I really hope to check out before next holiday season rolls around.


Alexandria, Va.: Favorite Quotes - Christmas Vacation is loaded with them...

Uncle Lewis: Hey Grizz, Bethany and I figured out the perfect gift for you.

Clark: Aw, you didn't have to get me anything.

Uncle Lewis: Dammit, Bethany, he guessed it.


Ellen: What are you looking at?

Clark: Oh, the silent majesty of a winter's morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air... an a------ in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer...

Jen Chaney: My thing about that movie is that it's much funnier to quote than it is to actually watch.

At least that's my take on it. But then I'm the donkey who still hasn't seen "Lethal Weapon," so, you know, take that for what it's worth...


Silver Spring, Md.: I recommend "Mixed Nuts" with Steve Martin. Wacky, funny, with a nice song at the end. And no one has ever heard of it!

Jen Chaney: Well, not NO ONE. I have heard of it. And I have heard others recommend it, too.

So thank you for adding another vote in its favor.


Freising, Germany: I would have thought that "Trading Places" would have made it onto your Unconventional Holiday DVD List. After all, doesn't Louis Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) prevail after a short stint as a homeless, food-scavenging Santa Claus?

Jen Chaney: Another on the master list that didn't make it. Although I have seen this one, just chose not to include it this time around.

I don't have a good excuse for leaving it out, really. But maybe mentioning it now will redeem its omission.


Springfield, Va.: You've forgotten my very favorite, the 1968 version of "The Lion in Winter." It's set at Christmas 1183 in Chinon, France, and is about the love/hate relationship between Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. At 50 years-old, King Henry is the "lion" in the "winter" of his life, and the family plots to see who will inherit Henry's throne. Tremendous lineup of actors -- Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton. I think it's in the top 3 of the greatest films ever made. I always watch it this time of year -- just day-before-yesterday, as a matter of fact.

Jen Chaney: Wonderful suggestion. Thank you, Springfield.


Fairfax, Va.: What do you think of "Love Actually" being added to your list? It is one of my all time favorites that I love watching around the holidays! Just a sit back and feel good kind of movie! Nothing deep, just entertaining.

Jen Chaney: Oh no. Not this again.

I totally respect your enthusiasm for "Love Actually." Film appreciation is subjective, after all.

Anyone who has read these chats in the past, however, knows that I cannot stand that movie. And I won't include it on one of these lists purely out of principle.

I don't hate romantic comedies, mind you. And I love many of the fine actors in that movie. But it's so sickeningly sweet (not to mention all over the place as a narrative), that I think it gave me cavities in teeth I don't even have.

That said, if you like it, that's cool. My brother loves that film. At least he said he did before I cut off communication with him due to his poor cinematic tastes. (I'm joking, I'm joking...)


Mixed Nuts!: Yes, that one's not bad. And, as I recall, it also features Jon Stewart, so there's that.

Let me put in a plug for "The Ref," even though it was on your 2006 list. I love that movie. Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey (together!) were terrific.

Jen Chaney: Yes, another one that falls in the dark comedy category. "The Ref" is a little inconsistent, but definitely has some funny moments. Worth a look.

Thanks for the reminder!


Reston, Va.: Any list of unconventional Christmas movies must include Danny Boyle's wonderful "Millions." Hardly anyone I know has seen it, but it's a wonder with a bit of Christmastime in it. Why it was released in March, I will never know.

I also liked "Last Holiday," even though it's rather silly in places. Queen Latifah is just so great that she rises above the material.

And Jodie Foster's "Home for the Holidays" is not exactly family friendly (and it's a Thanksgiving movie), but it always seems perfect prep for large family gatherings.

What's your favorite overlooked Christmas gem?

Jen Chaney: You know, I forgot all about "Millions." That's a good one to consider for next time.

And speaking of "Home for the Holidays," I wonder if we could do a Thanksgiving list? The movies that immediately spring to mind are that one, "Pieces of April" and "The Daytrippers," but I bet there are others.

