Small Town Classics Go Big Screen

"It's a Wonderful Life" and "Gremlins" both enjoy theatrical happenings in the days ahead of Christmas.

There are numerous prequels and sequels and remakes and countless re-imagined works in the movie business, but on rare occasions two disparate films are tied together by more gossamer threads.

Or, in the case of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Gremlins," threads as fine and delicate as an angel's wing or the hair on Gizmo's head.

At first glance these Christmas treats don't have much more in common beyond the fact that they're set during the yuletide, but the similarities run deeper, straight into their similar small-town-y hearts.

Those who love to dissect film, and those who just love a solid cry and some belly laughs, can find both when the 1946 Capra charmer and the 1984 Dante-directed delight show up on the big screens of Southern California in the days ahead of Christmas.

"Gremlins" will merrily roll out, much like a horde of happy beasties running for a swimming pool or the fridge after midnight, on Saturday, Dec. 19. The place? The Palace Theatre downtown. It's a Cinespia presentation, but you won't need your Hollywood Forever blanket and chair, as this one's inside.

"It's a Wonderful Life" brings the love to the Cinefamily, at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue, over a few nights beginning on Dec. 19. Speaking of swimming pools, is there any scene that's sweeter than Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart dancing atop the pool in the film? It's as sweet as spun sugar wrapped around a candy cane dipped in cocoa.

Small towns and swimming pools are indeed two of the connections shared by the frosty flicks, but look to their outrageous villains, too, for scowling similarities (props, Mr. Potter and Ruby Deagle, for remaining so intimidatingly iconic).

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And, of course, a nice guy at the center of it all is simply trying to make good choices in both movies, and when he doesn't, he's doing what he can to correct his course, and, ultimately, the the fate of the small town at large.

This is no icy limb we go out on here; many a fan has talked of the two films in the same breath. But when will a theater screen them together, for a full-on, peppermint-scented compare-and-contrast night?

We'll await that moment while both Christmas bon bons unspool across town from each other. Just finish your popcorn up by midnight, wherever you happen to be.

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