Top Ten Films Set During the Holidays… with a dose of Mayhem!
- Die Hard
I know the film had a share of those wonderful ‘80s hairstyles and those prominent shoulders pads. This 1988 classic also had holiday party to die for (pun intended) which was crashed by a motley group of German villains led by Alan Rickman.
- Three Days of The Condor
When I think of Christmas films, I think of the colors of the holidays—red and green and this film has Robert Redford showcasing his mop of red hair while fighting a government conspiracy. And the movie is set at the backdrop of the holidays in the Big Apple. And the guy pooping the party is the masterful Max Von Sydow—an urbane yet lethal assassin.
- Trading Places
Okay, okay, this one doesn’t have a villain who has sympathy for his victims before sending them off this mortal coil or a fancy haircut and controlled German accent and the biggest crime in this film is fraud! But, having said that there is some mayhem and two old villains making sure that Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy have a holiday never to be forgotten!
- L.A. Confidential
All blood and gore set in the 50s against the backdrop of those huge Christmas tree lights while the three protagonists were probably hearing the tune of “I’m dreading a dry Christmas in the background.” A fine film, adapted from James Elroy’s tour de force with some huge performances by Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, and James Cromwell.
- Murder by Death
Now we have a theme here, another film with James Cromwell, this time he has a minor role as the assistant to a poor portrayal of Hercule Poirot played by James Coco. I don’t know why, but this film due to the wonderful cast from Alec Guinness, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Falk, is always turned on in the background in my majestic estate during Christmas! Maybe it’s the setting, maybe it was because my parents had it on TV when I was a kid, or maybe it’s because I like Truman Capote!
- The Ref
Denis Leary is a cat burglar with a problem, instead of hijacking Mr. Ward and June Cleaver, he happens to find himself in the middle of a bickering couple played by Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey. And the poor guy while refereeing their fights and dodging the law starts questioning the enterprise of crime.
- The Thin Man
The classic and most over-watched film in history (I exaggerate) has a wonderful Christmas party, the charm of William Powell, the grace and turns of phrase of Myrna Loy, and a cute little pooch names Asta, and some black and white Christmas trees. Contrary to popular belief people in the 30s didn’t live a black and white life, so you’ll just have to use your imagination to fill in the colors while watching this classic which was based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett.
- Lady in the Lake
No offense to anyone, but this was a bad film, but a bad film worth seeing. You have Robert Montgomery acting like Philip Marlowe while narrating a case of a missing person, murder, conspiracy, it has it all, only we hardly get to see Marlowe because the story is told through his eyes. We even get to see how it’s like to get a big smooch (from the visual perspective of Montgomery of course). He must have felt that directing the film exonerated him from having to show that handsome face—I disagree! I mean who would want to see Hitchcock as a leading man…Montgomery on the other hand…
- Batman Returns
Kids out there don’t think it was Christian Bale who restarted the Batman enterprise, it was Michael Keaton. And in this film, we have a political campaign in Gotham led by the menacing Penguin played by Danny DeVito who is backed by a the corrupt, criminal, creepy business mogul Max Shreck
(Christopher Walken). And the question is, can Batman save Gotham and everyone’s holiday from the corrupt group? Big spoiler: he saves the day!
- Home Alone
I know, it was more funny than creepy, but this charming film is a classic and will always be a classic. I mean what kid growing up didn’t wish that they were forgotten by their folks and had a chance to grocery shop, lock horns with a criminal, raid the fridge at all hours, have a whole pizza for dinner while scaring the daylights out of the pizza delivery guy.
And since I added Murder by Death and it isn’t a Christmas film, I am giving you a bonus, “Back For Christmas” with Richard Johnson. This appeared in the English half hour drama series Tales of the Unexpected and has a pretty horrible guy committing a pretty nasty crime during the holidays. If you can track it down, please do.
Happy Holidays to all and maybe you’d like to see one of the films after putting getting tired of all the heartwarming films!