Sunday, December 17, 2017

Classic Movie Man’s Favorite Christmas Movies: 2017 Edition

This is the seventh year that I’ve been picking favorite Christmas movies and it’s getting harder to feature movies that haven’t already been covered in previous years’ blog posts. This year’s group isn’t exclusively Christmas-centered, but all have important scenes set during the holiday season. Enjoy the holiday season and enjoy watching these classic movies!

The Thin Man—1934 The first of the famous film series, featuring Nick Charles (William Powell), a retired detective, and his wife Nora (Myrna Loy) who decide to spend the Christmas holidays in New York (they’re based in San Francisco). When the daughter of a former client, Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) asks Nick to help her find her father, Gilbert Wynant (William Henry), who has gone missing. Even though the evidence seems to suggest that Dorothy’s missing father is guilty of murder, his daughter refuses to believe that he could murder anyone. When Nick discovers that Gilbert himself has been murdered, suspicions turn elsewhere. The true murderer is discovered during a famous dinner party scene, but my favorite scene is the Christmas party that Nick and Nora throw for Nicks’ old friends—a collection of misfits—many of whom he sent up the river as a detective. At the party, Nora says, “Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?” This has to be one of my favorite movie lines of all time.

Myrna Loy and William Powell toast each other at Christmas.


Backstory: The movie was shot in 12 days by director W. S. (One-Take Woody) Van Dyke on a shoestring budget. The film went on to become a huge box office hit that spawned five sequels.


So Proudly We Hail!—1943 This classic stars the three queens of Paramount: Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake as military nurses sent to the Philippines during World War II. After the bombing of Pear Harbor, the lives of the military nurses will never be the same. Onboard a ship during Christmas Eve, the nurses and the rest of the military crew celebrate the holiday. The chaplain (Walter Abel) encourages everyone to have faith, not a mindless faith, but a faith in each other and “our beliefs.” It’s an interesting counterpoint to the uncertainty of war, especially during the time this film was made and released. It’s hard to imagine what audiences in 1943 were feeling as they watched this film and the events depicted were unfolding in real time.

Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake star as
army nurses in So Proudly We Hail.

Backstory: Veronica Lake changed her trademark “peek-a-boo” hairstyle to keep with Army regulations in real life. She let her hair down for her final scene. Paulette Goddard was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, losing to Katina Paxinou in For Whom the Bell Tolls.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—1945 Based on the best-selling novel by Betty Smith, the drama tells the tale of an impoverished family living in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. It’s a coming-of-age story about Francie Nolan (Peggy Ann Garner) who loves reading and school. With a mother (Dorothy McGuire) who washes floors and collects rags to earn money to support her family and an alcoholic mostly out-of-work father, life for the Nolan’s seems pretty bleak. In spite of his irresponsible behavior, Johnny Nolan (James Dunn) is idolized by Francie. Johnny is gentle and indulgent where her mother, Katie, tends to be stern and strict. Because the family is so poor, they can’t afford to buy a tree for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Francie and her brother Neely (Ted Donaldson) get a free tree by catching one that the tree salesman throws there way when he no longer call sell them. The Nolan’s celebrate a happy Christmas with Katie’s sister Sissy (Joan Blondell) and her husband (John Alexander).

Ted Donaldson (Neely) and Peggy Ann Garner (Francie) carry the Christmas tree
they caught on Christmas Eve.

Backstory: James Dunn won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the tragic Johnny Nolan. Peggy Ann Garner won the 1945 Academy Juvenile Award for her portrayal of Francie Nolan. A Tree Grow in Brooklyn also marked the movie directorial debut of Elia Kazan.


Lady in the Lake—1947 This iconic film noir takes place during Christmastime. In fact the opening credits feature Christmas Carols and a set of Christmas cards, which hide a gun underneath. Robert Montgomery stars as detective Philip Marlowe who is hired by a publishing executive Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter, who is awesome, by the way) to locate the wife of her boss, Derace Kingsby (Leon Ames). The film is shot from Marlowe’s point of view, which means we only see Marlowe’s reflection in a mirror or when he is directly speaking to the audience, since in true noir fashion, the movie is told in flashback. Everywhere you turn, there’s a Christmas wreath, tree, or other decoration. There’s even an office Christmas party at the publisher Kingsby owns and where Adrienne works as editor. As Marlowe gets closer to the truth, dirty Detective DeGarmot (Lloyd Nolan) runs him off the road. Having just enough energy, Marlowe calls Adrienne for help. She takes Marlowe to her apartment and declares her love for him; they spend Christmas Day together. After the usual noir twists and turns, the major plot points are revealed and Marlowe and Adrienne go to New York City to start their life together.

