The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 4

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

Tony Orlando & Dawn -Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree – 1973

In the history of ubiquitous music, none are more annoying than Tony Orlando and Dawn’s peppy, 1920s-retro brain worm of a song. In May of 1973, the record sold 3 million copies in three weeks, and the song received three million airplays in 1973. Lounge singers immediately added it to their repertoires, and washed-up crooners like Jim Nabors, Connie Francis, and Bobby Goldsboro recorded their own versions. By the following summer, CBS gave Tony Orlando and Dawn their own TV variety show, replacing The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

My Ding a Ling – Chuck Berry – 1972

My Ding-a-Ling” is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh who later that year went on to form the Average White Band, played on the single along with Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator on bass.

I remember sitting in my friend RJ McMeans’s living room listening to records when somebody put this song on. Chuck Berry is a legendary guitarist and rock ‘n roller and he’s a brilliant artist. But when I heard this song, I was like… what the hell is this? Oh, it’s supposed to be funny. But it’s not. It’s juvenile.

We get it, Chuck. You’re singing a song about your dick.

No.

Half Breed – Cher – 1973

Half-Breed” is a 1973 song recorded by American singer-actress Cher with instrumental backing by L.A. sessions musicians from the Wrecking Crew. Recorded on May 21, 1973, at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles. Lyrically, the song describes the life of a biracial girl from a white father and indigenous mother and it contains themes of racism and double standards. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Cher’s second solo number 1 hit in the US. The single was certified Gold in the US for the sales of over 1 million copies.

CHER HALF BREED MP3 | ukuzaderax

Cher… you’ve made the list again. We get it. You’re hot, but you’re Armenian, not Native American. Just because your then-husband Sonny Bono used to refer to you as Pocahontas on your TV show, this all seems inappropriate. But as always… we love you and your outfits.

Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan – 1972

“Alone Again (Naturally)” is an introspective ballad, starting with the singer contemplating suicide after being left at the altar after his bride deserted him, and then telling about the death of his parents. O’Sullivan has said that the song is not autobiographical, as he did not know his father (who died when O’Sullivan was 11) very well, and that his father had mistreated his mother. Also, his mother was still alive when the song was written. O’Sullivan later commented “Neil Diamond covered “Alone Again (Naturally)” and said he couldn’t believe a 21-year-old wrote it, but for me, it was just one song I had written”. Neil Sedaka was similarly effusive in his praise for the song, stating as he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song because its complexity was more typical of a man much older than 21. The song is included on O’Sullivan’s The Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

I remember hearing this song non-stop everywhere I went in 1972-1973. It was a sad song that eventually got on everyone’s nerves. But, I will say this. It’s a very sad, and melancholy song about depression and loss. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life and I always had a place in my heart for this song. Something about the sound of his voice brings forth the story in a compelling way. It belongs on this list not because it’s weird or annoying, but because it’s a very unique work by this artist.

Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul – 1977

Soul is the “actor” from the hit TV show, “Starsky and Hutch” This is when anybody that was on TV thought they could sing and capitalized on their stardom thinking they could sell records. This clown can’t sing and he allegedly hit women. ‘Nuff said.

Da Do Ron Ron – Shaun Cassidy – 1977

Ahh… I loved his half-brother David in the early 70s. I watched the Partridge Family every Friday night after the Brady Bunch. David was hot and had amazing hair and was a heartthrob for years.

The song is the first collaboration in songwriting by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. The song was composed over two days in Spector’s office in New York. The title “Da Doo Ron Ron” was initially just nonsense syllables used as dummy lines to separate each stanza and chorus until proper lyrics could be written, but Spector liked it so much that he kept it. Phil Spector did not want lyrics that were too cerebral that would interfere with a simple boy-meets-girl storyline.  The rhymes of the opening lines, “I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still … Somebody told me that his name was Bill” was inspired by Bill Walsh, a friend of Spector who happened to visit Spector while the three were writing the song.

