It's the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas has already been here for more than a month. Or so it seems with the selling of the holiday beginning earlier and earlier each year. Some merchandising showed up before Halloween. By 2020, we’ll probably see candy-cane decorations lining downtown streets by Independence Day.
At least vintage holiday movies scheduled for local theaters this year had the decency to wait until after Thanksgiving. The first two — “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Bishop’s Wife” — arrive next week.
We’ll also have an opportunity to see these holiday favorites on the big screen: “A Christmas Story,” “Home Alone,” “The Apartment” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Plus, the non-Christmas “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” will make an appearance this December, as will the silent masterpiece “City Lights," which will play between Christmas and New Year's.
Nov. 28 and Dec. 6
• “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947, b/w). This is the utterly enchanting original, with Maureen O’Hara as the pragmatic mother of a little girl (Natalie Wood) who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus — until they are both touched by the spirit of Christmas thanks to a cheery neighbor (John Payne) and Santa himself (Edmund Gwenn in his Oscar-winning role). (Wednesday, Nov. 28, Cinemark Theatres, 2 and 7 p.m., www.cinemark.com) (Thursday, Dec. 6, BYU, Provo, 7 p.m., free, lib.byu.edu; the BYU showing is preceded by a chapter of the 1939 serial “Dick Tracy’s G-Men.”)
• “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947, b/w). A sprightly comedy starring Cary Grant as an angel sent to help a Protestant bishop (David Niven) who has become so consumed by a fundraising effort that he is neglecting his wife (Loretta Young). Things get complicated when, to his own surprise, the angel develops feelings for the bishop’s wife. (Preceded by a chapter of the 1939 serial “Dick Tracy’s G-Men.”) (Friday, Nov. 30, BYU, Provo, 7 p.m., free, lib.byu.edu)
• “A Christmas Story” (1983, PG). This beloved perennial set in the 1940s has young Ralphie yearning for a Red Ryder rifle, which his mother is sure will put out his eye. Episodic charmer is loaded with whimsical nostalgia and clever gags as it playfully builds toward Christmas Day, with a perfect cast led by Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, and Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin as his parents. (Wednesday, Dec. 5, Cinemark Theatres, 2 and 7 p.m., www.cinemark.com)
• “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961). There’s no Christmas here (although the holiday does figure in the original Truman Capote novella). On the downside, the film has both a broad, cringe-worthy comic character played by Mickey Rooney and a blah leading man in George Peppard. But there’s no denying the star power of Audrey Hepburn as the hillbilly who has given herself a makeover to become sophisticated Holly Golightly, perhaps her most iconic role. She makes it all worthwhile. (Opens Friday, Dec. 7, Tower, saltlakefilmsociety.org)
• “Home Alone” (1990, PG). Child stardom overtook Macauley Culkin as a result of this silly but somewhat amusing comedy about an 8-year-old boy left behind when his family goes off on a European Christmas holiday. Most of the film is taken up with Culkin’s elaborate booby-traps foiling a pair of bungling burglars (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) that break into his house. (Wednesday, Dec. 12, Cinemark Theatres, 2 and 7 p.m., www.cinemark.com)
• “The Apartment” (1960, b/w). Although it’s not thought of as a Christmas film, the holiday figures prominently in this Billy Wilder comedy-drama, which is alternately hilarious and touching. Jack Lemmon stars as a corporate climber who lends his bachelor pad to married executives looking for a place to take their girlfriends. But he risks his job by falling for the paramour (Shirley MacLaine) of his sleazy boss (Fred MacMurray). (Opens Friday, Dec. 14, Tower, saltlakefilmsociety.org)
Dec. 19 and 21
• “It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, b/w). This one was not intended as a Christmas movie, although its climax — and the fact that this is the time of year when the film is most visible — has made it one. James Stewart is in peak form as the nice guy who just wants to get out of the little town of Bedford Falls and see the world, but family and community obligations continually foil his plans. Co-written and directed by Frank Capra at his feel-good best, with a pitch-perfect supporting cast. (Wednesday, Dec. 19, Cinemark Theatres, 2 and 7 p.m., www.cinemark.com) (Opens Friday, Dec. 21, Tower, saltlakefilmsociety.org)
• “City Lights” (1931, b/w). Charlie Chaplin’s first film of the sound era is, of course, a silent movie, and one of the best ever made. The Little Tramp falls in love with a blind girl and decides to anonymously raise the money for an operation to restore her sight. Hilarious and tearful, one of Chaplin’s greatest artful accomplishments. (Opens Friday, Dec. 28, Tower, saltlakefilmsociety.org)
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