What is your favorite Christmas movie? Mine is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the one with Yukon Cornelius, and my mom says you look like him. Not Rudolph she means, but Yukon Cornelius.
KIMBERLY IN PENNSYLVANIA
It’s a little early for Christmas movies, but I appreciate the compliment. Sort of. I mean, Yukon Cornelius isn’t a bad-looking guy per se. But he’s a little chunky, and I’ll bet five bucks he has severe sleep apnea.
I’ll be honest, I would much rather look like, for example, James Bond. But then I suppose looking like Yukon Cornelius is better than resembling the Abominable Snowman, or worse, Dudley Moore.
One of my good friends—for privacy reasons let’s call him Randy Hopkins—went white-haired prematurely. Overnight, Randy was transformed into Santa. All of a sudden, kids were approaching him on the street and asking for Barbie dolls, Batman figurines, peace in the Middle East, etc.
My friend would always bend down and smile at them with this wintery magical look on his face and say, “I’m younger than your mom, you little brat.”
But you asked about my favorite movie. Firstly, you should know that this is a tough question. There are too many good ones to count.
When I was a kid I loved “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964),” just like you do. Especially Yukon Cornelius and the show’s hit song, “Silver and Gold.” Which I will refuse to sing from now on because I am self conscious after receiving your letter.
I also like “Frosty the Snowman (1969).” Whenever I hear Burl Ives sing about Frosty, I am a five-year-old again, drinking turkey gravy directly from my mother’s gravy boat, even though I know that my aunt Eulah will catch me and possibly beat me within an inch of my life using a wet dishrag.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).” It doesn’t get any better.
“It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).” I love this movie, not only because it is a great movie—it could be the best ever made—but because people always said my father reminded them a little of Jimmy Stewart. The older I get, the more I see the resemblance.
And “Holiday Inn (1942)” with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. This black-and-white film is a predecessor to “White Christmas (1954)” and in my opinion, maybe even a little better. Bing is still a youngish man, smoking his pipe like a furnace. And Fred Astaire is one cool customer.
A lot of people don’t realize that Fred Astaire was more than just a dancer. He was an excellent musician. Fred Astaire introduced more classic songs to the American public than any other artist of his day.
Most of these tunes were the kinds of hits that everyone’s grandmother will be singing until the earth ends. Songs like, “Cheek to Cheek,” “Night and Day,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.”
I learned that factoid on cable TV.
Since we’re talking about cable television, it bears mentioning that there are also millions of holiday movies produced by Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network. These corny movies are the holiday-movie equivalent of eating raw Splenda with a snow shovel. Some of them are just plain hokey.
Even so, no matter how you try, you CANNOT stop watching them. Whenever you attempt to change the channel, you discover that your fingers have been paralyzed with holiday cheer.
The movie plots are all same:
A high-powered female attorney (former “Baywatch” cast member) is unhappy with her high-powered life and her high-powered car (Mercedes-Benz GLS SUV). So she travels to her small hometown (“Something-Ville”) for the holidays.
There, she discovers that her car has developed a transmission problem (torque converter with damaged bearings) and can only be fixed by the handsome mechanic (former cast member of “Days of Our Lives”) who is also the town sheriff, a baker, and the mayor.
Reluctantly, she spends Christmas in her hometown, traipsing around town, drinking coffee, and wearing ear muffs throughout each scene even though the movie was clearly filmed in July because she is sweating like a politician in hell.
You’ll recognize the leading man right away because he always wears plaid shirts and is busy bringing up his daughter as a single dad whose wife died during a house fire when, in an act of heroism, she charged into the burning house to save the family dog who, luckily, survived the tragedy and now has three legs and is named the “Triune Dog.”
They fall in love. They live happily ever after. Henry Winkler makes a cameo appearance. Roll the credits. Good night, John Boy.
I advise you to skip these sappy movies because if begin watching one, you will not be able to stop. You will zone out and lose years of your life. And when you awaken, it will be to the sound of nurses who are shouting your name because they’re trying to change your diaper in the rest home.
I need to mention how much I love the movie “Christmas Vacation (1989).” This was the last real holiday movie I ever saw with my father before he passed. He laughed so hard that I laughed at even harder at him.
“Ernest Saves Christmas (1988).” Jim Varney is forever my hero.
I saved one of the best for last. In case you haven’t seen this movie, I won’t spoil it by telling you the plot. The movie is called “Prancer (1989).” And it’s my favorite. That is all I’ll say about it. Except to add that I think you ought to watch it because your buddy Yukon Cornelius strongly recommends it.
It’s finer than Silver and Gold.
Thank you for writing me, Kimberly.
