Sunday, December 18, 2022

Vintage Christmas Jukebox Day 5


Eleven more holiday treats from Christmases Past. 

Here's the Complete Playlist 

 Funny Little Snowman - Bobby Sabatino

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth - Danny Kaye & The Andrews Sisters

 Remember Suite Christmas - Deanna Lee

Getting That Christmas Feeling Sherry Lyn & Dialtones

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Joe Brown

I Got A Cold For Christmas (1954) - The Ames Brothers

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (1949) - Ray Smith

 Christmas Boogie - The Davis Sisters

Christmas Tree ~ The Voices of Walter Schumann, Bill Lee (Soloist) (1954)

Mele Kalikimaka (1950) - Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters

Christmas Time Is Here - Billy Scott

Ordeal By Hallmark (Part Three) Our Italian Christmas Memories , The Royal Nanny, Reindeer Games Homecoming , A Gingerbread Christmas, Holly and the Hot Chocolate...

You know how upset people got with Netflix when they felt that the Dahmer miniseries had been mistagged? That's sorta how I feel when people call these Hallmark-style products Christmas movies.

This installment of my masochistic foray into assembly line holiday fare is a bit late because after subjecting myself to watching these flicks I couldn't face revisiting their memory to write up this post - until now.

Our Italian Christmas Memories 

Yeah. I've experienced a fair few Italian Christmases over the years, and none of them were this dull, soulless, and phony.

Not a genuine or likable character in sight.


The Royal Nanny

Meh spy comedy, meh romance, meh Christmas. 

Nice to see Greta Scaachi, but that's about it. Still, not badly made, just not particularly well written. Letting a more skillful screenwriter give the script a thorough polishing would have fixed a lot. Alas...

Meh (as previously indicated)

A Magical Christmas Village 

I generally like Allison Sweeney in this kind of stuff, and it's nice seeing Marlo Thomas out and about but other than that, nada.


Let's try something from Lifetime 

Reindeer Games Homecoming 

Maybe it's because I was bummed that this wasn't a sequel to the underrated Ben Afleck action flick, but I actually, for the first time this season, dozed off during one of these. I don't think I missed much but what I saw seemed like a fairly good film school audition tape. Not scholarship material but with a few years of training, who knows, they might produce something that feels like a real movie. That would be cool.


Changing channels again to Great American Family...

A Merry Christmas Wish

You had me at Jill Wagner, and Cameron Mathison is a pro but the script...oof. I feel like I've already seen this 20 times before, and often to better effect.


A Royal Christmas on Ice

What does it say about the genre when terrible filmmaker extraordinaire Fred Olen Ray makes one of the better Christmas romances, I've seen so far this year. It's not good, obviously, but it is a professionally produced TV movie, so it automatically rises toward the top of the list. 


Good lord, this has been a slog, and I'm not convinced that switching to a pair of Up releases will brighten my mood. 

A Tiny Home Christmas 

Another real estate soap, this time it's a failing contractor trying to save the family business with some seasonal virtue signaling. Dreck.


The Christmas Retreat

Home shopping Channel host levels of acting ability pair beautifully with home shopping channel levels of production design to make this forgettable flop.


One last Hallmark joint

Love at the Christmas Contest 

Even less original than a Merry Christmas Wish. It could have been a parody but made by people with no sense of humor.


Now it's Food Network's time at the tinsel trough...


A Gingerbread Christmas 

Can you get salmonella poisoning through a monitor?

Once again proving that not only has Food Network stopped making watchable food shows, but they're picking up Hallmark's sloppy seconds and producing crappy Christmas movies.


Last, but at least not least is..

Holly and the Hot Chocolate

What's more ludicrous than food networks  Christmas movies and yet totally on brand for these times? QVC making Christmas movies. And yet it sucks less than most of what I've suffered through in this ordeal. The script has some snap to it and a few of the performances are actual performances.

Considering QVC already has higher production values than most basic cable movies so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Vintage Christmas Jukebox Day 4

 Vintage Christmas Jukebox Day 4

Here's another collection of vintage holiday tracks, some familiar, some relatively obscure, for your festive enjoyment.

