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Well, Christmas is nearly upon us, and in that spirit, I have a few Christmas films lined up to watch. Second on the list (after watching Holiday Inn last weekend) was Miracle on 34th Street – the original 1947 version (although the 1996 remake is on my list too). Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a department store Santa, who insists that he is in fact the real Santa Claus. He befriends a young woman and her small daughter (Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood respectively), who don’t believe in fairy tales of any kind, but who start to believe that Kris could be telling the truth.  His influence spreads further when he encourages the large department store where he is employed (Macy’s in NYC, where the store scenes were actually shot) to be more altruistic and enter into the true spirit of Christmas.  But then the authorities get involved, and Kris has to take his case to Court to try and prove that he is who he says he is…

It’s easy to see why this film has become a Christmas classic! It’s one of those films that appeals to people of all ages, and really makes you want to believe in Santa! Edmund Gwenn is terrific as Kris Kringle, who may be the real Santa, or may simply be a nice but delusional old man. Maureen O’Hara was beautiful and brilliant as Doris Walker, and nine year old Natalie Wood shows that the acting talent and beauty that she had as an adult was also there as a child. John Payne rounded out the main cast as Doris’s neighbour, lawyer Fred Gailey, who not only falls for Doris, but also agrees to represent Kris in court.

The ending is lovely (but I’m not giving anything away).  This is definitely a movie to watch with a mince pie and maybe a glass of mulled wine in hand!  Just lovely.

Year of release: 1947

Director: George Seaton

Writers: George Seaton, Valentine Davies

Main cast: Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne

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Click here for my review of the 1994 movie.

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This romantic comedy teamed up the ever charismatic Cary Grant, with the beautiful Ingrid Bergman.  Bergman is Anna Kalman, a successful actress in London.  When she meets Philip Adams (Grant), a successful diplomat, the attraction is instant and the two embark on a passionate romance.  But Philip has told Anna a big lie, and when she finds out, she plots her revenge…

This year I have become a huge fan of Cary Grant – I love his effortless debonair charm, his gorgeous unmistakeable voice, and the visual humour he brings to his roles.  Here, he is on top form and perfectly suited for the role he plays.  Ingrid Bergman is also terrific – and beautiful – as the feisty and passionate Anna.  The first half of the film is more of a romance, but there is plenty of comedy in the second part, with one scene of Grant attempting a dance which he has no idea how to do (and which is shown in the clip I’ve posted) being an absolute delight.

The supporting cast are great, being mainly Phyllis Calvert, as Anna’s sister Margaret, and Cecil Parker, who was fantastic as Alfred, Margaret’s husband.

There are no deep messages in Indiscreet; it is simply a lovely looking movie with lovely looking and very talented leads, who have amazing chemistry together.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely recommend it.

Year of release: 1958

Director: Stanley Donen

Writers: Norman Krasna

Main cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Phyllis Calvert, Cecil Parker

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Todd McCray is a developmentally challenged young man, but he has a happy life with his loving parents, George and Mary Anne, on a farm in rural Kansas. When Todd hears about the local animal shelter campaign to adopt a dog for Christmas, he pesters his parents to adopt a new pet for the yuletide period. It’s not long before Todd starts getting other residents interested in the scheme, and soon the whole community learns a few lessons about giving and sharing.

I loved this book, which I would describe as a fable of sorts.  It is short (176 pages) and a very easy read, which would be suitable for people of all ages. For the Christmas period, it is a lovely festive read which made me feel all warm and mushy!

In his acknowledgements, Greg Kincaid describes himself as a novice to the trade of writing.  If this shows in this book, it is only to good effect.  Rather than wasting time with theatrical and overly dramatic writing, he simply gets on and tells the story.  No spare words are used and none are needed – the story tells itself.

For a comforting read guaranteed to make you smile, this book is ideal – at any time of year.  (There is a film adaptation being made, which I will be watching with interest!)

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 – not for the writing itself, but for the sheer enjoyment of the story.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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