PANAMA CITY — Sharing Christmas movies with family is a grand tradition of the past 70 years or so, and one of the all-time favorite classic Christmas films will return to the big screen locally Friday night.
The Martin Theatre will show “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey (“the richest man in town”) and Donna Reed as his devoted true-love. The Martin will serve popcorn, sodas and snacks, and will have a full bar for the show, scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight. Admission is a $5 suggested donation.
Released in 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the tale of how a second-class angel helps “a compassionate but despairingly frustrated” man by showing him what the lives of his family and friends would have been like if he had never existed, according to its description at the Internet Movie Database.
Originally opened in 1936 as “The Ritz,” and renovated in the 1950s and renamed the “Martin,” the theatre showed films until its closing in 1978. Again renovated and reopened in 1990, the Martin Theatre has been a live showcase for local and traveling talent. It began showing movies again earlier this year, focusing on classic films.
We asked our Facebook and Twitter friends about their favorite Christmas films. Here’s what they said:
@JaysonKretzer: Back in the day it was “Gremlins,” but the film we watch every year now as a tradition is “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It captures the feel (of) Xmas in our home. If it can go wrong, it will, but in the end it’s always memorable and special.
Del Stone Jr.: My favorite Christmas movie is “Thelma and Louise.” One Christmas Eve I had just settled down to eat nachos and watch a movie, when the phone rang. It was my friend Tavel. She’d just moved to town and didn’t know a lot of people, and I guess this was her first Christmas away from home. She was lonely. So I packed up all the nacho-makings, grabbed a couple of Diet Cokes and picked the first movie within easy grabbing distance — “Thelma and Louise.” So we sat in her living room that night, eating jalapena nachos and watching Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon drive across half the United States. It was fun!
@BradMilner: “Gremlins.” It is technically an Xmas film and it’s a metaphor for how chaotic the holidays can be — and deadly.
Missie Hubbird Coley: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ve watched it every Christmas as long as I can remember. I can’t hear a bell ring without thinking of Clarence getting his wings.
@thejevonaut: “The Dark Knight Rises.” Sure, there’s no mention of the Yuletide, but still, it’s got snow. And Batman.
@JAustin888 (who may have completely misunderstood the question): “John Carter” (of Mars)!
‘IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE’
- What: Classic Christmas tale starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed
- Where: The Martin Theatre, 409 Harrison Ave., Panama City
- When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21
- Cost: $5 suggested donation at the door
- Details: MartinTheatre.com or 763-8080