Directors cut of Spielberg's 1 9 4 1 is a an unlikely but brilliant movie for Christmas - if you don't have family around.
My Christmas eve set piece movie was 3.5 hour directors cut of Spielberg's underappreciated epic comedy "1 9 4 1", flavoured with a great German cheese and a nice Riesling.
I'd actually forgotten the great directors grand folly is actually set at Christmas in LA and Hollywood (in the panicky aftermath of Pearl Harbour) making it a strangely Californian yuletide movie. I enjoyed myself so much I can't wait to repeat it as a seasonal event next year.
I guess it depends on your sense of humour and state of mind but I find the standard, truncated version of the movie funny anyway, and the extended directors cut is definitely the way to see it. With lots more Dan Ackroyd and John Candy this makes it much more of a continuation of 1970s Saturday Night Live and Animal House and much less of the straight Spielberg film we were all expecting in the aftermath of Close Encounters and the run up to Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Also in the extra hour of footage are more mad cameos such as John Landis and Sam Fuller (as USAF's equivalent of Battle of Britain's Hugh Dowding, here trying to coordinate an air defense against a non existent Japanese air attack). Outside in Hollywood December 1941 war fever has created civil breakdown while those who should be in charge, like Robert Stack's General Stillwell, in indoors watching the premier of "Dumbo".
"Ladies and gentlemen, every where I look... soldiers are fighting sailors, sailors are fighting Marines! Directly in front of me, I see a flying ...blond... floozy.. Everywhere I look... everywhere, pure pandemonium... pandemonium "
There is also more music, particulary John William's magnificent parody of a jingoistic war movie march, and more of the musical flow which sends it some way towards the ribald bad taste musical it probably should have been written as.
It still has rough edges - there is still too much coked up John Belushi and it is now even less politically correct for modern standards (what old film is?) while probably being far too correct to reflect the actual prejudices of the time.
"I'd like to thank all the GI's for helping make tonight's evening such a... a memorable occasion. Maybe in the future we can have some Negroes come in and we'll stage a race riot... right here. "
If the standard sugary tripe at this time of year is getting to you and you think you can handle something like Dad's Army on 50 mojitos try and find the version of this movie as it should have been released originally. It's a blast.
The rest of my My Hellish Solo Christmas for the benefit of John Lewis's advertising team
Chosen theme : Madagascar, all the movies, specials and tv series including new netflix "All Hail King Julien!"
Chosen music : new Eagles of Death Metal Album, specifically masterful cover of Save A Prayer For Me Now