Two days before Christmas, I developed a sore throat and congestion. In prior years, I would have taken some DayQuil and returned to cooking cornbread. (It really feels like a sinus infection.) In these times, though, I arranged for a COVID-19 test and have spent Christmas Eve and Christmas stranded in my room. Theoretically, since I have a tv and a bathroom and my family keeps leaving food outside my door, I should be just fine. I’m not, because… it’s Christmas. In deference to my sensibilities, we are not having “Christmas Dinner” until I have been released from quarantine. The Rocket Scientist made a kick-ass prime rib dinner, though.
I am spending time sitting on my bed watching movies on television (mostly on TCM) and on my computer. Herewith a dozen observations:
- I do not care that it is set at Christmastime and people have holiday parties and sing carols, any movie that has “Yippee-ky-ay Motherf***er as its most quotable line is not a Christmas movie.
- Gremlins, as dark as it is, IS.
- I would stack Margaret O’Brien’s turn as Tootie in Meet Me In St. Louis up against any performance by any child actor, ever.
- “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” with its minor key and sad (original) lyrics, is perfectly situated for where it falls in the movie. The lyrics as reworked by Frank Sinatra (the ones that include “hang a shining star upon the highest bough”) would have been jarring.
- While It’s a Wonderful Life may be overrated, Jimmy Stewart’s performance is not. He is masterful.
- The Shop Around the Corner remains one of my favorite movies. It is so good, even its vastly inferior remakes are good. That is why every time I run across You’ve Got Mail while channel-surfing I end up watching the whole damn thing, even though I generally dislike Meg Ryan.
- I cannot imagine not watching A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve.
- Every year I discover new movies to love. Last year I found The Bishop’s Wife (the Cary Grant version) and Christmas in Connecticut (with the criminally underrated Barbara Stanwyck). This year it was Remember the Night, with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray, showing the marvelous chemistry they had in Double Indemnity. Remember the Night is almost a Christmas noir.
- Ah, the Battle of the Christmas Carols: I know that the Alastair Sim version is supposed to be the gold standard, but I much prefer the Patrick Stewart and George C. Scott versions. (The Muppet Christmas Carol inhabits a class of its own.)
- When given the choice, I would choose the Benedict Cumberbatch Grinch over Jim Carrey’s any day of the week.
- The animated The Grinch That Stole Christmas is better than both of them put together.
- The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas should be declared national treasures, only to be shown on broadcast networks, not cable, let alone a streaming service. (I’m looking at you, Apple.) Sort of like the baseball playoffs should be on ABC, not ESPN.
So there we go. I should start hunting down New Year’s movies. With any luck, I’ll be out of COVID-jail before then.