The holidays are great because not only do we get to watch great old Christmas movies, but the cable networks also capitalize on this time to run various movie marathons, from James Bond Fests to John Wayne Westerns and other themed parades of great films. Here are a few of the latest gems I've been able to catch:
"Miracle on 34th Street" (1973)
This film has been made and remade several times and this version is certainly not the best, but is still entertaining to watch because it captures the zeitgeist of an early 70s Christmas, reminiscent of my formative years growing up. Watch this with a fellow TV buff and have fun picking out all of the stars. Kris Kringle is played by Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French on "Family Affair"), Roddy McDowall as the psychiatrist ("Planet of the Apes"), Jim Backus ("Gilligans Island" and "Mr. Magoo"), David Doyle as Mr. Macy (Bosley on "Charlie's Angels"), Tom Bosley as the judge (Mr. C on "Happy Days"), and James Gregory as the District Attorney (Fish on "Barney Miller")!! ABC opened up their cavalcade of acting talent and threw them all at this camp Christmas classic. I'd stick with the original 1947 version for pure entertainment or the very well done 1994 remake, but this one is still fun for viewers like myself who grew up in the 70s and 80s.
If you like John Wayne or westerns, this is one good flick, based on a Louis L'Amor story and filmed in 1953 during the height of the Western's popularity. Here's a brief summary without any spoilers: Wayne meets rancher's wife and kid, Wayne falls in love with said rancher's wife, Wayne tussles with local Indians, everyone ends up happily ever after...that is after plenty of gun fights and positive male role-modeling!
This 1972 Robert Redford film directed by the recently deceased and brilliant Sydney Pollack chronicles the fabled life of the 1800s mountain man named in the title. Not really a western, but still of that genre, this drama does not follow the typical Hollywood version we often see of historical figures, which makes it refreshing and interesting to watch. This film is only very loosely based on a real mountain man, but still provides some history lessons for viewers dealing with the cruel realities of life during that era and the hardships that accompanied.