Christmas Movie Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Christmas is the one season of the year when everyone gets involved. The season invokes memories of family get-togethers, childhood memories of visiting Santa, lots of baking, gift giving and good will towards all. While you’re creating a list and checking it twice, why not check out all the holiday movies you and your family might enjoy.

Raise your hand if you like Christmas movies !

‘Tis the season for binging on Christmas movies. Aside from the Hallmark Channel (where you can watch “chick flicks” all season long) there are quite a few classic Christmas movies that can be viewed during the season. Why not start a Christmas Movie Journal to note your favorite movies. Much like the book journal, your Holiday classic movies would include the title, production date, actors, plot and why you liked it.

Here are some of our favorites:

“”It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946) Frank Capra’s story of love, value of life, and triumph is still going strong.

“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) A department store (Macy’s) Santa insists he’s the real deal.

“A Christmas Story” A family comedy about a little boy who’s only wish for Christmas is a Red Ryder Air Rifle.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965) A Christmas classic that is only 1/2 hour in duration. Every child in America must see this and of course the adults (who still believe in Good Will toward men)

“A Christmas Carol” (Scrooge) I don’t care what version you watch – they’re all about the real meaning of Christmas.

“Hallmark Hall of Fame – The Christmas Card”. A lonely  soldier serving overseas receives a Holiday card from a woman and tracks het down during his leave.

“The Gathering” Ed Asner at his best.

“Home Alone”(wacky comedy!)

“Frosty the Snowman” -while strictly for children, who doesn’t love the Peter Pan- Tinkle Bell references?

Finally, “How the Grinch stole Christmas”. A classic Dr. Seuss tale put on screen.


Don’t forget the popcorn!

~Sallie and MaryBeth

Prompts on Film Journals

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Remember when I used to use prompts? Here are a few to get you started:

  1. What is your favorite movie? Persuade your friend in writing that they must see _____.
  2. Do you have a favorite action movie? Does your hero have a special weapon?
  3. Did you like the book or the movie version? Recently there have been many remakes of books – which ones were closest to the book?
  4. Write an analysis of the main character. Describe their appearance, qualities, desires and something that surprised you about their background.
  5. What movie made its greatest impact on you? Explain with 3 scenes.

Happy Journaling,


How to write a Film Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

In order to analyse a film, you need to watch the film carefully and write in your journal soon after. If you are going to just RATE  (like Good Reads or Amazon) you don’t need to read further. But if you really want to analyze the films you watch you need to:

  1. Keep notes on specific scenes and explain why they are important to the outline or character development.
  2. Note significant moments that made you want to stop the movie, think, and re-wind.
  3. Make a plot summary so you can remember the film!
  4. Write down your reactions to the movie plot and the ending.

You might be surprised to know that movie directors and writers write film jounals too. Here are some famous diary entries. This one is from Stanley Kubrick, director of Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odessey and Shining.

The entry dates back to the early-60’s when Kubrick was trying to come up with a name for the movie he was in the process of making. This is fascinating for a number of reasons – the opportunity to look at a genius’ brainstorming process, the chance to imagine the classic film existing with any of these alternate titles – but it’s probably most interesting because this page ultimately led to what is arguably one of the greatest names for a movie of all time: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (In turn, the movie was based on a book with a comparatively lackluster name: Red Alert.)

Here’s a list of some of the titles Kubrick came up with:

Doctor Doomsday
Don’t Knock the Bomb
Dr. Doomsday and his Nuclear Wiseman
Dr. Doomsday Meets Ingrid Strangelove
Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying
Dr. Strangelove’s Bomb
Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus
My Bomb, Your Bomb
Save The Bomb
Strangelove: Nuclear Wiseman
The Bomb and Dr. Strangelove or: How to be Afraid 24hrs a Day
The Bomb of Bombs
The Doomsday Machine
The Passion of Dr. Strangelove
Wonderful Bomb
It’s curious to note in the actual written entry (see below) how the ultimate title doesn’t appear and also how some ideas are circled, some are not, some words are underlined, some are written in cursive, some are not, etc.


Many films begin with the reading of a book. No shock there, right? This doesn’t mean the re-making of a book necessarily. For instance, Julian Fellows of Downtown Abbey fame said that at the time he was commissioned to write the story of Downtown Abbey he was reading a book entitled ” To marry an English Lord” about an American heiress who had gone to marrying into an English family during the Victorian era. He asked himself “What was it like after that?” He decided to develop the characters, a community, and the interactions between its members that would tell their story: the rivalry, jealousy, love, hatred, births, marriages, deaths.

And finally, there’s Frank Capra who is famous for “It’s A Wonderful Life” which originally came from a story entitled “The Greatest Gift” by Marc Connelly. In an interview for the New York Times in December 1947, he talked about his philosophy about script writing:

“No script can be taken as gospel. It must be adapted to actors, to the set. Scripts may be written, but pictures aren’t written… any good scene can be expanded almost indefinitely.” Capra would work over the scrip before he shot it – tightening, writing new dialog, changing characterizations, eliminating scenes, adding needed actions and writing all these notes on scraps of paper.

One example of a script change is the Honeymoon scene. As originally written, it was supposed to end with the predictable Honeymoon kiss. But Capra wrote the scene as follows:

“Bert and Ernie hanging posters. Mary tells them to hurry. When George arrives they hide and sing a song outside the window in the rain. Ernie kisses Bert on the head.”

Happy film watching,


Why write a Film (Movie) Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

A film diary is a personal journey. Why? Films are full of life – characters (real or imagined) with thoughts and feelings, actions, desires and don’t forget the theme and the surroundings. Films can change a life (ie: Pay it Forward, Bridge on the River Kwai, or God Father). I’m not sure why I put the last film except guys seem to like quoting from that movie, for some reason! The films above are all different, yet 2 portray real people and all make you think. See links:


Not long ago I started a Movie Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I was once asked, during a team-building meeting, what my favorite movie was. The question stymied me. I had/have so many favorite movies – one that I know the dialog before the actor(s) speak. I’m sure you do too.

Years ago, during the VHS days of television, we used to keep track of what we taped but as they say “life got in the way” and we forgot to mark the contents on the boxes but then those boxes got replaced by DVD’s! Still the problem remained- what did we have, were the movies destined to become favorites and why??

This journal type is a mixture of memories, fun and knowledge. Knowledge? Yup. Your favorite movie is your favorite movie because of several factors: action, drama, comedy and so on. What intrigued you the first time you watched ” Gone with the Wind?” Were you a Civil War buff or someone who loved romance movies? Did watching the movie make you want to learn more?

Getting ready to make popcorn,



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