Christmas Movies


Great Christmas Movies

Modern-Day (1)

Great Christmas Movies
(chronological by film title)
Intro | Classics (1) | Classics (2) | Modern-Day (1) | Modern-Day (2)

Great Christmas Movies: Modern-Day (1)
(in chronological order)
Title Screen
Film Title/Year/Director, Setting and Brief Description

A Christmas Story (1983)

A fishnet leg lamp and a tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole. Ralphie pulverizes his glasses with his new BB gun, a dog eats the Christmas turkey, and the Parkers' holiday goes up in smoke. Peter Billingsley headlines Jean Shepherd's Christmas memoir with an incessant quest for a BB gun.

In the Small Town of Hohman, Indiana (a fictional Hammond, Indiana) Just Before WWII

This modern-day classic holiday film from director Bob Clark is a bittersweet coming-of-age story. It opened in small-town America in Hohman, Indiana. It began with the early 1940s childhood recollections of Ralphie Parker as an adult (Jean Shepherd) about the Christmas season (his musings were based on the writings of American humorist Jean Shepherd). He began the voice-over narration:

"...Ho, ho, but no matter. Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, about which the entire kid year revolved. Downtown Hohman was prepared for its yearly baccanalia of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men."

Young 9 year-old Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) thought that a BB gun would be the perfect or ultimate gift to find under the tree delivered by Santa ("I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle"). He imagined himself single-handedly protecting his family by holding off a group of criminals (in black and white striped prison uniforms) assaulting the house.

But during his epic quest, he ran into opposition ("You'll shoot your eye out, kid") from three groups of individuals in successive vignettes:

  • his parents (Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon)
  • Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), his elementary school teacher
  • Santa Claus (Jeff Gillen), a creepy department store costumed Santa

There were many memorable sequences, often accentuated by Ralphie's vivid imagination:

  • a "triple-dog dare" when schoolmate Flick (Scott Schwartz) got his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole, necessitating a call to the fire department for rescue
  • young brother Randy (Ian Petrella) hardly able to move in a constricting snowsuit on his way to and from school
  • the bullying local neighbor Scut Farkus (Zack Ward), who was ultimately pummeled by Ralphie's fists after being hit by a snowball in the face: ("Something had happened. A fuse blew and I had gone out of my skull")
  • the infamous "fishnet stockinged leg lamp" prize received by Ralphie's "old man" father in a FRAGILE ("Fra-JEE-lay! It must be Italian!") boxed crate - "It Was A Lamp!" - and later, the accidental destruction of the leg-lamp prize by his mother when she claimed she was watering her plant
  • the blown fuse mishap when the over-decorated Christmas tree was powered up by Ralphie's father
  • Ralphie's school assignment to write a theme - "What I Want For Christmas" - and his certainty that he would receive an A+, followed by his shock and horror when his witchy teacher graded it as a C+ and warned in bright red writing about his requested gift of an air-rifle: "PS. You'll shoot your eye out!"
  • the "...Only I didn't say fudge" scene after Ralphie let loose with the "Queen Mother of Dirty Words" when helping his father fix a flat tire ("Only I didn't say fudge. I said THE word. The big one. The queen mother of dirty words. The f, dash, dash, dash word") to his father's astonishment; Ralphie's punishment was to grip a bar of red soap in his mouth - he claimed 'soap poisoning' (and imagined blindness)
  • Ralphie's fevered use of a Little Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder pen (that he had sent away for by mail after weeks of drinking gallons of Ovaltine), and his disgust that the deciphered code words spelled out: "Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine" - he called it "A Crummy Commercial! Son of a Bitch!"
  • Ralphie's terrifying nightmarish trip (after standing in a long line) to sit on the lap of an overworked, mean department store Santa and his disgruntled elves, who pushed him down a long red chute as he finally remembered what he wanted for Christmas and blurted out: "I want an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle" - he was reprimanded: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"
  • on Christmas morning, Ralphie was forced to try on pink bunny rabbit pajamas that made him look like a "deranged Easter bunny...a pink nightmare" according to his father - they were a hand-made gift from Aunt Clara: (Ralphie: "Immediately my feet began to sweat as those two fluffy little bunnies with the blue button eyes stared sappily up at me...I just hoped that Flick would never spot 'em as the word of this humiliation could easily make life at Warren G. Harding School a veritable hell")
  • the final present on Christmas day - the prized BB gun, although Ralphie's spectacles were accidentally broken when the first shot (outdoors at a target) ricocheted into his face, and he cried out: "Oh my god, I shot my eye out!", but then told his mother: "There was this icicle and it fell off the garage and it hit me"
  • and the last Christmas disaster was prefaced by a voice-over: "Life is like that. Sometimes at the height of our reveries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us"; after the hillbilly neighbors' bloodhound dogs consumed the Parker's Christmas turkey in their kitchen, the family was forced to have dinner (Peking duck - "It's smiling at me") at the Chop Suey Palace Chinese restaurant - ("That Christmas would live in our memories as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey"); the Asian waiters serenaded by singing an unintelligible version of Deck the Halls ("Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra, Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra")

After finally acquiring his prized gun as his last present, Ralphie narrated (in voice-over) the film's final line: "Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue-steel beauty. The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive. Gradually, I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots."

