Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Vacation

I know, it isn't really a classic.  But you have to admit, this Chevy Chase (b. 1943) film has some good lines, good slap-stick, and the most important thing, it has Mae Questel (1908 - 1998).

Christmas Vacation (1989) was Mae's last film, in a career that includes 382 titles starting in 1930.  Mae is best known as the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl in cartoons.  Her Betty Boop voice is a copy of the original Boop-Boop-A-Doop girl, Helen Kane (1904 - 1966). 

I had the pleasure of meeting Mae twice, while I was a bored member in The Sons of the Desert.  The first time was at a banquet in New York City, and then she came to the Philadelphia SoD convention in 1986.  She was fun, and always ready to tell a story about the old days.

Mae entertained us on banquet night, singing with Vince Giordano's Nighthawk Orchestra.  You can see some of her performance in the Emmy award winning TV documentary "The Revenge of the Sons of the Desert" filmed by Sandy Marshall at the convention.  (You'll see me in it as well!)

Mae's later films included a voice part in Bells Are Ringing (1960), Funny Girl (1968), Zelig (1983) a Woody Allen film where she did the voice of Helen Kane, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) again as Betty Boop. 

I'd also like to recognize Doris Roberts (b. 1930) who played the lush (used as a noun) mother-in-law.  Doris is a perfect Bit Actor.  She has 127 titles listed, starting in 1952.  She was in A New Leaf in 1971 and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three in 1974, among a lot of other work.  She also made a lot of TV remakes of famous movies, like "Bell, Book and Candle," "It Happened One Christmas" a remake of It's a Wonderful Life, and "The Diary of Anne Frank."

And we can't forget William Hickey (1927 - 1997).  I have written about him in my post on The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Check out my archives. 

The rest of the cast does a great job supporting this Chevy Chase showcase.  Beverly D'Angelo (b. 1951) is charming as always.  Juliette Lewis (b. 1973) plays Chase's daughter.  She is now making quite a name for herself as an actress with 56 titles.  Johnny Galecki (b. 1975) was the son, and he now has 46 titles.

Veteran actors, E. G. Marshall (1914 - 1998), John Randolph (1915 - 2004), Miriam Flynn (b. 1952), and the ever strange Randy Quaid (b. 1950) all add their magic to the film, without interfering with Chase's antics. 

As I said, for a real classic movie fan, this will probably never be a classic.  But if you are in the mood for something lighter than A Christmas Carol, this just might be perfect.

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