Movie themed title credits for Lady in the Lake


Backstory: this was Robert Montgomery’s first film as a director and his last for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he had been under contract since 1929. Montgomery completed the movie nineteen days ahead of schedule, helping to make it a box office winner for the studio.


If you want to check out the Christmas favorites from past years, please click on the links below.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Screening of Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" at the Daystar Center December 9

“Holiday” Series: The Apartment (1960)
Where: Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street
When: December 9, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald


The Apartment (1960) features Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) as a lonely office worker in a corporate insurance company in New York City. In an effort to climb the corporate ladder, he lends his Upper West Side apartment to some influential company managers who use if for their extramarital affairs.

The company personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) discovers what Baxter is doing, but instead of punishing him, he insists on using his apartment too. Enter elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) who Bud has had his eye on for weeks. Bud is disappointed to discover that Fran is Sheldrake’s latest fling when she stands him up on a date. What happens next is nothing short of amazing.


Directed by Billy Wilder and written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, The Apartment won the Best Picture Oscar for 1960 as well as awards for Best Director and Writing.



Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Screening of "Remember the Night" December 5 at the Daystar Center

“Holiday” Series: Remember the Night (1940)
Where: Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street
When: December 5, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald


Remember the Night (1940) is a rarely seen holiday classic features the first screen pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.

Stanwyck is Lee Leander, a shoplifter on trial for stealing an expensive bracelet from a jewelry store during the Christmas holidays. The judge decides to postpone her trial till after the New Year, which means Stanwyck would be spending Christmas in jail. Lawyer, John Sargent (MacMurray) takes pity on Lee and pays her bail so she doesn’t have to spend the holidays locked up. John invites Lee to his mother’s home, where he grew up, which makes a big impression on her. The warmth of Sargent’s family and the magic of the Christmas holiday make Lee take stock of her life.

Directed by the too-often-neglected Mitchell Leisen, with a script by Preston Sturges, Remember the Night features a dream of a supporting cast that includes Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, and Sterling Holloway.



Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Screening of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" at Daystar Center November 18

“Noirvember” Series: Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
Where: Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street
When: November 18, 2017
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) reunites the star’s of Laura (1944), Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in another classic film noir directed by Otto Preminger. The plot concerns a rogue cop, Mark Dixon (Andrews) who goes a little too far when pursuing some crooks and hoodlums. When he accidentally kills one of the suspects involved with gangster Steve Scalise (Gary Merrill), Dixon’s life begins to spiral out of control. Things become even more complicated when Dixon begins to fall in love with Morgan Taylor-Paine (Tierney) the widow of the suspect he killed. Will Dixon be able to solve the case without implicating himself? The film boast a superior supporting cast including, Karl Malden, Ruth Donnelly, and Craig Stevens.


Backstory: Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney made five movies together: Tobacco Road, Belle Starr (both 1941), Laura (1944), The Iron Curtain (1948), and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950). Where the Sidewalk Ends was the last film that Otto Preminger made under his contract with Twentieth Century-Fox.


Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.

Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Field Trip: “Casablanca” November 12 at River East 21


Join the Chicago Film Club, on Sunday November 12 at 2:00 p.m., as we enjoy viewing the 1942 classic, Casablanca on the big screen at the AMC River East 21, 322 East Illinois, Chicago, IL. If you’ve never seen the movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid on the big screen, you’re in for a treat.
You may buy tickets day of screening or order them in advance. Click the link to order. 

Casablanca on the big screen
Date: November 12 at River East 21
Time: 2:00 p.m.

I'll be holding a red "Meetup" sign by the concessions at theater level



Set against the backdrop of World War II, Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick Blaine, the owner of a nightclub in Vichy-controlled Casablanca, whose life changes forever when his lost love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), walks into his club and back into his life. Also starring Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

Honor and Remember our Veterans Today and Everyday

(from left to right) Actors Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable, and Robert Taylor served in the
armed forces during World War II.

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