Melissa Williams - November 21, 2019 7:02 am
If you really want to be blessed, watch The Bishop’s Wife. I love it more than It’s a Wonderful Life. I reserve Christmas Vacation for Christmas morning before we go to Waffle House for breakfast. We save Die Hard for Christmas Night. The week before Christmas we do The Christmas Story, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (the original), Christmas in Connecticut, and Amal (so) and the Night Visitor. I guess I’m a Christmas movie fool.😳
Lita - November 21, 2019 7:29 am
*runs off to search for Prancer on Amazon…* 😀
Karen - November 21, 2019 8:00 am
Oh my goodness. Prancer. I love that sweet movie. Whatever happened to that precious little girl?
Julie - November 21, 2019 8:09 am
Uhhh.. ‘Silver and Gold’ was sung by Sam the Snowman. Just saying. Still, you do look like Yukon.
KAT - November 21, 2019 10:33 am
💕Sean, we love all the above movies too! I hadn’t thought about the Jim Varney films in years! And Dear old Burl Ives is the soundtrack of my childhood. My mother played all his folk tunes for us ( 33 rpm vinyl) on our console stereo ! Now I’ll have to watch Prancer. Happy Thanksgiving 💕
Elizabeth - November 21, 2019 11:29 am
What about The Grinch, cartoon version, and a Christmas Carol?
Bud Carroll - November 21, 2019 11:31 am
I had a bear for nearly 40 years – but shaved it all off when I turned 80 a couple of years ago. The white beard got me several chances to play Santa at different kindergartens and playschools. One year, while riding in an elevator, a little boy kicked me in the shin, saying, ‘That’s for not bringing me what I asked for last year.”
Jean - November 21, 2019 11:31 am
thanks for the memories…and Prancer is my fav!
Nancy Rogers - November 21, 2019 11:38 am
Hey, other than the beard and hair color, you do not look like Yukon. Yukon is the coolest though and I can’t stand Hallmark movies!
Leigh Amiot - November 21, 2019 11:57 am
Good morning, Sean,
You’ve gone and outdone Dr. Philip O’Hanlon.
So precious of you to write an entire column in response to Kimberly’s question.
Virginia would be envious. 😀
My annual Christmas movie: The Holiday
Melissa Westberry - November 21, 2019 12:42 pm
My mother- in- law (who now lives with us) LOVES the Hallmark Channel and it’s Christmas movies. Our DVR is down to 68% capacity now because of what she’s recorded since she moved in last January! I avoid the TV like the Plague when she’s watching or recording one of these movies. And here’s the kicker- she watches the same ones over and over as background noise while she reads. She says that way she doesn’t have to pay full attention to the TV and can just listen while she reads and know what’s going on in the movie! She does this in the family den. She has a sitting room and bedroom of her very own but she does this in the den where everyone goes to watch TV. I find myself keeping the house a lot cleaner these days. I even iron my husband’s shirts now. Thank you for listening. You’re a good friend, Sean.
Stop by Cottonwood, AL (5 minutes from the Florida line off 231 South) sometime and meet my daughter, Sara. She’s 35 and has 18q- syndrome. She’s mentally a 4th grader. She won first place and overall in her division this year at the Peanut Festival with her latchhook piece! She completed against non-handicapped citizens and won! She never fails to amaze me! God is good!
Be careful in your travels! Melissa Westberry 334-701-4693
Shelton A. - November 21, 2019 1:09 pm
You left out the Grinch! How, why!? I am in shock (sound of me fainting and hitting the floor).
Phil S. - November 21, 2019 1:54 pm
Sean, all of those movies mentioned in your story are great, and there are many others. My favorite is one you left out: Miracle on 34th Street – not the remakes, which are good, too, but the original starring John Payne, Maureen O’hara, Ed Gwenn, and a 9 year-old child star named Natalie Wood. Can’t wait to start watching as many of those good oldies as I can, wrapped in a cozy blanket of warm nostalgia.
Barbara Zuleski - November 21, 2019 2:21 pm
You are the Best, Cute as Jimmy Stewart, more debonair than James Bond and funnier than Chevy Chase. And It may not be a Christmas movie song but Burl Ives sings a great “Ugly Bug Ball” in Summer Magic, Which I truly Believe, would be right up your Alley.
Mary T. - November 21, 2019 2:29 pm
Elf is my favorite. We watch Christmas Vacation while trimming the tree. I like the ones you mentioned. Hallmark Christmas movies are exactly how you described them!
“T” - November 21, 2019 2:31 pm
Actually it’s “Ernest Saves Christmas,” and I too enjoy it. Thanks for reminding us to watch it.
Keloth Anne - November 21, 2019 2:55 pm
Wonderful memories of my favorite time of the year🎄🎄🎄If you haven’t read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson and it’s a movie — you and Jamie would really enjoy!!! (A favorite) My elementary students and teachers loved and still love it♥️
Dianne - November 21, 2019 3:13 pm
My all time favorite is “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Makes you appreciate and be thankful for what you have.