If you’ve ever wondered what in the hell “da doo ron ron” means, stop worrying: it means nothing. The phrase was apparently just a filler phrase that songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich put in the lyrics until they could come up with something better, and Phil Spector told them it was perfect as it was. Really, dude?

This clown comes along and decides he wants to be a star, and we have this mess. It’s awful. Somebody realizes David Cassidy has a cute little brother. Let’s make money off of him. He comes running out onto the stage in this clip in what looks like silky pajamas. He has zero stage presence and keeps flipping his hair. Just awful!

I remember my sister met some guy named Chuck who so wanted to be this guy. He even wore a white silk jacket with no shirt. A ridiculous fool that my sister hated. I remember that idiot came sniffing around my house looking for my sister and talking to me. He seemed like a jerk as he gyrated his hips in his dumb jacket thinking he looked like Shaun Cassidy. Please go play in the rip-tide, Chuck.

Oh, one final thing. Listen to how the English guy announces the name of the song at the beginning of the video.

Shdadoo Ran Run?

Let Her In – John Travolta – 1976

This is the 1976 debut single by John Travolta, the first release from his second album. It spent five months on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 10. It also reached number 16 on the Adult Contemporary chart. On the Cash Box chart, the song peaked at number five. In Canada, “Let Her In” reached number seven.

“Let Her In” was released at the end of the first year of the four-year run of Welcome Back, Kotter, in which Travolta starred.

This song was his first and only top-ten hit as a solo artist in the United States, and the biggest hit of his in any country not to be tied to the movie Grease. It was included in his 1978 double-album compilation, Travolta Fever.

Vinnie Barbarino, one of the sweat hogs on Welcome Back, Kotter makes good. John solidified his stardom with that show, Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Travolta was a huge star for a minute back then. He later dissolved into a bunch of forgettable roles, but his career was later resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in 1994.

God… this song is terrible.

 

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The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time

From Home Alone and Elf to classics like Miracle on 34th Street, I’ve made my list of great holiday films and checked it at least twice. Now, to all you nice boys and girls out there, we present the Best Christmas Movies ever!

Christmas has come to represent different things to people over the years, and the movies here reflect that in kind. If you’re traditional and feeling nostalgic, you’ll be pleased to see where It’s A Wonderful Life and Holiday Inn made it on our list of top holiday films. If this time of the year reminds you of sitting around the TV, eagerly awaiting those annual specials, look out for A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s horror (Black Christmas), comedy (Trading Places), horror and comedy (Gremlins), and even a superhero covered in tinsel somewhere (Batman Returns). For those with an independent streak to celebrate, check out Tangerine and Carol. Meanwhile, Netflix has made great strides in the Kris Kringle quadrant with The Christmas Chronicles and Klaus. And if Christmas means traveling somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you don’t like, have we got the ultimate movie for you: Die Hard! Ho ho ho, now we have a complete list of great Christmas movies.

Wondering how we put this Christmas movie list together? Every movie on the list is Fresh and plays around with the spirit of Christmas and the holidays as a central theme. Then we sorted them all by our ranked formula, which factors in the movie’s release year its number of reviews, to make the ultimate list of holiday films that melted even the most cynical critics’ hearts.

And now you’re ready to enter a wonderland of cinematic history, with the 58 Best Christmas Movies ever!

 

#58
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is transplanted to the 1990s with few changes in this family-oriented remake…. [More]
Directed By: Les Mayfield

 

THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
60%

#57
Critics Consensus: Solid performances and a steady directorial hand help The Preacher’s Wife offer some reliably heartwarming – albeit fairly predictable – holiday cheer.
Synopsis: An angel wonders if love can be Heaven on Earth in this family-themed romantic fantasy. Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B…. [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

 

#56
Critics Consensus: Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option — or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell — should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream.
Synopsis: THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, a holiday adventure from producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) and director… [More]
Directed By: Clay Kaytis

 

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
64%

#55
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: All of London is in love — or longing to be — in Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard… [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

 

