The Lost Art of the Christmas Movie Season

1977 radiotChristmas is coming, apparently, although to be honest with less than three weeks to go I can’t confess to actually feeling that the festivities are just around the corner- must be something to do with getting old and miserable, ho ho.  I suppose it’ll REALLY hit me that its getting near (and that I have to get busy buying presents) when the Christmas/New Year edition of Radio Times hits the shelves.

Christmas’ of old, and how much a part of it was delving into the treats in the Seasonal TV schedules in the Radio Times, is a subject I’ve written of before, but it was a long time ago on my old blog- otherwise I’d link to it here. Suffice to say in the days before streaming or downloads or DVDs or even VHS, back in the Dark Ages of just three channels on the television, for any budding film buff it was a very Big Deal over Christmas, all the great old and new films being shown. Schedulers uses to put serious effort into themed film seasons over the holidays, like late-night film noir showings or a season of Billy Wilder comedies every night… I think most of my favourite movies were discovered on airings over Christmas’ past. Whenever the Christmas edition of Radio Times was brought into the house I’d hungrily read through the listings at what movie treats were coming up.

All that’s gone now, and while I can’t blame cable channels or streaming channels and the endless parade of movies at the press of a button for ruining Christmas, well, they have certainly spoiled a good part of it. I think the trouble is that with the choice of what to watch being handed over to the consumer and their remote control, the thought and diligence of  those schedules of old has been lost forever. I would love to find a season of film noir being shown late at night over a few weeks in which I could re-watch old faves or discover films I hadn’t seen before, or perhaps enjoy a season of Jack Lemmon films or, well, its pretty endless really, all the themed movie seasons you could come up with. I suppose the modern equivalent is Sky Cinema having a Star Wars channel showing Star Wars movies over and over- that’s about as imaginative as the buggers get these days. Properly scheduling films like they used to is clearly a lost art.

2 thoughts on “The Lost Art of the Christmas Movie Season

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    I also have fond memories of the Xmas R&TV Times. I think I kept buying them until I moved to London permanently, at which point Time Out was my TV guide so they were redundant.

    But as nostalgic as they make me, I’d never go back to those days of TV. Censored films in the wrong aspect ratio with as breaks, on at awkward times of day.

    What we tend to do is consciously program our Xmas: we have a number of lightweight films set aside to view over the break: this year Spiderverse, and How To Train Your Dragon 3 etc. And a curated handful from the shelves as well.

    ‘Build-your-own Christmas viewing’.

    1. Oh yeah, I appreciate I’m looking back with those nostalgia-tinted specs of mine (really should find my other pair of specs).

      I’ve been thinking of selecting a ‘Christmas movie season’ of my own for discussion but I’m really afraid that with how things have been going of late I’d never get around to watching them, but we’ll see. Last Christmas Eve I watched Die Hard and have been meaning to repeat it this year, maybe that will be start.

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