By Tim Parks
As I write this, it is 90 degrees in November. But I know from “The Great Orange Hope” that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese; so there’s that. I could really go for a Winter Wonderland right about now, just sayin’. And to help in that endeavor, there are a plethora of time-honored holiday movies and TV shows to view that will surely get us into the winter groove.
Let’s take a look at some fun facts about said time capsules of Christmas’ past and a gander at the TV specials that are far and away the absolute best examples of donning our gay apparel.
When It’s A Wonderful Life debuted in theaters in 1946, it was considered a flop. However, the Frank Capra film starring James Stewart and Donna Reed has gone on to become a perennial favorite. James Stewart, who portrays George Bailey a man that is contemplating suicide –Merry Christmas, movie house! – stated that the role was his favorite to portray onscreen.
He became so immersed in his portrayal that while filming the scene where George prays in the bar, he actually broke down into real sobs. For Donna Reed, one of sitcom TV’s favorite perfect mom/perfect wife, it was her first starring role. Every time you vacuum the house all dolled up and wearing pearls, an angel gets its wings!
Faster than you can say, Merry Christmas and throw in a “Shitter was full,” courtesy of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid before he went bat shitter cray cray), you have yourself a Griswold-style Christmas.
Hapless Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) stages a homebound Christmas Vacation for his family (Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki), after they have experienced hellacious trips to both Wally World and Europe and the results are naturally disastrous.
In the five Vacation movies, the characters of Rusty and Audrey Griswold were played by five different sets of actors: Anthony-Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Jason Lively, Dana Hill, Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis, Ethan Embry, Marisol Nichols, Ed Helms and Leslie Mann. However, in the 1989 Yuletide comedy, the characters are younger than the ones in the first two and Audrey is suddenly the older of the two. Must be something in the egg nog; I’ll have what they’re drinking! Conversely, Diane Ladd who plays Chevy Chase’s mother Nora is only 8 years older than Chase in real life.
The term “Griswold house” was introduced into the lexicon to describe a house that is overly decorated for the holidays.
Someone that had a successful White Christmas was Bing Crosby in what ended up being the most profitable movie of 1954, and spawned a favorite Christmas tune.
But, the song was actually re-recorded and was first introduced by Crosby in 1942’s Holiday Inn and although White Christmas features both songs by Irving Berlin and stars Crosby, it is not a sequel; Crosby also sang the song in 1946’s Blue Skies. Guess, you could call it his signature tune.
Rosemary Clooney stated that she took the role so she could perform with Crosby and co-star Danny Kaye caused many a retake with his antics that caused cast and crew to laugh when they weren’t supposed to.
After the final shot, the cast was informed that they would film the finale again for the visiting King and Queen of Greece. However, it was shot without film in the camera or Crosby, who skipped out to play golf. Oh Bing!
Somebody that would probably brain you with a golf club is Bad Santa, as portrayed in 2003 by Billy Bob Thornton. Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) and his dwarf assistant Marcus (Tony Cox) – is height challenged the more P.C. term? – pose as a department store Santa and his elf only to rob the mall at night.
Bill Murray was the initial choice to play in the dark comedy, but dropped out to star in Lost in Translation. Actress Lauren Graham, whose character has a Santa fetish, humped a chair during her audition, while Thornton has said he went method actor during the filming, IE, being very drunk during the shoot. In the Czech Republic, the film was released as Santa is a Pervert. Way to put the ho in ho, ho, ho Bad Santa.
Another comedic effort, Elf, stars Will Ferrell as Buddy one of Santa’s elves, who is bound and determined to spread some Holiday cheer while attempting to reconnect with his biological father (James Caan) in New York City. Good luck there, Buddy!
The movie spawned both an animated Holiday special and a Broadway musical. The set for Santa’s workshop and the elf costumes mirror the ones in the animated TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The elf named Ming Ming is played by Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story.
Speaking of the beloved 1983 tale, in which young Ralphie just wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB gun, despite his mother’s warnings that he’ll shoot his eye out.
Actor Scott Schwartz, who infamously got his tongue frozen on a flag pole, later put his tongue to a different use as an adult film star. This wasn’t director Bob Clark’s first foray into yuletide territory, he had previously directed the 1974 horror movie Black Christmas.
Home Alone is another childhood take on Christmas, albeit one where CPS should step in and have a chat with Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) parents, who leave him behind while they go on vacation to Paris. Complicating matters are a pair of burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who try to rob the McCallister house!
The 1990 comedy – abandonment, ha ha! A child in jeopardy, snicker – was the highest-grossing live action comedy of all-time, until it was dethroned by 2011’s The Hangover Part II. But it remains the highest-grossing Christmas movie ever.
Make Your Yuletide Really Gay
Naturally, there are tried and true Christmas specials that will definitely make your yuletide gay!
The roster of guest stars, including Cher, Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey, k.d. lang, Grace Jones and Little Richard, makes Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special one of the gayest Holiday offerings ever forced down the chimney and into our living rooms. Perhaps he should have changed his secret word to a safe word!
If you think about it, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is definitely a gay parable. Rudolph is ostracized for being different and is not able to participate in any reindeer games. He runs away with fellow misfit Hermie the Elf, who just wants to be a dentist, which sounds like 1960’s code for being a homosexual. Eventually, they meet up with Yukon Cornelius who resembles a Bear Daddy. In the end, Rudolph’s flashy red nose and being different save the day. You glow, gurl!
Leave it to Mama Ru to deliver two Christmas specials over the years. First up was 1993’s VH-1 special RuPaul’s Christmas Ball that was graced by the presences of: Elton John, Eartha Kitt, Taylor Dane, Boy George, Nirvana and LaToya Jackson. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad. Then last Christmas I gave you my heart, err, there was RuPaul’s Drag Race: I’m Dreaming of a Green Screen Christmas, which featured some contestants of Drag Race past.
A Diva’s Christmas Carol stars the incomparable Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge, one of the world’s foremost pop superstars. She is visited by three ghosts, one of which is played by Kathy Griffin. So if that’s not gay enough for you, that smell ain’t chestnuts roasting on an open fire; your gay card is on fire!
A Charlie Brown Christmas would have been included, but only if it had featured Peppermint Patty and Marcie. Anyhoo, here’s a fun drinking game as the Holidays are notorious for imbibing. If you can stomach it, watch Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and every time the movie sucks take a swig. Enjoy your alcohol poisoning and Happy Holidays!