Daily Archives: December 24, 2012

A few of my fave Christmas films (Part One)

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Over the weekend I learned my great-niece had named her elf on the shelf “Angie.” Well, I do have elf shoes version 2.0. And as is the case with any proper elf, I do love Christmas movies and TV specials. I thought I would share some of my personal faves (I wonder what RA’s favorites are?) In no particular order, here we go! Merry Christmas, everyone.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947) Cary Grant exhibits plenty of urbane charm and sophistication as the handsome angel Dudley assigned to a stressed-out bishop (David Niven) and his dutiful wife (Loretta Young) who is feeling a tad bit neglected, Her husband caught up in building a new cathedral, is battling spiritual doubts and toadying to those with the cash to make the grand new cathedral a reality. Cary, of course, has to teach the bishop to get his priorities back in order. Cary’s angel also develops a very down-to-earth crush on the lovely Loretta. This comedy-drama has a great message with solid performances by the three leads.

Angelic Cary Grant has a heart-to-heart with Niven's and Loretta's young daughter in a scene from the original version of "The Bishop's Wife."

Angelic Cary Grant has a heart-to-heart with Niven’s and Loretta’s young daughter in a scene from the original version of “The Bishop’s Wife.”

Cary Grant and Loretta Young in "The Bishop's Wife."

Cary Grant and Loretta Young in “The Bishop’s Wife.”

 “Nativity! (2009) If you’ve ever wondered what Martin Freeman would look like in his own little tie and cardigan ensemble, then be sure and check out the charming holiday flick, “Nativity!”

Freeman plays Coventry primary school teacher Paul Maddens, a man who’s gone sour on Christmas and love after being dumped by his girlfriend Jennifer (Ashley Jensen) a few years earlier. And now he’s assigned by his school’s head teacher to take over the school’s annual Nativity play, a task he proved woefully unprepared for in an earlier attempt. He gets a new teacher’s assistant, Mr. Poppy (Mark Wootton) a large, gregarious and possibly sub-normal fellow who grates on Madden’s every nerve.  And to top things off, his old drama school chum Gordon Shakespeare’s tony school always manages to steal the limelight with their amibitious holiday productions. What’s a poor beleagured primary school teacher to do?

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Put on a spectacular show–and promise everyone Hollywood (in the form of his former girlfriend, who is now a producer there) is coming to Coventry to film it! Or–are they??

The children in the film are not professional actors, but students casts from a local school. They are absolutely dynamite and steal my heart every time I watch this. Lots of laugh-out-loud humor and a couple of teary moments for me.  A really lovely little holiday treat.

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Another RA connection (outside of TH co-star Freeman) is the fact Pattison’s College, RA’s old performing arts school, is also located in Coventry. And see if you don’t spot someone who played a role in North and South, too.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Avoid the inferior remake and stick with the original (non-colorized) version with the delightful Edmund Gwenn as Chris Kringle, a genial little bearded man. After filling in for an inebriated Santa in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Kringle insists he is the real Santa Claus. But can he convince young skeptic Susan (played by a young Natalie Wood) and her mother (the lovely Maureen O’Hara), a widow who insists on telling her daughter the absolute truth–that all those fairy tales and “let’s pretend” is a load of twaddle.  Gwenn, sporting his own whiskers and with a genuine twinkle in his kindly eyes, is one of the best screen Santas ever.

Suzie (Natalie Wood) and Chris (Edmund Gwenn) in a scene from "Miracle on 34th Street."

Suzie (Natalie Wood) and Chris (Edmund Gwenn) in a scene from “Miracle on 34th Street.”

“Christmas Vacation” (1989) What can I say? Cousin Eddie. The giant Christmas tree. The squirrel. The millions and millions of Christmas lights. The Jam of the Month Club. The SWAT team. Holiday madness with the Griswolds.  Good times.

Clark (Chevy Chase) and Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) before the ginormous Christmas tree.

Clark (Chevy Chase) and Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) before the ginormous Christmas tree.

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More to come in another post. Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve (Christmas Day) wherever you may be!

Bearded Armitage Santa wishes you a very Merry Christmas!

Bearded Armitage Santa wishes you a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Greetings from our Furry Friends

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BeFunky_Impressionist_2christalliebrown  Pictured above is our beautiful, sweet and slightly skittish Calico, Callie. She showed up at our house one day several years ago,  a half-feral kitten, hungry but not very trusting of humans. Over time we gained that trust. Today,  she is one very contented and affectionate (if slightly nervous) house cat–currently snuggled up next to her mom, purring softly.

All our pets over the years have been rescue animals, either adopted from an animal shelter or taken in as strays. May I encourage anyone considering adding a pet to their home in 2013 to consider finding a “fur-ever friend” through a shelter or rescue group.  There are rescue groups devoted to certain breeds, so if a Bassett Hound or  a French Poodle is your preference,  there’s likely a pure-bred friend out there waiting for you if you are willing to go to a bit of time and trouble to adopt.

And trust me–blended friends like Elvis, the hounddog mix seen below, make great pets, too. And please spay and neuter your cats and dogs to help fight against pet overpopulation problems in our country!

(PS Our German Sheperd (Alsatian) mix Rascal was too busy trying to greet his mom with kisses to pose for a photo . . .)

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Yes, we occasionally do get snow in LA. This was shot in February 2010. Our three dogs at the time had never before seen the white stuff.

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Thumper Cat, the three-legged, roly-poly tuxedo cat with a Hitler mustache is grateful for photo editing. No being forced by Mom to wear a miniature Santa hat! Thumper nearly lost her life as a tiny kitten after being mauled by a dog. She lost that leg, but not her spirit. We’ve had her now for close to 12 years. From our furry family members to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a 2013 full of hope, joy and love.