Tag Archives: TOM HANKS

“Must See Animated & Non-Animated Christmas Classics That Defy the Test of Time”

 

scrooge-1951

Here is my list of must see and not so must see movies for the holiday season.

Let’s first look at some popular Christmas movies that didn’t make my list.

-Elf: I really don’t like this movie. Not funny.

-Home Alone Movies: Number 1 is ok. I’m still a little creeped out by McCauley Caulkin.

-Bad Santa: Little too mean spirited for me.

-Christmas With the Kranks: I think it’s a bad movie.

-Scrooged: I like Bill Murray but I just thought he was a little too dark in this one and it didn’t work.

-The Nightmare Before Christmas:  Still not getting it.  I don’t like this movie and in reality Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are pretty much dead to me for what they did to Willie Wonka. Bizarre.

Amazing Animated Films to Watch:

These are all well known greats that are staples during the holidays. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman and A Charlie Brown Christmas are all must see classics with amazing music and stories. You might want to throw in the cartoon Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol too, that has fun songs and is underrated.

Classic Must See Christmas Movies:

Boy do I still miss John Candy. Plains, Trains and Automobiles still makes me laugh to no end. Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd in all their glory in Trading Places is a must see.

Bing Crosby is not a favorite of mine but White Christmas is a good movie.   It’s a Wonderful Life is also a classic but I’m not a huge fan of it.

Another one I really enjoy even though I don’t like the sequels is The Santa Clause. I’m not a fan of Tim Allen but he’s amazing in this great holiday classic.

The original Miracle on 34th Street is still an all time classic.

Now Some of my other favorite selections.

Polar Express:

Ok Ok; I know the animation is a little creepy but this is an amazing story with great music and a spirited performance by Tom Hanks. As time goes on this movie gets more and more respect and I’m glad.

The story of a little boy who is discouraged and who eventually has the meaning and spirit of Christmas restored when on Christmas eve he takes a ride on the magical Polar Express train that goes to the North Pole. And as his heart is restored, he learns that if you truly believe, you will always hear the sound of Santa’s bell no matter what age you are. Cuz that’s the way things happen on the Polar Express!

Nestor the Long Eared Donkey:

One of my favorite Christmas Cartoons that some have never seen.   Nestor is bullied and treated poorly for having huge, long ears and for being ugly. He’s so ridiculed that on a winter night he is thrown out by the owner of a stable. In a blizzard his mom saves him from the cold by covering him but sadly she is gone.   Nestor is helped by a cherub named Tilly who leads him to a magical moment.

It’s an amazing story of love, acceptance, and courage.

The Little Drummer Boy:

Can’t watch this without shedding a tear or two. Another Romeo Muller, Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. classic which is almost 5 decades old. One of the most emotional and epic stories of all time. With an amazing voice cast of Greer Garson, Jose Ferrer and the epic music of the Vienna Boys Choir.

With the anger and pain only an orphan can feel, the little drummer boy Aaron gives the only gift he has to offer to baby Jesus when his animal friend is hurt; his passionate playing on his drum. The true spirit of Christmas is seen in the miraculous recovery of his animal friend, thus restoring Aaron’s heart. Child star Teddy Eccles is very special as Aaron. An amazing film.

Meet John Doe:

This movie was so well received that it’s made several categories in the top 100 all time lists of the American Film Institute. The Library of Congress requested a copy of it to be archived and it was so popular it became a radio program. Meet John Doe has it all.

The iconic Frank Capra was known as a very sentimental director. This movie was said to be for the gentle every day person. With a young Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan and Edward Arnold leading the cast, this is one of my all time classic movies at any time of year.

A struggling newspaper makes up a story of a homeless man who wants to commit suicide on Christmas due to the state of the country. People have become jaded and divided, but thousands are so moved by John’s threat that John Doe clubs all over the country are created to promote good will and kindness towards your neighbor. When John Doe finds out that big business corporations want to use the John Doe clubs for political support to get their man into the white house and make more money, he tries to tell the truth but people turn on him and he’s considered a fake. In a state of depression on Christmas eve, he finds out the true meaning of Christmas through the love of his friends and the knowledge that the spirit of every day people will never allow the John Doe’s of the world to be forgotten.

