“I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear.” – Bryan Bedford
It sounds both creepy and extremely disrespectful to say that if I could sit on any celebrity’s knee, it’d be the Right Honourable the Lord Richard Attenborough’s. In the context of Christmas and Christmas films, however, this should be seen as the only logical thing to do. You see, in terms of cinematic Santas, he is the one and only Father Christmas for me.
It’s hard to believe that this gentle, charming and kindly old gent is the same man who brought us characters like the psychopathic Pinkie Brown in 1947’s Brighton Rock (below) or the strict and by-the-book Sergeant-Major in Guns at Batasi (the latter of which earned him a BAFTA). Just a testament to the man’s incredible talent, I guess. For a child seeing this film for the first time, none of this is needed; the gold half-moon spectacle, snowy beard and amazingly gentle manner with children were quite enough (his effortless sign language to the deaf girl and little yelp when his beard is tugged are absolutely lovely).
‘Father Christmas: The troubled early years…’
After sitting and watching it now in preparation for this entry, the cynical grown-up I’ve buried deep, deep down for the important business of re-capturing childish glee can’t help but ponder on the nature of child stardom. Mara Wilson, variably known to me as either ‘that kid off Matilda’ or ‘that kid off Mrs Doubtfire’, is now more known for writing both online and for the stage, has turned away from performing now; welcome break from the usual stories of vice and sin normally associated with former-child actors exploited by the studios. Yet another reason why I can still enjoy this film now, as I’m not shaking my head and wondering ‘what went wrong’.
I’m ashamed to say that I have never seen the 1947 version, but to be honest I don’t think I need to. Like the whole of New York City by the end of the movie, I believe in Kris Kringle. I also believe in Harvey Dent, but that’s another story entirely…