Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Movie Fest





With Christmas 3 weeks away, now is a good time to present a unique archive of Christmas related movies and cartoons. 

This particular repository can be found at Classic Movies Online, which has a great selection of public domain movies of all types.  Each week they feature 5 movies on their marquee, but you can access all of their movies (by category) anytime you wish.


A few of these movies have been featured in the past on this blog (like the 1955 TV version of Miracle on 34th Street), but you’ll find a nice selection of obscure, yet entertaining holiday fare on this site.




Babes in Toyland (1934)


A Holiday Classic in every sense of the word.  You don’t have to be a Laurel & Hardy fan to love this film, as this is nothing like any of their other films.  Based on the Victor Herbert/Glen MacDonough operetta, this weaves Mother Goose characters into a Christmas pastiche.


The Miracle on 34th Street (1955) [tv]


Last year I blogged about this production in Two Small Miracles For The Holidays.  I wrote:


A lesser known remake appeared on the 1955 20th Century Fox Hour television show, which ran on CBS from 1955 to 1957.  The show aired at 10pm on Wednesday evenings, and was shown on alternate weeks.


The US Steel Hour, another anthology show, shared the time slot.


Starring Teresa Wright, McDonald Carey, and Thomas Mitchell, this 1955 remake runs only 45 minutes, but retains a good deal of the warmth and whimsy of the original. 


A Christmas Without Snow (1980) [tv]


A TV movie that deserves to be a Christmas Classic, starring Michael Learned (The Mother on The Waltons), and irascible John Houseman (The Paper Chase, among others).


A sentimental and at times emotional drama. Probably not something that younger kids would enjoy.


Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)


`Fabulously awful’ and `Spectacularly appalling’ according to one reviewer on IMDB, and that is about right.  But little kids may not notice, and may be entertained (if not brain damaged).

Pia Zadora’s infamous screen debut, and a foil for MST3K.  You’ve been warned.


Scrooge (1935)


Seymour Hicks as Scrooge


Even though the 1935 British entry, Scrooge, was the first talkie version of this Christmas Classic, it was at the very least, the 7th filmed version of the tale. The earliest being Marley's Ghost made in 1901.


Starring Seymour Hicks as Scrooge, this was a familiar role for the 64 year old veteran actor.  He'd practically made a career out of the character, first appearing on stage as the skinflint Ebenezer in 1901, and playing the role many times thereafter.


In fact, he played the role in the 1913 silent film Scrooge.




The Candle Maker (1957)

A candlemaker entrusts his son with making candles for their church on Christmas Eve.

Somewhere In Dreamland (1936)

An early Fleischer cartoon, about two poor children who dream of a land filled with ice cream cones, popcorn fields, and a chocolate syrup river.

Snow Foolin' (1949)

A Sing-along cartoon with the bouncing ball, but with a lot of funny sight gags as animals prepare for winter.

The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933)

Santa takes a poor orphan to his workshop.

Santa's Surprise (1947)

An attempt at racial diversity with 5 children from around the world attempting to `help Santa’, but unfortunately suffers from some racial stereotyping common during that era.

The Little King - Christmas Night (1933)

The Little King was a cartoon strip, originally in The New Yorker, which began in 1931.  It eventually became part of the Hearst Newpaper syndicated strips in 1934.   This is a cartoon rendition of a Little King Christmas story

Jack Frost (1934)

A young grizzly bear ignores his mother’s warnings about going out into the winter, and needs Jack Frost’s help.

Hector's Hectic Life (1948)


Hector is a dog with who has to keep 3 puppies from making a mess while his owner is gone.


The Christmas Visitor (1959)

A British rendition of `Twas the Night Before Christmas . . .’

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The Burl Ives animated Classic we all remember.


Christmas Comes But Once A Year (1936)

Another depression era Fleischer cartoon, with kids in an orphanage disappointed to receive broken toys.  There’s a happy ending, though.




And one more, this time from The Internet Archive, of a half hour Four Star Playhouse production called `The Answer' (1954), starring David Niven, Carolyn Jones, and Anthony Caruso. 


`The Answer' was nominated for 4 Emmy's & won the 1955 DGA award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for Television. 

The story is by Leonard Freeman, a name that many will recognize as the producer of such critically acclaimed shows as Hawaii Five-0 and Route 66





Four Star Playhouse - The Answer - Leonard Freeman
Starring David Niven Directed by Ray Kellino Original Air Date: 23 December 1954 (Season 3, Episode 13) Anthony Caruso ... Bart John Harmon ... Sailor Carolyn Jones ... Dolores Jack Lomas (as Jack M. Lomas) David Niven ... Deacon Nestor Paiva ... Rocco Richard Reeves


The Answer reaffirms just how good early Television writing and acting could be.

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