Twas the Night Before Christmas:

This is another animated cartoon that many have not seen. When a know it all young mouse writes Santa a nasty letter saying he doesn’t exist, Santa no longer wants to come to their city. The father then thinks a gift to Santa will help restore their relationship. His son again messes things up but he realizes the importance of Christmas and grows up. He helps save the day and Santa is touched by their gift and all is forgiven.

The songs are fun and upbeat and it’s a fun short film to watch. George Gobel narrates and Joel Gray recites the famous poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The Year Without A Santa Clause:

Heat Miser and Cold Miser; Santa; a feisty Mrs. Clause. This is a cult classic for any animated fan of Christmas. The songs alone are worth the watch. Kids of all ages will love this timeless classic!

A Christmas Story:

It’s hard to find a movie that touches the heart of the kid in all of us like a Christmas Story.   For the 19th year, TBS/TNT will play this movie for 24 hours on Christmas eve through Christmas. There were 2 years that they played this for 2 days straight! This is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time that teaches the kid in us how to survive in the adult world during Christmas. Someone bought the house and made it into a museum. And it is beside Meet John Doe in the National Library of Congress.

http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/

Tongues stuck on light polls, bullies, a little brother who wont eat and Darren McGavin as a father that is hard on the outside but as soft as a marshmallow inside. And never forget to remember to be careful; or you will SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!

Scrooge:

Most movie historians, movie buffs and fans almost all agree that the 1951 version of a Christmas Carol called the Scrooge is the greatest of them all.  (In the UK it was called Scrooge; in the U.S. it was called A Christmas Carol).

Scrooge was one of the most popular and best pictures in the UK in 1951. Due to the more darker nature compared to other Christmas Carol movies, the U.S. studio’s did not feel that Scrooge was positive enough for the American audience and it got mixed reviews. In time though it has become a fan favorite of many a household around the world.

Alastair Sim is purely magical in his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in one of the most memorable Christmas movies ever. He can make you hate him or cry for him. His emotional scene going to dinner at Fred’s is below.

There you have it.   My list of must see Christmas movies.   If you haven’t seen some of these movies, make sure you give them a try. They may become Christmas classics in your household too. Merry Christmas and God Bless us; everyone.

Advertisements

“Bob Wilkins Blazed Trails and Helped Introduce Anime to the U.S. and Made Creature Features an Institution”

bob wilkins 4

“Bob Wilkins Blazed Trails and Helped Introduce Anime to the U.S. and Made Creature Features an Institution”

I write this in memory of the great Bob Wilkins who was the host of a Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area television institution, Creature Features.  Most areas in the country had shows like this but none were as influential as the great Bob Wilkins version.  He had a massive following which included fans like Tom Hanks, George Lucas, & Vincent Price who he would occasionally interview.  It was shown on Saturday nights after the news.

Creature Features was created by Bob and it was originally shown in Sacramento KCRA television, until he was wooed over to Oakland’s KTVU in 1971.  KTVU was a hip station that liked to try new and different things and the match was made in heaven.  Every 70’s and 80’s kid loved it and creature feature reruns were very popular in the 80’s and 90’s.

Bob Wilkins Interview with William Shatner

Creature Features on KTVU regularly had higher ratings in the bay area than the wildly popular Saturday Night Live which was in its heyday.  In time, Mr. Wilkins was credited with introducing Anime to the US television and movie viewer, showing things like Ultraman and other Japanese productions.  He was famous for his Godzilla and monster movie genre that he liked to show as well, along with Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robots.

The other networks laughed when Bob started showing the Original Flash Gordon series from the 1930’s in between the movies and he even showed the first Batman Series from the 1920’s called the Bat-Man or Dark Knight which was actually silent.  From Ed Wood movies to campy horror films, Bob would fearlessly show them all and his eager audience gobbled it up like freshly buttered movie popcorn.

Bob’s famous saying was, “Watch Horror films; keep America Strong!”  The funny thing was every nutcase would call Bob.  Many people claiming to be zombies, witches, warlocks and even a vampire would contact Bob.

A man claiming to be a real life Vampire once called him at the station and asked if he could be interviewed.  Bob agreed and told him to meet him at the studio the next day at 2 pm.  The vampire agreed.  Bob said, “Aha!  I’m not going to interview you.  How is it that you are a vampire and you want to meet in the middle of the day?”