As for my favorite overlooked Christmas gem, I don't know if I can pick one. But I do hold a very special place in my heart for "The Sure Thing," which made the list in 2006 and features John Cusack in his first starring role. He's an absolute riot in it. Check it out if you haven't.


Arlington, Va.: "Gremlins" takes place during Christmas, and for fans of the horror genre, "Silent Night, Deadly Night" is a classic that caused a lot of controversy when it came out.

Jen Chaney: Yeah, something about the killer Santa thing always makes me a bit hesitant to recommend "Silent Night, Deadly Night." I love "Gremlins," though. Mogwais really are the gift that keep on giving.


"Diner" Moment: My favorite line/moment from that movie, as Boogie and Fenwick watch the girl ride away on the horse in the countryside:

Fenwick (Kevin Bacon): "Do you ever get the feeling there's something going on that we don't know about?"

Boogie (Mickey Rourke): "You get the feeling she gave me a fake number?"

Jen Chaney: One of my (many) favorite lines:

Modell: You know what word I am not comfortable with? Nuance.

The fight over the sandwiches, which leads into the debate over Mathis, is also pretty stellar.


Richmond, Va.: I'll save y'all the trip: Bill Forsyth's "Comfort and Joy" not at Netflix

Jen Chaney: Really? That's a shame. I thought Netflix had everything!


Arlington, Va.: Jen, don't forget "Less Than Zero" with that haunting Bangles remake of Hazy Shade of Winter, please!

Jen Chaney: Oh, I am haunted by that Bangles remake on a daily basis.

Seriously, thanks for mentioning this one. Robert Downey, Jr. is in "Less Than Zero" so really, you can't go entirely wrong.


Holiday Cheer: "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and of course, "The March of the Wooden Soldiers"...

Jen Chaney: Two more for the master list...


Arlington, Va.: "Nobody's Fool" with the incomparable Paul Newman, "A Christmas Carol" with George C. Scott, "The Bishop's Wife" with, sigghhhh, Cary Grant. Great films? Not really, but who cares! I love them and always, always watch them to help set my Christmas spirit in place. Helpful this year especially since I'm moving on New Year's Day so that means my home is a forest of boxes right now. Happy Holidays.

Jen Chaney: You raise an interesting point here. When it comes to holiday movies, we're all willing to lower the bar an eensy bit, aren't we?

I mean, it's the season of giving and we all want to feel merry and bright, so we're willing to meet a reasonably decent film halfway and see it as great sometimes.

Of course, none of this applies to the Ben Affleck tour de force, "Surviving Christmas."


Silver Spring, Md.: Is "Better Off Dead" on any of your lists? The family dressed as reindeer? The "gifts" of TV dinners? "You like corn..."

Jen Chaney: Um, hell to the yes? I included that last year, I think.

As far as Cusack movies go, I still like "Sure Thing" more. (It's a more serious romantic comedy, if that makes sense.) But much of "Better Off Dead" is genius.


Chicago: For fans of horror, there's always "Black Christmas". For that one I find the original 1974 is much better than the remake.

And there's always "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." But it's better to watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of that Christmas "classic".

Jen Chaney: Oh, that's a rock solid suggestion, Chicago. You start adding MST 3K commentary on holiday movies into the mix and we could seriously be here all week.


Dayton, Ohio: Jen, have you ever seen "Holiday Affair" with Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh? Wonderfully light Christmas movie; I look for it on TCM every Christmas. But my all time favorite has to be "The Bishop's Wife" with David Niven and Cary Grant. Any chance either of these will make your list in the future?

Jen Chaney: I think "Holiday Affair" either was just on TCM or will be in the next week or two. I haven't seen it, but will try to catch it when it airs.

And absolutely, both of those will go on the master list. ("Bishop's Wife" is already there, I had left it off because I thought most people already knew it as a Christmas movie. But maybe it's less well-known than I thought.)

Thanks for the suggestions.


Washington, D.C.: Judy Davis in "The Ref" is worth the price of admission alone. For some reason, I always think of "Wonderboys" as a Christmas movie. And, must watch "Home for the Holidays" again. Even if it is technically a "Thanksgiving" movie.

