Digital Hit's Guide to Christmas Movies: Part One
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The Yuletide season is many things to many people. For some it's a religious time; for others a secular celebration of the winter solstice. Regardless of which side of the Xmas tree you stand on, we're taking a look at some of the seasonal favorites on DVD.
Many people don't realize that It's A Wonderful Life was not a huge box office hit when it was first released. In fact, it came and went from the theatres without much notice. In the early '70s, the Frank Capra film's copyright lapsed and TV stations found they could show it, over and over, for nothing. The film, which stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, found a new audience and a second look by a new round of critics. In recent years, there has been a copyright dispute over the music and only a few channels have been airing it. Regardless of who owns what, the film is still a yearly Xmas favorite for many families.
In a way, It's A Wonderful Life is a bit of a reverse Scrooge, as George Bailey is shown the positive influence he's had on the life of others. Ebenezer Scrooge, on the other hand, was a real nasty piece of work who gets a chance to see the misery he has created. The best movie version of the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol has to be Alastair Sim's interpretation of the miser who has a change of heart after visits by three Christmas ghosts.
Of course, a classic tale is sure to be told a variety of ways and the Dickens story is no exception. Every sitcom on television has done an adaptation of the story and the Muppets and Bill Murray have also told it especially well.
The Muppet Christmas Carol stars Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge and despite being full of fuzzy creatures and talking frogs it actually stays quite true to its source material. The always-versatile Kermit the Frog plays Bob Cratchit.
In the late Eighties, former SNL-er Bill Murray released an update on the tale called Scrooged. Murray played Frank Cross, an angry network executive whose drive lost him the love of his girlfriend, played by Karen Allen. While preparing to shoot a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol, he gets visited by the three ghosts and sees what could have been. The usual story with a mad dose of Murray's humor.
In 2009, actor Jim Carrey teamed up with Robert Zemeckis to release a computer animated version of the famous tale using motion capture technology to capture Carrey and the cast's every move. The Blu-Ray version of these films also include a 3D version for those with the compatible equipment.
Read about Bing and the animated specials from some of your favorite characters in Part Two of our Xmas Movie Guide