“Love Actually” Music Video! “It’s A Wonderful Life” Trivia! The Greatest Holiday Films Ever!

best holiday movies

Happy Holidays And Merry Christmas From The Silver Screen!

As we celebrate Christmas Day and the holiday season, everyone will eat lots of food and sit down to watch classic holiday movies – and we all have our own favorites!

I’ve got a list of the best holiday movies, including RARE behind-the-scenes photos from the set of “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and so much more!

First, get into the holiday spirit with Billy Mack’s “Christmas Is All Around”!

holiday entertainment 2015

Thanks Billy, just what I needed to get into the holiday spirit! If you know this song, then you LOVE “Love Actually” – one of the best holiday movies ever! And I’ve got great trivia about the film, courtesy of the terrific website “IMDB.”

Love actually

“Love Actually” is a series of inter-locking stories that take place during the holiday season: some are funny, and a few are sad – with an all-star cast including Kiera Knightley, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson.

best holiday movies

So many terrific Actors in the film. Here’s a chart to help you keep track of them all:

chart_love_actually

And, thanks to the great website IMDB, here is some “Love Actually” trivia! Let’s start with this fun one:

The word “actually” is spoken twenty-two times by various characters in the film.

Love-Actually-love-actually-578223_1024_576

When casting the part of Sarah, Richard Curtis auditioned a great many British girls, but kept saying, “I want someone like Laura Linney…” The casting director eventually snapped and said, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, get Laura Linney then.” She then auditioned and got the part.

classic holiday movies

The idea for Mark’s surprise of the band singing “All You Need Is Love” at Peter and Juliet’s wedding came from Jim Henson’s funeral (which Richard Curtis attended) where all the puppeteers brought their Muppets and sung a song.

love-actually

The lake that Lúcia Moniz and Colin Firth are “swimming” in was actually only eighteen inches deep and they had to kneel down and pretend to be in deeper water. It was also over-run by mosquitoes and Colin Firth was badly bitten and his elbow swelled up to the size of an avocado, requiring medical attention.

love-actually holiday film

Knowing about Billy Bob Thornton’s quite unique fear of antique furniture, Hugh Grant would sometimes flash a piece of antique (which is abundant in England) in front of Thornton just before the cameras rolled, and watch him freak out in amusement.

Love actually

The airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of the film is real. Richard Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week, and whenever they saw something that would fit in they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage. Alex and I always wondered how excited these people must be to be in the film forever!

greatest holiday films

Thanks, Billy Mack!

“Christmas Is All Around” is now one of our favorite holiday songs thanks to Bill Nighy. With that tune in our heads, let’s see some of the other great holiday films, beginning with Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and the spirit of “Saturday Night Live”!

scrooged

Get “Scrooged” and “Griswolded”!

“Scrooged” (1983) and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989) both are infused with SNL attitude – Bill Murray does an updated “Christmas Carol” as miserly TV exec Frank Cross – Murray is full of great lines and classic double takes, but the Actor also reveals his soft spot, in a film that has more of a manic energy than many holiday classics.

Bill Murray Scrooged

Once you are “Scrooged”, you might as well go “Griswold!”

National-Lampoon-s-Christmas-Vacation-chevy-chase-fanclub-25408780-1280-7201

That’s right, welcome back to the Clark Griswold family – Chevy Chase takes his clan on another “Vacation”…yes, another fun trip, but do they deserve a spot on the list? As Clark Griswold would say:

“Bend over and I’ll show you!”

OK, maybe a bit forward for the holiday…let’s go back to a simpler time…

holiday movie


The “White Christmas” (1954) / “Holiday Inn” (1942) Crosby Combo!

Here are two iconic holiday films starring legendary Actors – and I’ve presented it as a double bill, since they are basically the same movie! In “Holiday Inn”, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are two war buddies who sing lots of classic Irving Berlin tunes, including the Oscar winning “White Christmas”…

White-Christmas holiday

The Song Becomes The Film!

“White Christmas” was such a great song that they decided to remake “Holiday Inn” and CALL it “White Christmas”! This time, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are two GIs coming home from WWII, who fall in love with singing-and-dancing sisters and help their general with his failing Vermont inn. Again, almost the same film, but both of classic Hollywood holiday entertainment! A great double bill!

bad-santa best holiday movies


“Bad Santa”!

This ain’t your father’s holiday movie! How can you NOT love a film with the classic line:

“F me, Santa!”

holiday entertainment

So says Lauren Graham in a movie that wears its dark heart on its sleeve…the perfect movie to watch after “Black Friday” shopping – fighting holiday crowds – and virtually impossible to watch without a stiff drink in your hand. But it is hilarious, profane and touching as well!


Happy Holidays, Del Griffith!

And now, the funniest holiday movie character ever, the legendary Del Griffith!

best holiday movies

“Planes, Trains & Automobiles”!

I know, it takes place over Thanksgiving, but it’s a holiday movie through and through, and Del Griffith deserves to be here – as it is one of the most heartwarming holiday movies ever!

Planes Trains & Automobiles

It’s the classic story of a guy just trying to get home to his family in times for the holidays. “Here’s an idea. When you tell a story, have a point!” And who can forget Del Griffith pulling his socks off on the plane, waving them around and exclaiming “the dogs are barking!”

planes-trains-and-automobiles-poster[1]

And of course, as you can see above:

“those aren’t pillows!”

