Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Film Club Does Christmas

Ho ho ho...
...the Film Club Regulars (minus Dong who was racing down the M5 after a frenzy of beermat throwing in Wigan) enjoyed some four (five?) year old fortified mulled wine at the start of the evening on Sunday.

I'd made the stuff for (I think) Christmas 2005, but as is so often the case I'd made far too much. Mrs The Millbrooker and I bottled the leftovers (two bottles) and pretty much forgot about them. Until they were rediscovered, reheated, slightly pepped up and served up to the unsuspecting Frankenkeith, Wizzers of Soz, Slocombe and Shazzerooneypoos. Jolly nice it was, too.

The film of choice was suitably festive in tone: George Seaton's 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street. Note - that's the proper 1947 version, not the travesty that some berk released in 1994 with Dickie Attenborough in it.Sugary? Sentimental tosh? Yep - and in bucket loads. But, just about as enjoyable as these pieces of fluff can get; and immediate post-war feel-good film made specifically for the nations in need of cheering up during the austerity years.

Frankenkeith was quite excited to see Natalie Wood's name in the opening credits, only to endure mild disappointment as it became apparent that although Miss Wood does indeed star in Miracle on 34th Street, she was under 10 at the time and some years away from screen siren status.Pretty much as you'd expect, even if you haven't seen it before, the plot is fairly thin: a kindly old man who believes himself to be Santa Claus and who goes under the name of Kris Kringle enters the lives of an uptight store manageress and her daughter, brings light and happiness to all (including the woman's laid-back neighbour and suitor - no need to guess the ending, there). The thing that I like about this particular take on seasonal syrup is its absolute simplicity; there are no special effects, the "miracle" is easily explainable within the plot through normal means and is therefore not a "miracle" at all - just something decent and humourous that happens to ordinary people. The performances and dialogue are typical Hollywood standard-and-stilted of the period, but somehow none of this detracts from the bottom line of human decency that is the film's true central theme. I just love it.The Film Club scale: Shazzerooneypoos made no wuffles and applauded at the end; Dong arrived halfway through and made some odd "bah-humbug" noises; Frankenkeith was pleased to have got his entire ration of Christmas cheer out of the way in one go (boo!); The Wizzers of Soz loved it, as did Mrs The Millbrooker; if Slocombe made a pithy comment it sailed over my bonce, but he applauded at the end, too, and enjoyed it hugely.

That's it for Film Club until the day after Boxing Day.

So - if you're stuck for something to watch between now and then, I reckon you could do a lot worse than a spot of feel-gooding with a Miracle on 34th Street. Go on, you know you want to.

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