AFI Silver's perennial Christmas favorites IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET return, alongside rare treats like HOLIDAY AFFAIR, WHITE CHRISTMAS and the 1938 version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. And for a change of pace, check out the 25th anniversary presentations of SCROOGED and—yippee kai-yay, mistletoers!—DIE HARD!
AFI Member passes accepted at all films in the Holiday Classics series.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
Do you believe in Santa Claus? No-nonsense Macy's exec and single mom Maureen O'Hara certainly doesn't, and she won't raise her daughter Natalie Wood to believe so, either. But Christmas is big business for Macy's, and the store needs Santas. So when a funny old man named Kris Kringle shows up for the job—insisting he's the real Santa Claus—O'Hara humors the old guy and hires him. But he's so successful at spreading the spirit of Christmas, even O'Hara starts to wonder if he's the real thing. Twinkle-eyed Edmund Gwenn shines as the jolly fellow in this Christmas classic.
DIR/SCR George Seaton, from a story by Valentine Davies; PROD William Perlberg. US, 1947, b&w, 96 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 6, 1:20; Sat, Dec 7, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Dec 8, 11:00 a.m.;
Tue, Dec 10, 5:10; Thu, Dec 12, 5:10
WWII widow Janet Leigh works as a department store comparison shopper during the Christmas season in NYC, and after buying and returning the most expensive train set from the competition's store, gets good-hearted sales clerk Robert Mitchum fired for letting her off easy. Mitchum uses his resulting free time to pal around with Leigh, and romance blooms. However, Leigh's longtime admirer Wendell Corey has just proposed to her. And then there's her young son Timmy – who really wanted that train! Mitchum and Leigh, both just starting their careers, truly shine in this holiday charmer, recently re-discovered for the gem that it is.
DIR/PROD Don Hartman; SCR Isobel Lennart, from the story "Christmas Gift" by John D. Weaver. US, 1949, b&w, 87 min. NOT RATED
Preservation print courtesy of the Library of Congress
Fri, Dec 6, 3:20; Sat, Dec 7, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Dec 8, 11:05 a.m.;
Mon, Dec 9, 5:10; Wed, Dec 11, 5:10
Comedy icon Bill Murray stars as a media-age Scrooge in this comic reimagining of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Television exec Frank Cross (Murray) reigns with an iron fist, keeping his fearful staff on edge and even worse, forcing them to work Christmas Eve in order to mount a live production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Mirroring the Dickens classic, Frank is soon visited by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, who take him on a hilarious journey toward redemption. With Bobcat Goldthwait, Karen Allen, Carol Kane, David Johansen, Alfre Woodard and Robert Mitchum.
DIR/PROD Richard Donner; SCR Mitch Glazer, Michael O'Donoghue, from the story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens; PROD Art Linson. US, 1988, color, 101 min. RATED PG-13
Fri, Dec 6, 5:20; Sun, Dec 8, 9:00
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star as army vets-cum-nightclub impresarios who fall for a beguiling sister act in the form of Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Smitten with the sisters, they follow them from Miami, Florida, to Pine Tree, Vermont, where they are booked to appear in a Christmas show. This Technicolor musical, the biggest box office hit of 1954 and the first film shot in VistaVision, includes Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"—already an Oscar-winning song, from its screen introduction 12 years earlier in HOLIDAY INN—plus Oscar nominee "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)," "Sisters," and "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing."
DIR Michael Curtiz; SCR Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank; PROD Robert Emmett Dolan. US, 1954, color, 120 min. NOT RATED
Also part of the Danny Kaye Centennial.
*Book Signing Event
Author Steve Taravella will introduce the Dec. 15 screening of WHITE CHRISTMAS and sign copies of his book "Mary Wickes: I Know I've Seen That Face Before" in the lobby following the screening.
Fri, Dec 13, 12:45; Sun, Dec 15, 11:00 a.m.*
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
This 1951 British film features Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge—for many, the definitive performance of the iconic character. Miserly and mean-tempered, Scrooge is shaken to his core when he is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, whose phantasmagoric revelations help him to see the error of his ways.
