Home > Uncategorized > Sunday Screening #6: Live in Austin, TX

Sunday Screening #6: Live in Austin, TX

A big reason that I wanted to create Sunday Screenings, was because I missed the conversations about movies that I had with friends at film school.  To create a community of people who wanted to watch movies and then discuss what those movies meant to them.  Because of this desire to create a community we have relied on user input when choosing the next film, that is not going to be the case for Sunday Screening #6.  We hope you don’t mind, but we have decided to select the film between Nate and myself.  One of the reasons we have done this, is that I saw that The Paramount Theater in my town of Austin, TX is doing their yearly Christmas Film Series, which allows me to host a LIVE Sunday Screening at one of the more storied theaters in the nation.  A big reason this site is a site, is to bring people across the nation together, so I know that not everyone will be able to attend.  I do hope to get a group of Austin based Screeners involved, but feel free to come from anywhere if you want to check it out. The film will be Miracle on 34th Street and tickets and information can be found at the Paramount Website

I hope to see as many people there as possible, and if you can’t make it to The Paramount that night, I hope you enjoy watching this Christmas movie with people that are important to you where ever you are.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Ryan S.
    December 14, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    We’re going to try very hard to make it. Great idea!

  2. December 14, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    Remarkably, a theater in Harrisburg is also showing Miracle on 34th Street on December 20th. Unfortunately, I’ll be arriving in Harrisburg two days after that.

  3. December 21, 2009 at 12:18 AM

    When I was living with my parents, or visiting around Christmastime, a large part of my time is spent avoiding certain Christmas music/movies. My family’s tastes in holiday fare divert quite strongly from mine. It’s more likely that I’m more cynical than them, but I also have a distaste for the sort of treacly entertainment Christmas is responsible for. I’m pretty sure this aversion is why I hadn’t seen Miracle on 34th Street, though I was fairly certain I had because everyone knows the famous ending and Natalie Wood pulling on Santa’s beard. I always thought Miracle on 34th Street was going to be some meditation on the meaning of Christmas/the importance of Santa, but I was incredibly wrong.

    Certainly, it’s appropriate for kids, as Paul mentioned in a Tweet, but it doesn’t pander to them. It’s a real story for adults that is about the nature of belief and an examination of motives. Macy doesn’t care about Kringle’s real motivation for being in the Christmas spirit, he just discovered pushing non-consumerism is good for consumerism. Sawyer wants to commit Kringle because Kringle didn’t take the psych test completely seriously and not because Kringle really should be locked up.

    And Sawyer is a fantastic despicable character because his reasoning is so specious. He’s so easy to hate and I love that he was fired with 20 minutes left in the movie instead of the obligatory comeuppance to cap the film off.

    I really liked how Judge Harper really had it in his own interest to rule that Kringle was the real Santa (again with ulterior motives). It gave the courtroom scene an added layer that really paid off and gives the judge reason to hear as much from Gailey as possible, regardless of objections. Plus, the judge is a great character.

    It’s remarkable for a Christmas movie to be nominated for any Academy Awards, let alone win them, and each one is completely deserved. The script is fantastic and Edmund Givens is one of the best Santa/Kris Kringle’s I’ve ever seen, if not the best. And, boy, was his beard well-coiffed.

    Finally, here are some thoughts and things I really liked:

    It was a very pleasant surprise to see Thelma Ritter pop up (she’s the nurse/masseuse in Rear Window). However, looking at the IMDB page, what did it take to get credited in this movie?

    I enjoyed the conspiracy against Doris and Susan’s rational outlook on life.

    Old movies love playing the drunk for comedy (exception: The Lost Weekend).

    This would be a decent, non-religious companion with A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    “As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.”

    “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.” — I’d always wondered why my mom always said this and I think I have my answer.

    Newspaper headline — “Kris Kringle Krazy? Kourt Kase Koming ‘Kalamity’ Kry Kiddies”

    • December 22, 2009 at 10:32 AM

      I felt that we missed part of the Judge Harper storyline, it just felt like there was a better explanation as to why he and Fred Mertz were so worried about his appearance in relation to this trial, but that it didn’t make the screen. It wasn’t distracting as much as it just felt like something got cut for time.

      That song creeped me out…but not as much as all the ‘K’s in the headline.

      I felt that this movie was really made much better for me specifically because of the audience. Hearing the kids laugh (especially at some of the more adult humor) was pretty amazing. I really dug seeing the movie with more of a crowd, and I hope this is something that I’m able to work into future Sunday Screenings.

  4. December 22, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Erin and I braved the crowds yesterday to visit The Paramount Theater. This isn’t just any old theater mind you, this is a 90+ year old movie house. The Paramount was one of the few movies that presented Casablanca in it’s original run. This place is movie history. We parked nearby, luckily it wasn’t a busy day in downtown Austin (traffic-wise), and walked to the Box Office. We had to wait while the lady in front of us complained that she couldn’t figure out how to order tickets online in an attempt to get cheaper tickets, but the Box Office Attendee kindly told her that she would pass the issue along to their IT staff to have them follow up on it. Luckily my procrastination buying tickets wasn’t a problem (capacity at The Paramount is 1500, and it was at least 1/2 empty). We purchased the normal movie necessities (Popcorn and soda, or course) and headed into the theater. As we took our seats, I noticed the audience was a good mix of different age groups, varying from quite young children to the elderly.

    As the movie started my first thought, which I whispered to Erin, was that some old couple was about to get “shooshed”, because I have no problem being the one to request silence during a movie. Luckily their chattering died as the credits faded out.

