The Mountain Times

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A bowl of popcorn and a box of kleenex

I adore sappy movies. With the holidays approaching, I'll be able to get my fill of both movies and turkey (with traditional bread stuffing). If you ask a member of the Y Generation to recommend some "must see" holiday classics, the list might include Home Alone, The Polar Express, The Santa Clause, Bad Santa and Scrooged (would you agree Brett?) But pose the same question to a Baby Boomer and you will get a different list - some old, some new, some in color, some in black and white.

I have my own favorite list that I try to watch every year during the holiday season. Some people like to set out a plan for movie watching - rent the DVD, schedule a gathering, pop the popcorn and make a night of it. I prefer the spontaneity (hence the reason I still listen to local radio stations instead of Sirius or an iPod). I simply channel surf late at night until I hit upon one of these classics. When I spot one, I let out a little hurrah, grab a box of Kleenex, snuggle in and go for it. Here are a few I love to find:

Falling in Love - I actually came across this one last Sunday night around 11:15 p.m. having missed only the first few minutes. This movie was not a huge box office hit, but it remains one of my all-time faves. Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro perfectly play the roles of two ordinary people who meet on a commuter train to Manhattan and strike up a friendship that leads to ill-fated love. Hopeless romantic that I am, I hop right on that train with them and ride the love roller coaster 'til the end. Harvey Keitel in a supporting role only adds to the flavor.

Little Women - The 1933 version stars Katherine Hepburn as the tomboyish Jo, but my favorite may be the '49 edition. An all-star cast with June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien, Janet Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as the American acting debut of Rossano Brazzi. I cut my novel-reading teeth on Louisa May Alcott, so this timeless coming-of-age story set in New England always invokes warm memories.

The Holiday - poorly acted, ridiculously stupid, predictable holiday movie - and yet if I come across it my remote control freezes. Cameron Diaz is beautiful, though annoying, and Jude Law is always pretty to look at. We champion Kate Winslet when she breaks free of her long-suffering addiction to the selfish Jasper with the help of the not-typically-romantic-but-pulls-it-off Jack Black. The sappiness of the movie is tempered by co-star Eli Wallach playing an aging Hollywood classic. How's that for character acting?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Steve Martin and John Candy bring me laughs and tears over and over, every year. I still laugh myself silly at the night in the motel and the rental car catching fire, but am reduced to tears when anxious ad exec Neal Page invites the hapless shower curtain salesman Del Griffith to his home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Love Actually - the ultimate happy-endings movie. This one is a must-see for me and if I can't find it on television reruns by Christmas week, it requires a trip to the Redbox kiosk. Great soundtrack that has me singing All I Want for Christmas is You for days afterwards.

White Christmas - Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, a Vermont Inn and an Irving Berlin theme song. All the ingredients for a perfect holiday movie to be watched late at night in front of the fireplace.

Holiday Inn - see White Christmas above and substitute Fred Astaire for Danny Kaye and Connecticut for Vermont.

Miracle on 34th Street - Santa is real, the white picket fence house does exist and dreams do come true. There's no better example of a feel-good movie that will restore faith even in skeptics. It also makes you fall in love with young Natalie Wood all over again. If this movie were required watching for all humans, I am convinced there would be less conflict worldwide.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Depression at Christmas - now there's a universal theme. Charlie believes the world has forgotten the true meaning of the holiday and that society is way too caught up in the commercialization of what is supposed to symbolize a sacred event. The Vince Guaraldi soundtrack alone invokes visions of the sad little tree swaddled in Linus' blankie. Of course you do have to laugh at Snoopy's frenzied doghouse decorating and Sally's letter to Santa requesting money in denominations of tens and twenties.

The holidays can be as frantic or as joyful as you allow, it's all in how you steer the ship. As a Boomer, you have earned the right to share your memories, reminisce, compare the present to the past and shake your head stating emphatically that "those were the good old days." You have a month to bask in the cinematic memories of your life, so grab the Kleenex, pop the popcorn and have at it. It comes but once a year.

Tagged: Holidays, Sappy Movies