Bob also would “warn” his fans if there was a bad movie.  In the promo’s for some of the bad movies he showed, he would literally say, “get some sleep tonight and don’t stay up late and watch our movie.  We have a real schlocker (bad) of a movie tonight with Billy the Kid versus Dracula.”  He would hold up signs showing the ratings of the bad movies with the letters PU.  Of course the more he ripped on the movie, the more viewers had to watch.  After the end of Jessie James meets Frankenstein’s daughter, he wiped tears from his eyes saying, “There isn’t a dry eye in the studio; that was a real tear jerker; or the worst movie ever seen on television!”

Bob’s sarcasm was way before it’s time, and he would show films that no station in their right mind would run.  Classics like Ed Wood’s Planet 9 From Outer Space and the Japanese cult classic, Attack of the Mushroom People were fan favorites.  Attack of the Mushroom people was barely released in the U.S. and he gained many Japanese movie fans for showing it.

Bob once said the movies were getting so bad that he was going to quit and start an ant farm which had more of a future.  He would also threaten to quit unless people stopped watching.  Of course the ratings went through the roof.

Bob was soon at every convention and gathering and was adored by his fans.  His big cigar and soft spoken, humble nature made him even more loved.  His wit was dry and he was always the coolest guy in the room.

Creature Features also had great movies in between the “schlockers”.  The amazing Planet of the Apes movies, Night of the Living Dead, The Fog, Vincent Price’s House of Wax and so many others were great films.  Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts was a huge hit as well.  He was the first person to give Trekkie news before it was a term and the fans listened intensely with Spock ears fully opened.

If you get a chance, look him up on Youtube.  He was a great interviewer and people called it a badge of honor to sit with Bob on Saturday nights.  He interviewed the likes of Vincent Price, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Harryhausen, and Christopher Lee just to name a few.

Wilkins was so popular that the 10 o’clock news on KTVU begged him to be their weatherman.  He did so but quit after 2 years saying he was kind of bored of it and it didn’t give him the freedom he wanted.  He did win an Emmy though due to a stunt he did when he was bored.

He did a ski report from South Lake Tahoe and put in footage of James Bonds skiing scene from the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service without telling management. The newscasters could not stop laughing and the station couldn’t keep up with the phone calls of people saying how much they loved it.  The news at that time was very dry and straight forward on other networks but it was never a dull moment with him around.

Creature Features was the first television show to ever show the original movie “Night of the Living Dead” and John Carpenter’s classic “The Fog” on television.  KTVU got clearance to show Night of the Living Dead at the delight of the loyal bay area audience.  It was actually filmed in the bay area and it used regular people as extra’s. The movie is a total classic.  It had come out in theaters 3 years earlier and it was unheard of to have a movie shown on television that quickly.

Bob was a loyal guy to the local sports teams and KTVU had a real bias towards the Oakland Raiders.  He also wouldn’t be above giving a jab or two or ripping on a Raider opponent when the Raiders won, which was most of the time.

Bob’s last bay area Creature Features show was in 1987 when he came back to show The Fog.  It was like old times when Wilkins was given a piece of paper in the middle of the show saying that President Reagan had a really important message to give to the people of America and that it was directly from the White House.  Of course it was about 12:30 am in the morning and Reagan was probably either sleeping or on vacation somewhere.

It ended up being a commercial Reagan did years ago for Boraxo hand cleaner.  It was during the Iran Contra scandal, and after Reagan washed his hands and the commercial ended, Wilkins thanked the president for this important message commenting that it was the first time President Reagan had come clean about anything all year!

Bob also did a daytime show called Captain Cosmic geared towards kids and the Star Wars craze.  He dressed up in a space suit type outfit with his trusty side kick robot 2T2.

Bob launched even more Anime productions with the hugely popular Ultraman series, and even showed the kids the old serials like Flash Gordon.  He liked to show Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.  After two years he ended the show because he literally did everything he wanted to do.

Sadly on January 7, 2009 it was announced that at the age of 76, Bob Wilkins had passed away quietly in Reno, NV from complications of Alzheimer’s.  It ended the life of one of the most beloved men in bay area entertainment history.

Thank you Bob for all you did.  My dad worked hard and he used to work nights and it was a Saturday night ritual to mingle with him while he got ready for work during the start of Creature Features.

My mom and I had great memories of staying up late watching the good and bad movies late on Saturday nights right before he left.  A snack, Creature Features and Bob Wilkins was a guilty pleasure that even today makes me smile.  Rest in Peace my friend.  The joy you gave others will never be forgotten, and always be treasured.