Ralphie's Parents (Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon)

Ralphie's Fantasy

Flick's Frozen Tongue on Flagpole

Scut Farkus (Zack Ward)

The Leg Lamp

Fixing Flat Tire: "Oh, Fudge!"

Evil Department Store Santa Claus

Ralphie's Pink Bunny
Rabbit Pajamas

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985, UK/US) (aka Santa Claus)

The fanciful 'historical' origins of Santa Claus are presented - he is known as the "Chosen One," and given a red suit and immortality to be a gift-giver - and a defender of good against evil.

In Scandinavia in the 14th Century, the North Pole (land of the Vendequm), then in Modern-Day (mid-1980s) New York City

This extravagant Christmas film was supposed to be an historical "biopic" about the origins of Santa Claus. With a $50 million budget, the over-produced, hypocritical film (and a disastrous box-office flop for producer Alexander Salkind and his son Ilya) was remarkably misguided and deadening, in its presentation of a homogenized view of all the Santa myths and tales (although there wasn't a single mention of religion).

Salkind was hoping to create a money-making franchise out of the Santa Claus character, as he had previously done with the character of Superman. However, there would be no sequels or remakes. Some critics rated it as one of the worst Christmas movies ever made, although there were some who enjoyed portions of the film. Its taglines were:


In the first half of the film, kindly and childless Uncle Claus (David Huddleston) was portrayed as a peasant craftsman/woodcutter in medieval times (14th century) who made toys for children in his Scandinavian village. Upon his return home with wife Anya (Judy Cornwell) one Christmas Eve on his sleigh pulled by two pet reindeer Donner and Blitzen, St. Nick and his wife froze to death during a deadly blizzard! However, they were magically reanimated, kidnapped by immortal green elves and taken to a new home (the North Pole) - the Ice Mountains in the Arctic land of the legendary Vendequm, populated by industrious elves in toy-making shops.

Claus was informed by the eldest, long-white bearded and wise elf Dooley (Burgess Meredith), the Ancient One, that he was prophesied as the "Chosen One" - he was given a tailored red suit, and immortality, with a mission to deliver gifts and toys to children around the world each year:

"A prophecy has come to pass that there would come to us a Chosen One. And that he - having no child of his own, would love all children everywhere. And that he himself would be an artist and a craftsman, and a skilled maker of toys....From this day on, now and forever, you will bring our gifts to all the children in all the world. And all this to be done on Christmas Eve."

Claus asked how he could deliver so many gifts around in the world in just one night, and was told: "Time travels with you. The night of the world is a passage of endless night for you, until your mission is done. This is your legacy, and your gift. As is the gift of flight" - with his famed sleigh and additional flying reindeer. He was renamed Santa:

"Now, all those within the sound of my voice, and all those on this Earth everywhere know that henceforth, you will be called Santa Claus. And now everyone, Merry Christmas."

Much of the early part of the film gave magical explanations for how the reindeer flew (they were fed with a magical grain), and how letters got to the North Pole. It also provided the origins of:

  • the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas")
  • the tradition of cookies and milk
  • the creation of a list of who's naughty and who's nice (and checking it twice)
  • the invention of the snow globe

The job of main 'toymaker' and Santa's assistant, after a competition, went to inventor elf Patch (Dudley Moore), noted for 'elf' jokes and puns.

19th and modern-day 20th century subplots in the second half of the film were presented and interwoven. During his deliveries on Christmas Eve, Santa met homeless, orphaned, begging street urchin Joe (Christian Fitzpatrick), a cynical child.

[Note: There were some very obvious product placements in this film for fast food and soft drinks - Joe gazed longingly at a family inside a McDonalds restaurant, and rich bored girl Cornelia left a can of Coca-Cola (Coke) and leftovers for Joe to consume at her doorstep.]

Santa gave the disbelieving boy a sleigh ride (between NY skyscrapers). They attempted a roller coaster-like maneuver called the 'Super Duper Looper' - a 360 degree flip, but failed because of reindeer Donner's dizziness.

After they arrived to deliver gifts at the home of young, rich 9 year-old Cornelia (Carrie Kei Heim), the step-niece of wealthy toy tycoon B.Z. (John Lithgow), she met up again with her poor friend Joe. As Santa left them, he promised to return the following year ("Next Christmas Eve, we've got a date, OK?").

Unfortunately, Patch had begun to make toys on an upgraded, automated, mass-production assembly line. (Over time, the toy machines failed, producing breakable and defective toys of inferior quality.) Discontent grew, and a major backlash developed against Santa and anyone associated with him due to the shoddy and cheap toys on the market that were upsetting children. Broken-down toys were being returned to the North Pole, where Santa was dismayed. Cornelia was bullied by some young classmates: "How can you be so dumb, Cornelia? Everyone knows he gives out shoddy cheap toys. My daddy says he's an old fake."