KRAMPUS (2015)
66%

#54
Critics Consensus: Krampus is gory good fun for fans of non-traditional holiday horror with a fondness for Joe Dante’s B- movie classics, even if it doesn’t have quite the savage bite its concept calls for.
Synopsis: When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does… [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

 

Critics Consensus: While Christmas Vacation may not be the most disciplined comedy, it’s got enough laughs and good cheer to make for a solid seasonal treat.
Synopsis: This is the third in the “National Lampoon” series about the Griswold family. In this sequel, the Griswolds must deal… [More]

 

Critics Consensus: Still raunchy, still irreverent, and still hit-and-miss, this Harold & Kumar outing also has a Christmas miracle: The audience gets to see the sweeter side of the duo.
Synopsis: Following years of growing apart, Harold Lee (Cho) and Kumar Patel (Penn) have replaced each other with new friends and… [More]
Directed By: Todd Strauss-Schulson

 

#51
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A 1983 animated version of the Dickens classic, with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as the miserly… [More]
Directed By: Burny Mattinson

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015)
68%

#50
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn’t quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their… [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

 

HOME ALONE (1990)
65%

#49
Critics Consensus: Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin’s cute performance and strong supporting stars.
Synopsis: Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is… [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

 

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
73%

#48
Critics Consensus: Frosty the Snowman is a jolly, happy sing-along that will delight children with its crisp animation and affable title character, who makes an indelible impression with his corncob pipe, button nose, and eyes made out of coal.
Synopsis: This special release celebrates the 45th anniversary of an animated Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman. First airing on CBS, the… [More]

 

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (2013)
71%

#47
Critics Consensus: The Best Man Holiday manages honest laughs out of broad humor, and affects convincing drama from a deeply conventional plot.
Synopsis: After nearly 15 years apart, Taye Diggs (television’s Private Practice), Nia Long (Soul Food), Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2), Harold Perrineau… [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

 

SCROOGED (1988)
71%

#46
Critics Consensus: Scrooged gets by with Bill Murray and a dash of holiday spirit, although it’s hampered by a markedly conflicted tone and an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness.
Synopsis: A darkly comic and surreal contemporization of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this effects-heavy Bill Murray holiday vehicle from 1988… [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

 

THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)
71%

#45
Critics Consensus: The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it’s firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films.
Synopsis: Television sitcom star Tim Allen made his big screen debut with this light, family-friendly holiday comedy. Allen stars as Scott… [More]
Directed By: John Pasquin

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
71%

#44
Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.
Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

THE REF (1994)
72%

#43
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Synopsis: Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) are a married couple constantly at each other’s throats, masters at crafting… [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

 

Critics Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.
Synopsis: Scottish, French and German troops declare a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in the trenches of World War I in this… [More]
Directed By: Christian Carion

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)
76%

#41
Critics Consensus: Intelligent, well-acted, and satisfyingly low-key, Happy Christmas marks another step in prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s creative evolution.
Synopsis: When Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a hard partying 20-something moves in with Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), a budding novelist, her film director… [More]
Directed By: Joe Swanberg

 

#40
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest version of Charles Dickens’ tale to grace the screen, but The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny and heartwarming, and serves as a good introduction to the story for young viewers.
Synopsis: Brian Henson, the son of Muppet founder Jim Henson, took over directing duties after the untimely death of his father… [More]
Directed By: Brian Henson

 

#39
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came… [More]

 

LET IT SNOW (2019)
81%

#38
Critics Consensus: Comfortably cliché, Let It Snow wears its influences on its sleeve, but works anyway thanks an excellent ensemble and just the right amount of holiday cheer.
Synopsis: When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships… [More]
Directed By: Luke Snellin

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
77%

#37
Critics Consensus: It may be too sweet for some, but this unabashedly sentimental holiday favorite is too cheerful to resist.
Synopsis: This Christmas classic starring Bing Crosby is a romantic tale that takes place in a Vermont lodge- where it is… [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

 

