Area seniors have a free holiday gift - to enjoy some classical Christmas movies, thanks to the Carson Plaza and Galaxy Theatre, part of the Fandango Casino complex. The films go back as far as 1945 and are regularly shown during the holidays. This time it's a bonus for the seniors with showtimes at 10 a.m. Mondays beginning Dec. 3.
First off is "The Bells of Saint Mary's," starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. "The Bells of St. Mary's" tells the story of a priest and a nun at a school who set out, despite their good-natured rivalry, to save the school from being shut down. It also stars Henry Travers, William Gargan, Ruth Donnelly, Joan Carroll, Martha Sleeper, Rhys Williams, Richard Tyler and Una O'Connor.
"Miracle on 34th Street" comes Dec. 10. It was written by Valentine Davies, directed by George Seaton, and starred Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn. The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn), Best Writing, Original Story (Valentine Davies) and Best Writing, Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, losing to "Gentleman's Agreement." This is all about the Macy's Christmas parade and Natalie Wood appears as the child asking questions of Santa, Gwenn.
Next up on Dec. 17 is everyone's classic holiday film, "White Christmas," released in 1954. Starring Bing Crosby again and Danny Kaye it features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the titular "White Christmas." Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen co-starred. It was directed by Michael Curtiz.
The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and Fred Astaire for their third Irving Berlin extravaganza of song and dance - the first two being "Holiday Inn" (1942) and "Blue Skies" (1946).
However, Astaire bowed out after reading the script. Donald O'Connor was selected to replace Astaire, but he, too, had to pass because of an illness. O'Connor was replaced by Kaye. The choreography was done by Bob Fosse, although he was uncredited. Vera-Ellen's singing was dubbed by Trudy Stevens, except in the song "Sisters," where Rosemary Clooney sang both parts.
Then comes "Scrooge," on Dec. 24, starring Albert Finney and Edith Evans. Some seniors may recall Lionel Barrymore's version of this story, based on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." This is a great Christmas feel-good movie. Finney (in age makeup) hams it up with a sense of humor as Scrooge - and with a cast including Edith Evans, Kenneth More and Alec Guinness (as Marley's Ghost), you can't go too far wrong.
Last in the lineup is the classic among classics - "It's Wonderful Life," starring that great mumbler Jimmy Stewart with Donna Reed. It was produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story, "The Greatest Gift" written by Philip Van Doren Stern. It shows Dec. 31, a fitting time for this one.
The film takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II and stars Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose attempted suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) who is sent to help him in his hour of need. The film is told through flashbacks spanning George's entire life and narrated by Franklin and Joseph, unseen angels who are preparing Clarence for his mission to save George. Through these flashbacks we see all the people whose lives have been touched by George and the difference he has made to the community in which he lives.
The movie lost money when it was first released in 1946, but since then it has more than made up in warmth and cheer with millions of viewers.
Movies are shown free on the big screen.