Christmas on TV

People have their favorite Christmas movies for their own particular reasons and often they bring back childhood memories of watching them with their family.

Sara Mills, a Southwest Minnesota State University senior theater and speech communication double major, likes the animated film, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“I watched the old cartoon, the original, every year at my grandparents’ house with my sister and cousins on their old push button TV that they watched until it broke,” she said.

Mills is such a “Grinch” fan she wore a Grinch outfit to school the last week before Christmas vacation.

She prefers the animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” from 1966, “not the Jim Carrey version, although that’s good, too,” she said.

Mills also watched the 1987 Steve Martin-John Candy holiday road movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” as a kid, too.

The movie isn’t exactly family friendly in parts.

“There was a swearing part in the middle, so that’s when we had to go get hot chocolate,” she said.

Candy as a lonely and talkative shower-ring salesman drives Martin’s traveling businessman over the edge who unleashes an expletive-laden rant to a rental car agent.

Mills’ fellow drama club members shouted out titles of movies that have Christmas settings that they enjoyed – “Diehard,” “Reindeer Games,” “Jingle All the Way,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“Diehard” stars Bruce Willis and “Reindeer Games” has Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron in leading roles. “Jingle All the Way” stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a forgetful father who is trying to get a certain toy for his son right before Christmas. It takes place in the Twin Cities. “Edward Scissorhands” and “Nightmare Before Christmas” both star Johnny Depp and are directed by Tim Burton.

Andy Kompelien, an SMSU senior theater major, has a special fondness for “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” because it “reminds me of home.”

Kompelien also admires the 1951 version of the Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Alistair Sim portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in that movie.

Other actors who have played the iconic character include Kelsey Grammer, Michael Caine, Jim Carrey, Albert Finney, James Earl Jones, George C. Scott and Walter Matthau. Jim Backus voiced Scrooge for the animated version starring Mr. Magoo.

Joann Valentin of Marshall’s favorite holiday movie is “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.

According to, the movie is about a “successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.”

“I like the ending,” Valentin said. “It’s so heartfelt.”

Ted Rowe of Marshall said his favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which stars James Stewart and Donna Reed.

The holiday classic depicts a banker, played by Stewart, who is so down on his luck that he contemplates suicide. A guardian angel shows him how that would affect his family and town.

“My favorite scene is when the students are dancing on the gym floor, and it opens and they fall into the swimming pool,” Rowe said.

SMSU hospital management sophomore Danielle Crowell’s favorite viewing memory isn’t a Christmas film, but her family watched it on Christmas Day: “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” After the presents were opened and the food was eaten, the Blue Collar comedians – Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy – were on TV when Crowell and her siblings were about to go home.

“We stayed and watched it for three hours,” she said. “They were so funny.”

Crowell added that by Christmas, everyone was tired of watching Christmas movies.