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December 11, 2010
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer

Films to bring

holiday cheer

MARQUETTE - It's a snowy, cold December evening and the elves are getting restless.

Article Photos

It's the perfect time to pop some popcorn and have a family Christmas DVD night.

Here are some suggestions for hoilday viewing. Check local video stores for availability first, but some titles can be rented through Netflix and other services, while others can be permanently added to a video library through Amazon or other online sellers.

Let's start with a few lesser-known choices:

n "John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)

This was a television special that first aired in 1979 and then annually for several holidays after. It features a series of sketches with Denver, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and other of Jim Henson's Muppets.

Songs include "Christmas is Coming," "Silent Night" and "The Peace Carol."

It's a delightful offering of holiday cheer and merriment, Muppet-style.

n "The Gathering" (1977)

A dying man (Ed Asner) wants to reunite his fractured family for one last Christmas together. This made-for-TV movie also stars Maureen Stapleton, Gregory Harrison and Stephanie Zimbalist.

"The Gathering" won as the best drama special in the 1980 Emmy Awards and was nominated for four other awards.

Guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat of even the most cynical and tears to the eyes of the tenderhearted.

n "Saturday Night Live Christmas" (1999)

This one is geared toward adults, with a TV 14 rating, but is sure to bring laughs to a holiday gathering.

Skits include "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood at Christmas" and "The Lost Ending to It's a Wonderful Life."

Guest performers include Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Sally Field and William Shatner.

n "Bing Crosby's White Christmas USO All-Stars" (2001)

The United Services Organization put together this compilation of performances by Bing Crosby and friends like Lena Horne, Jimmy Stewart, Louie Armstrong, Dinah Shore and, of course, Bob Hope.

These vintage performances are a great look at how the USO has brought joy and a touch of home to military members stationed all over the world.

Here are some more familiar Christmastime family favorites:

n "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965)

This classic cartoon is shown several times on broadcast television in December, but it's also available to rent or purchase.

For 45 years, Charlie Brown's search for the meaning of Christmas, Snoopy's dancing, Schroeder's piano stylings and Lucy, well, being Lucy have been part of the holiday season for families around the world.

Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack is a treasure in itself, but the story is a delight that transcends the generations.

A must-see at Christmastime.

n "A Christmas Story" (1983)

Yes, it's shown for 24 hours straight on cable on Christmas Eve-Christmas Day. But viewing "A Christmas Story" without commercials is something everyone deserves at least once in their lives.

Ralphie Parker's adventures in pursuit of a Red Ryder BB gun have won this movie a spot at the top of nearly everyone's Christmas film favorites.

Farkas. The leg lamp. The neighbor's dogs. The flagpole. Anyone who has watched "A Christmas Story" will smile at those words, remembering scenes from this hilarious classic set in an era long past, but full of family truths everyone can recognize.

n "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence, have become part of America's holiday traditions.

It's a plot that countless television shows since have used at Christmas: A man finds out what the world would be like had he never been born.

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in this beloved film, which for years was shown over and over on television during the holiday season.

However, now it's only shown twice this year on broadcast television: at 8 tonight and again at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve on NBC.

If those viewing times aren't convenient, local residents can see this movie at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Peter White Public Library's Community Room. There's no admission charge.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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