We here at Martin Oaks wish all you happy holidays 2016. As we did at Thanksgiving, let us remind that holiday traffic fatalities soar — especially during the Christmas and New Year’s weekends. We can provide plenty of firsthand testimony about how devastating these accidents can be: drive with extreme care the next two weeks!
Entering into the Christmas weekend, we thought it appropriate to give a shout out to a few of the holiday films we enjoy each year, films that amplify and clarify as only well made movies can.
Among our favorites are “The Bishop’s Wife,” “Christmas in Connecticut,” and “Holiday Inn.”
It is frequently said that Cary Grant (photo above) only played one role his entire career: Cary Grant. Well, he was never more Cary Grant than in the role of Dudley, the angel, in “The Bishops Wife.” Directed by Henry Koster (“Harvey,” “My Man Godfrey,” and others) this multidimensional film captures marital conflict, spiritual doubt and understated comedy; Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young are perfect in their roles, as is Monty Woolley (photo below left), the Yale drama coach who scored late in life as a character actor.
Side note: Koster came to this country from Germany in an abrupt fashion. He slugged and knocked out a Nazi officer — whereupon he immediately left the country by train. He later said it was a very wise, impulsive move.
“Connecticut,” written in part by the underappreciated light comedy author, Lionel Houser, brought together a very talented cast: Barbara Stanwyck (photo above), Sidney Greenstreet, S.Z. Sakall, and others. Expertly filmed with gorgeous studio sets, “Connecticut” is an amusing, breezy screwball comedy with the modest aims, not demanding, heavy on the heartwarming, very 1940’s. If you love Barbara Stanwyck, this grande dame is very much shown to her advantage.
Sakall, character actor supreme, earns studio head Jack Warner’s nickname for him — Cuddles. He is well remembered for his role in “Casablanca,” a part he played at the age of 59. See him in that role, photo below right.
While “Holiday Inn” is very much mired in the mores of its time, the film has several notable features: it introduced Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” and the Fred Astaire Fourth of July firecracker routine is classic. “Christmas” was not deemed super hit material when the film was made, but so much for predictions. Below are YouTube videos of the two famous numbers.
“Holiday Inn” was filmed in the studio, but retakes were made at the Village Inn, Monte Rio, California. Seems that Bing was staying at the Bohemian Grove Club in Monte Rio: the only way he would agree to more filming was to do so at the nearby inn, so the studio complied. Personnel at the inn supplied this information this week; they also told us there wasn’t much in the finished filmed that was actually shot at the inn, but there are some scenes that are briefly recognizable.
Final note: “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, has been made into film many times. The 1951 version with Alastair Sim is our preference – “A Christmas Carol,” however, is best seen live, so check out the latest stage production near you during this season.
There are countless other holiday films that we enjoy — and we imagine you do as well. Feel free to share your special selections with us.
Martin Oaks would like to thank all of our readers and wish you a happy and safe holiday!