Jen Chaney: It's winter time during "Wonder Boys," so maybe that's why? Actually, I'd have to go back again and see if there are any Xmas scenes in that one. I can't recall.

Judy Davis is quite good in "The Ref," you're absolutely right.


D.C.: The best Christmas movie ever made is also on my list for the greatest film ever made -- Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." There's so much going on in the movie that it's easy to forget it's a Christmas movie, but who can forget the visit from "Santa" that turns out to be government operatives arresting the wrong heating engineer for unspecified terrorist activities? The movie just gets more and more timely with each passing year, I'm sorry to say...

Jen Chaney: Oh, yes. Again on the master list.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I swear, there is a master list and I do have these titles on there.


"Better Off Dead": And the killer eggnog Booger's brother makes with lighter fluid. Ah, Booger. Glad to see it gets props.

Jen Chaney: Poor Curtis Armstrong. He played other roles (see him in "Risky Business" and "Moonlighting" among others). But once you play a guy named Booger, you're branded for life.


Richmond, Va.: Truly touching without being cloying is "A Midnight Clear," based on a true story of Americans and Germans in WWII putting down their guns to celebrate Christmas together. Great early performances by some later big stars. Nice period piece.

Jen Chaney: Oh, thanks. I had this under consideration, as well as another more recent holiday war movie, "Joyeux Noel."

Hopefully I'll get to do another of these lists next year. Too many good ones worth mentioning.


"It was the nearest thing to heaven...": I watch "An Affair to Remember" every year around this time because it ends at Christmas time. Something about the holidays brings out the schmaltz-o-phile in me.

Jen Chaney: You're not the only one. I once cried during a Ziggy holiday special. No, I'm not proud of it.

On a total sidenote, I am subbing for the esteemed Liz Kelly in Celebritology a couple of times this week. And I may be doing a Friday list on the best Christmas episodes of TV shows from the past 25 years.

Got suggestions? Feel free to make them known in the few minutes we have left.


Christmas Travel Movie: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

John Candy and Steve Martin in top form. One of the best movies, ever! "Where are your hands?" "Between two pillows." "Those aren't pillows!!!" -- Michele

Jen Chaney: Actually, that's Thanksgiving, isn't it? Which would make it a prime contender for the Thanksgiving movie list.

In addition to "Those aren't pillows," I routinely borrow the line, "You're going the wrong way!"

Good suggestion -- thanks!


Lost-related movie: OK, I know it's not even out yet, but "Watchmen" has a Christmas/holiday scene, I think. At least the book did, and from a quick browse of the web, it looks like they've filmed a holiday party scene...

Jen Chaney: Wait, we can't go around recommending movies that haven't come out yet. Much as we're all excited to see "Watchmen" and all.

Of course, if a holiday scene makes it in, it could go on the list for next year. I'll pay extra-close attention. Assuming that wacky lawsuit is dropped and "Watchmen" actually gets released.


ooh! I know!: How about "Can't Buy Me Love?" mmm... Patrick Dempsey.

Jen Chaney: Is there a holiday scene in that?

I forget. I may have tried to wipe that one from my memory banks.


I feel like there are Christmas scenes in these: "Big" (early Tom Hanks) and "Dogma" (Matt Damon). Anyone know for sure?

Jen Chaney: Man, I don't remember holiday scenes in either one. But readers, feel free to chime in.

The moment where Tom Hanks dances on the piano seems holiday-ish simply because he's in a toy store. But I don't think it was actually supposed to be Christmas time. Then again, I could be wrong.


Christmas Action Movies: "Long Kiss Goodnight." Geena Davis was awesome with a machine gun!

Jen Chaney: Nice! Thanks.


The only Christmas movie I need is: "Elf!" I love that movie. I have seen it a gazillion times and it still makes me laugh.

Jen Chaney: Will Ferrell is pretty funny in this. I don't think it has achieved "Christmas Story" status. But I'll certainly stop and watch if I'm flipping channels.


