Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lum and Abner Christmas Special

One of my favorite Christmas specials is a radio drama.  Lum and Abner's traditional Christmas story, which aired every year from 1933 to 1954, is set in Pine Ridge, Arkansas, but reflects Bethlehem's nativity story.  After paying their taxes in the county seat, a young couple is forced to take up lodging in an old abandoned barn, where the wife has gone into labor.  Lum, Abner, and Grandpappy Spears, armed with blankets, an oil heater, and a box of groceries, are trudging through the snow on Christmas night to provide comfort and sustenance to the couple.  On their Christmas journey, the three old men contemplate the joy of helping others, the passage of time, and the bittersweet circle of life.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bing Crosby Christmas

More than any entertainer, Bing Crosby is synonymous with Christmas.  In the sixties and seventies my family watched the Bing Crosby Christmas specials every year; David Bowie, of all people, guest starred on Bing's last special (Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas) in 1977, which aired posthumously.  Who hasn't heard Bing and Bowie sing "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth"?  I'm not a fan of Bing's crooning style of singing--save "Mele Kalikimaka"-- but I did love those specials and still love his Christmas movies.  If you haven't ever seen a Bing Christmas movie, watch one (or all) of them this year.
  1. Holiday Inn (1942).  Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire play a singer and dancer competing for the attentions of a beautiful ingenue.
  2. Going My Way (1944).  Bing plays the animated Father O'Malley who is sent to take over St. Dominic's from its crusty old priest Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitgerald).
  3. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).  Father O'Malley is back in this sequel to Going My Way.  This time he ruffles the feathers of Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman).
  4. White Christmas (1954).  A song-and-dance team (Bing and Danny Kaye) become romantically involved with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen), and the four of them join forces to save the Vermont inn of a former general.

To order from Amazon, click on links below.
 Holiday Inn (Special Edition)
Going My Way (Universal Cinema Classics)
The Bells of St. Mary's
White Christmas (Anniversary Edition)
White Christmas [Blu-ray]
White Christmas (the music CD)
Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth/ White Christmas Featuring Ella Fitzgerald (7 inch 45 limited edition red vinyl)