Disgraced, ashamed but well-intentioned elf Patch resigned - the misguided and naive Patch left the North Pole and defected, and was offered work for evil, cigar-chomping industrialist toymaker B.Z. in the big city of New York. He exploited Patch's secret formula of magical Christmas powder-dust to make magical glowing lollipops or suckers that allowed people to float and fly. However, one of B.Z.'s cheap and dangerous products was a black and white teddy bear stuffed with nails, sawdust and glass. Another was a Betty Beauty doll that was highly volatile. As a result of a Congressional investigation, the government recalled the B.Z. Company's toys and was threatening to revoke its license and shut down the entire business ("The retail outlets are pulling our toys off the shelves so fast you'd think they were disease carriers").

Undeterred, B.Z's newest plan was to commercially take over the entire Christmas market for financial gain (with his all-new 'Christmas II' - a second or sequel Christmas-day on March 25th), rather than giving away gifts for free. His next promoted product for a second Christmas Day, using the formula, was anti-gravity candy canes (although B.Z. was told that they were potentially dangerous, flawed and bound to explode when exposed to heat).

Santa sank into a depression, unable to compete, as the money-grubbing B.Z. gloated ("Santa Claus is finished"). Knowing full-well that his product was dangerous, B.Z. planned to quickly make a fortune with the harmful product, blame Patch - and then flee to South America to avoid prosecution.

However, in the predictable conclusion of good vs. evil, superhero Santa came to the rescue in his sleigh, joining forces with Cornelia to destroy all of the deadly, radioactive and glowing candy canes loaded into Patch's Patchmobile. They saved Joe and Patch (with a successful 'Super Duper Looper') - and ultimately prevented the dangerous commercialization of Christmas.

The film ended with the villain B.Z. (after overdosing on magical candy canes) soaring helplessly into outer space, after escaping authorities (who had come to arrest him).

Uncle Claus (David Huddleston) and Anya (Judy Cornwell)

Dooley, The Ancient One
(Burgess Meredith)

"The Chosen One" - Santa

"Elf Made"

Elf Patch
(Dudley Moore)

Sleigh Ride in NYC

(John Lithgow)

Evil B.Z. Escaping into Outer Space

Scrooged (1988)

In a modern spin on Dickens' familiar tale, Scrooge (Bill Murray) is a TV exec and the Ghost of Christmas Past is a wise-guy NYC cab driver returning to the year 1955. With cameos from Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors and the Solid Gold Dancers.


Producer/director Richard Donner's dark fantasy-comedy was a modern-day, updated version or retelling of the Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge tale. In part, it was also an updated version of Network (1976) in its satire on television. Its title was a bit of a misnomer because no one in the film was named Scrooge. Its tagline was:

"The spirits will move you in odd and hysterical ways."

[Note: It was not to be confused with two earlier black and white films from the UK: Scrooge (1935) or Scrooge (1951).]

The updated story told about cynical, cruel, depraved and selfish Francis Xavier "Frank" Cross (Bill Murray) who was a top NYC TV executive of the IBC-TV Network ("YULE LOVE IT"), interested only in improving its ratings. The film opened with Cross and his associates previewing new holiday season promos for three shows, including:

  • The Night the Reindeer Died, an action flick starring Lee Majors (with Santa holding an AK-47 and machine gun-armed elves at the North Pole)
  • Bob Goulet's Old Fashioned Cajun Christmas - a strange variety show
  • Scrooge, set to air live on Christmas Eve

The Scrooge promo was narrated with a voice-over:

"lBC presents live, via satellite from New York, Bethlehem, Helsinki, West Berlin and the Great Barrier Reef, Charles Dickens' immortal Christmas classic, Scrooge, starring Buddy Hackett, Jamie Farr, the Solid Gold Dancers and Mary-Lou Retton as Tiny Tim. Hosted by Sir John Houseman. Scrooge. It will touch your every heartstring. That's right. It all starts on Christmas Eve - Christmas Eve on lBC. Yule Love It!"

The mean-spirited Cross berated and screamed his distaste at his staff:

Oh, my gosh! Does THAT suck?!...We have spent $40 million dollars on a live TV show. You guys have got an ad with America's favorite old fart reading a book in front of a fireplace! Now I have to kill all of you!

Then, he bragged to his associates:

I am the youngest president in the history of television for a reason. I know the people....They have gotta be so scared to miss it, so terrified! Now, if I were in charge, and I AM, perhaps I can help you. Here's the kind of thing I would have done. Grace, cue it up.

The ruthless Cross showed them a darker, more sadistic and terrifying alternative promo that he preferred (with, in fact, no actual relation to Scrooge), with sensational narration and visuals (concluding with an H-bomb explosion):

"Acid Rain, Drug Addiction, International Terrorism, Freeway Killers. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Don't miss Charles Dickens' immortal classic Scrooge. Your life might just depend on it."

Cross commented: "Not bad, huh?" As a result, one of the viewers died as headlined in the Daily News: "IBC Kills Old Woman." Cross was pleased: "You can't buy publicity like this!"

Examples of his stingy and maniacal behavior were many - he instantly fired Eliot Loudermilk (Bob Goldthwait) on Christmas Eve for not laughing at his "Dickens" pun, shrugged off a Christmas-dinner invite from his brother, stole cabs from old ladies, was a cheap tipper, harassed street musicians as they entertained holiday shoppers, left his humanitarian award in the backseat of a cab, and called IBC's audiences "idiots and hicks." He gave everyone on his Christmas list either a bath towel or a VHS home video recorder.