#36
Critics Consensus: Anna and the Apocalypse finds fresh brains and a lot of heart in the crowded zombie genre – not to mention a fun genre mashup populated by rootable characters.
Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven — at Christmas — forcing Anna and her friends to… [More]
Directed By: John McPhail

 

#35
Critics Consensus: While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill — and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock — that it gives formula a good name.
Synopsis: This offbeat romantic comedy has some rather dark underpinnings that add, rather than detract from the fun. It is the… [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

 

BAD SANTA (2003)
79%

#34
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Synopsis: The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)… [More]
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

 

Critics Consensus: The Man Who Invented Christmas adds holiday magic to the writing of A Christmas Carol, putting a sweetly revisionist spin on the story behind a classic yuletide tale.
Synopsis: The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer),… [More]
Directed By: Bharat Nalluri

 

BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
80%

#32
Critics Consensus: Director Tim Burton’s dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton’s work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.
Synopsis: In the second of the blockbuster Batman films, the legendary hero does battle against the mysterious Cat Woman and the… [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1948)
84%

#31
Critics Consensus: The Bishop’s Wife succeeds thanks to the strength of winning performances from a stellar cast, which includes Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
Synopsis: A harassed bishop’s prayers are answered when an angel (Cary Grant) is sent from heaven to help him raise money… [More]
Directed By: Henry Koster

 

ELF (2003)
84%

#30
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.
Synopsis: For his sophomore stab at directing, actor/writer/director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made), took on this holiday comedy starring Saturday Night Live-alum… [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

 

#29
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: War hero Dennis Morgan becomes the object of a publicity stunt staged by magazine publisher Sidney Greenstreet. The corpulent print… [More]
Directed By: Peter Godfrey

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)
85%

#28
Critics Consensus: The 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic is perhaps the most faithful film version — and Alastair Sim’s performance as Scrooge is not to be missed.
Synopsis: Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens’ classic novel is this 1951 British… [More]
Directed By: Brian Desmond Hurst

 

Critics Consensus: A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.
Synopsis: The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama… [More]
Directed By: Arnaud Desplechin

 

GREMLINS (1984)
85%

#26
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
Synopsis: “Don’t expose him to bright light. Don’t ever get him wet. And don’t ever, ever feed him after midnight.” This… [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

 

TRADING PLACES (1983)
87%

#25
Critics Consensus: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
Synopsis: The “nature-nurture” theory that motivated so many Three Stooges comedies is the basis of John Landis’s hit comedy. The fabulously… [More]
Directed By: John Landis

 

BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)
89%

#24
Critics Consensus: Carried by its charismatic young cast, Better Watch Out is an adorably sinister holiday horror film.
Synopsis: This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone… In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion… [More]
Directed By: Chris Peckover

 

TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)
90%

#23
Critics Consensus: Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving — and somewhat unconventional — entry to the animated Christmas canon.
Synopsis: Tokyo Godfathers, the acclaimed holiday classic from master director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), returns to theaters in a brand-new… [More]
Directed By: Satoshi KonShôgo Furuya

 

KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005)
86%

#22
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor…. [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

 

Critics Consensus: Rare Exports is an unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror.
Synopsis: It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But… [More]
Directed By: Jalmari Helander

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
89%

#20
Critics Consensus: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.
Synopsis: In the 1940’s, in the town of Hammond, 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder… [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

 

LITTLE WOMEN (1994)
92%

#19
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it’s told.
Synopsis: This newest version of Louisa May Alcott’s tender novel is considered to be among the best as it chronicles the… [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

 

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
90%

#18
Critics Consensus: The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center.
Synopsis: Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands opens as an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price) lovingly assembles a synthetic youth named Edward (Johnny Depp)…. [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

 

KLAUS (2019)
94%

#17
Critics Consensus: Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status.
Synopsis: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above… [More]
Directed By: Sergio Pablos

 

Critics Consensus: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a yule-tide gem that bursts with eye-popping iconography, a spirited soundtrack, and a heart-warming celebration of difference.
Synopsis: This stop-motion animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable… [More]
Directed By: Maury LawsLarry Roemer

