As the holiday season approaches, 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”!
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” 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.
So many terrific Actors in the film. Here’s a chart to help you keep track of them all:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thanks, Billy Mack!
“Christmas Is All Around” is now one of our favorite holiday songs thanks to Bill Nighy. And of course, one of the best songs in the film is from Kelly Clarkson!
Kelly co-wrote “The Trouble With Love Is”, which is included in the film – and this week, she sang the song on her talk show – here it is:
Don’t forget that Kelly has a new holiday album, plus Christmas special which premiered last week on NBC and can now be streamed on Peacock – here’s more from that special:
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”!
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.
Once you are “Scrooged”, you might as well go “Griswold!”
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…
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”…
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!
This ain’t your father’s holiday movie! How can you NOT love a film with the classic line:
“F me, Santa!”
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!
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:
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:
“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.
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…
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!
So as you can see, they used snow machines to create the beautiful serenity of the town:
Looks like Jimmy Stewart had a few snowballs tossed back in his direction during filming!
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…
That’s right – Zuzu’s pedals!
I know some of these are well known, but if any aren’t on your radar, check them out this holiday season!
Oh, and don’t forage that THIS is a Christmas movie too:
Yes, it IS!
Click here for all of the reasons that “Die Hard” is one of the best Christmas movies of all time!
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