Ho, ho, ho children! Santa STARBURST has some treats for you to track down while you await the good Doctor’s Christmas Special.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice when it comes to this wide spectrum of delightful visual goodies.
I, THE JURY – 1953
Biff Elliot, plays two-fisted gumshoe, Mike Hammer in this whodunit set during Christmastime originally shot in 3D. Written and directed by Harry Essex (Octaman) and shot by John Alton, who was a black and white cinematography master. Hammer is on the trail of a murdered buddy, leading him down the dark film noir path that includes a treacherous Santa, two psycho sisters known as the Bellamy twins, skull cracking, dames, Christmas cards, and music cleverly inserted act as scene dividers. Elliot does a great job as Hammer, the detective with a code of his own, in his relentless pursuit of the killer. Watch out for the scene where a nosy reporter lips off to him, only to get slammed into a shelf-full of dishes while the crime scene detectives look the other way. Great stuff!
SANTA CLAUS -1959.
Directed by Rene Cardona, who also was responsible for the Mexican exploitation movie, Night of the Bloody Apes. Santa and the devil (known as Pitch, wearing wresting tights!) battle for control for the soul of little Lupita, as well as dealing with three naughty kids and a Boston bull terrier. A surreal film would be putting it mildly if you saw it in its original form, but Joel and the Bots from MST3K do a great job of adding all the fun in their version making it an instant Christmas classic.
BEYOND CHRISTMAS aka BEYOND TOMORROW – 1940
Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Richard Carlson, Jean Parker, Helen Vinson Maria Ouspenskaya. Three millionaires that are stood up by their dates on Christmas Eve decide to buy three wallets, put ten dollars in each, along with their cards and throw them into the street to see who will return them. When Carlson and Parker show up, with no plans of their own on Christmas Eve, they’re taken to dinner by the wealthy trio and a romance starts to blossom between the two. As fate would have it, the three benefactors are killed in a plane crash and come back as spirits to help the two lovers get back together as bad girl Parker sets her eyes on Carlson’s fortune to get him to marry her.
CHRISTMAS EVE - 1947
Directed by Edwin L. Martin who helmed the 1938 and starring George Raft, Randolph Scott, Reginald Denny and Joan Blondell, this version of A Christmas Carol, is similar to The Sons of Katie Elder in that three sons in different careers (that include one as a gangster) have to come home to save mom’s farm before she loses her mortgage on Christmas Eve.
REMEMBER THE NIGHT - 1940
Written by Preston Sturges, this romantic comedy has three-time bad girl, Barbara Stanwyck arrested for shoplifting on Christmas Eve and assistant district attorney, Fred Mac Murray releasing her into his own custody until trial after Christmas. Murray begins to fall in love with her and is torn between heart and duty to follow the law. This is also the first time that Stanwyck and Murray worked together and you see what great chemistry they have between the two... They would do four more films as a team with the most notable being, Double Indemnity. Sturges was so impressed with Stanwyck’s performance he wrote a script with her as the lead which would later be known as The Lady Eve.
HOLIDAY AFFAIR - 1949
Starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and Wendell Corey. During the Christmas rush, comparison shopper Leigh purchases a train set under the auspice for her son, but in actuality, she’s a commercial spy for another store. She’s busted by store clerk Mitchum, who lets her go, but gets fired in the process. They end up on a date which Leigh’s current suitor (Corey) doesn’t appreciate. Leigh’s son Timmy takes a liking to Mitchum and isn’t too happy about having Corey as a step dad. Don Hartman, who also helmed the Hope/Crosby films, Road to Zanzibar and Morocco, directed this romantic comedy. Truly, a must-see heartwarming film.
DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS – 1984
Starring Belinda Mayne, Edmund Purdom (who also directed the film) and Mark Jones. Two of the dimmest bulbs from the Sweeney mental deficient division are assigned to track down a homicidal maniac who’s killing people dressed as Santa in London that include impaling, strangling, burning and castration. We don’t know about you, but castrating Santa because you didn’t get your replica TARDIS one Christmas is just so wrong!
SANTA’S SLAY - 2005
Starring Bill Goldberg (WWE champion wrestler.), Robert Culp, Dave Thomas (yes, the SCTV comedian Dave Thomas!), Chris Kattan, Fran Drescher, James Caan and Rebecca Gayheart. Santa Claus is actually Satan’s son in disguise, who lost a curling match with an angel and must bring goodness and joy around the world for a thousand years. Well, those years are up and buffed up, foul-mouthed Santa returns to his evil ways that include beating up Christmas carolers, a candy cane eye poke, a flying buffalo pulling his sleigh, continuous mayhem and ho-ho ho strippers! Best line in the movie; “I’m Santa Claus, not f@#*ing Dracula!” It’s totally demented! A must-see especially for the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated flashback sequence! Produced by Brett Rattner, no less!
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY - 1952
Starring Sir Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, Denholm Elliott, Margaret Leighton and William Hartnell. Widowed clergyman Richardson gets together at Christmas with his three adult children who have their own hidden secrets that shed light set during England’s reconstruction after World War II. Well-acted and written, it’s a beautifully crafted film about a time long gone.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - 1972
Not to be confused with the two warm, fuzzy films from 1995 and 2005, this movie, written by Joseph Stefano of the original Outer Limits fame, stars Walter Brennan as an ailing father who summons his three daughters - Jill Haworth, Julie Harris and Sally Field - at Christmas to kill his current wife whom he accuses of poisoning him. The daughters and a local doctor doubt his story, but when one of the daughters shows up dead with a pitchfork in her, the plot thickens. Very Christmassy.