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011)
92%

#15
Critics Consensus: Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.
Synopsis: The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before… [More]
Directed By: Sarah SmithBarry Cook

 

DIE HARD (1988)
94%

#14
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
Synopsis: It’s Christmas time in L.A., and there’s an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation… [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

 

REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940)
100%

#13
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a deft blending of humor, sentimentality and romance, this Preston Sturges-penned comedy centers on the romance between a caring… [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

 

BABES IN TOYLAND (1934)
100%

#12
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two bumbling apprentices to the master toymaker of Toyland try to raise money to help Little Bo-Peep and her sweetheart… [More]

 

TANGERINE (2015)
96%

#11
Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. (C) Magnolia… [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker (II)

 

CAROL (2015)
94%

#10
Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department-store clerk… [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)
100%

#9
Critics Consensus: A disarmingly sweet musical led by outstanding performances from Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien, Meet Me in St. Louis offers a holiday treat for all ages.
Synopsis: Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters,… [More]
Directed By: Vincente Minnelli

 

LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
95%

#8
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings… [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

 

Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job… [More]
Directed By: Henry SelickTim Burton

 

Critics Consensus: How the Grinch Stole Christmas brings an impressive array of talent to bear on an adaptation that honors a classic holiday story — and has rightfully become a yuletide tradition of its own.
Synopsis: Chuck Jones’ animated version of the classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired on television in… [More]
Directed By: Chuck JonesBen Washam

 

#5
Critics Consensus: Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.
Synopsis: The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik… [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch

 

HOLIDAY INN (1942)
100%

#4
Critics Consensus: With the combined might of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin working in its favor, Holiday Inn is a seasonal classic — not least because it introduced “White Christmas” to the world.
Synopsis: Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful… [More]
Directed By: Mark Sandrich

 

#3
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a… [More]
Directed By: George Seaton

 

#2
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. And for Peanuts fans everywhere, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic holiday… [More]
Directed By: Bill MelendezPhil Roman

 

#1
Critics Consensus: The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.
Synopsis: This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank… [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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My Father’s Chair

It was 1984. I worked in a video store in Northfield, New Jersey.

I was back from California. I failed as a musician in Los Angeles. The angel that rose up in Philly in 1979 as a singer, then a guitarist in Wildwood was cast asunder. It was over. I was back in Wildwood. The place I left in 1982 that I never wanted to return to I sadly came home to. I was back living in my parents house. The first of many failures in my short life. Like Icarus who flew too high, my wings melted and I fell back to the Earth.

Making the transition to being back at home with my parents was brutal. I remember at first I was welcome, but in time my father was filled with disdain for me. Why hadn’t I ever written a letter to my mother while I was away? I don’t know. Maybe I was too busy having the time of my life for a few years without any of you. I learned about life, and how to cook and look after myself. All the while struggling with severe anxiety and depression.

My father got me a job in a video store. It was one of his accounts at the bank. He knew the principals of Home Video Centers in Northfield and Vineland. It wasn’t a little mom and pop video store that used to exist back in the ’80s. It was a massive store, with 500 titles on VHS and Beta and all of the other things you needed to have your own home movie experience. (Does anybody remember rear projection big-screen TVs? What an abortion of an idea that was.)

I was hired as a salesman. I remember when I got my first business cards. It felt good. But I used the name Chaz, and my father didn’t like that. I should have my proper name on my cards. Now it feels like my father might have been part Asian based on the amount of shame in my life growing up. (No offense to the Asian culture, but it is a patriarchal society, and honor and respect are paramount. Hence, much of their porn, like Germany is all about shame and humiliation) But I digress…

I liked the job and the people I worked with and for. We were all a bunch of young guys and girls working in relatively new retail industry. We had a massive rental business but also sold VCRs, TVs, and video cameras. When I think about it now, the technology was so heavy and clunky back then. Massive machines that weighed a ton. Video cameras that almost seemed absurd, because of all of the gear you had to carry just to make a video of your family at some outing. When I think of all of the set up my father did a decade before all of that when I was a kid to shoot home movies on 8mm, super 8, and eventually 16mm, it boggles my mind.

