The Ottumwa Courier

December 3, 2012

The origin of Charlie Brown's tree

Browsing Around

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — I have finally discovered the origin of Charlie Brown’s poor little Christmas tree.

You know the one. It’s a skimpy little thing that loses its pine needles every time someone touches it.

I collect Christmas movies, and I think Charlie’s little tree once belonged to Professor Wutheridge in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947).

Actor Monty Woolley portrayed the professor, and Cary Grant was an angel sent to Earth to help Bishop Henry Brougham (portrayed by David Niven) with his struggle to either help the poor or build a new, huge cathedral.

Nearly every year, I watch most of my Christmas movies,  and I start on Thanksgiving Day. First up is “The Miracle on 34th Street,” and I love it when Santa Claus (portrayed by Edmund Gwenn) grabs the long whip from the drunken Santa, who’s passed out cold on the huge Santa float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Now, I know Edmund Gwenn, who portrayed Santa, didn’t crack that whip, which seemed as long as the float. So, who cracked the whip? I don’t know and may have missed that name in the movie credits. (Do you remember when a person could read film credits instead of watching blurs go by?)

I know about whips (HA!) and thought I could outdo Santa. That was a Christmas joke on me, and I left the whip alone before I hurt myself.

Later in life, I started collecting the Scrooge films. I think the first one featured Reginald Owen as Scrooge, but I haven’t memorized the exact order.

Other Scrooge versions featured Alistair Sim (he’s my favorite), Patrick Stewart and George C. Scott.

Bill Murray starred in a film called “Scrooged,” which is a fun version of the nasty fellow who must be visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve.

I’ll have to admit I do like when the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) smacks Murray’s character in the face with a toaster. Murray earned every bit of that, of course.

Eventually, the calendar pages turn to Christmas Eve, and then it’ll be time to watch “The Polar Express.” I agree with the child/elf who said this about the ride to the north pole/Santa’s home and factory: “I knew it would look like this!”