Most of these Christmas-themed movies and TV shows have been lingering on my desk for several weeks now, but I just can’t bring myself to write about the holidays until Halloween has passed. Well, it’s November now, so here’s the first round. No doubt there are more on the way.
“White Christmas: Diamond Anniversary Edition” (Paramount/Blu-ray/DVD, 1954, four discs, audio commentary by Rosemary Clooney, vintage TV show excerpts, featurettes, sing-alongs, photo galleries, trailers). Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen star in this delightful musical comedy set against the holidays as they all put on a show for a retired general (Dean Jagger) at his failing mountain resort. Mary Wickes is also on hand for some laughs.
Bonus features from previous editions are all here, along with four excerpts from Crosby and Kaye holiday TV shows (although why the complete episodes can’t be here is beyond me) and a very odd clip of Michael Buble singing with Crosby, courtesy of 21st century technology. An audio CD here is not the film’s soundtrack but rather holiday tunes performed by Crosby, Kaye and Clooney for other Christmas albums. (This set is in support of a $100,000 donation to UNICEF by Paramount and the Kaye Foundation.)
“Christmas Gift” (CBS/Paramount/DVD, 1986). John Denver fans will be delighted to see this TV movie finally receive a home video release. He plays a widowed architect with a young daughter looking into a Colorado town as a potential site for a ski resort but finds himself reluctantly caught up in the locals’ enthusiasm for Christmas. Jane Kaczmarek and Mary Wickes co-star.
“The House Without a Christmas Tree”/”The Thanksgiving Treasure” (CBS/Paramount/Blu-ray/DVD, 1972/1973). “Christmas Tree” is a TV movie that was so successful it spawned three sequels, all four based on stories written by Gail Rock and based on her experiences growing up in 1940s rural Nebraska. The first film has young Addie (Lisa Lucas) at war with her stubborn widowed father (Jason Robards), as her grandmother/his mother (Mildred Natwick) referees. The second film has Robards going up against a neighbor (Barnard Hughes) over an age-old feud, with Addie attempting to mediate over Thanksgiving dinner. (This marks the DVD debut of “The Thanksgiving Treasure.”)
“A Belle for Christmas” (Anchor Bay/DVD, 2014, PG). Family comedy about a widowed father (Dean Cain) of two precocious kids that adopt a puppy, much to the chagrin of Dad’s gold-digging (and dog-hating) girlfriend (Kristy Swanson). Haylie Duff co-stars.
“A Very Merry Mix-Up” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013). This Hallmark cable movie gets a boost from Alicia Witt, very appealing as a New Yorker who leaves her antique shop to meet her fiance’s family over the holidays. But fate has other plans and she ends up with the wrong family, though she may find love anyway. Hmmm. Wasn’t “While You Were Sleeping” also set over Christmas?
“The Christmas Ornament” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2013). Another Hallmark movie, this one about a recent widow (Kellie Martin) who finds Christmas too painful until she meets the owner of a Christmas tree shop who helps her find hope again.
“Lifetime Holiday Triple Feature” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2013, three movies). These TV movies premiered on the Lifetime cable channel last year: “A Country Christmas Story,” about a young Appalachian mountain girl who yearns to be a country singer, with Dolly Parton and Mary Kay Place; “The Twelve Trees of Christmas,” about a Christmas tree-decorating contest designed to save a New York library; and “Kristin’s Christmas Past” has a 34-year-old woman given the opportunity for a redo when she is whisked back to the Christmas she celebrated at age 18.
“Family & Romance Holiday Collection” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2004-12, three discs, 10 movies). Ten TV and straight-to-video movies set in and around the holidays. Among them are “12 Days of Christmas Eve,” with Steven Weber and Molly Shannon; “The Christmas Pageant,” with Melissa Gilbert; “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” with Brooke Burns and Henry Winkler; and “Merry In-Laws,” with Shelley Long and George Wendt.
“A Golden Christmas Triple Feature” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2009-12, three movies). These three straight-to-video films are about unlikely romances facilitated by golden retrievers. Despite their titles, however, each is a stand-alone movie, not part of a series with the same characters: “A Golden Christmas: A Tail of Puppy Love,” “A Golden Christmas 2: The Second Tail” and “A Golden Christmas 3: Home for Christmas.”
“Little House on the Prairie: A Merry Ingalls Christmas” (Lionsgate/DVD, 1974/1981, two episodes). Two Christmas episodes from the long-running “Little House on the Prairie” TV series: “Christmas at Plum Creek” and “A Christmas They Never Forgot,” with Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, etc.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” (Classic Media/DVD, 1964, featurette, sing-alongs, pop-up book). This is the original classic stop-motion animated special that first aired on NBC in 1964, based on the popular song that was a No. 1 hit for Gene Autry in 1949. Here, Burl Ives sings and narrates the story.
“Tickety Toc: Christmas Present Time” (Anchor Bay/DVD, 2014, five episodes, coloring pages; book: “Welcome to Tickety Town”). Korean computer-animated series that airs on the Nick Jr. cable channel is about twins Tommy and Tallulah in a fantastic world that exists behind the face of the Tickety Toc clock. In these holiday episodes they build a giant igloo and help Santa fix his sleigh.
“Duck Dynasty: Duck the Halls” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2012-14, two episodes, featurette). A pair of holiday episodes from A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” show, “O Little Town of West Monroe” and “Winner, Winner Turkey Dinner.”
“Pawn Stars: A Very Vegas Christmas Special” (History/DVD, 2014, one episode, two bonus episodes). The guys from three A&E reality shows -- “Pawn Stars,” and its two spinoffs, “Counting Cars” and “American Restoration” -- get together for the title special, celebrating the holidays Vegas-style. Bonus episodes are “Pawn Stars: Another Christmas Story” and “American Restoration: One Horse Open Sleigh.”