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10 Classic Movies You Can See in Theaters This Month

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December is a very good month for movie lovers—and this year is no exception. In addition to being the studios’ favorite month for releasing potential Oscar contenders (see: La La Land), a bevy of beloved standards are making their way back to the big screen over the next several weeks, many of them with a holiday slant. If you weren’t quick enough to get your hands on a pair of tickets for Rogue One, here are 10 equally tempting alternatives.

1. HOME ALONE (1990)

By now, you’ve probably seen the Wet Bandits take on 8-year-old Kevin McCallister a couple of dozen times. But when was the last time you saw Home Alone in a theater? Chris Columbus’s delightfully sadistic holiday classic is popping back up at theaters big and small across the country, including several Regal and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas.

2. SPIRITED AWAY (2001)

In mid-November, Oscar-winning moviemaker Hayao Miyazaki announced that he is coming out of retirement (again) to make one final film, Boro the Caterpillar (look for it in theaters in 2019). Just a few days later, Miyazaki fans got another treat when Fathom Events confirmed that Spirited Away would be making its way back into theaters across the country in honor of the film’s 15th anniversary. Though screenings were originally scheduled for December 4 and 5 only, a third event—on December 8—has been added.

3. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)

Beginning with his debut feature, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Tim Burton has proven himself to be a master of creating lovable outcasts. Nowhere is this more evident than with Edward Scissorhands, in which Johnny Depp manages to find acceptance—well, some acceptance—despite wielding lethal weapons for fingers. The film is coming back to select Landmark Theatres, including locations in Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Diego.

4. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

As It’s a Wonderful Life prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary later this month, several theaters around the country are paying tribute to Frank Capra’s Christmas classic, which just might be the definitive holiday movie. It will be playing at select Regal theaters on Christmas Eve, and will make its annual return to New York City’s IFC Center from December 9 to December 27, with Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen, in attendance and offering commentary at several screenings throughout the month.

5. GREMLINS (1984)

Six years before he directed Home Alone, Chris Columbus’s semi-dark holiday sensibilities were on full display in Gremlins, which he penned for director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg. If you need a refresher on the rules of what not to do with a Mogwai, several Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas will be showing the movie, including locations in Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Austin.

6. THE ROOM (2003)

In 2003, aspiring superstar Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the awesomely terrible indie The Room. It’s so inexplicably bad that it’s good, and we’re not only still talking about it, but still regularly screening it in theaters nationwide. In December, that includes Landmark Theatres in Denver and Minneapolis.

7. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)

As part of Turner Classic Movies’s commitment to, well, classic movies, they regularly bring classic films back to theaters for special showings. On December 11 and December 14, Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity, which follows the lives of three Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, will be back on the big screen. Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra star in the wartime drama, which won a whopping eight Oscars.

8. THE SHINING (1980)

In addition to being one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino is a bona fide movie geek—and a movie theater owner. At his New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, the lineup is always full of classic films and overlooked gems. And while December’s schedule has plenty of holiday fare to offer—including screenings of Elf, A Christmas Story, Scrooged, Santa Claus: The Movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians—there’s also a very non-yuletide theme: Stanley Kubrick. Throughout the month, the theater will highlight the acclaimed director’s most impressive pictures, including several showings of The Shining toward the end of the month, from December 28 to December 31.

9. ELF (2003)

Grab your maple syrup—Buddy the Elf is headed back into theaters. The beloved Will Ferrell comedy Elf will see some one-off screenings across the country, including at several Alamo Drafthouse outposts (including Yonkers, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Austin).

10. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the world’s most famous midnight movie. More than 40 years after the film’s original release, it’s still a regular late-night fixture at theaters across the country, including Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles, Houston, and Milwaukee. Let’s do the time warp again.

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7 Christmas Movie Sequels You've Probably Never Heard Of
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Whether it's A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or Die Hard, everyone has his or her own go-to Christmas movies. Then there are the holiday movies that have been consigned to the Island of Misfit Christmas Movie Sequels—movies that people don’t love, because they just plain don’t know about. (Though, admittedly, film quality may also often play a part.) Here are seven examples of the latter.

1. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION 2: COUSIN EDDIE’S ISLAND ADVENTURE (2003)

Fourteen years after rolling up to Clark Griswold’s house in a run-down old RV in 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) got a seasonal saga of his own with the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. This time around, Eddie and his family—including wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn, reprising her role along with Quaid) and Ed Asner as “Uncle Nick”—find themselves celebrating Christmas while trapped on a tropical island. Matty Simmons, producer of the other four Vacation movies, wrote the screenplay. He has only penned one movie since, National Lampoon’s Pucked, starring Jon Bon Jovi. (Yes, that’s real.)

