Steve Eighinger

Holiday classics can provide classic lines

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 17, 2019 12:01 am

During the days leading up to Christmas is when I most enjoy re-watching some of my favorite holiday films.

What is most rewarding, at least for me, is noticing a phrase or relatively hidden message I may have missed or overlooked in years past.

Just when I think there could not possibly be anything "new" to hear or see in a classic like "Miracle on 34th Street" or "It's A Wonderful Life," I am surprised.

Here are a few "hidden" gems from popular Christmas-themed films that many -- like myself -- may have overlooked or missed the first time around. Or, in my case, the first dozen times around.

"To me, you are perfect." – This is from one of the many heart-warming moments in "Love Actually (2003)," and is actually a hand-written message from Andrew Lincoln to Keira Knightley. Lincoln, who had a relatively minor role in the hit film, went on to much bigger and better things as Rick Grimes, the longtime star of "The Walking Dead."

"Oh, Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind." -- "Miracle On 34th Street" (1947). No phrase captures pre-Christmas December any better than this film that starred Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. To this day, I can still remember the exact time, day and place I was when I first saw this movie.

"Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." -- Arguably the most-remembered and quoted line from "It's A Wonderful Life (1946)." It was said by Zuzu Bailey (Karolyn Grimes), the daughter of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) at the end of this all-time family favorite. Watch the expressions on some of the main characters' faces. (After all of these years, it's still difficult not to have to reach for a Kleenex when George Bailey's friends are all singing "Hard the Herald Angels Sing" and "Auld Lang Syne" during those emotional final scenes.)

Of course, not every holiday movie is meant to stir those warm-and-fuzzy feelings inside us. Take "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," for example. The 1983 classic gave us Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and the rest of his family -- including Cousin Eddie (Randy ) -- celebrating Christmas. Two of my favorite exchanges:

Clark: "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

Eddie: "Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark."

Or maybe you remember:

Aunt Bethany: "Is your house on fire, Clark?"

Clark: "No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights."

Each holiday season always needs some comic relief -- thanks, Chevy Chase -- but the best part remains those warm-and-fizzy feelings mentioned a few paragraphs earlier.

"I believe ... I believe ... It's silly, but I believe." -- It was a young Natalie Wood, whose Susan Walker character gave us that famous line, also from "Miracle on 34th Street."

And I think that may just be my favorite line from any Christmas film.