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Tag Archive: It’s a Wonderful Life


Review by C.J. Bunce

If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right?

It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades.  This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season.  And yes, Arnold’s list includes Die Hard.  So as the British say, “end of.”  Most readers and movie fans will likely agree with at least twenty of the selections discussed in the book, and the rest are there ready for some good discussions with friends over some egg nog this holiday season.

It’s also likely this bucket list of movies has several films that even avid movie watchers may have missed.  I set up my DVR to pick up a few in the book I hadn’t seen yet and was surprised at how superb a selection Holiday Affair is.  It stars Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, Henry Morgan, plus young Gordon Gebert in what must be the best-ever performance by a child actor in a Christmas movie.  This is exactly the kind of value you get with a book like Christmas in the Movies–this movie will now be added to my own favorite Christmas movie list.  For each entry Arnold discusses the actors, plot, audience reception and the impact of the film, and why it’s a good Christmas season film for audiences today.

Along with Die Hard, which is smartly defended by Arnold, you’ll find the usual suspects like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf, plus some lesser known gems, like Remember the Night, the first of four films that would pair Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, plus Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You, and Humphrey Bogart in We’re No AngelsArnold picks up genre films Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even a few Westerns, including 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne.

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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