Five Christmas Criminal Films
Ah, the holiday season. A time for generosity, merriment, good cheer…and felonies. Yep, in the real world, crooks don’t take a break for Christmas and they didn’t in any of the following five films either.
We’re No Angels (1955) Humphry Bogart (in one of his very few comedic roles), Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov star as three prisoners who manage a daring escape from Devil’s Island on Christmas Eve and arrive at a small French colonial town. They quickly become involved with a local shopkeeper and his family. Originally, they’re just looking for a hideout and a chance to steal supplies to make a getaway, but much to their own surprise, they end up becoming the ‘guardian angels’ of the family. Also starring Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone, and Leo G. Carroll.
Die Hard (1988) Directed by John McTiernan (Predator, The Hunt for Red October) and starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in the iconic roles that launched their careers into superstardom. Arguably the most perfect action movie ever made, it also happens to be set during the Christmas holidays, thus we get plenty of tinsel along with the gratuitous violence. And who doesn’t love a DMC Christmas rap? Featuring such classic zingers as “Ho-ho-ho-Now I have a machine gun,” and “If this is how they celebrate Christmas I gotta be there for New Year’s!”
Home Alone (1990) Directed by Chris Columbus (Gremlins and Harry Potter) and starring young Macauley Culkin as Kevin McAllister who is mistakenly left behind while the rest of his family flies off to celebrate Christmas in Paris. Kevin finds himself enjoying the time to himself but when thieves Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) figure out the truth, they plan a home invasion only to have Kevin turn the tables on them. Culkin was nominated for a Golden Globe and Home Alone became the highest grossing live action comedy film of all time.
The Ref (1994) This black comedy directed by Ted Demme stars Denis Leary as jewel thief Gus. Gus accidentally trips an alarm and hijacks a car owned by a wealthy, married couple Lloyd (Kevin Spacey) and Caroline Chausser (Judy Greer). Unfortunately for Gus, Lloyd and Caroline are a severely dysfunctional couple whose constant bickering drives him nuts. Matters are further complicated by the unexpected arrival of troubled son Jesse, and then Lloyd’s family, including his brother, sister in law, nephew, niece, and horrible mother, Rose (Glynis Johns). Gus soon finds himself unwittingly playing counselor to the whole clan while trying to avoid the police and get the hell out of suburban Connecticut.
Bad Santa (2003) Terry Zwigoff, (Crumb, Ghost World) directed this raunchy black comedy Every year professional thieves Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton at his most hilarious) and his dwarf assistant Marcus (Tony Cox of Willow, Spaceballs, and Beetlejuice), pose as a department store Santa and his elf assistant. They use their access to rob the malls blind with the help of Marcus’s wife Lois (Lauren Tom of The Joy Luck Club and Futurama), their getaway driver. Willie’s alcoholism, sex-addiction, and foul mouthed behavior though, have begun to alienate Marcus. Meanwhile, Willie befriends a sweet, fatherless, overweight child named Thurman (Brett Kelly) while taking up with a fetching bar lass Sue (Lauren Graham), with a Santa fetish. It well earned its R rating in theaters and there’s an unrated option now for rental! Bad Santa 2, also starring Thornton, is now in theaters.
Top photo: Bigstock