Bing Crosby

Paramount Pictures

Classic Christmas movies have never been my bag. I’ve still not seen It’s a Wonderful Life and I’m iffy on musicals, too. I don’t dislike them or anything, there’s plenty I’ve enjoyed. I just haven’t seen a lot of older ones. But hell, White Christmas is my sister-in-law’s all-time favorite, apparently, so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s what’s weird about White Christmas: It’s oddly modern. By that, I mean it does a lot of things that people decry as the death of Hollywood ideas today. For example, it’s a remake. Specifically, it’s based on Holiday Inn (yes, like the hotel chain — they’re named after the film) which was another Irving Berlin movie and also starred Bing Crosby. That famous song, “White Christmas”? It didn’t even come from this film. It came from Holiday Inn and they just re-used it here and stole its title. And it wasn’t like a small part of that movie. It won the Oscar that year for Best Original Song. If a movie did that today, audiences would freak the hell out. Another thing is that it’s pretty shameless spectacle. It was one of the first films in “VistaVision”, Paramount’s attempt at reintroducing widescreen films to theaters, which hadn’t been seen since before World War II. Bringing back old technology that had already been thrown on the scrap pile in decades past? Cue the eye rolls.

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Klown Movie

When you watch enough movies, you come to associate canoe trips with many reprehensible things. Among these unfortunate associations are banjo music, forced sodomy, and leaving the house. Still, undaunted by the twanging intro of “Dueling Banjos” that may or may not have only existed in our heads, a group of intrepid movie fans loaded up and headed to Spring Branch, Texas for the Alamo Drafthouse’s Klown canoe trip and outdoor screening. While in the film, Casper (Casper Christensen) and Frank (Frank Hvam) are on a Tour de Pussy, we were more or less on a Tour de Someone’s-Assuredly-Not-Making-It-Back. As liquored up as Drafthouse impresario Tim League would allow, which is to say to our eyeballs, we set out on the Guadalupe River and took in the beauty and wonder of nature…as we tried, some of us futilely, to keep from capsizing where it was deep enough, and grinding to an embarrassing halt where the drought had made a puddle of the mighty river. Arriving back at camp at various degrees of dampness, we sat down for a glorious screening of the Danish comedy under the gorgeous Texas sky. I laughed heartily into the mouth of my ever-dwindling flask; delighted to be seeing the film again. The next day, in the throws of a beautiful hangover, I stumbled into a back room at The Highball in Austin–with no recollection of how I got back to the city–to find the stars of the film restrained in a strange Tiki gulag from […]

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With the Academy Awards right around the corner, I’ve had history on the brain. Ever since I bought my mom The History of Oscar in the 11th grade (she’s a lover of Hollywood’s big night), I’ve been curious about Best Picture winners. What made something the Best Picture of its particular year, and how has the criteria for such an award evolved over the years? In an effort to start this journey, I sat down this weekend with four best pics from an era long before my time…

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oam-whitechristmas

Who cares about Thanksgiving? Just like Corporate America, we’ll be skipping right over it in favor of starting our whirlwind Christmas coverage. Cross your fingers for snow.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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