LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Quarter-Final 4

by Jay Cluitt · December 17, 2018 · Featured, LAMBracket, LAMBracket Christmas, Periodic Features · No Comments

From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to FacebookTwitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.

Today’s tinsel tussle is the last quarter-final, and the decider for the overall winner of the Other group. First up is the winner of the Dickens sub-group, The Muppet Christmas Carol, which faces off against the Other sub-group, White Christmas:

The Muppet Christmas Carol vs White Christmas

The Muppet Christmas Carol, championed by Richard Kirkham from Kirkham A Movie A Day

If you are not considering The Muppet Christmas Carol as your choice for the best Christmas movie of all time, you must not have seen the film. Not only is it a great Christmas film, it is in many ways, the greatest telling of one of the most important Christmas themed stories of all time. Charles Dickens’ story has been filmed more than two dozen times, with distinguished Shakespearean actors and American Television Thespians. None of them can hold a candle to this version which succeeds because of two fantastic features. First, look at the title, “Muppets”. I have heard that there are people who do not appreciate The Muppets, I don’t want to know who those people are. The off kilter humor, the manic and deadpan delivery in the same scene, the plethora of weird characters are all things that make even the most mundane material watchable. Kermit the Frog is perfectly cast as Bob Cratchitt. Miss Piggy is surprisingly subdued as his wife and the mother of Tiny Tim. Meanwhile, subverting the proceedings by drawing attention to the narrative explicitly, Gonzo and Rizzo Rat are a Greek Chorus representing Dickens himself. You can’t beat that for creative story structure on this particular tale.

Muppets alone would be enough to elevate this to the status of Christmas classic, but there’s one other secret weapon here that should overwhelm any other objections, Michael Caine. In most versions of the story, Scrooge is ancient and closer to the end of life. Caine is closer to middle age, which means his arc of redemption will span the life of the Cratchit family more. Caine plays crotchety without being particularly old.We can accept that he has an old man disposition with a younger man’s vigor. He also sings. Maybe not the dulcet baritone that would be featured in a stage version of the story, but he has a “talk-singing” style that works perfectly for the amusing Paul Williams penned songs.

“Oh, Scroogey loves his money ’cause he thinks it gives him power,
If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour.”

White Christmas, championed by Chris Staron from The Popcorn Auteur

On its surface, White Christmas may have some problems. It’s a movie built around a recycled song from a previous Christmas movie that can feel disjointed. It’s a movie that could be accused of being saccharine with no concept of diversity. And yet . . .

The songs of Irving Berlin and the direction of Michael Curtiz (yes, from Casablanca) produce a movie that is very communal and soothing. For years, I attended a holiday viewing of White Christmas at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, and it is a perfect movie for a group setting. The familiarity and predictability of this film are part of its charm. The “Sisters” number always gets a laugh and the bizarre “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” gets an even bigger laugh.

White Christmas wears its era on its sleeve. It screams 1950’s America with its patriotism and Bing Crosby. The performances are stellar and the music memorable; making even the biggest Grinch appreciate the song-and-dance era of Hollywood.

Which is the better Christmas movie?

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