Christmas and the movies A time to remember the joy of loving and giving


eople who know me also know that I have been in love with the movies since I was a

young lad. My par- ents gave us a weekly allowance that was predicated on the fact that we did our chores

around the

house and behaved well. That quarter of a dollar was like gold to us and when I dis- covered the second run movie theatres, like

the Arlington

and the Tivoli, that were so close to where we lived, I felt I had struck gold. You could get your admission on Saturday and have enough left over to buy a popcorn and a soft drink, too.

Some of my all-time favourites

were discovered at these Saturday matinees. I would get so lost in the double bill and the trailers and short subjects as well as the serials that often my mother would come and find me and bring me home. The magic of watching Gene Kelly, Doris Day, and many others was in- toxicating. And then I saw my first big Christmas movie. Most Satur- days, my Aunt Chryse and I would rendezvous downtown to go to a movie or a concert and lunch at Picardy’s, The Honey Dew or on a special day in Eaton’s Grill Room. My Aunt was not only my Moth-

er’s eldest sister, but she was my Auntie Mame. She had no children of her own and was always ready and happy to take any of us out for an afternoon of fun. Often we had a movie that was opening at the Capi- tol or the Metropolitan in mind and would line up to be one of the first in the city to see it. One of those movies was White Christmas, and we stood in line on Portage Avenue in the cold for over an hour to get in. On the big widescreen, VistaVi- sion, and in glorious colour … we loved it all. Years later, when I began my

reading about the making of the movies, I discovered that Donald O’Connor was originally cast in the role that fell to Danny Kaye. He was under contract to Universal and was doing the Francis the talk- ing mule series and had a conflict. In my reading, I also learned that Vera Ellen could not sing and was dubbed all through the movie. The storyline about helping Dean Jagger

Jim Pappas

to have a successful Christmas sea- son at his country inn still has reso- nance with people who see it today, and, of course, Irving Berlin’s music is the plum in the Christ- mas cake.

One of the sweet- est movies about Christmas was O Henry’s Full House, and the vignette based on The Gift of the Magi struck a particular note to me. Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger were newlyweds in


and with little or no money to buy a gift for the other. They

both sacrifice something precious to please their partner. She cuts her hair to buy him a watch chain and he pawns his watch to buy her combs for her lustrous hair. When they discover this, there is a sweet moment when we realize that they both gave up something for one another. “Miracle on 34th Street” is anoth- er of my favorites as is It’s A Won- derful Life. Both of these movies in their original state are simple and charming and have lessons for all of us: to believe in Santa Claus in the former and to believe in one’s self in the latter. Interestingly, Miracle on 34th Street was a big hit in theatres and It’s A Wonderful Life was re- discovered only when it ran on TV. Both of these black and white gems are worth another look at the holi- days.

Christmas plays a part in Meet Me in St. Louis and Little Women as well as in The Bishop’s Wife. All three will be rebroadcast over the coming holiday season, I am cer- tain. In recent times, The Holiday and

Love Actually have brought a more current aspect to Christmas. Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz chang- ing places over Christmas present a different aspect. Love Actually is a particular favorite of mine, especial- ly the vignette with Emma Thomp- son and Alan Rickman where she discovers that he has been unfaithful to her and she sublimates her feel- ings so as not to ruin Christmas for the family. She has a small role in the movie but gives it a particular grounding as does Rickman. This makes a lot of the movie seem much better than it really is.

And what would Christmas mov- u Sistema Winnipeg Continued from page 1

Trudy Schroeder Random Notes

lovely results. The audience members were inspired and moved by the pre- sentation. The WSO’s Sistema program is now in its eighth season, and we are seeing excellent results in the lives of the children and their families. Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the international Sistema movement, believed that teaching children life skills through learning orchestral instruments would build a whole series of intellec- tual, artistic, and social skills that would help to transform the trajectory of their lives. Abreu positioned the Sistema pro- gram as a social change program rather than a music program. He believed that “Overcoming poverty and adversity is best done by first strengthening the spir- it, creating an affluence of the spirit.” I

December 2018

love the idea of programs that build an affluence of the spirit. This concert experience made me

think about the important role we play as generous individuals in our commu- nity. We can each choose a number of hope-building charities that we can sup- port with special gifts over the holiday period. Think about the community- based groups that are creating life-af- firming programming or services


children, youth, families and seniors. Make a gift that invests in the kind of community you want your children and grandchildren to call their own in years to come. It will make all the difference in the world. Trudy Schroeder is the executive director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

ies be without Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? It has been made so often with so many actors over the years. I do have some admira- tion for the musical version with Albert Finney as Scrooge and a host of great British actors such as Edith Evans and Kenneth More. It’s beau- tifully photographed and has the usual amazing detail of good Brit- ish movies. But for me, there will only ever be one Ebenezer Scrooge and that is Alistair Sim in the 1951 version filmed in the U.K. Sim em- bodies everything that Dickens de- scribes about the character, and his redemption at the end is as joyous as can be. The film was released in the U.K. as “Scrooge” but the dis- tributor changed it when it reached our shores. I had read the book many years ago. When I saw this movie version, I was delighted that my image of Scrooge from reading the book was actualized by Alistair Sim. The theme of using our past as a moderator of our future is not lost in the simple story which, even today, strikes home. The one pervading theme that all of these movies have is that Christ- mas is a time for kindness and grati- tude. As we head into the holiday season we can re-visit our youth by watching these old treasures again and see the simple but still great themes that love and kindness can take us all forward into a better life. No matter what religion we fol-

low, these are universal themes and make the holiday season bright and relevant in these times. So enjoy the holidays as you go back and watch some of these gems in the comfort of your home.

Happy Holidays! Jim Pappas is a board member of



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