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4 Days to Christmas: The Classics of the 1980s

December 21, 2012

By John C.

A Christmas Story DVD CoverWe are now just a few days away from December 25th, and are continuing our Christmas Countdown by decade.  Yesterday was the 1970s, so you know what today is.  The 1980s were an interesting decade for Christmas classics, that produced numerous holiday favourites.

Cue the chorus of “you’ll shoot your eye out,” because the first film on our countdown list is A Christmas Story (1983).  The classic film about little Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) who wants a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas, is filled with memorable characters and is as heartwarming and hilarious as it is quotable.  The wonderful screenplay by Jean Shepherd is funny, sweet and suitably nostalgic – sometimes all at the same time, making this a classic that continues to entertain with every repeat viewing.  And now we switch gears completely for the next film…

Die Hard DVD CoverFive years later, we got a different type of Christmas classic in Die Hard (1988), a tense thriller that starred Bruce Willis in his iconic role as the foulmouthed Detective John McClane.  When the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles and everyone inside is taken hostage by the terrifying criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), it’s up to John McClane to take down the terrorists and get to the top of the building to rescue his wife (Bonnie Bedelia).  This is a violent and exhilarating action film that takes place on Christmas Eve, set to an excellent soundtrack of holiday songs.

The same year also saw Bill Murray’s fine performance in Richard Donner’s offbeat cult classic Scrooged (1988), yet another take on the classic Charles Dickens story.  Now we switch gears again…

Christmas Vacation DVD CoverWatching Christmas Vacation (1989), it’s clear that the screenplay was written by the great John Hughes.  This is a hilarious and sometimes completely outrageous comedy that also allows for a few genuinely sweet moments.  Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswold, a bumbling but honest man just trying to give his entire family a nice time at Christmas.  Just when you think things can’t get any funnier, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) shows up.  Watch this one now, and you will spend the rest of the days leading up to December 25th quoting the ridiculously funny dialogue.

The Snowman DVD CoverThere have been many stories over the years of snowmen coming to life on Christmas Eve, but perhaps the most enchanting of them all is Raymond Briggs’ Oscar-nominated classic The Snowman (1982).  The story of a boy who builds a snowman on Christmas Eve and is taken on a delightful journey to the North Pole, this is a beautifully animated short film that easily allows us to forget the fact that it is largely free of dialogue.  The music carries it every step of the way.

The decade also saw two other TV classics, with the amusing cartoon Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper (1982), as well as the heartwarming and funny A Garfield Christmas Special (1987), which is another favourite to watch from year to year.

The 1980s saw plenty of Christmas classics, and come back tomorrow when we take a look at several holiday favourites from the 1990s…

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