Here's a link to the Playlist featuring all of today's tunes 

  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Graham Donald

  Hole In The Stocking - Denise Regan

 Santa Claus Boogie - The Voices

  The Christmas Turkey - Shad And Mike

 How Lovely is Christmas - Bing Crosby

 Rock Around the Christmas Tree ~ Big Bud (1955) 

 Tony Raymond – “The Infant King” (UK Oriole) 1962 

 Too Fat For The Chimney - Teresa Brewer

 Arthur Godfrey – “Pine Cones And Holly Berries” (Contempo) 1963 

  - A Merry Christmas At Grandmother's House - Danny Kaye & The Andrews Sisters

 Merry Christmas Polka (1949) - The Andrews Sisters 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Festive Tidbits 1973 (Los Angeles Times - TV Times)


New Christmas Releases (Cliff Richard, Neil Diamond, Cassie and Maggie, Snow Blossoms, La chorale de Y'a du monde à messe, Aled and Russell and more...)


A Neil Diamond Christmas

I'm generally a fan of Neil's Christmas stuff, and everything here is previously released, but I was fairly meh about this compilation. Maybe it's just not programmed to my taste, so don't let that stop you from checking it out.

 A Very Very Cassie and Maggie Christmas 

A fine collection of original festive tunes and engaging arrangements of old favorites from popular Canadian folk duo.

Christmas with Cliff

Cliff Richard

Another legendary artist defies the ravages of time, though not quite as extraordinarily as Johnny Mathis. Cliff's voice and delivery aren't what they once were but he's still produced a holiday album well above the standard set by many contemporary acts.  I'm absolutely grading on a curve cause I've always been a fan so listen accordingly.


Snow Blossoms: Lost Country Christmas Classics 

Terrific collection of lesser known holiday tunes

Home For Christmas
Con Funk Shun

Started slow, but after a couple of iffy tracks, the songs really start to work - Christmas Kind of Day, My Favorite Things, Do You Hear What I Hear, and Christmas for Two are prime cuts

 Second Edition: A Very South Bay Xmas 

I didn't really find anything worth hearing again apart from  Mack Ogden's My Holiday Angel. YMMV, and it's for charity, so check it out at Bandcamp

Juste après novembre

La chorale de Y'a du monde à messe

I know nothing about this group from Quebec but their Christmas album is emerging as one of my favorites this season.

Holly Jolly Christmas / On Christmas Eve - John Owen-Jones

Christmas with Aled and Russell

Solid Classical Crossover Christmas Collection


White Winter Hymnal - Jade Bird 

Not the best cover of of this tune I have but not at all poor.

Santa Train - Paige King Johnson

Lit Up Like a Christmas Tree - Aidan & the Wild

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Yule Logged (Noël à tous les étages, Snowball Effect, Christmas in London, Christmas Carols with Lucy Worsley, Nigellissima, Darling Buds of May, Magic Christmas Tree and more)

Noël à tous les étages (Christmas Next Door) (2021)

Very well made, though somewhat heavy handed, French ensemble drama.  Noël à tous les étages features the usual collection of miserably affluent and privileged characters moping through the holiday. From politicians to astronauts, virtually everyone’s feeling the holiday malaise. I’m the most curmudgeonly grouch you’ll ever have the misfortune to meet and I simply can’t relate to the current population of Christmas film universes. They’re either soulless mannequins or the miserable elite. Anywho, if you don’t mind a decent wait for all the fairly unsympathetic characters to, perhaps, find Christmas redemption this is a well crafted film with a terrific cast and worth a watch.

The Snowball Effect (2022)

Dueling weather persons find love at Christmas. The craziest part of the film is the idea that meteorologists are somehow judged by accuracy. Other than that it’s pretty good for what it is, better than most of the Hallmark stuff I’ve suffered though.

BBC Select at Christmas

Thought I'd check out BBC select's holiday selection - not alot here but what's on offer's pretty good...

Christmas in London (2007)

Essentially a tourist information video but still worth a watch to see what was going on in that metropolis back circa 2007

Christmas in New York Inside the Plaza (2020)

2020 documentary looks at Christmas for the 1 per centers, and wannabes, of the Plaza Hotel.

There's something a bit sad about a luxury hotel offering a multi thousand dollar Home Alone 2 package .

Christmas Carols with Lucy Worsley (2019)

Well produced festive middle brow pop history that examines the greatest hits in the Christmas Carol Canon.