2. AND 3. HOME ALONE 4: TAKING BACK THE HOUSE (2002) AND HOME ALONE: THE HOLIDAY HEIST (2012)

You know about Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. You might know about the Macaulay Culkin-less Home Alone 3; it did get a theatrical release, after all. But, zombie-like, the franchise kept shambling along with two TV movies, released in 2002 and 2012. (We’ll be due for another in 2022.) The first, Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House, yet again puts Kevin McCallister (Mike Weinberg) in the position of having to defend his house—actually his divorced dad’s girlfriend’s house, where he’s spending Christmas—from thieves. Those thieves are played by French Stewart and Missi Pyle, the first stepping in for Daniel Stern as the dim-witted Marv.

Though Home Alone: The Holiday Heist opted for a brand new set of characters, the set-up is the same: Christmas, thieves, a booby-trapped house, etc. etc. The thieves this time around are played by Debi Mazar, My Name is Earl's Eddie Steeples, and … Malcolm McDowell?

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY 2 (2012)

Since time immemorial, TBS has captivated viewers with their 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. No such love is given to its 2012 sequel, A Christmas Story 2, probably because no one realizes it’s a thing. This direct-to-video sequel takes place five years after the first movie; Ralphie, having worn down his father enough to get a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle, now has his heart set on a car. The two films have no cast or crew in common; the biggest name in the sequel is Daniel Stern, who cut his Christmas chops on (some of) the aforementioned Home Alone movies. There’s actually an earlier, non-holiday based A Christmas Story sequel, titled My Summer Story (released in theaters in 1994 as It Runs in the Family), that follows Ralphie and his family's summer shenanigans. That one was written and directed by the same people who did A Christmas Story, though since it was made 11 years later, its core cast had to be replaced. Here, Ralphie and his parents are played by Kieran Culkin, Charles Grodin, and Mary Steenburgen, with Christian Culkin as Randy.

5. ELF: BUDDY’S MUSICAL CHRISTMAS (2014)

A year after NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! kicked off the current televised musical trend, the peacock network tried its hand with a new version of Jon Favreau’s modern Christmas classic Elf. OK, Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas isn’t really a sequel—it’s more a condensed mash-up of Elf and its musical adaptation, Elf: The Musical. Oh, and did we mention it’s in stop-motion? Jim Parsons voices the Christmas-loving Buddy, a human raised as an Elf at the North Pole, with voiceover expert (and Jedi) Mark Hamill playing his Scrooge-like father, Walter.

6. SANTA BABY 2: CHRISTMAS MAYBE (2009)

Back in 2006, ABC Family aired the made-for-TV Christmas movie Santa Baby, starring Jenny McCarthy as Mary, a woman struggling with the decision to leave her career as a high-powered businesswoman in order to go back home and help her father with his business when he becomes sick. Oh, and her father is Santa Claus. Santa Baby was so successful that it garnered a sequel, Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe. (Not, in fact, written by Carly Rae Jepsen.) This time around, Mary has to step in and save Christmas when her father has a midlife crisis and an agitator at the North Pole tries to get the elves to go on strike. Just what one expects in ABC Family Christmas movies: labor disputes!

7. RUDOLPH AND FROSTY’S CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1979)

There have been a handful of sequels to the classic Rankin and Bass Christmas special Frosty the Snowman, two of them by Rankin and Bass themselves. The first one, 1976’s Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, involves Frosty’s young friends building him a wife named Crystal. The second is ever-so-slightly more ambitious: One hour and 37 minutes long, compared to 25 and 24 minutes for the previous films, 1979’s Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July involves a plot by the evil wizard Winterbolt to destroy the magic that makes Rudolph’s nose glow. (It was put there by the Aurora Borealis. Just go with it.)

Also present in Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July are: A circus, run by a character voiced by Ethel Merman; an evil carney trying to take over that circus; Santa in a hot air balloon; an evil reindeer named Scratcher; “Reinsnakes”; and a scene where Frosty, Crystal, and their two kids melt to death in the hot Florida sun. Merry Christmas!

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25 Things to Look for While Watching the 24-Hour A Christmas Story Marathon
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You’ve probably seen A Christmas Story enough times that you never really need to watch it again. But watch it you will. And enjoy it, too—even though you know every twist and turn it will take for our young hero Ralphie to finally get his hands on his much-desired Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. (An item he repeats 28 times throughout the film’s 94-minute running time; you could make an eggnog drinking game out of that.) 