His plan was to broadcast A Christmas Carol (titled Scrooge) as a live Christmas Eve special on national television. The vulgarized show would feature Buddy Hackett as Scrooge, Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim, and Solid Gold Dancers with G-strings. "We'll own Christmas," Frank declared. He decided to force his entire office staff, including overworked secretary/assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard, the Bob Cratchit character), to work on the holiday evening to produce the show ("We're indivisible. If I'm working late, you GOTTA work late!").

In a reconfiguration of the original story, he was first visited by his decomposing former boss and mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), the Jacob Marley character - a corpse imprisoned on earth, who warned:

"If you don't change your ways, you're gonna wind up doomed, just as I am...I had it all. I was a captain of industry, feared by men, adored by women...I'm warning you, Frank. Don't waste your life as I did mine...Mankind should have been my business: charity, mercy, kindness, that should have been my business. Don't wait. Get yourself involved."

Cross was then haunted by three spirits who took him on a tour of Manhattan, although he doubted their effectiveness ("You're here to show me my past, and I'm supposed to get all dully-eyed and mushy. Well, forget it, pal, you got the wrong guy!"):

  • The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), a wise-guy, craggy-faced New York City Yellow Checker Cab driver in a time-travel taxi, that sped him through the streets and then back to his childhood home in the year 1955 ("Oh my God, this is where I grew up")
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), a sugar-plum pixie fairy prone to slapping and punching Cross, and conking him on the head with a toaster oven ("The bitch hit me with a toaster!")
  • The Ghost of Christmas Future, a ghoulish, caped, seven-foot tall headless messenger, with tortured souls hidden in his fiery rib-cage within his black cape; it threatened to slide Cross' coffin into a crematorium oven

The Ghost of Christmas Past reminded him of his awful childhood that caused him to hate Christmas, and the 60s era when he was at one time happy during the holiday season with his one true love, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen).

By film's end, he had an emotional change of heart - on air - accompanied by a deranged but inspired monologue at the conclusion of the live show when he urged the studio's cast and crew to care about each other:

"I'm not crazy. It's Christmas Eve! It's, it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we, we, we smile a little easier, we, w-w-we, we, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be! It's a miracle, it's really, a sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you're gonna burn for it. I know what I'm talkin' about. You have to do somethin'. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are havin', havin' trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don't have enough to eat, and there are people that are cold. You can go out and say 'hello' to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say, 'here.' You can make 'em a sandwich, and say 'Oh, by the way, here!' 'I get it now!' And if you, if you give, then you, then it can happen. Then the miracle can happen to you. It's not just the poor and the hungry, it's, it's everybody that's gotta have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you! If you believe in this pure thing, you'll, the miracle will happen and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow! You won't be one of these bastards who says, 'Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud.' It's not! It can happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling! And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it's gonna happen to me now. I'm ready for it! And it's great. It's a good feeling. It's, it's really better than I've felt in a long time. I'm, I'm, I'm ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody."

Then, Cross paused and asked Grace's mute son Calvin (Nicholas Phillips) who was nearby: "Did I forget something, big man?" The young boy unexpectedly spoke up with Tiny Tim's familiar phrase: "God bless everyone."

Off-camera after his speech, Cross brought Claire in front of the camera to introduce them together: "Claire, the whole world. The whole world, Claire. And they lived happily ever after." He kissed and reconciled with Claire as everyone sang Jackie DeShannon's familiar song: "Put a Little Love In Your Heart."

New Holiday Season Promo for Scrooge

Francis Xavier "Frank" Cross (Bill Murray)

Lew Hayward (John Forsythe)

The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen)

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane)

The Ghost of Christmas Future

Bossy Cross

Claire Phillips (Karen Allen)

Cross' Memorable Monologue in the Finale

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) (aka National Lampoon's Winter Holiday, UK)

Filled with sight gags and one-liners, Clark (Chevy Chase) and the Griswold family attempt to have an old-fashioned Christmas celebration, including chopping down a Christmas tree and lighting the house. Poor Clark wants nothing more than a happy holiday, but things go from bad to worse once his redneck relatives come to town.

Northern Chicago suburbs in the town (fictional) of Shermer, Illinois

Written by John Hughes with non-stop sight gags and one-liners, this hilarious comedy ("Yule Crack Up") was the third of the National Lampoon Vacation series of films. The suburban dysfunctional Griswold family, led by the inept, disaster-prone "family man" Clark (Chevy Chase), a food additive designer. He was joined by his long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty (Johnny Galecki, of The Big Bang Theory), and daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis).

Clark was determined to have a good old-fashioned Christmas celebration.

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f--king Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."

