Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Nightmare

After writing about Thanksgiving movies, I got to thinking about other holiday themed movies over the years.

Under the IMDb keyword 'Christmas' there are 2807 titles listed.  Not all of them really say Christmas to me, including The Godfather (1972), but IMDb is really a Wiki.  My guess is that Christmas has more movies than any other holiday, by a long margin.

Now try to think of an Easter movie.  Easter Parade (1948) starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire is the only one for my money.  There are 137 titles under that keyword, including Annie Hall (1977) and American Psycho (2000).  Not movies I think of while eating my butter cream egg.

My vote for the most ambitious holiday movie goes to...are you ready?...Nightmare Before Christmas from 1993.  Think about it.  Here is a movie you can run all the way from Halloween through Christmas, that's a three month audience, and it's not a bad movie!

Tim Burton's (b. 1958) story works very well.  The original music was written by Danny Elfman (b. 1953).  The stop-motion filming of real models give it a retro quality that is missing from computer generated animation.  And the voice cast is wonderful.

Elfman did the singing for the the main character, Jack Skellington, and Chris Sarandon (b. 1942) was his speaking voice.  Sarandon's first wife was named Susan, and I believe she is now a bigger star than he, although Chris has 90 titles on IMDb.  Chris is a Bit Actor all the way.

Catherine O'Hara (b. 1954) was the female lead, Sally.  Look for her in 80 more titles, including Beetle Juice (1988).

William Hickey (1927 - 1997) has been one of my favorite Bit Actors for years.  He has 86 titles and played the villain, Dr. Finklestein.  His early movies go back to 1957 when he was in Operation Mad Ball with Jack Lemmon (1925 - 2001), Ernie Kovacs (1919 - 1962) and Mickey Rooney.

Hickey was also in Little Big Man (1970) with Dustin Hoffman, because of his wonderful voice.  In 1986 he worked with Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose, a medieval detective story that is so moody, it earned a place in my collection.  (That's not very hard, though.  I have hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes.)

Hickey made another Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation in 1989 with Chevy Chase (b. 1943).  He was hilarious as Arthur in Forget Paris (1995) starring Billy Crystal (b.1948) and Debra Winger (b. 1955), constantly singing, "You asked for it, you got it. Toyota." in that droll voice, until they put him in a home.

Back to Nightmare, Paul Reubens (b. 1952) also had a part.  I should have recognized his voice as Pee Wee Herman.  Reubens isn't famous for much, other than Pee Wee and a run in with the law, but he has 76 titles on IMDb, and is doing quite a bit of voice work.

I will work on a Christmas movie list.  One with some great Bit Actors.  But maybe some that are less well known.  It's a Wonderful Life is TOO EASY!


  1. Wasn't William Hickey also in PRIZZI'S HONOR? That's what I remember him for most (also love the actor who played the grandfather in MOONSTRUCK) a fan of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS - how inventive it is!! And you're right, can be watched from Halloween thru Christmas.
    Catherine O'Hara...have you put the spotlight on her yet? She is such a gem. The HOME ALONE films and all the Christopher Guest satire films - she is great in all of them, but FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION...fall on the floor hilarious.
    Allen, your blog is so informative!

  2. Thanks, once again, for the kind words.

    Moonstruck (1987) is another fav of mine. The old man was played by Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. (1905 - 1992), who wasn't Italian, he was born in Russia.

    He had an interesting career starting in 1926, completing 52 titles. He was in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), played a Native American in Buffalo Bill (1965), and the year before Moonstruck he was in The Name of the Rose with William Hickey!


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