    One of the first things that I thought of as the movie played out in front of us was how much did Macy’s pay for the promotion? But that is besides the point. What really matters is that this was a really enjoyable movie. I’m not a Christmas person, I don’t really remember ever really caring about the holidays, and as such I don’t like most of the standard holiday movies. I mean, I like It’s a Wonderful Life, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a Christmas film, even though Christmas does play into the movie. I went into Miracle on 34th Street not really expecting to like it because of my aversion to Christmas movies, but was happily surprised with the film. I have to admit that I fall into the category of the ‘before’ Doris, seeing holidays as more of a time to be let down then to celebrate. I thought the movie did a good job trying to explain the good of the holidays, and I think that the concept of fighting consumerism at this time of the year is something that someone should probably pick back up, although I’m sure that getting that kind of story out to the public will be hard to do seeing as product placement and advertisement is the thing that gets movies produced, but I’d like to see a modern take on Christmas as something less commercial and consumerized. At times Maureen O’Hara’s acting was a bit sketchy, but overall I thought the performances were convincing. Especiall Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. I felt the movie was engaging and interesting, especially condsidering it’s age.

    • December 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM

      I’m so used to Macy’s association with Christmas that I didn’t even think about how much they paid (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nothing in 1947).

      That’s great that the experience was so fun. I would have loved to be there.

      It’s interesting that you feel that holidays are a time to be let down. Maybe it’s because I’ve been living away from my home and family/friends for a few years now, but I only really look at it as a time to be with the aforementioned family/friends. Everything else can be pushed to the backburner for all I care (though, in my family, that would never happen since Christmas decorating is something my parents love doing).

      And I didn’t think that Judge Harper was missing anything. Maybe it’s because I’m used to storylines of judges having political aspirations. I thought that it added a lot to the story, also, so I guess I focused more on that aspect than the possible underdevelopment.

      And I have no idea what song you are referring to that freaked you out.

      • December 24, 2009 at 10:41 AM

        Macy’s has just recently moved to the Austin area, and don’t really have the foothold here that they do up on the East Coast, although we do still get footage of their parade (haven’t seen any drunk Santa’s yet though).

        We might have to try and work on another live one at some point in the future. Maybe get a big group to meet up somewhere interesting for something. Maybe The Alamo Drafthouse will do another of their cross country Roadshows and we can pick a couple of dates to make it to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Drafthouse_Cinema#Rolling_roadshow

        The Judge Harper thing was pretty minimal, it didn’t hurt the movie at all, but it just felt like there was maybe a scene they had omitted.

        The “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.” song was the one that creeped me out. I guess I’m just not down with jigs.

  5. johnwm1
    December 23, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    A little late to this screening, but I wanted to echo everybody’s sentiments here and say how much I also love Miracle on 34th Street. It’s a tradition in my family to watch this every Christmas if we can. I can say that having watched it countless times, it absolutely never gets old.

    I feel I know most of the movie almost by heart, but yet I’m always surprised and entertained by what happens. I attribute this not to amazingly poor memory on my part, but rather the film’s nonstop cleverness in the dialogue, characters, and the situations they get into. It’s one of those movies that works so efficiently and so well that nothing would be improved upon if a scene was added or removed.

    For me, the movie’s “message” is encapsulated in Fred Gailey’s line: “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” I think this is such a universal sentiment that it transcends the Christmas setting of the movie. I also have an aversion to Christmas-y things (mostly Christmas music), so I’d have been disappointed if the movie was just about appreciating a holiday or tradition for it’s own sake. Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas movie, but it deals with things way outside of that narrow framework.

    Performances are stellar all around; both the main and supporting characters really nail comic and dramatic timing perfectly in a movie that deftly mixes both. A true parade of wonderful character actors (Thelma Ritter, Porter Hall as Sawyer, Philip Tonge as Shellhammer). And Edmund Gwenn IS Kris Kringle, as far as I’m concerned.

    Fred “proving” the existence of Santa Claus through the U.S. Postal Service is simply genius on the part of the filmmakers. When I first saw this, I vaguely remember thinking, “How the heck is he going to pull that off?” It’s a line of reasoning that actually has logic to it.

    I also appreciate the movie’s refreshing streak of reality, from Doris’ divorced status and skepticism, to the consumerism and competition of Macy’s and Gimbels, to the conversations between Judge Harper and his political adviser, and even having Kris committed to a mental hospital. All this adds much nuance and depth to what could’ve simply been a mild, light diversion. Thanks to the themes it explores, it’s much more than that.

    I agree that this film has a timeless quality to it. That’s great to hear Paul that the kids at The Paramount Theater found the film funny. That’s some real movie magic at work right there.

  6. December 24, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    As a general pragmatist, I kind of balked at the “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to” comment. It definitely sums up the movie, but I’d rather rephrase it my own way, probably because I’ve heard so many similar arguments from uber-religious types.

    One thing that impresses me about the movie is, with a few minor tweaks, the story would work completely out of the Christmas season, but still maintaining all the characters as is. The only problem is that it would be tough to have the thousands of letters to Santa ending.

    Also neat about the film is that the day was saved by a mail room employees whim and not by a last second dash of brilliance by Gailey (though he certainly had something to do with it).

    • December 24, 2009 at 10:57 AM

      Do you think that the script was written by a guy who spent a little too long in the Fox mailroom? That would be awesome if he somehow came up with the concept while sorting the bosses mail.

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