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Gangsters and Griswolds

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 18, 2007 4:06PM

2007_12tcm.jpg We find that after doing scads of last-minute shopping, the best way to ensure "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" is to avoid the general public altogether. So one of our favorite parts of Christmastime involves shutting ourselves off from the outside world and gorging on movies. This time of year there's plenty of stuff to watch on Ye Old Yule Tube. TCM is getting into the Santa act by presenting "Sweet Home Chicago," a lineup of five films that starts airing tonight.

Kicking things off is the classic A Raisin in the Sun, with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Even if you read the play during One Book One Chicago, the movie is a must-see. Next is The Joker Is Wild, a Frank Sinatra movie set in Prohibition-era Chicago, notable for Frank's stellar performance as well as for introducing the song standard "All the Way." A pair of hardboiled potboilers, Chicago Confidential and Chicago Syndicate, will offer juicy portraits of a largely-fictionalized Windy City. A quote from one of the trailers tells you what to expect: "The bullet-by-bullet truth about the rape of a city at the hands of a killer mob...ripped out of tomorrow's headlines."

The "crown jewel" of the TCM schedule is the network premier of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. What can we say except: Just. Plain. Hilarious. You don't need an excuse to watch this movie, but it'll certainly make the season bright. Clark Griswold sums it up best: "We're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."