Now it’s all in our phones. Not much bigger than a deck of cards in our pocket. You can do all of that and better now. Better technology but the content hasn’t really changed. You can just stream it now.

I remembered I saved up for my own VCR. I wanted to take movies home from work and watch them for free. I loved the movies. My father taught me about film as a young lad. He even dabbled in making his own creative films for  a while when I was a kid. I’ll tell those stories in a future post.

I loved movies and having grown up in an age where you could only watch what was on TV at a specific time or go to a movie theater. So home video was king to me. Now I could take a movie home and watch it when I wanted.

So I purchased a used, refurbished Sanyo Betamax top-loader VCR from my company for about $300 which was a fortune back then. Maybe it was $250 but who knows? But I thought it was cheap for what I got. I didn’t care. I was so happy to bring it home and attach it to my little 13 inch Sony TV in my bedroom and watch all the movies I was dying to see as a kid. They were all mine now! I had the keys to the kingdom.

There were two formats back then. Beta and VHS. Sony invented both formats. But Beta was the better format. Better picture and sound. They kept the superior format for themselves and sold it to who they wanted, mostly other Asian electronics companies. Sanyo, NEC, etc. They sold the VHS format off to I think RCA or Sylvania. I actually have no idea. But what happened was, more companies made the VHS systems. VHS machines were more accessible to the general public and the inferior system actually won as the victor of what people watched movies on. Beta died. It was sad to see the superior format lose to the inferior format. But there is simply strength in numbers. Those sort of statistics hold up today. If you have enough money and guys, you can crush your competitor. I’m sure Sony didn’t really care because they probably made all of their money back on patents. (And now look at them!)

Anyway, my dad would ask me about some of the films we had at the store. (video rentals) He would ask if we had specific films and wondered if I could maybe bring them home and we could watch them together.

I leaped at this idea because for most of my life with my father things were strained. Here was an opportunity for us to hang out on neutral ground, and do something together that we both loved.

I don’t remember what the first film was that I brought home. Maybe 3 Days of the Condor, Straw Dogs, or Kelly’s Heroes. My dad would give me a list and I would let him know what was on tape. He would always pick them because he had a history of films in his head that surpassed my brief life. He would pick these amazing films that I would never have known about without him even thought of.  I worked in the store with 500 titles but there were so many great films now on tape that had been silent for years. Videotape brought them all back to life. It was an exciting time. The humble beginnings of all access, all the time, that we enjoy today.

Let me tell you what it was like.

I would come home from work at the video store with a film. He had already set up the night we were going to watch it.

Now let me give you the lay of the land here.

We had this giant house at the shore. My dad had this cool space that was upstairs in the front of the house. This was his man cave long before man caves were a thing. This space worked for him because he could have his own little world in there.

This is a guy who worked his whole life to build a life for his family. He worked in a bank as a manager, had four kids; three daughters and one son. His wife never worked and was a full-time homemaker. Yea, things were different back in the ’50s, 60’s and 70’s. But the man needed his space and he built the shore house to create his own little private space there. In our old house in Philly, the basement was his space.

He loved Christmas so much he would have his own tree up there in the apartment. Yes… he would buy two really good Frazier Fir trees and one would be the family Christmas tree downstairs and he would have his own tree up in his little lair. He even ran a string of mini lights down the hallway. So basically upstairs was always Christmas in our house. Not weird, just his happy thing.

So, I would come home and we’d set up our night. I would set up a little TV snack table next to his television. I would carry my VCR from my bedroom and wire it up to his TV.

Let me describe my dad’s cave. He had a living room. a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a kitchen with ocean views. Amazing space. He even had a Franklin stove in the corner of the living room. I always wondered why he had that, and then one time the power went off during a storm and he tossed some wood in that thing and it heated the whole second floor of the house. Genius.

