At the Movies

The title alone is cause to pick this movie for our Thanksgiving weekend selection. This 1942 romance, with Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson is a timeless classic. In fact, Greer Garson always claimed that of all the wonderful movies she made, this was her favorite. Based on the novel by the talented James Hilton, Random Harvest is an emotionally moving movie with several layers. Primarily a love story, it is also a statement about England’s class structure, and the sense of loss and identity during post WWI Britain.

This is a heartfelt movie where you will genuinely feel for the characters and anxiously await the resolution of the uncertain and winding plot. Although some of you may be familiar with this film, I am always surprised at how many people have never seen it. Be sure to have the tissue box nearby – this is a bonafide tearjerker that on this special holiday weekend, will remind you to be thankful for family and loved ones.

One of my readers asked if, for this long weekend, I would post more than one movie. So for today, I am adding another entry – THE classic family Thanksgiving movie of my childhood. Even though this is now understandably marketed more as a Christmas film, I will always associate March of the Wooden Soldiers with this holiday. I can’t imagine many of you haven’t seen this perennial classic  – perhaps some of the younger readers. Having grown up in the pre-VHS and DVD age (not to mention remote control), we were at the mercy of the station programmers and your only opportunity to see these movies was when they were shown on TV. I remember anxiously awaiting this movie every Thanksgiving, as I did It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street at Christmas and The Wizard of Oz at Easter.  In fact my husband still remembers bitterly the Thanksgiving he missed his annual viewing of March of the Wooden Soldiers when his family had to travel over the river and through the woods  to his grandmother’s house (sorry – couldn’t resist) for the holiday. This new version includes both the original Babes in Toyland version in black and white and, even though I don’t like colorizations, an excellent realistic translation in color, that is sure to be more appealing to the younger generation. Though not normally a particularly ardent fan of Laurel and Hardy, this movie is clearly the exception. I loved Stan Laurel’s pod batting abilities and have fond memories of the adorable three little pigs. You can cheer as Tom Tom defeats the evil Barnaby and the bogeymen to reunite with the lovely Bo Peep. You’ll love the climax as the majestic 6 feet tall soldiers make their entry. A rarely discussed tidbit is how Mickey Mouse appears throughout the film, played by a live monkey, in what is essentially his only non-animated movie — and certainly the only one where he is almost unrecognizable. Walt Disney had evidently given Roach permission to use Mickey in the film, though he might have thought twice if he had seen how poor Mickey was going to be represented. Reminiscing now, I’m envious of those families who will be introducing this charming classic to their children for the first time.


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12 Responses to At the Movies

  1. elle says:

    Thank you for 2 recommendations this week. I love both these movies and also have my Thanksgiving memories connected to watching with my sister March of The Wooden Soldiers. We’d squirrel ourselves away in the den and every commercial, I was sent forth on an hors d’oeuvres gathering mission (no microwave popcorn then!) I am thankful for these memories and for a fabulous sister. :-) Happy Thanksgiving and good weekend.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Elle – you’re very welcome and I’m hoping I’ll have a couple more tomorrow as a special holiday treat! Like me, it sounds like you and your lucky sister have wonderful memories associated with this movie classic. Hope you have a good weekend as well.

  2. The Zhush says:

    While not a fan of Laurel and Hardy movies myself as well..I do have such fond memories of The March of the Wooden Soldier…I wonder if this will translate to my children’s tastes…will have to introduce it this Holiday season, thanks for the reminder!

    • quintessence says:

      zhush – it does feel a tad old fashioned but it’s been such a part of our family viewing that my kids never questioned it! will be curious to hear what they think!

  3. I have watched March of the Wooden Soldiers at Christmas time for 40 years. I love Laurel and Hardy, and this movie really says, “It’s Christmas!” to me. I love the weeping Stan Laurel (don’t want to give away the plot). So glad you included it.
    I will have to watch Random Harvest. I have always love old movies, but I don’t know that I have ever seen Greer Garson or Ronald Coleman. They are not on my radar.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Natalie – Greer Garson is so wonderful – if you like old movies, you will LOVE this – please let me know what you think! And the only reason March of the Wooden Soldiers is a Thanksgiving movie for me is because that’s when it was always shown.

  4. Greet says:

    Hi,
    I just wanted to let you know that your blog is amazing beautiful!!! I browsed into it and I immediately subscribed to it!!
    And thank you so much for stopping by today!!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    xx
    Greet

  5. kayce hughes says:

    Thanks so much. I haven’t seen any of these…yet.

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Kayce – you’re in for a treat!! And do also check out Random Harvest from yesterday – it’s a wonderful classic!!

  6. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is such a holiday classic! I find myself pulling out Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticutt and White Christmas this time every year. They just don’t make them better than that!

    Hope your holidays are off to a techicolor start!
    xo Elizabeth

    • quintessence says:

      Hi Elizabeth – love all those as well! I’ll have some more holiday suggestions on At the Movies on Fridays. :-)

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