Things didn't happen as expected during their family's seasonal festivities:

  • the trek to the country ("We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols"), to cut down an oversized Christmas tree in knee-deep snow ("Thith tree is a thymbol of the thpirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath"); on the way, their station wagon had a run-in with a logging truck, causing their car to go airborne and take out part of the Christmas tree lot
  • sex-crazed Clark's visit to the mall, where he nervously ogled busty lingerie clerk Mary (Nicolette Scorsese): "Yes, yes it is, it's a bit nipply out. I mean nippy out, ha, ha, ha. what did I say, nipple? Huh, there is a nip in the air, though."
  • the invitation to many in-laws to join them (Ellen's parents, Clark's own parents Nora (Diane Ladd) and Clark Sr. (John Randolph), and his Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) and senile Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel)), including Clark's crazy Kansas redneck Cousin Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid))
  • the scene in which Clark had waxed his round silver sled with a revolutionary grease, although Eddie had encouraged him not to: ("Don't go puttin' none of that stuff on my sled, Clark. You know that metal plate in my head?... I had to have it replaced, because every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for a half hour or so. So over at the VA, they had to replace it with plastic one. It ain't as strong so, I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brain but a piece of government plastic") - and Clark's unexpected streak of fire in the snow after announcing: "Nothin' to worry about, Eddie. Going for a new amateur recreational saucer sled land speed record. Clark W. Griswold, Jr. Remember, don't try this at home, kids. I am a professional"
  • the traditional turkey meal preceded by 80 year-old Aunt Bethany's "Grace" (the Pledge of Allegiance) and the cutting into the bone-dry bird (Clark: "If this turkey tastes half as good as it looks, I think we're all in for a very big treat!" Eddie: "Save the neck for me, Clark")
  • the over-the-top Christmas lights display on the exterior of the house ("250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights") - and the moment the 25,000 lights were finally turned on, requiring auxiliary power from the utility company
  • a terrifying squirrel incident when the wild animal was set loose in the Griswold house
  • Clark's reaction to the present given by his Scrooge-like boss, Mr. Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), when he received - not an expected Christmas bonus check, but a one year membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month Club (Eddie: "the gift that keeps on giving the whole year")
  • in an angry rant, Clark suggested kidnapping Mr. Shirley as retaliation - "I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-assed, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey s--t he is! Hallelujah! Holy S--t! Where's the Tylenol?"; understanding Clark literally, Eddie drove to Shirley's house, kidnapped him, and delivered him tied up with a big red bow on his chest
  • the final disaster when Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) threw his lit cigar down a storm drain, and the entire sewage system destructively exploded (Eddie had dumped raw sewage down the drain); the blast sent a flaming Santa-sleigh and reindeer decoration across the sky in front of a full moon

Clark Griswold
(Chevy Chase)

THE Christmas Tree

Mall Scene with Sexy Lingerie Clerk

Ellen and Two Kids Rusty and Audrey

Art (E.G. Marshall) and Francis (Dora Roberts)

The Greased Round Silver Sled

The Turkey Meal

Lighting the X-Mas House Lights

Clark's Angry Rant at His Boss

The Destructive Explosion

Home Alone (1990)

Step one: Hold cheeks. Step two: Scream!!! Kevin's (Macauley Culkin) fretful mom and tormented tormentors definitely do not feel the holiday spirit, as the young boy single-handedly defends his home against burglers on Christmas Eve.

In a Northern Chicago Suburb

This family-oriented holiday comedy was written and produced by John Hughes (and directed by Chris Columbus). Although it had a Christmas setting, it was not about the holiday itself, and has not been officially categorized as a "Christmas movie." Nonetheless, in a 2012 survey by the UK's video-on-demand service Blinkbox, it emerged as the favorite movie for families to watch over Christmas. It turned out to be a sleeper hit, and the highest-grossing (domestic) film of its year at $286 million.

The premise was very simple - and slightly plausible - a boy was left in his "home alone." The film's publicity materials included the image of the boy holding his cheeks and screaming - based on the famous painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. However, the scene wasn't related to his predicament, but to the fact that he had just applied stinging shaving cream to his face. He often screamed, though, at the sight of scary shovel-wielding neighbor Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom).

8 year-old youngest son Kevin (Macauley Culkin) woke up in the attic guest room to find that he was left behind. His family members, including his father and mother, Peter and Kate McCallister (John Heard and Catherine O'Hara) and two older brothers and sisters, had all taken an early flight to Paris, France to spend the Christmas holidays. The confused rush to leave was caused by an overnight power outage, high winds, and a late wake-up.

At first, Kevin was pleased that his earlier wish had come true and that he had made his family disappear ("This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone. Did you hear me? I'm living alone! I'm living alone!") and he welcomed the change. He was able to do things usually forbidden, such as jumping on the bed, sledding down the stairs and out the front door, stealing his brother Buzz's (Devin Ratray) savings and using his air-rifle, watching late night TV (including the hard-boiled noirish gangster film Angels with Filthy Souls, a takeoff on Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)), and eating junk food (including ice-cream sundae gorging).

