In the Audience: Holiday movie nights — a gift to you

By NICK ROGERS

As much as eggnog, mistletoe and holly and the venerable Christmas tree, holiday movies are a yearly family tradition. And the most famous film studio in the world offers a treasure trove of seasonal treats to dazzle movie lovers of all ages. The Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert’s latest Classic Movie Night series, “An MGM Merry Christmas,” will be presenting two classic yuletide movies from the Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, at the Historic USO Building, MGM’s 1938 version of Charles Dickens’ perennial holiday tale will screen at 7 p.m. The film stars one of the studio’s busiest contract players, Reginald Owen, as the famous Mr. Scrooge, and he does a most admirable job of depicting the transition from a selfish, cantankerous miser to a redeemed loving, caring man ... after a series of very scary ghostly visitations.

Owen pitch-hits for Lionel Barrymore, who famously interpreted the role yearly on radio. Confined to a wheelchair, Barrymore had to forgo the film version. Gene Lockhart, a famous character actor, portrays Bob Cratchit, along with his wife, Kathleen as the Mrs. and June Lockhart, the future “America’s Mom,” (from the “Lassie” and “Lost in Space” television series) as one the Cratchit kids.

Enjoy a very special after-Christmas cinematic treat on Wednesday, Dec. 27, at 7 p.m., as we present the encore showing of one of the most beloved movies of all time. Join the wonderful Judy Garland as Dorothy, sporting glorious ruby slippers, along with her buddies the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and of course Toto in an adventurous musical journey down that famous Yellow Brick Road enroute to the Emerald City.

Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, and the “Munchkins” round out the fabulous cast in this wonderful film fable. There are plenty of interpretations of the many aspects of this classic, but I like to think that the story is one of appreciating our God-given gifts and realizing that the qualities we wish we had … we probably already have ... and just don’t realize it.

Patrons are invited to arrive early on Classic Movie Night to enjoy the delicious treats available at the thrifty Snack Bar that opens up at 6:30 p.m. Films screen on flex Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Admission is, as always, free, but we just love those holiday-spirited donations that help us keep the Historic USO Movie Palace in tip-top shape. For film titles, (as if you needed them,) call 760-375-8456. Or stop in for a current film schedule.

See you at the movies for an MGM Merry Christmas!

Story First Published: 2017-12-08