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A Christmas Classic (or not?)

Saturday afternoon, day before Christmas Eve, I watched a Christmas classic movie that wasn’t so classic. I was flipping around the high-numbered channels and the first thing that caught my attention was the familiar cast of colorization. I didn’t tune in at the very beginning, but I think I was pretty close. Where I came in Jimmy Durante was on the sidewalk talking to an old vaudeville buddy and commisserating about the hard times. No money, no place to go, almost Christmas. The poor fellow had been evicted from his place of abode. And so this provides the segue for the first really weak point of the movie. The Jimmy Durante character was a chiseler and a cheat.

He had his wife and daughter right there and he pummelled the poor old fellow with questions about the apartment, looking for a place they could move into for free. “How much is the rent?” ($32) and “How long did you manage to stay there on one month’s rent?” (6 months). So Jimmy set his face toward this promised land, they all picked up their luggage and set off.

It’s quite a plot with lots of high points. Some of them quite fetching, some not so. I’m not going to tell the whole thing. Here is a pretty nice review with all the salient points of the plot. Go there, you should really read it.

Now back to me—I’m kind of surprised I had not seen the film before, but not too surprised. After all, it had certain shortcomings. The Jimmy Durante character did not have the high morals of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). George was hard-working and honest but this guy was lazy and a conman. He was everything that respectable folks abhor.

Wait a minute. That’s just like the characters we are. We should love this movie.

“A Christmas Wish” was made in 1950, the year after I was born. And I confess—I did love it. It was campy, it was too complicated, it was ethically uncomfortable. But I loved it. I will be watching for it next year on the high-numbered channels on the day before Christmas Eve.