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Holiday movies have special appeal

Holiday movies have found new appeal and purpose since I was a kid. No, I'm not complaining. I'm not even nostalgic. I am full of seasonal cheer at the relief from the black-and-white moral lessons.

Were we really supposed to enjoy those movies, or did the TV folks just know that we had no choice in the pre-cable world? In fact, we did have a choice; we could have watched the same movies on any of four channels. Over and over.

And apparently I'm not alone, because none of the several people who told me about their favorite holiday movies told me they really miss being depressed and bored. They like fun movies. In color, no less. It seems that entertainment has replaced suffering as a holiday tradition. Stay tuned for our readers' movie picks.

I am not going to knock It's a Wonderful Life because I have grown to embrace it once a year. I will not knock it because I now understand why George wanted to lasso the moon for Mary, and I don't blame him. I will not knock that movie because you would riot like a run on Bailey Bros. Building and Loan Association.

Sarah Rutledge at C&S Variety Store and Bike Center might lead that effort. "It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart," she said without hesitation when I asked about her favorite holiday movie. What was her favorite part? The ending, she said, "when he (George) comes back home, after all he's been through, and gets overcome with joy and happiness."

I admit she has a point. Yes, I get it. In a quiet hero's hometown, the entire town becomes a hero. Good point. But I still think I could have cut 20 minutes of pain from that movie and still would have had misery enough for all.

But Scrooge is another matter. You know the one. It says A Christmas Carol on the VHS box and it says Scrooge in the opening credits. You figure it out; I'm too busy being a humbug. Have you any idea how scary that movie was to a kid? The spirit of Jacob Marley could wail and rattle a chain with the best of today's supernatural villains, but that's not the frightening part. That toy shop window was as scary as an alien fashion show. That hollow-eye clown took two years off my childhood.

The long-suffering Bob Cratchit was almost as unnerving. Every boy who saw that movie was scared stiff that he might grow up to become Bob.

I've softened my perspective on Scrooge the movie and on Old Scrooge himself. I have become Bob Cratchit, but without the sideburns or charisma, and I am in high hopes of rather making merry if only just once a year, if it's quite convenient. In fact, I would watch that movie just to hear the nephew's party guests sing "Bon-nie Bar-ba-ra All-en." But I am not subjecting the grandkids to that demon clown.

My best friend remembers Miracle on 34th Street as the best Christmas picture. In case she is reading, I agree that it is entirely logical that a judge should confirm Santa's identity by virtue of 20 sacks of homeless mail. Further, I was shocked, mind you, that no one else in Thomson voted for that black-and-white classic.

Most folks shared brighter and more recent movie memories.

At Huddle House, Tulesha "Lisa" Reynolds made no attempt to conceal her fascination with the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys . She smiled as she described a world of trains with square wheels, and the elf Hermey who did not want to be forced into a career as a toymaker. "He was a dentist at heart," she said.

The Mirror office manager Janet Wells placed her vote for A Christmas Story. She loves Ralphie's quest for a Red Ryder BB gun, and the refrain "you'll shoot your eye out!"

SunTrust Bank teller Jackay Dorsey cast her ballot for The Grinch That Stole Christmas , a cartoon classic. "I like the fact that at first he was a Grinch, and the Christmas Spirit won him over in the end." She added, "It's never too late."

At the next window, Rebecca K. Brinkley raised her outstretched palms to her temples as she smiled about the character "with the little ears" in The Grinch , the film version starring Jim Carey. "I like it; it makes me laugh," she said.

And she did.

Web posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010

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