Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas on the Box: five of the best films to maintain yuletide merriment

 There always seems to be a lull in televisual viewing in the months leading up to Christmas, as broadcasters save up their pennies to provide a deluge of quality entertainment for the ever hungry viewing public. Of course there are the usual adaptations, dramas and festive panel programmes all carving out a new angle on an old classic. For me these are all a bit throwaway and are no way in the same league as the fantastic cinemas that seems to revisit terrestrial television for a few fleeting moments each year.

Here is my pick of the best of Christmas cinema and five films that will keep everyone happy as they stare sleepily at the gogglebox after the excessive meal and booze of the celebratory lunch:

  1. Zulu, The Italian Job, Get Carter, Alfie : one might think it is strange to lump four films into one entry but one cannot turn on the television at Christmas without seeing the youthful face of everyone’s favourite cock-er-ney cheeky chappy, Michael Caine. After a while all the above films blend into one retrospective catalogue of Mr. Caine’s life but this make this annual celebration of one of the countries best loved actors all the more enjoyable. Laugh as he tell the lads that they were only meant to ‘bla the blaady doors off’, sit in suspense as he orders the troops to wait until they ‘see the whites of their eyes’ and smile wryly as he blasts away another hoodlum whilst reminding them that ‘she was only fifteen years old’.

  1. Die Hard : To many this might seems a strange choice, however, anyone who has seen this genre defining slice of gun blazing mayhem cannot but be charmed by the jolly Christmas message that underlies the violence, destruction and witty interplay between Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and his band of heavies as they take a whole building hostage during a corporation’s Chrismas party. Chuckle to yourself or with your friends as Hans (Rickman) opens the door of an elevator to find one of his henchmen shot to pieces but sporting a fetching Christmas hat, some festive bulbs and a message reading ‘I have a machine gun ho ho ho’. This is also a great film for bewildering older relations who will easily loose the thread of the plot as the loud crashing and banging plays havoc with their hearing aids!

  1. My Fair Lady : Everyone loves a musical at Christmas time and what better way to celebrate than with Loewe and Lerner’s 3½ Hour classic! Memorable tunes are interspersed with one of the worst cockney accents I have ever heard (courtesy of the ravishing Audrey Hepburn) and some of the most Chauvinistic dialogue ever to be spoken on the silver screen. Rex Harrison is in his element as the arrogant batchelor, Professor Henry Higgins, who’s task it is to take Hepburn’s spicy street urchin and pass her off as a Duchess at a royal ball. Sing along with such tunes as ‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man’, ‘The Street Where You Live’, ‘The Rain in Spain’ and ‘All I want is a Room Somewhere as you marvel at Cecil Beaton’s marvellous costume and set design. This is one for the whole family and a real must for Christmas day morning.

  1. Home Alone & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York : This is one that always brings a tear to my eye, for those final scenes when Catherine O Hara and Macauley Culkin are reunited in what has come to be regarded as a real Christmas classic. The late John Hughes outdoes himself with a script that balances both the sentiment of the season, some hilarious lines and a number of brilliant pitfalls and pratfalls. Joe Pesci is brilliant as the sinister but stupid villain and John Candy has a fantastic Cameo as a travelling polka player! This is one of those great film that everyone will enjoy and will have all and sundry rolling on the floor with laughter.

  1. The Great Escape : Last but by no means least come The Great Escape, usually on at some stage during Christmas Eve, this epic story of a daring break from a WW2 German prison camp will fire up everyone with patriotic fervour whilst providing some fantastic Christmas viewing. Packed with a stellar cast including Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Richard Attenborough, James Garner and Donald Pleasance this is one great wartime pantomime encouraging the viewer to cheer the heroes and boo the villains. However it is that fantastic, iconic shot of McQueen jumping the checkpoint barriers on a motorcycle, which makes this film such a treat. It’s a long one so make sure you have the port decanter and pile of mince pies on hand to while away a leisurely afternoons viewing!

That’s your lot until Boxing day but please feel free to post some comments and perhaps some other classic viewing suggestions for the Yuletide Season. I hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas and I want to that everyone for all the support they have so far given this blog. See you Boxing Day… H

1 comment:

  1. Can we have an update on xmas dinner please? Did you burn the turkey? bloody good chap has been very quiet. Your fans need info plz