This Christmas, when you inevitably tune into catch at least one airing of Bob Clark’s holiday classic during the annual 24-hour marathon, we’ve got a way for you to watch A Christmas Story in a whole new light: by keeping your eyes—and ears—peeled for these 25 blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em gaffes, anachronisms, and other fun facts that make watching the classic film an entirely new experience. 

1. RALPHIE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL “CHRISTMAS.”


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At least it doesn’t appear that way when he gets his Christmas theme—or shall we call it a Chistmas theme—back from Mrs. Shields, who also didn’t notice that the “R” is missing from the word.

2. JEAN SHEPHERD MAKES AN ON-SCREEN APPEARANCE.


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If the voice of the man who brusquely informs Ralphie and Randy that the line to sit on Santa’s lap begins about two miles further back than they had anticipated sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the voice of the narrator, a.k.a. Adult Ralphie, who also happens to be Jean Shepherd, the man upon whose short stories the film itself is based. The woman behind Shepherd is his wife, Leigh Brown.

3. BOB CLARK JOINS IN THE CAMEO FUN.


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Not to be outdone, director Bob Clark pops up in front of the camera, too, as Ralphie’s neighbor, Swede. He’s the guy who seems awfully curious about how Ralphie’s dad managed to snag himself a leg lamp. When The Old Man Parker informs him that it’s a Major Award, Swede responds: “Shucks, I wouldn’t know that. It looks like a lamp."

4. RALPHIE’S DAD IS NEVER GIVEN A NAME.

Over the years, a gaggle of sharp-eared A Christmas Story fans have pointed out that in Bob Clark’s scene, Ralphie’s dad is given a name: Hal. This is because they believed that in the brief exchange between the two neighbors, Swede asks of the leg lamp, “Damn Hal, you say you won it?” But a quick confer with the film’s original screenplay confirms that Swede’s actual query is, “Damn, hell, you say you won it?”

5. SPEAKING OF THE LEG LAMP…


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The continuity folks must have been taking a coffee break during the unveiling of the leg lamp. Watch closely as the amount of packing debris covering The Old Man’s back and head changes from shot to shot. In one shot, his back is covered in the stuff; cut back and there’s nothing there.

6. IS THE LEG LAMP REALLY A LAMP?

In addition to being stumped by the word “fragile,” The Old Man—and the rest of the family—is initially confused as to what the leg’s purpose is. Is it a statue? (“Yeah, statue!”) One can’t blame them, as there’s no electrical cord to be seen. It’s just a leg. Yet, once the lampshade is discovered, the Parker clan is magically able to plug that titillating little fixture right in. 

7. ONE FINAL THING ABOUT THE LEG LAMP…


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After witnessing the moment that Ralphie explains would become “a family controversy for years”—the breaking of the leg lamp—Mrs. Parker balks at her husband’s accusation that she would be jealous of a plastic lamp. But just moments before the “accident” in question, we hear the sound of breaking glass. And lots of it. Plastic doesn’t sound (or break) like that.

8. IS IT TORONTO OR IS IT INDIANA?


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Though the film is set in Hohman, Indiana—a fictionalized town based on Shepherd’s hometown of Hammond, Indiana—parts of the film were shot in Toronto. This becomes apparent in some of the outdoor scenes, such as when the family is shopping for a Christmas tree, as one of the Toronto Transit Commission’s signature red trolley cars zooms by.

9. BOLTS VERSUS NUTS.


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We all remember Ralphie’s reaction when his attempt to help his father fix a flat tire goes terribly awry. But here’s a fun fact that only true motorheads would pick up on: In the scene, Ralphie’s dad implores him to hold the hubcap horizontally so that he can put the “nuts” in it. But the 1938 Oldsmobile that he’s driving actually uses removable bolts. A fact that Shepherd confirms in his narration of the scene when he recalls that, “For one brief moment I saw all the bolts silhouetted against the lights of the traffic—and then they were gone.” Oh, fudge!

10. SCOTT SCHWARTZ IS NOT SCHWARTZ. BUT HE IS.


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Ralphie’s two best friends are Schwartz, played by R.D. Robb, and Flick, played by Scott Schwartz. As if this tale of two Schwartzes weren’t confusing enough, when Ralphie tells his mom that it’s Schwartz who taught him how to drop the F-bomb, Mrs. Parker immediately calls the boy’s mother. But the voice we hear of fictional Schwartz taking a whooping is actually the voice of Scott Schwartz. Got it?

11. SCHWARTZ’S WHEREABOUTS ARE CONFUSING.

Immediately following his unceremonious (and totally false) ratting out of his buddy, Ralphie remembers how “three blocks away, Schwartz was getting his.” In the original story, that may have very well been the case. But the film’s production called for Schwartz’s home to be just a few doors down from Ralphie’s, as we see as the kids walk to school together. Not three blocks away.