Re: "Eyes Wide Shut": The thing about "Eyes Wide Shut" is that I was with it until the last line. Then after the last line I couldn't help but think that this entire long, drawn-out tale was Kubrick's last joke on all of us. Through three hours of painful naval gazing, all I was thinking through the whole thing was "why don't they just have sex" -- and that turns out to be the punchline.

I don't know. Funny, but kind of annoying.

Jen Chaney: Yeah, that movie does end really abruptly, doesn't it?

Fair point.


Bowie, Md.: Okay, okay, I have a movie that I am sure you have not added to your list. It's "Coming to America" with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. I know it's on TV a lot, but every time it comes on I feel like I have to watch it. I mean come on, who wouldn't want to watch a story about a prince who wants to find someone to love. All of this is set during Christmas.

Jen Chaney: Wow, I did not remember that "Coming to America" was set during the holidays.

Yet another for the much-discussed master list...


NYC, N.Y.: Christmas Television episodes...West Wing Season 1, "In Excelsis Deo." Hands down.

Jen Chaney: Good suggestion. Thanks, NYC.


Los Angeles: My favorite is "Christmas Holiday" starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly. Sounds cheery doesn't it? Well it's directed by Robert Siodmak ("Phantom Lady") from a script by Herman J. Mankiewicz ("Citizen Kane"), adapted from a Somerset Maugham story. Lovely Deana marries keen Gene only to discover that he's a homicidal maniac. Increasingly desperate circumstances lead her to find work in a brothel (called a "roadhouse" thanks to the production code) where she warbles "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year" written by the great Frank Loesser expressly for this film. In the grand finale, Kelly, trying to kill Deanna, is shot down in a hail of police gunfire and dies in her arms.

I can't think of another film that best exemplifies the spirit of suicidal depression so redolent of the holiday season.

Jen Chaney: Okay, I have not seen this, but thanks to your description, I feel like I have.

That sounds pretty brutal. Which of course means ... master list!


Can't Buy: I think the scene where the Cool Chick finally tells everyone that Dork Boy (Patrick Dempsey) paid for her friendship takes place at a Christmas party. I could be very, very wrong. There was drunkenness and a pool involved. And by that I mean when I saw the movie, not necessarily the scene in the movie.

Jen Chaney: That was a teen movie from the '80s. I can almost guarantee that drunknness and/or a swimming pool made an appearance.


TV episodes: This won't make your list, but the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" advocates might want to hunt down the early "Tales from the Crypt" episode (I assume it's out there on DVD) in which the guy who played Benny on "LA Law" (I forget his name) plays an extremely creepy Santa (an escaped mental patient, if memory serves).

Jen Chaney: We wish you a macabre Christmas ...


Christmas TV: The Christmas episode of "Frasier" where he pretends to be Jewish around his girlfriend's mother is hilarious. I generally find "Frasier" pretty annoying, but that episode had some great moments.

Jen Chaney: Don't remember that one, but will investigate. Thanks!


North Carolina: Our family watches Albert Finney's "Scrooge" to get into the true Christmas spirit each and every year.

Jen Chaney: Is there a person who doesn't love Albert Finney? How can you not?


"Babes in Toyland"?: 60s classic Disney featuring the lovely Annette Funicello and formerly drool-worthy Tommy Sands?

Jen Chaney: I have a very vague recollection of seeing this as a child. Very vague.

Thanks for jogging the memory.

Tons of questions, but only a few minutes left. I'll do the best I can to grab as many as possible...


"When Harry Met Sally": Wonderful shots at the Christmas tree lot with Sally picking out her tree alone, and dragging it home.

Jen Chaney: Definitely. Had that one the list in either '06 or '07.

And "Annie Hall" -- which unquestionably influenced "Harry" -- is on this year's list. Perhaps a potential double feature?


Justachristmassce, NE: There's a very moving Christmas sequence in the 1935 "A Tale of Two Cities," with a tipsy Sidney Carton (Ronald Colman) going to Christmas Mass with Lucie Manette (Elizabeth Allen) and Miss Pross (Edna May Oliver). This is before he goes to the guillotine, of course.