Martha Black - November 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Love the Christmas movie review. I noticed “Polar Express” (Great movie) or “The Grinch” is not mentioned, but I won’t sweat it like a politician in Hell. And thanks for not saying “crooked” politician, as they all are (I’m an equal opportunist), regardless of affiliation/party, that goes without saying. They just have different depths. As I once told my brother in law when he said he just wanted to vote for somebody that don’t lie, he’d might as well stay at home cause you can’t be a politician without lying a little bit.
So, in the interest of Peace on Earth, let us not discuss politicians & enjoy the season with a good Christmas movie marathon with lots of popcorn & hot chocolate (or cold, whatever, I’m flexible) & lots of other marvelous confections & treats.
Happy Thanksgiving & have a Holy Jolly Merry Christmas!
Martha Black - November 21, 2019 3:44 pm
My favorite Christmas memory EVER is sitting up Christmas Eve and reading the entire book outloud with my son & daughter. We laughed, oh how we laughed!
Dan - November 21, 2019 3:51 pm
Have you ever noticed how many women wear BLACK pants today? Of course the main line thinking is that black pants are slimming and make one’s ass look small. What black pants actually do is identify the women who think their ass is really too big. This is especially true of bathing suits. ALL fat women wear black one piece bathing suits. Only makes them easier to spot.
Melanie - November 21, 2019 3:58 pm
Silver and Gold is now playing in my head nonstop! Thanks alot Yukon LOL Loved your descriptions of Hallmark movies, I couldn’t agree more.
Linda Moon - November 21, 2019 4:38 pm
Which James Bond would you rather look like? There were 7 of them. I learned that factoid on Wikipedia. I think Jim Varney would’ve been a favorite Heroic Bond for me. So, I’ll find “Ernest Saves Christmas” and watch it. It might become one I’ll watch every Christmas Eve, right after I’ve watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the 40-50th time with my wonderful husband who would never let a Christmas go by without Jimmy Stewart and that LIFE he returned to with the aid of Clarence!!
Leigh Amiot - November 21, 2019 4:41 pm
Here’s a column you might enjoy reading: https://seandietrich.com/waitress-2/
Lou Toothman - November 21, 2019 4:48 pm
“Prancer” – probably my favorite. Sam Elliott has nothing to do with it. But my all time favorite – “November Christmas”. Again, a Sam Elliott movie. get the tissues, you will need them.
Lou Toothman - November 21, 2019 4:51 pm
The Bishop’s Wife, soooo good. Cary Grant and David Niven. Agree.
christie - November 21, 2019 5:30 pm
side note, the reindeer from Prancer were from a North Alabama farm!
Tim House - November 21, 2019 6:59 pm
Yes, Prancer is a great movie! And thanks for the vicarious memories. 🙂
Richard C. - November 21, 2019 7:09 pm
You nailed it on the plot line for all of the holiday movies. You just saved me from 2000 hours of staring at the boob tube. Is it okay to say “boob” on your Blog? Boob Blog, now that would be a good title for someone to use. Happy Holidays to you coming soon.
Gail Eaves - November 21, 2019 7:11 pm
I love most of your list, too. How could Prancer not be good? Sam Elliot is in it. Is there really a reindeer also?! 😳
Gail Eaves - November 21, 2019 7:12 pm
Love November Christmas also
Suzanne Hill - November 21, 2019 7:51 pm
Would someone please send me a copy of Sean’s November 18th article? I deleted it! email@example.com Thank U!
Melissa Williams - November 21, 2019 8:41 pm
Suzanne, just sent it . If not in your inbox, check your junk mail.
Rebecca Souders - November 21, 2019 10:26 pm
Thanks for mentioning the sweaty actors in the Christmas movies. My favorite flub is all the trees that are completely leafed out but sprayed with “winter.” Yikes.
Marylin Anderson - November 22, 2019 5:26 pm
Sean. I enjoy watching Christmas movies, even on Hallmark. What is sad is that NONE of them mention the birth of Jesus, the REAL reason for the season. Merry CHRISTmas, everyone.
Robert Chiles - November 23, 2019 1:22 pm
Every Christmas for the past 30 years we gather to watch “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” with Denholm Elliott. (A TV movie) It came out on the Christmas our daughter was born.
cabin78 - November 23, 2019 8:45 pm
Your take on the Hallmark/Lifetime movies is spot on and hilarious! I admit it, I am addicted. 🙂
Sheri Smith - November 28, 2019 4:03 pm
I hope I can suggest another movie for you to check out. It’s called Angel in the House. It’s a very sweet movie. Just check it out if you like.
Gale Smith - December 17, 2019 6:06 am
It’s a Wonderful Life is my fav.
Vanessa - December 17, 2019 1:29 pm
Our family loves “Muppet Christmas Carol.” I have never liked the Muppets, but this version is meaningful and hilarious! The songs are so memorable you’ll find yourself humming them in July. Give it a try this season. And God bless us every one…
John Wikle - December 17, 2019 1:37 pm
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold
Shanan Att - December 19, 2019 10:58 am
One Hallmark movie with a different plot now on Hallmark Drama. November Christmas. Fantastic. Melts your heart.