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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Have yourself a movie little Christmas
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2014-12-03

This article shared 4295 times since Wed Dec 3, 2014
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The primary reason I wanted to make a holiday movie was because my husband and I love them so much. And further, because It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf and most of our other perennial holiday favorites don't have queer characters or situations, I wanted to create one that did. And whether you're a fan of our film, Scrooge & Marley—which is a modern-day variation on Dickens' A Christmas Carol—one thing about our movie ( which I co-wrote and -directed, and which Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim executive-produced ) is undeniable: It's blissfully, joyfully, unabashedly gay.

And for Our People that's made for a fantastic, annual Christmas present since the film's release. Sadly, a queer Christmas movie is just as much a rarity now as it was in 2012—though there are a few on the horizons. A prominent case in point: out filmmaker Rob Williams' endearing, rather sweet 2009 queer holiday movie Make the Yuletide Gay has been popular enough for Williams and his collaborators to embark on a sequel. Now in the Kickstarter fundraising phase, which is ongoing until Dec. 31, the campaign can be contributed to at www.kickstarter.com/projects/robwilliams/make-the-yuletide-gay-2-a-sequel-to-the-hit-comedy. Here's hoping Make the Yuletide Gay 2 appears by next Christmas ( and is joined by many more gay-themed holiday movies ).

For those wanting to get in the holiday movie spirit there are plenty of area screenings to make that happen with the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., home to the city's favorite holiday-movie tradition—It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas ( details below ), taking the prize for the widest assortment of Christmas movies in their December line-up. Jon Favreau's 2003 Elf, starring Will Ferrell in one of his most delightful roles, kicks off the season at the Music Box Thursday, Dec. 4, with a nighttime screening that the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring.

The aforementioned Scrooge & Marley screens on Saturday, Dec. 6, and Sunday, Dec. 7, at noon. The sassy a capella trio The Merry Janes will entertain pre-show on Dec. 6 and songbird Becca Kaufman ( who is featured in the film ) will do the honors preceding the Dec. 7 show. I'll be joined in introducing the film along with members of the cast, which includes gay icon Bruce Vilanch, funny ladies Rusty Schwimmer and Megan Cavanagh, and a bevy of Chicago-based actors. Among them are Out Chicago! radio host/comedian Scott Duff playing the husband of hunky David Moretti, Windy City Queercast's own Amy Matheny, the multitalented Fawzia Mirza, former SNL funnyman Tim Kazurinsky, standup comic Drew Anderson, Make Me a Supermodel's Ronnie Kroell and, last but not least, David Pevsner ( who hails from Lincolnshire ), who stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge & Marley merchandise—perfect Christmas presents all—will be on sale. www.musicboxtheatre.com/events/scrooge-and-marley-entry_date-formaty-m-j-d-entry_date-formathia .

For fans of vintage Christmas movies, TCM and Fatham Events presents a double feature that starts with 1938's A Christmas Carol, with Reginald Owen stepping into the role of Scrooge in this lavish ( courtesy of MGM's production team ) but brief ( only 69 minutes ) adaptation of the Dickens classic. After a brief intermission, Barbara Stanwyck stars in 1945's fun-filled romantic comedy Christmas in Connecticut, in which she plays Elizabeth Lane, an urban career gal whose Martha Stewart-like column about life on the farm with husband and baby is completely fabricated. When publisher Sydney Greenstreet invites himself for the holidays, suddenly Elizabeth has to provide said husband, baby and farm, and prove she's an excellent cook. Handsome Dennis Morgan as a Navy officer provides romantic complications and croons the title song. A pre-taped special introduction by Ben Mankiewicz kicks things off. It screens Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Regal City North, 2600 N. Western Ave., and Webster Place, 1471 W. Webster Ave. www.fathomevents.com/event/tcm-holiday-classic-double-feature/more-info/details .

Then it's back to the Music Box, where the 2014 Annual Music Box Christmas Show plays Dec. 12-25. This 31st edition—the double-screening of 1946's It's a Wonderful Life and 1954's White Christmas—once again features a carol sing-a-long with organ accompaniment. www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/2014-annual-music-box-christmas-show .

For those looking for something a bit different at the holidays, try a double feature of 1988's Die Hard, with Bruce Willis singlehandedly taking down a group of terrorists ( led by Alan Rickman ) during his wife's Christmas Eve office party ,and 1990's Home Alone. The latter stars precocious child star Macaulay Culkin, who has a blast combatting two inept ( and how ) petty housebreakers when he inadvertently gets left behind over the Christmas holidays by his distracted family. This offbeat double-header screens ( where else? ) at the Music Box Thursday, Dec. 18. Here's hoping they'll book Die Harder and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York next year!

Staying home for the holidays? Here are some favorite ( but not as well known ) Christmas movies ( in random order ):

—The Bishop's Wife ( 1947 ): Cary Grant as an angel sent to Earth? Sign me up! I especially love the unintentionally hilarious ice-skating sequence in which Grant's double is patently obvious. The debate over Grant's sexuality rages on decades after his death, unlike the gay sexuality of co-star Monty Woolley ( funny and touching as a Scrooge-like professor who tipples a bit too much and claims to hate the holidays ).

—The Man Who Came to Dinner ( 1942 ): Bette Davis tones it down while gay actor Woolley hams it up, almost chewing the tinsel off the Christmas tree in this typical '40s-era comedy based on the hit play. One can almost see the stage manager cuing the actor's entrances and exits just out of camera range—part of the movie's nostalgic charm. Also, the gay subtext is as thick as a batch of divinity. ( The character of Beverly Carlton, played by Reginald Gardiner, for example, was based on Noel Coward. )

—Christmas Eve ( 1986 ): Ditto Loretta Young in a TV Christmas weepie in which the dying Young is determined to get her squabbling family back together one more time. The gorgeous "Christmas Love Song," which is played throughout ( and which Barbra Streisand later recorded ), is a melodic bonus, as is Patrick Cassidy ( son of Shirley Jones and the late bisexual actor Jack Cassidy ), who plays one of Young's grandkids. Cassidy, who memorably played a closeted soap actor in Longtime Companion, is straight but has been a friend of the LGBT community for decades.

—The Family Stone ( 2005 ): We're here, we're queer, it's Christmas—get used to it! This is gay writer-director Thomas Bezucha's instant new holiday classic: funny, heartwarming, tragic and with Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker and a multiracial gay couple—what self-respecting gay man can resist this onslaught?

( Note: Portions of some of my capsule reviews appeared in an earlier issue of Windy City Times. )

Now available: The Best of Knight at the Movies: 2004-2014—a compilation book of more than 150 of my film reviews from a queer perspective for Windy City Times—is now available and makes a great holiday gift! www.knightatthemovies.com .


This article shared 4295 times since Wed Dec 3, 2014
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