Two years ago, I challenged myself to come up with twelve films that corresponded with all the verses of the popular Christmas song that Eddie Izzard loves to sing the fifth verse of.
Despite ending that sentence with a preposition, I sat down to a quiet Christmas break intending to stay as far away from work as possible, but that became impossible after my third quart of egg nog. For it was after that quart that the Planet of the Apes poster in my office began speaking, nay, taunting me to the challenge of coming up with twelve more films.
I only have two words for hallucinatory, two-dimensional Cornelius. Challenge. Accepted.
12. Drummers Drumming – The Tin Drum
Get over the fact that it’s in a strange foreign language and that there’s words on the screen so you can understand what people are saying. This film is a beautiful portrayal of what should be our natural response to Nazi-esque chaos in the world around us: beating the hell out of a toy drum until everyone else stops making noise.
11. Pipers Piping – Carrie
If you’re already disappointed that I didn’t choose the episodes of Dancing With the Stars where Piper Palin almost falls on her own face and the face of her dance partner, then you’ll also be disappointed that there’s only one Piper in Carrie. Plus, you’re confusing Piper for Willow. It happens all the time. Regardless, Piper Laurie’s performance as the religiously insane mother of the blood-covered Prom Queen is as powerful as it gets. This holiday season, let’s all remember not to throw knives at our family members and to explain perfectly natural occurrences by calling them the result of sin.
10. Lords a’Leaping – Hoosiers
Where can you find ten lords jumping into the air? A basketball court. Think the “lord” connection is a stretch? Then why do they call him, “Sir Charles?” Exactly. As a bonus, there are few better basketball flicks than Hoosiers. Gene Hackman as the way too intense coach, Dennis Hopper as the crazy alcoholic father/assistant coach, and a rag tag bunch of losers who become champions. Can’t beat it.
9. Ladies Dancing – Cabaret
With the last list, Showgirls occupied this slot, and it seemed a shame to break that tradition, but since no one on the planet has actually seen Showgirls 2, we might as well celebrate a film where one dancing lady is Liza Minnelli and the other eight are all Oscar statues.
8. Maids a’Milking –The Housemaid
The milking part may seem a bit obscure, unless you’ve seen the film. Then you know all about milking. Such a gorgeous, heart-breaking picture – the 2010 remake is sensual, simmering, and seeks to prove how easily men succumb to temptation. It succeeds.
7. Swans a’Swimming – Black Swan
I’ve only seen the first ten minutes of this movie, and I must say it’s nice to see such a wholesome take on a classic ballet. These days, most films would go for the easy shock value of having two women make out.
6. Geese a’Laying – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Don’t care how. I want it now. The ultimate lesson of Christmas.
5. GOLDEN RINGS – Cinderella Man
In this example, the rings are where grown men punch each other, and it’s the gloves that are golden. Russell Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a boxer forced back into the ring by the Great Depression, who loses his slipper at a fancy ball and fights a champion who turns into a pumpkin at midnight.
4. Calling Birds – Three Days of the Condor
The modern film fan has Jason Bourne. The classic fan has Joe Turner. Robert Redford plays a CIA spook who spends much of the movie making calls from pay phones and being generally bad ass. There are few things better this time of year than conspiracies and bullets flying past you. Richard Attenborough does a stellar acting turn, and he’d also later go on to invent Dinosaurs by cloning their DNA.
3. French Hens – My Night At Maud’s
From the beautiful mind and eye of director Eric Rohmer – the tale of one man stuck between two women. One is the sweet, innocent type. The other is…not. After a scintillating all night conversation with Maud, the young homme makes his choice, and the two lovers go off to eat baguettes and smoke cigarettes.
2. Turtle Doves – The Flight of the Phoenix
As a symbol of devoted love, the turtle dove was seen by time citizens of Renaissance era Europe as the partner of, you guessed it, the phoenix. Instead of choosing X3: X-Men United, it felt a bit more natural to choose the story of Jimmy Stewart leading a team who has crash-landed their plane out in the desert.
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree – Die Hard
You might think that I’d pick this film because it’s the best Christmas film ever made. While that’s true, the connection here is far simpler. According to Greek myth, the partridge was created when Daedalus (the father of famous Nintendo icon Icarus) heaved his nephew Perdix off a roof. In Die Hard, the second stage of Alan Rickman’s career was created when John McClane throws him off a roof. QED.
Happy Christmas everyone!