So, we’ve got everything set up, and I would sit at his kitchen table and chat with him while he cooked a special dinner for the two of us. I would drink a beer and so would he. Normally we both liked light crisp lagers or pilsners. He would give me a little fresh bread to munch on but not too much because you never want to eat too much before dinner because you never want to spoil your appetite!

The windows would be open and the fragrance from the sea would waft in. The air is just so fresh and cool by the sea. I love living in the city but there is nothing like it.

He would get ahead of fresh lettuce and cut it up. Simple. That was the salad. just lettuce. He would mix and make his own Russian dressing. Thousand Island? Is that ketchup and mayo?  Whatever it was… it was delish. I was with my dad having a beer and noshing on french bread and for once… he wasn’t mad at me.

He had bought two fresh Delmonico steaks. Bone-in. Apparently, if the bone is in, the meat is sweeter and more savory, because the marrow in the bone lends itself to the flavor. There is nothing in the world like an amazing steak. My daughter is vegan and I respect that, but there is nothing on Earth like men ripping into grilled steak and devouring the fired flesh of those who would devour us if we weren’t such killers. Hell-bent on being number one on the food chain to the point where we kill so much we are no longer in the food chain… but again, I digress…

He would have these inch and a half thick delicious steaks. He would put them in the broiler in his oven and cook them there. I know before he put them in he did something with some secret seasoning that includes garlic and some other potions not revealed to me. While the steaks were cooking, and it didn’t take long, I would go quiet. I don’t like anyone talking to me when I’m cooking, so I knew my father needed silence to make his food art for us.

Halfway through, he would slide out the tray, and reach for two shots of Remy Martin cognac he had sitting on the counter. He would douse both steaks with a flash of brandy, and they would both ignite in flames as he pushed them back into the broiler. He told me that this would sear in the juices and glaze the outside or something. (It worked!)

I always wanted this part to go on longer than it ever did. I liked sitting peacefully in my father’s kitchen just chatting with him. We talked about everything. Work, life, music, films, girls, everything. Whatever was going on in the moment we would cover. But as some of you know, when it comes to steak, your window for chatter before dinner is always fleeting.

We would sit at his table and eat the steaks and the little brown bowls of salad. He said that we shouldn’t have a potato because he wanted the focus of the meal to be on the meat. He was completely right. They were some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection, and I loved every bite. He always served an amazing cabernet with every meal. But more than that, my father and I were sharing one of the oldest rituals in history.

We’d put on some cool classical dinner music. My dad was a master of classical music and opera. He owned so much of that and loved it so much. I think he heard his own passion, pain, and triumph in that music.

A father and son breaking bread together. Like in times of old, the father sharing the day’s kill with his only son. He would tell me stories that were only for me. Tales that were only for men. Things and deeds that my sisters or my mother could never hear.

I felt so close to him then.

After dinner, we would retire to the living room. I would fire up the Sanyo top loader and the film would begin. I’d make whatever adjustments were necessary so that the film would play properly, and off we’d go. (Does anybody remember tracking?)

For the next two hours, we’d disappear together into the film. A world we could both control. Two completely different guys that somehow got thrown together in this life, and we got along. We found our thing.

He had a really nice padded wooden rocking chair in the room. He liked to sit in a hard chair as he called it because it felt better on his back. So, I got to sit in his comfy rocking chair to watch the movie with him. I loved it!

There were times we’d both feel so much emotion that we’d both tear up a little bit during a movie. Terms of Endearment worked on both of our hearts! There were times he would reach over and grab my hand as we both felt the pain of the characters in the film. It meant so much to me that I was this connected to my father at this moment. Brought together by a film we both loved. I know whatever was happening on the screen was a feeling we had both felt in our own lives.  Even though we were sometimes worlds apart, we connected in that moment.

After the wine, we would dabble in a bit of the cognac, and he would offer me a bit of bittersweet chocolate from Rauhauser’s Candies in Ocean City. It was the best damn candy in the world. The butter cremes were like kissing the face of God.

