Tuesday, December 20, 2011


There's one thing that contributes to the beautiful recuperative feel of Christmas for me:  watching movies. Lots and lots of movies.

It comes from the days as children when we had seemingly endless (sometimes tear-inducing boring) weeks of freedom during summer holidays. The harsh reality of working life put a stop to that, as did a job that never closed (except on Christmas Day). Now THAT was a buzz-kill.

Steve and I settled in to our own tradition of Christmas-time movie watching because, well, there wasn't much else we had to do. With no children to attend to - not for lack of trying to surround ourselves with a brood - we filled our work-free days with Harry Potter and Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings. Long series of movies.

But I have my own favourites. My own must-watch movies. The ones I rarely watch during the year but never fail to watch at Christmas time. There are three in particular and all of them make me cry. Not necessarily through sadness, but because I love them so much. A little bit of wistful mixed in remembering the years past where I would watch these movies with such free abandon, not realising the fate that would befall us when we lost our Ellanor in 2004. It took me quite some time to watch them again, knowing they made me feel so happy. Possibly difficult for anyone who hasn't gone through deep, deep grief to understand. But there you have it.

I still watch these movies. And I am most delighted to say that the LGBB adores them now too and watches them with me, giggling and tearing up at the appropriate bits. She's her mother's daughter, for she even recites lines from them.... Ahhh, 'ats my girl.

So, today. The first one:


Image source

Oh how I A.D.O.R.E. this movie. I think if I was asked what my favourite movie was, this would have to get the guernsey. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the sentimental factor. My grandparents and Dad were living in London when this was filmed in 1953. I have photos of my grandparents taken by the street photographers dressed like Wendy and Alan McKim on streets that are identical - obviously, because this movie was shot on location.

With Larry Adler's divine harmonica score, written for the movie I believe, what's not to love about this right from the get-go??  If you're not swaying from side to side, even just a little bit, during this happy song then please check yourself for a pulse....

Basically, what happens is this:

Wendy (the awesome and beautiful Dinah Sheridan) and Alan McKim (the lovely John Gregson, whom I formed a bit of a crush on in my teen years watching this movie!) are married. He is an old car enthusiast - the car's name is Genevieve - and she is long-suffering about his involvement with the Car Club, which hold an annual London to Brighton rally. The movie opens with Alan getting ready for the 1953 rally. 
There are all sorts of mishaps and car break-downs and matrimonial squabbles along the way and it gets worse when they eventually arrive at Brighton. Hi-lar-i-ty! (I just LOVE the proprietress at the hotel they end up in who has the unfortunate task of telling them hot water is only available "in the afternoons between half past tiew and seeks"). Now watch this clip and tell me you haven't ever laughed hysterically, because there's no point crying, at something as awful as what they encounter in their hotel room:

Alan and their friend, the wicked Ambrose Claverhouse (Doctor in the House's, Kenneth More), decide to race their vintage cars back to London - their competition runs deep, with Alan convinced that his wife and Ambrose had at one time been more than good friends before they were married, a suspicion not alleviated by cheeky Wendy who likes to tease him a little about his insecurity (because she knows it's completely unfounded).
Ambrose's new "lady friend", Rosalind (played by the classic Kay Kendall, who died only 6 years later aged 33.... can you believe she was 27 when she made Genevieve?!? Whaaat?), comes along for the rally and finds the whole thing a tad boring but she's pleasant enough about it. At the dinner dance, she gets completely sozzled for the fun of it and decides to play with the band. The scene below happens right after Ambrose finishes confessing to Wendy during their dance that he hopes to *ahem* have his end away? Is that how the British put it? with Rosalind that night. The end of the scene is cut off here, right when Wendy launches into her uncontrollable laughter at Ambrose's "misfortune" when his date passes out cold for the night. Ha!

The race home between the two men gets very heated and there appears to be no love lost. Alan ends up betting Ambrose his car, Genevieve, that his old girl can beat Ambrose's spyker back to London. The music in this movie gets me every time. It just fits so perfectly. Here are some beautiful stills from the production of Genevieve:

As an interesting aside, I discovered on a Google search one time that dear Dinah Sheridan lost a child at birth in the years prior to making this movie and it warms me to her so much more. Can you believe it, but she is still alive! She must be 91 by now. What a woman.

Would you all please go out and find yourselves a copy and watch it? It's gorgeous. Not technically anything to do with Christmas, but a simply delightful old comedy very deserving of its place in my extensive movie library.

As for my other two favourites, well.... they will have to wait for a post in the near future, dear reader. Now, tell me: What are your favourite Christmas time movies? (not necessarily Christmas-themed, but just ones you might traditionally watch at this time of year)

Excuse me while I just go and watch it again...... already.

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