He was forced to defend his Chicago home ("This is my house and I have to defend it") on Christmas Eve against The Wet Bandits ("It's Santy Claus and his Elf"), who had been casing homes in the northern suburban neighborhood in a blue van:

  • Harry Lyme (Joe Pesci), short
  • Marv Merchants (Daniel Stern), tall

He set up 'Rube Goldberg' type booby traps (with a "BATTLE PLAN" map) to ensnare the two bumbling, dim-witted thieves, and the resultant effects were seen in "violent," cartoonish, adult-bashing slapstick sequences, similar to wacky animations by Warner Bros' Chuck Jones, or the Roadrunner cartoons:

Booby Traps and Obstacles to Overcome


Door-Activated Blow-Torch

BB Gun to the Head

Nail on Tar-Covered Steps

M-Engraved Hot Doorknob

Mini-Toy Cars To Slip On

Crushed Ornaments Below Window Entry

Trip Wire With Glue-Covered Saran Wrap and Fan-Blown Feathers

Swinging Paint Can on Stairway
  • icy front steps and icy stairs to the basement
  • shooting the BB gun air-rifle at Harry's crotch, and at Marv's face (when he looked through the doggie door)
  • a heatened, hand-burning hot doorknob
  • fireworks to simulate the sound of gunfire
  • a falling iron (attached to light bulb chain) dropped onto Marv's face
  • broken Christmas ornaments at a window entrance
  • trip-wire or cords stretched across hallway
  • cutting a home-made zipline (between house and treehouse) with hedge clippers
  • a door-activated blowtorch to the head
  • fan-propelled feathers onto glue-covered saran wrap
  • a tarantula on Marv's face (and Marv swung a crowbar at Harry's chest)
  • tar-covered stair steps - and a nail through the foot
  • paint cans swung at their heads
  • small toy race cars spread around to cause slipping

Kevin asked the besieged pair: "Do you guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?"

The film ended with the family, after a circuitous route, returning home, and Buzz finding destruction in his room:

"Kevin, what did you do to my room?"

Kevin Screaming

Doing Forbidden Things

The Wet Bandits

"BATTLE PLAN" Booby-Trap Map

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The same 'A Christmas Carol' story, but with a new execution that features a green frog and a singing diva pig. The Muppets retell the 1843 Dickens tale with Michael Caine portraying Scrooge and Kermit as Bob Cratchit.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Victorian London

This was the fourth feature-length Muppet movie (the first three Muppet films were released from 1979 to 1984), and the first Muppet movie to adapt and retell a classic story. (The children's family film was directed by Brian Henson, son of the deceased Muppets founder Jim Henson.) It was Disney's first feature film collaboration with the characters.

The puppet film was narrated by bent-nosed Gonzo ("a blue furry Charles Dickens") and his accident-prone assistant Rizzo the Rat. Rizzo provided helpful asides, anticipating young viewers' thoughts: "That's scary stuff. Should we be worried about kids in the audience?" Kermit the Frog was Scrooge's kindly, lowly assistant Bob Cratchit, with his wife Emily (Miss Piggy) and their sickly son Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog) walking with a crutch.

The Muppets retold the familiar 1843 Dickens tale - Michael Caine portrayed live-action, miserly, mean money-lender and mortgage company owner Scrooge ("Mr. Humbug"). "Even the vegetables don't like him." Gonzo described Scrooge:

He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge: a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, clutching, covetous old sinner.

He was happy about making even more money during the holidays:

"Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit. People preparing feasts, giving parties, spending the mortgage money on frivolities. One might say that December is the foreclosure season. Harvest time for the money-lenders."

He did not share in the merriment of the season:

"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with a Merry Christmas on his lips would be cooked with his own turkey and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!"

His staff of nervous rodent bookkeepers, including Bob Cratchit, had to beg to have Christmas Day off from work. He stated: "I do not make merry at Christmas."

When Scrooge returned home on the eve of the holiday, he was first visited by two residents of the afterlife in chains - his former business partners Jacob and Robert Marley (hecklers Statler and Waldorf). As in the original story, they warned him to avoid the path that they had tread. They predicted that he would be visited (or "haunted") by three spirits during the night, beginning when the bell tolled one. Scrooge was fearful: "Can't I meet them all at once and get it over with?"

The three ghosts were:

  • Ghost of Christmas Past, a red-headed, child-like, ethereal fairy-ghost female, showed Scrooge "the shadows of the things that have been." Scrooge was taken back to his past and his early school days, to survey his love affair (and breakup) with Belle (Meredith Braun). Scrooge kept delaying their wedding, giving the excuse that he hadn't built up his investments enough
  • Ghost of Christmas Present, an absent-minded, bearded, jovial spirit, gave Scrooge a look at the happy holiday celebrations of others, including Bob Cratchit and his family
  • Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a grim, faceless and mute reaper, revealed the "awful scene" that Tiny Tim would die (in part due to the poverty of the family). The most startling revelation in a graveyard was that after Scrooge's passing, no one missed him. He was identified as "the wretched man whose death brought so much glee and happiness to others."

Bitter old Scrooge was made cognizant of his evil ways and vowed to redeem himself ("I, I will honor Christmas, and try to keep it all the year! I will live my life in the past, the present and the future. I will not shut out the lessons the spirits have taught me!").

He decided to be kind to others, including the Cratchits, and surprisingly, he raised the salaries of his workers.

Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat

(Michael Caine)

Bob Cratchit

Emily Cratchit
(Miss Piggy)

Jacob and Robert Marley in Chains

Ghost of Christmas Past

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Reformed Scrooge

(Tim Burton's) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

In this dark musical-fantasy with incredible stop-motion animation (designed for older children), Jack Skellington from "Halloween Town" entered a portal to "Christmas Town" and decided to celebrate the holiday by taking over the town's Xmas holiday - his obsessive wish ended in disaster when he assumed the role of the kidnapped Santa Claus delivering horrific gifts.

