Tag Archive: Barbara Stanwyck


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this first week of the holiday season, I can understand if people are not in that ‘holiday spirit.’

Last year at this time, I was not up for it. It was the first Christmas after my dad passed away and I really didn’t want to do much. It was bare bones decorating, hardly any cookies made, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do our traditional Chinese buffet meal for Christmas.

But I did everything with the hope that if I did it maybe Christmas would feel like Christmas. We attended Christmas concerts, chili suppers, and family gatherings. We sang and ate and praised God.

Somehow I made it through even with the help of my favorite movies.

home-for-christmas-lindaIt gave me a greater appreciation for those Hallmark movies that run non-stop during the months of November and December. I even watched Home For Christmas on Lifetime starring Linda Hamilton as a divorced housewife who lived in her car after losing her assets in one calamity after another.

I watched part of that one and other movies featuring young women who are facing emotional crisis such as one woman whose parents are Santa and Mrs. Claus. Another had an event planner trying to re-create a party from her childhood when the client wants something different. A third one featured a woman who has not celebrated Christmas properly for years until she comes to a winter resort her father recently purchased and wants her to evaluate. The problem is Christmas is the big deal at this wonderful winter wonderland resort.

I know these movies are cheesy, that they feature actors who used to be big or are never going to be stars but are solid performers. I know that there will be preposterous factors and everything will work out in the end. There might be a magical aspect or a meet-cute between our two love birds who hate each other on sight. But in the end, they will figure it out and live happily ever after.

As one of my daughter’s friend stated, these are addicting movies. After watching a few, I had a hard time staying away. But you might find you have to watch them by yourself or without the husband. These are sap fests that can make the toughest of cookies cry right into your eggnog.

christmas-in-connecticut-pictures-4

Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan

Oh, I will be watching my favorites this season. The first is Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan about a magazine writer who must entertain her publisher and an heroic sailor on her non-existant farm during the holidays.

The second is Miracle on 34th Street with Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle who must prove he is the real Santa Claus in order to protect his sanity with the help of attorney John Payne. Meanwhile he is also trying to prove to a mother and child that Santa is real.

I might add a few of these Hallmark to the repertoire when I need to recover from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s not hard to do, I just have to find the Hallmark and Lifetime stations on my satellite service.

Here’s hoping that your holiday season begins and ends smoothly.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

 Snow just keeps falling.

 Last Monday the kids were off from school. Then last Thursday, my husband predicted the kids would be off again. Did not happen despite the constantly falling snow.

 While I was walking to dog on Thursday, my feet seemed to find every bit of ice underneath the powdery snow. Luckily, the dog did not take advantage of the situation the one time I did happen to fall down.

 So now Christmas is coming with a vengeance. Saturday is the big day and presents are being wrapped and hidden. You have seen just about every Christmas movie out there, sung every carol and heard enough bell ringing. You have eaten so many sugar plums, your doctor is giving you dire predictions. Nutcrackers make you sneer.

 I have a few suggestions for movies you may not have seen in recent years. Some have holiday themes and others have a slight holiday theme being wafted around it.

Billie Burke circa 1935, Picture from IMDb.com

 Finding The Cheaters (1945) may be the hardest part of enjoying this screwball comedy about a wealthy family on the brink of bankruptcy who bring a homeless man to the mansion for good press. Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch) and Eugene Pallette star as the parents of this brood who learn about the meaning of Christmas after a number of mis-adventures.

 I am not sure if it is possible to find this movie as I could not find it at Facets (Facetsmovies.com) or Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com). Just because it is someone’s favorite movie does not mean it gets to be put out on tape or DVD. My mother loved this movie but if memory serves, the print was pretty bad back in the 70s when they would show it late at night.

Picture from IMDb.com

 Let’s say, you are really not in the Christmas mood but you want a little Santa flavor. I do have the perfect movie for you which pits Santa against those dastardly aliens from the big red planet. Perhaps one of the worst movies ever, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a tale about the aliens kidnapping the big guy along with two children.

 They do so because Martian children have seen Earth TV shows featuring the wonders of Santa. Will Santa bring Christmas joy to Martian children? Will he and the kids get to come back to earth before evil Martians try to kill them off? Will you recognize a very young Pia Zadora? Could it hurt to try?

Picture from IMDb.com

 One movie that seems to be rapidly disappearing from the Christmas movie scene is a favorite. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a Martha Stewert-like writer for a women’s magazine in Christmas in Connecticut (1945). While Stanwyck lives in a small NYC apartment, she writes about her farm and family in the next state over.

Her boss, Sydney Greenstreet, invites himself and a recovering war hero, Dennis Morgan, over for Christmas. Suddenly she needs a farm, a husband, a baby and the ability to cook or she could lose her job. You can imagine the mayhem that happens. Plus, Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall work off of each others like old pros – which they are.

Kate Winslet and Jack Black in "The Holiday," Picture from IMDb.com

Perhaps my last choice is not the best of movies but I do enjoy watching The Holiday starrring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. These two women have been put down by love and decide to trade home for the holidays to get a change of scene. It is a movie that dares to make Jack Black into a romantic hero.  

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a reply below.