The Twelve Films of Christmas

From Twelve Drummers Drumming to Nine Ladies Dancing to a Partridge in a Pear Tree, we take a look at Twelve Films that should have been sung about.
By  · Published on December 24th, 2008

So it turns out that tomorrow’s Christmas, and since I have no one to love me and give me presents, I’ve been forced to slave away in the FSR offices until, as Neil puts it, I “beat the internet.” Apparently, the last mini-boss is nearly impossible.

But since I have so much free time on my hands, and since Neil left a disc of Christmas Carols on repeat just out of reach, I’ve been inspired to make a list of films based on the most famous Holiday Song of All Time That No One Knows All the Lyrics To – The Twelve Days of Christmas.

You’re welcome.

12. Twelve Drummers Drumming – Drumline (2002)

This is probably the most literal interpretation of a lyric that I could do, and I admit to geeking out a little bit about this movie just because I was in drum line back in high school. Although, my band director never did any “Make 7. Up Yours” commercials. So that was a plus.

11. Eleven Pipers Piping – Endless Summer (1966)

Perfect for the winter weather of my hometown, there’s something noble about the pursuit of the perfect half-pipe even in freezing temperatures. It’ll get you thinking warmer thoughts, and you can tell your friends you watched a documentary over the break, so they’ll assume you’re smart.

10. Ten Lords a’Leaping – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

I have no idea why you’d buy your true love what amounts to ten men jumping around. Statistically, at least one of them has to be a home wrecker, and it’s already been established that he’s wealthy. Don’t risk it. Get your honey this movie on DVD, and she can admire stunt work and FX work that still holds up after eight years of innovation.

9. Nine Ladies Dancing – Showgirls (1995)

For the win! I can’t necessarily advise anyone to watch this one, but it definitely has at least nine ladies dancing in it. Plus, it might get you in the holiday mood by reminding you how awful life really is. I’m so excited! I’m so…excited! I’m so…so…scared.

8. Eight Maids a’Milking – Visitor Q (2001)

Oh, Takashi Miike. Just when we need a film to correspond with the concept of maids milking something, you come along with a scene where a mother lactates with such force that people in the room have to bust out umbrellas, and the floor ends up soaked in two inches deep of breast milk. Just like any good Ugly Sweater Party should.

7. Seven Swans a’Swimming – The Swan (1956)

While the title is pretty direct, the movie itself is really about Grace Kelly being a princess (before she actually quit acting to become a princess), and it’s one of her last films. It also features Alec Obi-Wan Guinness as a character named Prince Albert, although he stays out of the can most of the film.

6. Six Geese a’Laying – Octopussy (1983)

I have to assume that the song lyric refers to geese laying eggs and not getting it on, so this Bond classic is a perfect match. The entire film he chases (in a wild-goose-manner, some might say) for an incredibly expensive Fabergé Egg. Which we all know has a rich nougat center.

5. Five Golden Rings – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Like I wasn’t going to choose this one.

4. Four Calling Birds – When a Stranger Calls (1979)

No one knows what a Calling Bird is. Go ask someone – they won’t know. Based on name alone, I have to assume they are a species of super advanced Quail that use cell phones to communicate. These Super Quail are also probably the ones responsible for making the calls from inside the house. On a side note: some film scholars believe this film may have been remade in 2005, but there’s little evidence to support that theory.

3. Three French Hens – La Cage Aux Folles (1978)

What’s with all the bird gifts? It’s hard to take this song seriously anymore. But a film about French birds seems appropriate – even if those birds are really men masquerading in lipstick and bras. Watching this film with your family over the holidays is guaranteed to bring you all closer together. Or cause a massive fist fight.

2. Two Turtle Doves – Romeo and Juliet (1968)

We’ve finally made it out of the birds and into a gift of some rare breed of turtle. I was told that Turtle Doves are a symbol of love, so what better movie than one about two star-crossed lovers confused over whether it’s the lark or the nightingale singing?

1. And a Partridge in a Pear Tree – The Passion of the Christ (2004)

It’s clear that when this song was written, the most popular gifts were all avian-based, but some came with their own fruit-bearing tree. There’s a great email chain working it’s way around claiming that the original song was written in code to represent a ton of stuff from the Christian religion. While that’s completely false, it still gives me a decent reason for choosing this as the final film. It has a lot of fantastic lessons for your family during this rich yuletide season – specifically that beating the hell out of a guy for three hours will cause an earthquake. Something to think about.

Editor’s Note: This list was compiled with the twisted help of Kevin Carr and Rob Hunter.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.