Around this time of year, I like to get into the holiday season by watching the classic "Christmas Movies".
Here's a short list of the Advent MUST SEEs:
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street
and, of course, White Christmas
To tell you the truth, I only just watched White Christmas for the first time about 15 years ago, right around this time of year. We were living in an apartment in Monticello, and we had these neighbors, who rented a house on the other side of the parking lot. The mom was a few years older than me and was very...different from me. She was about 6 ft tall, chain smoked, was divorced and re-married to a five foot tall Mexican. They had a couple of children together and their names were the first and last name of a famous Mexican guitar player. The man they named their kids after, happened to be a cousin of the dad of the family.
The kids played with little Trina and were very sweet, if not just a little rambunctious. The kids had very little discipline because their dad didn't work and their mom worked all the time. All in all, they were a nice family and they always had time for a visit. One day, the little girl (who was about 7 at the time) asked me if I'd watch a movie with her. She pulled out her FAVORITE tape and the whole family spazzed out when they found out I'd never watched it. The dad, especially, was aghast. "You mean you've nay-ver seen the White Christmas? Aye! It's the BES! OH! (singing in flat, out of tune voice) Seesters, seesters dare wear nehvar sohch deevoted seestairs...?" When I blankly stared at him (I mostly was just so surprised he had suddenly become so animated!), he looked at me with a "HOLY GUACAMOLE, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN THIS AWESOME MOVIE BEFORE!" look. Clearly, me never seeing this movie was something he needed to remedy so, I settled down to watch this SOUPAIR movie with the family. After about 10 minutes, the dad was asleep, snoring on the couch.
I thought the movie had REALLY bad acting but the songs were good. When the movie came to the famous "Sisters" song, I finally figured out what the Mexican dad was trying to sing and it took all the couth I could muster to not bust a gut. The dad woke up at the end of the movie, scratched his stomach and offered me a beer. He then asked what I thought of the movie. I politely declined on the beer issue, and told him I liked it very much, thank you. He eyed me, warily, and asked if I wanted to borrow it. Of course, I borrowed it and watched it again. I needed to see what it was about that film that moved this family so much. It's almost like it provoked instant happiness in this family and it was OBVIOUSLY something on which they all agreed.
I still can't figure out what is so great about that movie. The only thing that I like about it is the sisters song. I felt so sorry for Rosemary Clooney because she was such an ugly duckling compared to Vera-Ellen. When I looked up Vera-Ellen on IMDB, I saw this unfortunate paragraph at the end of her bio:
It was discovered that Vera-Ellen silently battled anorexia throughout much of the 50s before doctors had even coined the term or devised treatments. Moreover, she developed severe arthritis following her retirement and was forced to revert to dance lessons again in order to combat it. If that wasn't enough, she had to endure two failed marriages while losing her only daughter, Victoria Ellen Rothschild, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1963. These tragic events turned her into a virtual recluse. Little was heard for decades until it was learned that she had died of cancer in Los Angeles, California, on August 30, 1981. Less remembered today compared to several of the big stars that shared the stage with her, Vera-Ellen was a lithe and lovely presence who deserved so much more. Nevertheless, she has provided film lovers a lasting legacy and deserves to be called one of Hollywood's true dancing legends.
Whoa. No thanks. Hollywood sucks the life of the soul, doesn't it? By the way, I learned that Rosemary Clooney's son, Miguel Ferrer is the crabby boss guy on Crossing Jordan. Also, he was in Robocop. He's George Clooney's first cousin. Weird.
So, around about this time of year, every year, I watch that movie again, wonder if I'm missing something about how great it really is, wonder what ever happened to that strange family, remember the Mexican dad's rendition of the sisters song, and I giggle.