Artcraft showing slate of holiday films this season

Like old friends or beloved family members stopping by for the first time in months, a cherished cast of characters are coming back for the holidays.

Root for Kevin McAllister to outwit the hapless burglars threatening his neighborhood on Christmas Eve. Relive Ralphie’s campaign to get Santa to bring him an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.

Suffer through Clark Griswold’s attempt at a good old-fashioned family Christmas.

The Historic Artcraft Theatre will offer a slate of beloved holiday films on the big screen during the next month as part of its annual Christmas extravaganza. Yearly features such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “A Christmas Story” are joined by rotating favorites, including “White Christmas” and “Home Alone.”

Story continues below gallery

To supplement the celluloid classics, the theater also will host a special live radio-style performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s always wonderful to see people of all ages come in, and even though they’ve all seen the movies before, they like to see it with the community, with the crowd,” said Dave Windisch, marketing director for the Artcraft. “That’s why we have the theater — not just to show great movies of all different kinds, but to bring people together for a few hours of happiness.”

All of the films mean a little something different to people. There’s a sense of nostalgia and warmth surrounding films such as “White Christmas” and “A Christmas Story.”

“Home Alone” has great appeal for kids and adults. And “Christmas Vacation” captures the holiday madness that everyone can relate to.

“What’s great about ‘Christmas Vacation’ is that, you see the cynicism on the screen, and everybody has been through at least something like what you see in the movie,” Windisch said. “It feels like when you’ve been involved with it, you can laugh at someone going through the same thing.”

The holiday season has always been a popular one at the Artcraft, Windisch said. But in recent years, entire weekends have sold out as people want to relive their favorite Christmas films on the big screen.

That left Artcraft officials with the challenge of choosing the best movies for the limited weekends available, Windisch said. “A Christmas Story” is always shown the weekend of Franklin’s downtown lighting, and “Christmas Vacation” is always set for the last weekend of the holiday season.

They’ve tried to rotate other favorites year by year, which inevitably leaves some people uttering “bah, humbug.”

“We showed ‘Elf’ last year, and this year we aren’t. And we heard from a lot of people that it was their holiday tradition. We only have so many weekends to show Christmas movies, and so many people want different ones, so we can’t really make everyone happy,” Windisch said. “So we try to make as many people happy as we possibly can.”

Organizers also have pushed the start of the holiday films earlier and earlier. This year, “Miracle on 34th Street” was screened Nov. 17 through 19, just to meet the demand of people anxious to get into the Christmas spirit.

“Because we have so many people asking for more Christmas movies, we started going a week earlier last year,” Windisch said. “Before that, we only had four spots, and two were always the same.”

Part of that issue will be alleviated this year with the radio-style performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Though the movie isn’t one of this year’s selections, people can still relive the story of George Bailey, Clarence the angel and the town of Bedford Falls.

This will be the second time that theater has hosted the New Mercury Theater Players to put on the live performance. The troupe uses Foley props — pom-poms for the sound of rustling hydrangea bushes, antique horns to signal when cars are pulling up — to recreate the classic story as it would have been told over the radio in the 1940s.

“It gives people a different perspective on ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ A lot of people know the story, but to see it done as a radio show, it tells the story in a different way,” Windisch said. “Our crowd can come and see a story they’re familiar with, but in a completely new way.”

If you go

Historic Artcraft Theatre

Holiday film lineup

Where: 57 N. Main St., Franklin

Showtimes: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Cost: $5 for adults; $4 for seniors age 55 and older, college students and military personnel; $3 for children 12 and under

Schedule:

  • Friday through Sunday: “Home Alone” — 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
  • Dec. 1 to 3: “A Christmas Story”
  • Dec. 8 to 10: “White Christmas”
  • Dec. 15 to 17: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Special performance

Radio-style performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

What: The New Mercury Theatre Players will present the classic Christmas story done as if being broadcast over the radio in the 1940s.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5

Tickets: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors age 55 and older, college students and military personnel; $6 for children 12 and under

Information on all events: historicartcrafttheatre.org

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.