Between the time of Halloween and Christmas In Two Fanciful Dream Worlds - Halloween Town and Christmas Town

Tim Burton's (and director Henry Selick's) imaginatively dark musical fantasy and original yet twisted tale featured the technical brilliance of the stop-motion animated puppets and originally-composed songs (by Danny Elfman) - it was the first full-length stop-motion animated film, based on the parodic poem of the same name by visionary producer Burton, written when he was a Disney animator. It had wonderfully-realized set designs -- such as the two holiday dream-worlds: the dark, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-ish and The Night of the Hunter-ish Halloween Town, and the round, bright Christmas Town.

The amazing opening was "This Is Halloween" performed by the denizens of Halloween Town (spooks, goblins, ghosts, witches, skeletons, and other creatures, etc.), to introduce their locale. The main character was a bored, depressed and skeletal Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon with Elfman supplying his singing voice), known as the 'Pumpkin King.'

Jack sang an existential torch song "Jack's Lament", while shy rag-doll Sally (Catherine O'Hara), his future understanding and loyal girlfriend, eavesdropped on him in a graveyard, as he climbed to the top of a curlicue hill (silhouetted by the full moon): ("...Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones / An emptiness began to grow..."). He had grown weary of his repetitive role as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town's pagan holiday.

"This is Halloween"
"Jack's Lament"

Then, his mood changed when Jack discovered, through one of many holiday portals (Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.), the enchanting, radically-different snowy, fun-filled and sparkling Christmas Town. He delivered a show-stopping song-and-dance "What's This?" in reaction to the joyous nature of Christmas Town, with snowmen, ice-skating, elves, polar bears, strings of brightly-colored lights, and candycanes, mistletoe, chestnuts roasting on a fire: ("There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads, they're busy building toys and absolutely no one's dead!...").

The Entry-Portal (on a Tree Trunk) to Christmas Town, and Jack's First View of Christmas Town

Upon his return at a town meeting with Halloween Town's citizens, Jack described what Christmas was all about (wrapped gifts, Xmas trees, stockings), including a red-suited man named Santa Claus (interpreted as "Sandy Claws") with a reindeer sled. Because of Jack's obsession with trying to capture the town's jollyness, he requested that three devilish trick-or-treat children (Lock, Shock, and Barrel) go on a secret mission to kidnap the leader of Christmas Town. The three contemplated their plan with the song "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" (although their first mistaken abductee was the Easter Bunny!).

Sally (with the psychic power of premonitions) came to warn Jack of his misguided plans ("But it seems wrong to me, very wrong"). He assigned her to sew him a red Santa suit so he could impersonate Santa. In the "Making Christmas" sequence, Jack assigned Christmas-type jobs to everyone in Halloween Town, such as making presents and building a sleigh, but was unaware that the citizens were making unbelievably frightening presents placed in gift toy boxes.

Jack's well-meaning but disastrous idea to kidnap the leader of Christmas Town put Santa Claus into jeopardy, when the kids took him to the evil gambler - the Oogie-Boogie Man (Ken Page).

Jack in Santa Suit Delivering Toys With Sleigh

Imposter Jack in a Santa suit commandeered a coffin-shaped sleigh pulled by reindeer skeletons as it returned to Christmas Town - he delivered scary Halloween gifts instead of Christmas gifts - there were images of terrified children opening up their horrific presents: ("And what did Santa bring you, honey?") (i.e., a shrunken head, a scary yellow duck, bats, a large toy snake that ate Christmas trees, etc.).

In the fantastic "Poor Jack" song, Jack realized his mistake and sang a torch song in an angel headstone's arms - lamenting: "What have I done? / What have I done? / How could I be so blind?" He was compelled to rescue both Sally and Santa Claus from the Oogie-Boogie Man, who was unmasked (when a thread was pulled from his garment) and revealed to be a swirling mass of bugs under his garment. Jack apologized to Santa Claus/Kris Kringle ("I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday"), who reprimanded Jack but then assured him that he could return to Christmas Town and magically fix things.

In the sweet, triumphant and romantic finale again set in the graveyard, Jack finally realized his love for Sally. He spied Sally stealing away to pluck petals from a flower on the top of the snowy curlicue hill, silhouetted by the full moon. He approached her, and while clutching his breast, he sang about his attraction to her: (Jack: "My dearest friend, if you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side. Where we can gaze into the stars" Jack and Sally (in union): "And sit together, now and forever, for it is plain as anyone can see, we're simply meant to be").

In the film's ending - the couple embraced in the light of a full moon and kissed, as Jack's ghostly pet dog Zero flew into the sky to become a twinkling star.

Jack Skellington (The Pumpkin King)

Rag-Doll Sally

The Mayor of Halloween Town

Christmas Town Sign

Jack's Explanation of Christmas Practices

Jack's Request For Townsfolk to Make A Sleigh

Lock, Stock, and Barrel on Secret Mission to Kidnap Santa Claus

"Making Christmas"

Santa Claus Kidnapped

The Oogie-Boogie Man

"And What Did Santa Bring You, Honey?"

