Hopefully in my previous holiday post you found a few film titles that you have not yet seen.
In this Tuesday’s edition of Todd Mason’s ongoing series, I decided to scour the film archives of days of yore to find those films that rarely get mentioned nowadays in the mainstream.
It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) This is a more recent discovery of mine; it is a light-hearted romantic comedy. Victor Moore is a New York City hobo who squats in a 5th Avenue mansion, which remains boarded up during the winter months (the owner (Charles Ruggles) moves down South during the winter). This year his plans go a bit awry because he decides to take in a recently evicted G.I. (don deFore) who brings along his war buddies and their families. They are also joined by a teen ‘runaway’ (Gale Storm), who does not disclose that she is in fact the owner’s daughter. Other people come to the house to partake in the ensuing zaniness.
O. Henry’s Full House (1952) This selection is a short film in a series of vignettes based off the works of O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). The story relevant to the Christmas theme is entitled “The Gift of the Magi;” it is the tale of a poor, young married couple who go to great lengths to get the other the ‘perfect’ Christmas present. In the process of doing so, we are all taught a valuable lesson about the spirit of giving. This segment features Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger as the married couple. Overall the film is a good watch especially for fans of O. Henry’s short stories. Another favorite vignette of mine is “The Last Leaf.” John Steinbeck features as the film’s ‘narrator.’
About a Boy (2002) * In looking at Hugh Grant’s acting career, not many would accuse him of being an actor who stretches his talents to their natural limits. That said, I do find him quite entertaining to watch in some films and no place is that more apparent than in this 2002 feature. He plays a foppish ne’er do well (the shock!) who is living off the royalties generated from his late father’s one-hit wonder Christmas song. When his world of joyful ambivalence collides with that of Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a young boy who has had to act well beyond his years. Their crossed paths takes them both on down a road that will irrevocably change their lives. The Christmas holiday is a perfect bookend to the story. Also starring Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz, this is an adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel of the same name.
* Not really overlooked per se, as its global box office receipts were over 130 million.