I remember during Straw Dogs one night I thought the snifter of cognac would burst in my hand from the suspense. My dad could really pick the films that rocked!

My father said that those were some of his fondest memories of me. He said for a brief time when I was between women in my life we spent some wonderful, simple times together.

I think maybe at some point my dad realized I was really different than him. I was more like his wife and her side of the family. I know I disappointed my father so many times. I’ll never know what it was like for him to grow up in the world he was born into. A world he never made, or could control. I can’t imagine the grinding frustration of his life with so much responsibility, all in the name of maybe finding peace of mind. That, and trying to build a family the only way he knew how from the ashes of his own fractured childhood.

 

At the end of his life, I convinced him to let me set up a Netflix account for him. There were so many films I wanted to share with him. After some reservations, he finally let me. We had a few years there where he let me to pick all of the movies and shows for him to watch.

So I guess it went full circle.

I’m grateful for all of our conversations about all of those great movies.

I think my dad found peace of mind eventually when he settled things with my mom and they both got along.  But I know once she was gone he lost some of himself.

I’ve been thinking about him lately and felt compelled to write this.

I like it when my dad occasionally taps on the window of my mind and asks me to let him in. He’s always welcome.

 

Thanks for letting me sit in your chair, Dad.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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Tales of Rock: Why April 24th Matters in Rock History

It’s April 24th and here are some reasons why this day matters in classic rock history:

In 1969, Paul McCartney publicly denied rumors that he was dead.

In 1996, Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo made an announcement that singer Scott Weiland was in drug rehab and unable to perform at their upcoming shows.

In 1992, David Bowie married supermodel Iman at a ceremony in Switzerland.

In 2000, Limp Bizkit announced the details of their 24-date Back to Basics tour which would include a set from rappers Cypress Hill.

In 1976, Paul McCartney had his fifth number one album after The Beatles when Wings’s Wings at the Speed of Sound topped the chart.

In 1990, Roger Waters’s road crew found an unexploded World War II bomb while constructing the set for The Wall concert in Germany.

In 1976, Paul and Linda McCartney spent the evening with John Lennon at his New York apartment and watched Saturday Night Live. During the show, SNL producer Lorne Michaels made an offer asking The Beatles to come to the studio and play three songs live. The pair considered taking a cab to the studio but decided they were too tired. It was the final time they were together.

And in 2003, four fans sued Creed claiming singer Scott Stapp was so “intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song” at a recent show in Chicago.

And that’s what happened today in rock history.

 

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Willie Nelson Hosting ‘Come and Toke It’ Variety Show on 4/20

Please, God, let Snoop Dogg participate in this.

The world’s other most-famous musical weed enthusiast, Willie Nelson, will be hosting a variety show Monday in honor of 4/20.

“Come and Toke It” is being presented by Nelson and Luck Reunion.

“This 4/20 at 4:20 PM CT we’re bringing together artists, chefs, comedians, educators and more for 4 hours and 20 minutes of cannabis-centric entertainment hosted by Willie Nelson himself — all from the comfort of quarantine,” the description reads on a YouTube video promoting the event.

The 4/20 date is one in which all things marijuana are celebrated.

According to Luck Reunion’s site, “In honor of Luck’s landlord and the unofficial patron saint of weed, Luck and Willie’s Reserve are also joining forces to launch the #comeandtokeit #passleft challenge: perhaps the world’s only chance to knock smoking with Willie Nelson off their bucket list.”

“Whether you partake or not, this is your chance to live the dream,” a posting on the site stated. “Luck will be asking fans to post a video of themselves passing (whatever toking material of their choice) to the left with the hashtags #ComeandTokeIt #PassLeft. Select videos will be featured during the Come And Toke It broadcast before Willie takes the last hit on air.”

The 86-year-old musician has been a proponent of marijuana for decades, though in December he told CNN affiliate KSAT in San Antonio, Texas, that he had stopped smoking because of health issues.

 

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