Christmas Tree Snake

"Poor Jack "

Unmasking of the Oogie-Boogie Man

The Santa Clause (1994)

Don't forget to read the fine print! Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) learns the hard way after accidentally accepting the role of Santa. He deconstructs Saint Nick -- and reconstructs his waistline -- as a hapless Santa in training.

Fictional city of Lakeside, Illinois, also at the North Pole

This family holiday-fantasy film and surprise box-office hit had the tagline: "No ifs or ands...Just one big butt."

It was the first of three films - two sequels (also starring Tim Allen) were:

  • The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
  • The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

During Christmas Eve in Illinois, innocent pre-teen, six year-old son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) was staying over at the house of his bitter father, 38-year-old divorced toy company marketing executive Scott Calvin (Tim Allen in his screen debut). Scott's ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and Charlie's psychiatrist step-father Dr. Neil Miller (Judge Reinhold) wanted to instill disbelief in their jaded son about Christmas - that there was no Santa Claus and that belief in St. Nick was only a delusion. They stated that "Santa was more of a feeling. More of a state of mind than an actual person."

After a series of mishaps (a burnt turkey and a trip to an understocked Denny's Restaurant), Charlie and his father Scott settled down to sleep with his bedtime reading of Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas. Afterwards, they were wakened in the night when they heard noisy clatter on their rooftop caused by a trespasser. Scott accidentally startled Kris Kringle ("Hey, you!"), who fell from the roof into the snow on the ground - and then vanished, leaving behind his Santa clothing, sleigh filled with gifts and eight reindeer. In a note card left at the site, there were instructions in the event that anything happened to Santa

"If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do."

The finder was to don the red clothing, enter the sleigh, and continue rounds. Charlie thought his father had 'killed' Santa. A reluctant Scott (with initials the same as Santa Claus) put on the red suit and was obligated to complete Saint Nick's deliveries before magically returning to the North Pole.

There in a giant toy workshop, Chief Elf Bernard (David Krumholtz) explained that due to the "Santa Clause" phrase in the fine print on the note card, Scott had become the "new Santa" and accepted the contract when he put on the hat and jacket: "It means: You put on the suit. You're the big guy....So now you're Santa, OK?" He was to fully assume Santa Claus' duties on Thanksgiving Day in 11 months.

"The Santa Clause: In putting on this suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus, in perpetuity until such time that the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design."

Bernard described to Scott what would happen if he refused to deliver gifts to the children as Santa Claus:

"Then there would be millions of disappointed children around the world. You see, children hold the spirit of Christmas within their hearts. You don't wanna be responsible for killing the spirit of Christmas, now would you, Santa?"

When Scott magically awakened the next day in his home, he and Charlie dismissed everything as a dream, although they had vivid memories of their night together. But the fact that he was becoming Santa Clause was evident, when Scott began to put on weight (with a voracious appetite) ("I've gained 45 pounds in a week") from eating cookies with hot chocolate or milk, growing a white beard that resisted shaving, and adopting Santa-like behaviors (commenting on those who were behaving "naughty or nice").

When Scott reported back to work in casual sweatsuit wear, he gave a faulty excuse: "The dry cleaner in my neighborhood went up in smoke. Some big chemical fire. All my clothes, poof, gone." When his boss Mr. Whittle (Peter Boyle) observed: "You're starting to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy," Scott explained his belly weight gain: "Bee sting. Evidently I'm allergic. Almost killed me. But the guy at the emergency room says the swelling will go down."

Charlie's mother and step-dad were worried that he had become delusional, so they had Scott's visitation rights with Charlie suspended. They became even more frantic when Charlie and Scott were whisked off to the North Pole for Christmas duties, believing that the boy had been kidnapped.

When Scott/Santa was making his deliveries at Laura's and Neil's house on Christmas Eve, he was arrested. However, everything turned out fine when a team of rescue-elves, the E.L.F.S. (Effective Liberation Fight Squad), went to his rescue and freed him from jail.

After Scott's new identity was accepted, Nell and Laura began to believe in him, and she tossed restrictive custody papers into the fireplace.

Bernard told Charlie how to summon Scott/Santa at any time with a magical glass snow-globe:

"All you've got to do is shake it, whenever you want to see your dad. He can come back to visit you anytime, day or night."

Neil and Laura received presents that they had always wanted (but were denied as children, making them disbelieve in Santa): an Oscar Mayer 'Wienie Whistle' and a 'Mystery Date' board game.

Charlie shook the magic snow-globe, but then complained that it wasn't working. However, Santa floated down and announced that he was on his way to Cleveland. He offered to take Charlie for a "quick ride" on his sleigh around the neighborhood as the film concluded.

In the final shot, the sleigh passed over a full moon - with a distinct Mickey Mouse profile on it (it was a Walt Disney Pictures presentation!).

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) with Son Charlie (Eric Lloyd)

Kris Kringle's Roof Accident

Santa's Note Card Left Behind

Becoming Santa

Scott Speaking About the "Santa Clause" with Chief Elf Bernard

Taking on Santa's Characteristics

Laura (Wendy Crewson) and Dr. Neil Miller (Judge Reinhold)

Hoisted Up for a Final Sleigh Ride

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