I rest my case. Just one of the sweetest holiday films ever…here is some great trivia about the movie:

https://johnrieber.com/2017/11/23/del-griffith-says-happy-thanksgiving-2017-planes-trains-and-automobiles-the-greatest-turkey-day-film-of-all-time/

Next, we need to thank one particular year for a number of terrific holiday films:

All Hail The Year 2003!

2003: what a great year for holiday movies: first of all, it was the year of “Bad Santa”, but what about the other classic film from that year – the story of Buddy the Elf – check it out:

elf


Buddy the Elf!

Will Ferrell is innocent and perfect as Buddy – the elf who heads to New York City to find his real father – a very unfriendly James Caan. Add Ed Asner as a slightly grumpy Santa PLUS Zooey Deschanel as the “innocent love” interest and you have an instant holiday classic!

Speaking of holiday classics:

a christmas story

Congratulations To Director Bob Clark!

Time to celebrate the seriously under-rated Director Bob Clark, who directed the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story” – literally one of the most quoted holiday movies ever! Need an example?


“You’ll shoot your eye out with that thing!”

A-Christmas-Story-a-christmas-story-5084200-640-480

It makes me want to have chinese food on Dec. 25th just to honor him. This is arguably the best Christmas movie of all time – the encounter with the frozen tether ball pole is just one reason…

best holiday movies

And who can forget Dad’s new lamp – look at this terrific TBS ad for the movie that captures the fun of that scene…

a christmas story best movies

It is a holiday classic, directed by Canadian Bob Clark, an under-appreciated Director…check out the trailer:

A Christmas Story little boy

So funny, so heartwarming! That said, Bob Clark also directed the little-known classic horror film “Black Christmas”, where a sorority is terrorized by a manic over the holidays. He perfected the killer’s POV shot years before “Halloween” got credit for revitalizing it. The thriller stars Kier Dullea (2001) and Margo Kidder (Superman)…dark, dark, dark, but what a Bob Clark holiday double bill – just make sure to send the kids to bed before you start this second feature!

Black Christmas Poster

Added trivia: Clark also created and directed “Porky’s”…talk about an eclectic career! Finally, let’s focus on the greatest holiday film of all time…see more about this under-appreciated Director here:

https://johnrieber.com/2014/08/08/porkys-peepholes-christmas-horror-fra-gee-lay-director-bob-clarks-enduring-legacy/

Now, arguably the greatest holiday film ever:

P22321.jpg


“It’s A Wonderful Life”!

The greatest holiday movie of all! Jimmy Stewart, the Tom Hanks of his generation, beautifully portrays a disillusioned husband and father who sees his life amount to nothing – or so he thinks.

best christmas movie ever

This Frank Capra classic is a dark look at one man’s disappointment with his life – of course all coming to a head on Christmas eve – and the film reveals a ton of universal truths about what we should or should not expect from life – remember this line: “we serve stiff drinks for men who want to get drunk fast!” I mean, this movie gets DARK…

it's a wonderful life


Rare “Bedford Falls” Photos!

LIFE Magazine has revealed 13 rare behind-the-scenes photos from the set of the 1946 Frank Capra classic. The pictures focus on one aspect of the holiday favorite that many probably take for granted: the snowy milieu of Bedford Falls!

ITS-A-WONDERFUL-LIFE-RARE-PHOTO-570-2

So as you can see, they used snow machines to create the beautiful serenity of the town:

ITS-A-WONDERFUL-LIFE-RARE-PHOTO-570

Looks like Jimmy Stewart had a few snowballs tossed back in his direction during filming!

It's a wonmderful life jimmy stewart snowball fight

I will admit that, in some ways, Pottersville always looked a lot more fun than Bedford Falls – like a mini-Vegas! But no matter what life through at George Bailey, he always had a secret weapon…

holiday entertainment

That’s right – Zuzu’s pedals!

best holiday movies

Send me a note and let me know what you watched this holiday season!



Categories: 70's Cinema, Art, Awards, Bloopers, Books / Media, British Cinema, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, London, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Movies, Music, Obscure Movies, Talent/Celebrities

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6 replies

  1. Great list John, I’m yet to see Elf or Christmas Story but I do love all the other ones. I had no idea there was a debate about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Of course it is! In fact there was a great video done about it by Richard Jackson on Oliver Harper’s YouTube channel where they received a tweet back from the screenwriter confirming as much. 🙂 I don’t have a tradition per see. TV is avoided on Christmas day but I do like to have things on during food prep on Christmas Eve. I would say Love Actually and Darlene Love performing on David Letterman for the last time are traditional viewings. Ultimate Christmas movie though…well that would be It’s A Wonderful Life.

  2. SO much love for this post! I have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve or it simply doesn’t feel right and Love Actually is masterly and heartwarming and sweet and a little sad and the funeral with ‘Bye Bye Baby’ gets me every time. Fabulous selection maestro!

  3. I tend to avoid all Christmas films. But I do have some love for ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Planes Trains…’
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Today I went a bit outside the box with the Hammer Christmas offering “Cash on Demand” and, of course, “The Lemon Drop Kid” (love “Silver Bells”) and the inevitable three views (so far) of Ralphie. Merry Christmas John.

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