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On Film: Deck the Screen

Have yourself a merry little video binge



"A Christmas Story"

 

What are the holidays without that most venerable of entertainments, the Christmas movie? For many of us, quality time with the family goes only so far before you remember why you limit these excursions to but once a year. In such cases, there is something to be said for the simple pleasure of having family members pile around the TV instead of listening to Uncle Jerry’s continued dissertation on how this isn’t the America he grew up in.

But what to watch?

The two reigning seasonal champs, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (the original black-and-white version, that is), are deemed classics for good reason. Both were made shortly after the end of World War II, and both reflect that singular time when post-war cynicism was beginning to tug at the corners of American sentimentality. Miracle on 34th Street tweaks that cynicism in the forms of Maureen O’Hara and 9-year-old Natalie Wood as a mother and daughter unmoved by Edmund Gwenn as an amiable oldster claiming to be that Kris Kringle. Sharply written and unfussy in its telling, this 1947 comedy rightly set the gold standard for Christmas cheer.

It’s a Wonderful Life is heavier stuff. Writer-director Frank Capra’s fantasy illustrates the outsized positive impact of a single life, but not without exploring the despair and desperation that can entail. James Stewart was never better as George Bailey, our allotted Everyman. 1946 movie audiences weren’t sure what to make of its bleakness, but the ensuing decades have seen It’s a Wonderful Life receive its rightful due as a masterpiece.

"It's a Wonderful Life"


The 1980s brought A Christmas Story, which cable TV has helped make a seasonal mainstay. Directed by exploitation filmmaker Bob Clark – who was able to pursue the project after he made a bundle with the risqué teen flick Porky’s – it follows a boy’s quest to secure the Christmas gift of his dreams: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time. A Christmas Story has some wonderful moments, but I have a personal preference for Clark’s more psychopathic effort, 1974’s Black Christmas, in which a mad slasher terrorizes a sorority over Christmas break.

In recent years, two other pictures have entered the pantheon of yuletide movies. Elf, from 2003, is family-friendly in the best sense of the term, buoyed by Will Ferrell’s irresistible man-child shtick. 2011 unveiled the terrifically entertaining and criminally under-seen Arthur Christmas. Made by Aardman Animation (the studio behind Wallace & Gromit), its considerable wit emerges from conjuring up high-tech explanations as to how Santa carries out his yearly mission.


 

► Want more recommendations?

 

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas, a stop-motion animated musical from the febrile imagination of filmmakers Tim Burton and Henry Selick, blends Christmas cheer with a generous helping of Halloween fright. But what easily could have devolved into mean-spiritedness is never less than deliriously fun.


 

 

Plenty of movies have taken a spin at “A Christmas Carol,” but 1988’s Scrooged is one of the more memorable. In this go-round, the Ebenezer Scrooge-type is Bill Murray as a money-mad TV executive in the midst of making his own uber-crass version of the Charles Dickens classic. While too uneven to be completely successful, Scrooged still boasts enough ho-ho-hos to make it worthwhile.


 

 

It just isn’t Christmas without the requisite yuletide songs, and you won’t find better seasonal musicals than 1942’s Holiday Inn or 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis. The former features Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby in the picture that introduced Irving Berlin’s ubiquitous “White Christmas” (less endearing is Crosby in blackface crooning about Abe Lincoln). The latter is the lovely MGM musical that gave us Judy Garland singing the gorgeously melancholy “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”


 

 

Crooked, vulgar and thoroughly scuzzy, Billy Bob Thornton hits misanthropic gold in Bad Santa. This sleazy black comedy isn’t for the aint of heart, but moviegoers who like their eggnog heavily spiked are sure to enjoy the nasty buzz.

 

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Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

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Skirvin Hilton Hotel
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Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

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Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

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CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

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Stars and Stripes Park
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Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
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Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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