Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Magical Christmas Movie Music

White Christmas photo White_Christmas_zpsc4860731.jpg The Muppet Christmas Carol photo TheMuppetChristmasCarol_zps280d97ee.jpg
The Polar Express photo ThePolarExpress_zpsadc4cd7f.jpg Meet Me In St Louis photo MeetMeinStLouis_zpsbc31dce7.jpg
Clockwise: The covers of soundtrack albums for 'White Christmas", 'The Muppet Christmas Carol', 'Meet Me In St. Louis' and 'The Polar Express'.

While I tend to focus on Broadway shows and performers on the blog, I have certainly never shied away from the talented singers and performers from the great movie musicals. After all, many of the great films started life on the stage. And since is is a very special week, I thought we could revisit some very special movie moments. And, with Christmas just one sleep away, I thought a look at some magical Christmas musical memories was in order. I will begin with a memory that I still hold dear. You see, I remember watching the movie 'White Christmas' with my family when I was quite young. The 1954 film starred Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen as entertainers and love interests. This was the second film to use the song written by Irving Berlin, the first being 'Holiday Inn' from 1942, another charming film starring Crosby. The storyline is somewhat similar, although the latter one incorporated more musical numbers and patriotism, and was shot in glorious technicolor. The following clip is from the film, with Bring Crosby singing "White Christmas" in the film to his fellow soldiers while serving overseas. This is Crosby singing "White Christmas".

If anyone caught my reference in the opening paragraph, it would reflect this next memory. While it might not be from a film more than 50 years old, it is more than twenty years old. 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' was released in 1992, a retelling of the great classic by Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol'. The film was a mixture of muppets and live actors, with actor Michael Caine playing Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Muppets making up a majority of the cast. The film had original music by Miles Goodman, and the songs were written by Paul Williams. My personal favorite of the soundtrack is when Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog, sings "One More Sleep 'til Christmas". This is a charming number, as 'Bob' is closing up the office on Christmas Eve, and addresses all the best parts of Christmas. I hope you enjoy Kermit sings "One More Sleep 'til Christmas" from 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'.

That brings me to the most recent film of all four I have showcased here, the animated holiday treat, 'The Polar Express'. The soundtrack of the 2004 film featured some classic songs, like Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas", Frank Sinatra singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", and the Andrews Sisters with "Winter Wonderland", all of which make for a delightful listen. but it is the new song, written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri, that steals the spotlight. "Believe" is a soaring ballad, with such light and hope oozing out of each line, you can't help but fall in love. And it had a stellar performance by Josh Groban to complete the magic. From the film 'The Polar Express', this is Josh Groban with "Believe".

With my final clip for the evening, I was unable to resist featuring Judy Garland with a song I still love to this very day. The film was directed by Vincent Minnelli, Judy's husband at the time, and the father of Liza Minnelli. The storyline featured a family living in St. Louis at the time of the 1904 World's Fair. The film features two songs sung by Judy that could and should be considered iconic, and both were written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. One such song was "The Trolley Song", a truly wonderful number. But the one I am including here is the stunning "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", a song that has been sung by many since being debuted in the 1944 film, but never better than by Judy. She added just the right amount of everything to make this brilliant. I hope you enjoy this clip of Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from 'Meet Me In St. Louis".

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all!

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