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TCM celebrates Disney live-action with movie marathon, 2011 film festival

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TCM celebrates Disney live-action with movie marathon, 2011 film festival

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So what exactly is the deal with Boxing Day? How did December 26th wind up with this particular moniker?

Well, in the U.K., the name supposedly dates back to the tradition of Victorian tradesmen receiving "Christmas boxes" and/or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for goods & services that they provided throughout the rest of the year.

But here in the States, given how many of us now come from dysfunctional families and spend much of the holiday season bickering with our relatives, calling the day after Christmas "Boxing Day" is entirely appropriate. Since December 26th is usually when Round 2 of the fighting begins.

Copyright 2010 Turner Classic Movies, A Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

Anywho ... If you're going to be in close quarters with your extended family tomorrow and are looking for something - anything - to stop all the sniping, may I suggest that you turn on Turner Classic Movies. Which is celebrating Boxing Day by staging a marathon of live-action Disney movies.

In fact, if you take a close look at some of the films that have been scheduled to air tomorrow, it's kind of hard not to read something into this line-up. As if someone at TCM - with their tongue firmly planted in cheek - deliberately selected films whose titles had double meanings. Especially when it comes  to dysfunctional families.

Don't believe me? Then let's take a look at that line-up.

Copyright 1957 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

Old Yeller (1958) showing at 6:30 a.m. - Disneyana fans will look at this title and think "Classic coming-of-age story with a rather sad ending." Whereas when I look at this title, I am then reminded of that elderly relative who refuses to admit that they're going deaf / now need a hearing aid. Which is why they now sit in the corner and complains far too loudly about other family members.

The Parent Trap (1961) showing at 4:15 PM - Okay. Quick show of hands. How many of you were massively guilt tripped by Ma & Pa into coming home for the holidays this year?  Isn't that - in effect - being trapped by one's parents?

Return from Witch Mountain (1978) showing at 10:00 PM - I actually have a friend who uses the name of this Walt Disney Productions release as a way to describe his annual trek back home to Asheville, NC. Where she is then forced to spend every Christmas with her ill-tempered step-mother in her overly-ostentatious McMansion.

Copyright 1975 Walt Disney Productions
All rights reserved

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) showing at 8 p.m. - And this is the Disney-related film title that this same friend uses to describe her joyful trip back to the airport. Once the holidays are finally over and she could then escape her step-mother's clutches.

Okay. Enough with the seasonal silliness and reading too much into Disney film titles. Seriously though, if you can watch only one portion of  this TCM movie marathon (which - FYI - will be hosted by Turner Classic Movie's own Ben Mankiewicz as well as Rebecca Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives), be sure and catch "The Age of Believing: The Disney Live-Action Classics" (2008).

This TCM original documentary - which airs at 6:30 p.m. - does a terrific job of exploring that era in Disney Company history where the Studio really expanded its turf. Morphing from being the Mouse Factory (i.e. a place that mostly turned out toons) to becoming a full-blown Hollywood studio. A place that was then able to turn out top quality live-action films AND animation.

Copyright Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

Directed by Peter Fitzgerald, "The Art of Believing" is a real treat. Especially if you're a Disneyana fan. Given that this delightful documentary features appearances by Disney favorites from the 1960s & 1970s like Dick Van Dyke, Dean Jones, Tim Conway and Kurt Russell. And did I mention that this movie is narrated by Eglantine Price herself and Tony winner and three-time Oscar nominee Angela Lansbury?

Speaking of Turner Classic Movie & Disney co-productions, be sure and mark your calendar for April 28th - May 1st, 2011. Which is when the TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood with four days of screenings, guest appearances and panel discussions.

And among the highlights of this 2011 event (which - FYI - is only the second time that TCM has staged its classic film festival) will be a screening of a nearly complete set of Walt Disney's Laugh-O-Gram fairy tales. Recently discovered & restored by NYC's Museum of Modern Art (and presented in partnership with the Walt Disney Family Museum), these animated shorts are rarely shown on the big screen.

Now add to this must-see event a screening of the newly restored version of "Fantasia," an evening celebrating the Silly Symphonies (which will hosted by noted film historian Leonard Maltin) as well as a special tribute to Disney's live-action musicals.

Given all of this great Mouse-centric programming, is it really such a surprise that this year's TCM Classic Film Festival is being produced in collaboration with D23, The Official Disney Fan Club?

So if you'd like to reward yourself for being a good little boy or girl this year (i.e. for actually going home and then dealing with your dysfunctional family this holiday season) then why not purchase a pass for TCM's Classic Film Festival? Which will then get you access to four days full of screenings & events that will be held at historic Hollywood hot spots like Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre and the Roosevelt Hotel.

Copyright 2010 Turner Classic Movies, A Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

For further information on TCM Classic Film Festival (including the four levels of passes that are currently available for purchase) swing on by this event's official website.

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  • It's actually Return FROM Witch Mountain, not Return TO Witch Mountain, which totally changes the meaning of what you are trying to say.

  • A.R.

    You understand that this was a joke that my friend was making at her step-mother's expense, right? That when she went to Asheville, NC for Christmas, she was Returning to Witch Mountain. And that when she got to go back to her own home, she was then Escaping from Witch Mountain.

    I'll grant you that the real film titles don't exactly sync up with this gag. But said that, I still thought that it was pretty funny that my friend found a way to use the "Witch Mountain" film titles to describe how she felt coming & going from her step-mother's McMansion.

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