Jen Chaney: So much death, people!

Seriously, thank for the suggestion.


Christmas Made for TV Movie: One of the best Christmas TV movies ever made is called "The Three Kings." It was written by Oscar Winner Stirling Silliphant and starred Jack Warden and Lou Diamond Phillips. Ever seen it? It concerned three escapees from a mental institution who think they are following the Christmas star to Bethlehem. It hasn't been seen since its initial showing back in 1987.

Jen Chaney: I haven't seen this, but thought I'd post for those who may remember it, too. Thanks.


20782: How could you omit "Bad Santa"?????

Jen Chaney: I like "Bad Santa" a lot. But I didn't include it because it is a blatant Christmas movie. It's unconventional in the sense that its sense of humor is twisted, but I think enough people know it that it wouldn't open any eyes.

I really try to focus on movies that people either have forgotten or don't usually think of in a holiday context. Make sense?


And for we Jews...: "The Hebrew Hammer"! Shows up on Comedy Central each year.

Jen Chaney: Between that and "Eight Crazy Nights," I'd definitely go "Hebrew Hammer."


Washington, D.C.: Seconding Arlington re: George C. Scott: I saw the version of "A Christmas Carol" in which he stars when it was first broadcast on ABC and it knocked me out. His Scrooge was not the stereotypical cackling miser, but rather a bull like capitalist. When he's solicited for Christmas alms for the poor, Scott very effectively delivers his rebuttal, saying his taxes pay for the workhouses and other relief the poor get, so why should he be expected to give more, simply because it's Christmas. The film also stars Roger Rhees as nephew Fred and Edward Woodward as one of the ghosts (can't remember if he is past or present). Anyone who is tired of this story but hasn't seen Scott's version will see that there is really something new here.

Jen Chaney: Consider this duly noted.


Minneapolis, Minn.: Many years ago, when I was in London at Christmastime, I saw a 1952 British movie, "The Holly and the Ivy," on TV. It starred Celia Johnson (who played the wife who considered having an affair with Trevor Howard in "Brief Encounter"). As I recall, it involved a family of adult children who were estranged from their father. It was a typical "dark" post-war movie. I've never seen it anywhere since.

Jen Chaney: Haven't seen that one either. Wonder if it's on DVD?


How could you forget: "Uncle Buck"? Takes place around the holidays. Best quote: "Take a quarter, go downtown and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face."

Jen Chaney: I just saw the beginning of "Uncle Buck" on cable a couple of weeks ago -- don't ask -- and totally forgot about it. Will add it to the thumb drive in my brain.


Muppets Christmas movie?: Can't go wrong with the classic Muppets!

Jen Chaney: No. Their "Christmas Carol" is a good one, and so is the one they did more recently that was a riff on "It's a Wonderful Life."


What's Happening!: I still remember (well, kinda) the episode of "What's Happening" when Mabel had to work during the holidays, so all the kids made plans to do other stuff, then she somehow got the day off, but the kids had already gone. It was heartbreaking to hear her talking on the phone to someone (I don't remember who) and end the conversation with "Hm? Oh, yes. Merry Christmas." when she was alone.

Okay, that's the only scene I remember so I forget if the kids eventually came back to celebrate with her.

Jen Chaney: Are you telling me that episode didn't end with Dwayne walking in and saying, "Hey, hey, hey"? Cause I don't buy it for a second.


Frederick, Md.: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"... Have not seen it in years, so can't recall if any this P.O.W. movie has anything to do with the holidays, but, hey, "Christmas" is in the title, plus it has two words to recommend it: "David Bowie."

Jen Chaney: I believe it is holiday-related, so thanks for the suggestion.

And I also believe that this, sadly, brings the discussion to a close. My apologies to the questions and comments (including the one about Mr. Magoo) that I didn't get to. This was great fun and I hope we can do it again next year.

Until then, happy holidays. Hope you enjoy a movie or two this season, whether they are unconventional or not.



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