Nigellissima - An Italian Inspired Christmas (2014)

Nigella Lawson always does a great Christmas show and while thus isn't my favorite it's quite good, assuming you're a fan.

Carol's From Kings (1997)

I closed things out with a welcome re view of 1997's edition of Carol's From Kings 

Brit box

So the relatively niche BBC Select had some Xmas on offer. Let's check out the American version of Britbox, a BBC / ITV showcase for British TV entertainment.

 In the UK December is all about Christmas telly, festive holiday-themed specials, Christmas episodes, and entire series built around Christmas cooking, crafting, and so on. Christmas is also the time for big splashy premiers and specials that often become enduring classics. But not on Britbox.

As of Dec 14th there is no Christmas programing listed on the main menu, though there is a row of "wintry lifestyle delights", none of which mention Christmas in title or thumbnail. 

For weeks the Radio Times and all the other UK TV listings are nuttier than a fruitcake about yuletide telly but the highest profile Brit tv outlet in the USA can't be bothered to fill a row with classic Christmas episodes or specials? There's likely plenty of content already in their existing library but now I have to search for it, plus there's no way to discover Christmas themed episodes of series I'm not familiar with. 

I'll check back even closer to the big day.

The Darling Buds of May - Christmas is Coming (1991)

Seasonal episode from the first season of the original series adaptation stars David Jason, Pam Ferris, and a stunning young Catherine Zeta-Jones.

A bit of comedy, a dash of drama, and a pinch of suspense make for a satisfying Christmas episode, even if you are otherwise unfamiliar with the series, and if you haven't watched it, you really should.

A Bear's Christmas Tail (2004)

(Don't let the above image fool you, this is not a charming animated special)

What the feck did I just watch? Grotesquely tasteless and a veritable smorgasbord for today's cancel culture-obsessed puritans. From Leigh Francis of Bo Selecta fame (infamy) this edgier-than-thou slog has some funny moments but they are far overrun with the crass drivel that makes up the bulk of it.

Christmas with the Vienna Boys Choir

Part concert, part docudrama portraying the festive goings on around the choirboys at Christmas. Most entertaining,

The Magic Christmas Tree 1964

This mess of a kiddie matinee is hard enough to watch with the bots from Rifftrax slinging zingers, but on its own, it does the Spanish inquisition proud as a torture device.

The Wizards Christmas (2014)

Pretty much terrible.

Christmas Crime Story (2017)

Unpleasant little Christmas set drama, not abysmal but I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

Christmas Tree & Piano Music (2020)

"Starring...Christmas Trees"

Remarkably low-effort holiday ambiance will dull piano arrangements and stuttering random video elements.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Season's Reading: Traditional Home Christmas 2001


Christmas 2001. Here in NYC it was, to state the blindingly obvious, different. But, looking back now at that year's crop of holiday magazines there's a reassuring level of normalcy, due, no doubt, many issues having been put to bed months earlier. There are a surprisingly small number of Christmassy ads though, but I imagine that's just a coincidence.

(Please pardon the quality of the scans, I'm in the midst of moving house and both my flatbed scanner and Printer/Scanner are packed away at the moment.)

The issue is made up of the usual array of well turned out homes of the well off and tradition interior design inclined. 

I remember being quite the Smith & Hawken fan back in the day. I'd absolutely forgotten that they'd become corporate compost back in 2009.

My daughter went through a Swarovski phase when she was little, luckily she preferred the relatively less expensive little animal figurines and had doting Grandmothers to help her build her collection. I think we have a couple of the annual ornaments around somewhere, or perhaps she has them at her house. Not sure if we ever got the 2001. 

Another victim, I assume, of the 2008 financial crisis, Home Depot's fancier sister chain EXPO Design Centers went the way of Smith & Hawken the same year of our lord 2009.

I'm not much of an interior design guy, so when browsing Home mags I usually forward to the token food article they usually have. The very brief foodie feature in this issue finds legendary
 Chef Lydia Bastianich creating a menu of antipasto for the holidays.

A couple of, less refined, but likely quite nummy,  recipes came courtesy of a GladWare advertisement

An ad for that year's Christmas Revels, which are always a delight and which I unfortunately didn't make the trek to see in 2001.

I'll close things out with the only non-Christmas ad I found at all interesting, from Ikea.