By Erik Lundegaard
Special to MSN Movies
The holidays, like the Corleones, are all about family. In fact, you could use a Don Corleone's line from "The Godfather" as the lesson of most Christmas movies: "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man." Or in Hollywood terms: A man who doesn't spend time with his family is the beginning of a Christmas movie.
For the 10 best scenes from holiday movies we've decided on theatrical releases only and just one scene per film. Otherwise you'd be watching nothing but The Big Four -- "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "A Christmas Story," and one of the many versions of "A Christmas Carol" -- and we get enough of that from the networks this time of year.
Sorting through the rest, we saw more than our share of workaholic fathers and drunk Santas and petty psychiatrists. We were continually entreated to put aside common sense and simply believe. Only then would something magical happen. (Santa's sleigh would fly; the little girl's wish would be fulfilled) But our favorite Holiday movie moral is slightly more cynical: Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.
10. Dream Schmeam, Bing; Just Look Out the
Movie: "Holiday Inn" (1942)
Director: Mark Sandrich
Screenwriter: Claude Binyon, from an idea by Irving Berlin.
Workaholic Father or Drunk Santa? A workaholic partner (Fred Astaire).
Movie Quote: "Here comes my hot toddy." "Over my dead body."
One of the songs from "Holiday Inn," "White Christmas," became so popular that 12 years later they made a movie about it, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, and filmed, for the first time, in Vista Vision. Vista Vision, kids! It's also horribly schmaltzy and Crosby is obviously past his prime. We'll stick with the black-and-white original, where Bing plays a singer whose inn is only open on holidays. Back then this meant New Year's Eve, Lincoln's birthday (where we get an embarrassing minstrel number), Valentine's Day, Washington's Birthday, Easter, Independence Day (a firecracker dance routine by Fred Astaire), Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Before the inn closes, Bing tries to woo a gal with this little Christmas tune he worked up. Check out the imaginative use of Bing's trademark pipe.
Movie: "Love Actually" (2003)
Director/writer: Richard Curtis
Workaholic Father or Drunk Santa? People don't work in this movie. They're too busy being in looooove.
Movie Quote: "So if you believe in Christmas, children, like your uncle Billy does, buy my festering turd of a record..."
This movie is to love what porn is to sex. You know how porn practically shoves it in your face? Writer/director Curtis does the same with love until you're almost embarrassed for the species. Do we really need love this much? At this sweet a pitch? Still, Bill Nighy's funny, Hugh Grant is a dream Prime Minister, and the opening montage of people greeting one another at Heathrow Airport is beautiful (and helps redeem the species again). Then there's Emma Thompson. She plays a housewife whose husband begins to stray. That gold necklace she found in his jacket pocket? That was for the other woman. She realizes this on Christmas Eve and then absents herself to the bedroom for this devastating scene: the hard, painful center of a very gooey movie.
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