12. RALPHIE’S NOT A VERY GOOD LISTENER.


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Ralphie felt understandably ripped off when, after weeks of waiting for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, the first message he decoded was simply an advertisement for Ovaltine. But he’s lucky he could decipher the message at all, because a few of the numbers that he wrote down don’t match the numbers that announcer Pierre Andre broadcast, most notably the last one; Pierre said 25, Ralphie wrote 11.

13. UPPERCASE OR LOWERCASE?


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Perhaps it’s that very error above that made it necessary for Ralphie to decode Annie’s message on at least two pieces of paper. How do we know that? Check out the difference in the “E” in the word “Be.” In the earlier shot, it’s an uppercase E; in the final message, the letter is lowercase. We’re on to you, Ralphie. 

14. FOR A SPORTS FAN, OLD MAN PARKER DOESN’T KNOW SPORTS.


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Though the exact year of A Christmas Story’s setting is never stated, many of its context clues—including the makes and models of the cars we see and the popularity of The Wizard of Oz and Little Orphan Annie—put its year around 1939 or 1940. Yet in the beginning of the film, Mr. Parker becomes irate after reading in the paper that the White Sox “traded Bullfrog.” But the White Sox never traded Bill “Bullfrog” Dietrich, though they did release him on September 18, 1946, which would make this comment six years premature. He also refers to the Chicago Bears as the “Terror of the Midway,” when in fact their nickname is “Monsters of the Midway.”

15. THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS LEVERS.


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Old Man Parker seems to have a lot of non-human enemies—his car, the Bumpus hounds, and a seemingly possessed furnace among them. In one scene, The Old Man yells upstairs for someone to open the damper, which Mom does rather reluctantly. But watch closely when the camera cuts back to the levers, which are in the opposite position as Mom set them just seconds earlier.

16. DIVERSITY AS AN ANACHRONISM.


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By the time A Christmas Story was released in 1983, racial segregation in Indiana public schools was a thing 34 years in the past. But if Ralphie’s story takes place any time before 1949, he would not have had any African American classmates, as he does in the film.

17. THE ROTATING BANANA.


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Hoping to score some extra points with his teacher, Ralphie presents Mrs. Shields with the world’s largest fruit basket. It’s so large, in fact, that its individual pieces of fruit seem to have a mind of their own. Watch the way the banana shifts position each time the camera cuts back to Ralphie.

18. A DRAWER FULL OF UNIMAGINABLE MISCHIEF.


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Ralphie and his classmates are a troublemaking lot. And when they decide to launch a classroom-wide prank in which they’re all wearing a set of false teeth, Mrs. Shields is well-prepared. She’s got a drawer full of pranks past, including a pair of chattering teeth … a gag gift that wasn’t actually invented until 1949.

19. SPEAKING OF TOOTHY ANACHRONISMS…


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In his attempts to make Ralphie’s life a living hell, we get an up-close view of the braces worn by Scut the bully. They’re the kind that are directly bonded to the front of his teeth, a process that wasn’t invented until the 1970s. Until then, metal braces were wrapped around the teeth.

20. THREE-BARREL HINGED GLASSES WEREN’T A THING EITHER.


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After nearly shooting his eye out on Christmas morning, Ralphie steps on his own glasses, revealing them to use a three-barrel hinge connector, which would not have been possible until the 1980s.

21. RALPHIE SHOOTS THREE TIMES, HITS FOUR.


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When Ralphie is forced to defend his family against the rascally Black Bart (in his own imagination), he shoots three bad guys before his nemesis Bart escapes. But when the pile of bad guys is shown with their eyes X’ed out, there are four of them.

22. A VERY BING CHRISTMAS.

On Christmas morning, the Parkers kick back with that most classic of Christmas albums—Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas—in the background. As cherished a tradition as that may be, the album wasn’t released until 1945.

23. A BOWLING BALL FOR CHRISTMAS.


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Old Man Parker is thrilled when his wife gifts him with a shiny new blue bowling ball for Christmas. There’s just one problem: colored bowling balls weren’t introduced until the 1960s. 

24. MELINDA DILLION GETS TOP BILLING.


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Getting top billing must have been quite a thrill for actress Melinda Dillon… until the actual credits rolled and her name was spelled incorrectly!

25. FLASH GORDON GETS CREDIT, TOO.

Keep watching the end credits roll and you’ll see Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless among the names that scroll by. Though it never made the final cut, the credits for an additional fantasy sequence in which Ralphie and his trusty firearm help Flash Gordon face off against Ming remain.

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