Tag Archives: Frank Capra

Alonso Duralde on Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Longtime pal of mine and great critic/pop culture pundit Curt Holman introduces me to many fascinating creative folks through his writing–and he has for years. And every once in awhile he literally introduces me to talented people. The latter is the case with this week’s interview subject: Alonso Duralde, the author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas. Duralde and Holman are old friends–and while he and I have exchanged pop culture email exchanges in the past, this is the first time I’ve had a chance to discuss Duralde’s pop culture work with him. His latest book (published by Limelight) aims to be “the first film guide written specifically for holiday film viewing, including traditional classics alongside more unusual choices of films that are set at Yuletide without being thought of as ‘Christmas movies.’ The guide will spotlight Christmas-themed adult comedies, dramas, action thrillers, foreign films, and horror films—even a documentary—as well as movies for the whole family.” My thanks to Duralde for the interview (and Jamie Scot for his assistance in making this interview happen [as well as my pal Holman]). As a longtime Frank Capra fan (my late father had me watch It’s A Wonderful Life when I was seven), it’s an early Christmas present for me to encounter a critic who appreciates Capra as much as I do. After reading this interview, be sure to check out this preview of the book.

Tim O’Shea: In considering these holiday films are there certain ones you grew to see in a different light, be it more positive or negative?

Alonso Duralde: I was really surprised how politically progressive and bold the two Frank Capra films are. Both “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Meet John Doe” have things to say about corporate greed (and control of the media) and the disparity between rich and poor that are amazingly relevant to 2010 audiences. Capra gets a bad rap for being corny and sentimental, but I think he was making very incisive movies about what was going on in Depression-era America, and his messages remain very timely.

Continue reading Alonso Duralde on Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Merry Christmas: It’s A Wonderful Life

For those of you who observe the holiday: Merry Christmas. For those of you who do not: Sorry about all the stores being closed.

As a child, my family typically went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Most of my family, that is. My father would often attend another mass, typically. And one year, it just so happened that Frank Capra’s 1946 film, It’s A Wonderful Life, was being shown on television. My father offered that I could skip midnight mass if I wanted to watch this film with him, and my father rarely made such offers like this, so I took it. And because my father so clearly loved this film, I grew to love it as well.

I was just reading Roger Ebert’s 1999 essay on the film–and something that Ebert wrote really struck a nerve with me:

“This was the first movie he (Capra) made after returning from service in World War II, and he wanted it to be special–a celebration of the lives and dreams of America’s ordinary citizens, who tried the best they could to do the right thing by themselves and their neighbors.”

There were no shades of gray in my late father’s view of the world. He saw the world in terms of the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. For my father, anything other than the right thing was never an option. Hearing Ebert’s take on Capra’s intent with the film allows a glimpse past the heart-warming surface of the tale. It also allows me to see a little bit more of my father’s thinking, years after his death, through his appreciation of a film.

I keep the memory of my father alive in odd ways, but they are ways that work for me. And hearing George Bailey exclaim “Zusu’s petals” always takes me back to my childhood and my first viewing of the film.