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Around town: Elves, Muppets and other holiday delights

December 22, 2010 | 11:57 am


Though it wasn't originally a box-office hit, Frank Capra's sentimental 1946 holiday fable, "It's a Wonderful Life" has arguably become everyone's favorite Christmas movie. The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre is screening the film, which stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, Thursday evening. And if you miss it on Thursday, you can also catch the film Monday evening at the Arclight Hollywood.

The other Arclight Cinemas are also featuring holiday movies Christmas week. The ensemble British dramedy "Love Actually" screens Tuesday at the Arclight Sherman Oaks; "The Polar Express" is arriving Wednesday at the Arclight Beach Cities; and "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney visits the Arclight Pasadena, also on Wednesday.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre is going a bit more contemporary in its yuletide program Thursday evening -- pairing the 2003 comedy hit "Elf," starring Will Ferrell as a human who has been raised among Santa's elves, with the very naughty 2003 comedy "Bad Santa," starring Billy Bob Thornton. The Aero is offering director Terry Zwigoff's cut of the latter film.

The Aero's annual comedy festival begins Sunday with a W.C. Fields double bill: 1940's "The Bank Dick," in which he plays Egbert Souse, and 1936's "Poppy," in which he has a "fields" day as Eustace McGargle.

Wednesday's offering at the Aero is the rarely seen 1939 comedy "It's a Wonderful  World" with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert, and the delightful 1938 film "The Mad Miss Manton" with Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda and Sam Levene.

Screening the day after Christmas at the Egyptian is the much-adored 1952 MGM musical "Singin' in the Rain," with Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Gene Kelly's widow Patricia Kelly will introduce the screening.

The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater is presenting another installment in its "More Muppet Magic: Jim Henson's Legacy" series late Saturday afternoon with  the special "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas," from 1977, as well as selections from other Muppet Christmas specials. Later that evening, Cinefamily celebrates "Mondo Xmas," which will feature embarrassing clips of department store Santas, some truly bad holiday specials and the bizarro 1971 French-Canadian kiddies' film, "The Christmas Martian."

The Alex Film Society gets very animated with its First Annual Cartoon Hall of Fame screening event Sunday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Among the classic cartoons featured will be Warner Bros. '"The Rabbit of Seville," "Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century" and "One Froggy Evening," as well as Disney's "The Band Concert" and "Three Little Pigs" and Paramount's "Snow White," "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor" and "Superman."

Finally, the New Beverly Cinema ushers in the holidays with a visit from the Corleone family. Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 Oscar-winning masterpiece "The Godfather," and his equally seminal Oscar-winning 1974 followup "The Godfather Part II," will screen Sunday through Tuesday.

-- Susan King

Photo: Will Ferrell, left, and Bob Newhart in "Elf." Credit: Alan Markfield / New Line Productions