This holiday season, it’s nice to find economical and personalized gifts for family and friends. With gas prices high, and time of the essence, giving the gift of a timeless, family-friendly movie is always a treat.
Here are three films that are sure to please everyone in the house.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Even people who don’t like musicals can’t resist this one! Adam (Howard Keel) is a rough-hewn pioneer in 1849 Oregon Territory, who drives into town to find himself a wife. He is impressed by young, pretty, wood-chopping Milly, who falls in love at first sight, and agrees to marry him that day, after her chores are done, and return to his homestead.
Here, instead of romance, she finds a pigsty of a log cabin filled with Adam’s brothers, all six of them unwashed, unshaven and named in alphabetical order from Biblical characters. Realizing that Adam married her just because she’s a hard worker, Milly bravely begins to make the house and the brothers respectable and clean.
This 1954 film combines rough-hewn humor, upbeat songs, and some of the best and most spirited choreography in any musical. And yes, even “guys” who hate musicals end up enjoying the story of the wild, wintry west.
With a story that begins with Christmas, Louisa May Alcott’s tale of four sisters in New England during the Civil War is a wonderful addition to the holiday season. There are many versions of this on film, including one with Katharine Hepburn as Jo, and another with Liz Taylor as Amy.
The most recent production stars Susan Sarandon as “Marmee,” with Wynona Rider as Jo, Christian Bale as Laurie, the boy next door; and appearances by Claire Danes as shy Beth, and Kirsten Dunst as artistic Amy.
The wintery New England scenery is perfect for a Christmas movie, and the Transcendentalist message of working on improving oneself seems to strike a chord with all viewers.
Bell, Book and Candle
An unusual story, of urban witches in New York City during the Christmas season. Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is the most powerful of a family of witches consisting of her Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) and brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon).
Yet Gillian is tired of magic, and longs for Christmas in “a quiet little church” where she can be “singing carols.” She is also intrigued by Shep Henderson (James Stewart), the publisher who lives in the apartment above her.
The plot thickens when she learns that Shep is about to marry her nemesis from college, and when a writer, Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs) starts to research witchcraft in Manhattan. As she casts spells with the help of her cat, Pyewacket, the story moves along, with quiet humor, haunting music, and 1950s-style romance.
For holiday-themed films, these have stood the time test. Those who have seen these films are glad to see them again; those who haven’t seen them are in for a treat.