DIR/PROD Brian Desmond Hurst; SCR Noel Langley, from the story by Charles Dickens. UK/US, 1951, b&w, 86 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 13, 3:15; Sun, Dec 15, 11:05 a.m.; Tue, Dec 17, 5:15;
Thu, Dec 19, 5:15
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Guardian angel Clarence Odbody saves George Bailey (James Stewart) from a Christmas Eve suicide by showing him how dismal life in the small town of Bedford Falls would have been for his family and friends had he never been born. With Donna Reed as George's adoring wife, Henry Travers as the angel hoping to get his wings and Lionel Barrymore as the villainous Mr. Potter, this all-time Christmas classic may be Frank Capra's finest work. "The epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience." –Chicago Reader.
DIR/SCR/PROD Frank Capra; SCR Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Philip Van Doren Stern, Michael Wilson. US, 1946, b&w, 130 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 13, 5:30; Sat, Dec 14, 2:45; Sun, Dec 15, 1:30;
Wed, Dec 18, 7:15; Thu, Dec 19, 7:15; Fri, Dec 20, 12:45;
Sat, Dec 21, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Dec 22, 11:00 a.m.;
Mon, Dec 23, 1:50, 7:10; Tue, Dec 24, 1:50, 7:10
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938)
MGM's family-friendly 1938 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic, long a holiday season television staple alongside the spookier 1951 British version, stars character actor Reginald Owen as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Gene Lockhart plays his put-upon clerk Bob Cratchit, alongside his real-life wife Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Cratchit and real-life daughter June Lockhart—here just a teen, later a television stalwart in LASSIE, LOST IN SPACE, PETTICOAT JUNCTION and GENERAL HOSPITAL—making her screen debut in an uncredited role as their daughter Belinda. Music by Franz Waxman.
DIR Edwin L. Marin; SCR Hugo Butler, from the story by Charles Dickens; PROD Joseph L. Mankiewicz. US, 1938, b&w, 69 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec 14, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Dec 16, 5:15; Wed, Dec 18, 5:15
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
The Muppets' version of the Charles Dickens classic ranks among the best. The always-game Michael Caine gives it his all as Ebenezer Scrooge, with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife Emily and Kermit's nephew Robin as Tiny Tim, plus regulars Fozzie, Gonzo, Rizzo Rat and some truly awesome creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop for the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come.
DIR/PROD Brian Henson; SCR Jerry Juhl, from the story by Charles Dickens; PROD Martin G. Baker. US, 1992, color, 85 min. RATED G
Fri, Dec 20, 3:30; Sat, Dec 21, 11:10 a.m.; Sun, Dec 22, 11:10 a.m.;
Mon, Dec 23, 12 noon; Tue, Dec 24, 12 noon
In LA to visit his estranged wife, Bonnie Bedelia, tough-as-nails NY cop Bruce Willis barely has time to feel out of place at her company Christmas party before a band of terrorists takes the building hostage, demanding the $600 million in the company vault. Masterminding the terror plot is sophisticated villain Alan Rickman; bumbling the response are the LAPD and the FBI. Willis is in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he's the right man for the job, fighting his way through "forty stories of sheer adventure" in this supremely well-crafted, characterized, exciting and often hilarious thrill ride—much imitated, never equaled and still unsurpassed.
DIR John McTiernan; SCR Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza, from the novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp; PROD Joel Silver, Lawrence Gordon. US, 1988, color, 131 min. RATED R
Fri, Dec 20, 9:15; Mon, Dec 23, 9:45; Tue, Dec 24, 9:45
THE LION IN WINTER
Christmas, 1183: Intrigue abounds at the court of England's Henry II (Peter O'Toole). With an eye towards succession, Henry backs his younger son, Prince John (Nigel Terry); his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), backs the eldest son, Richard the Lionheart (Anthony Hopkins, in his screen debut). The family's various schemes against each other launch a dizzying array of plots and counterplots. Nominated for seven Oscars, with Hepburn winning Best Actress (as she did the year before, for GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER), James Goldman Best Adapted Screenplay (based on his own play), and John Barry Best Score.
DIR Anthony Harvey; SCR James Goldman, from his play; PROD Martin Poll. UK, 1968, color, 134 min. RATED PG
Mon, Dec 23, 4:25; Tue, Dec 24, 4:25