Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
My next New York-set novel Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner is out on Friday 16th December via Avon Books, and takes place over the holiday season. To celebrate, I thought I’d slide into full-on Film Nerd Mode and share my top five festive film moments set in the city that never sleeps.
To be honest, I’m one of those irritating people who goes around telling everyone Die Hard is my favourite Christmas film. Not to be contrary. It’s just, in my opinion, Bruce Willis jumping off the top of an exploding skyscraper attached only by a fire hose is the greatest moment in cinematic history (anyone who has read the first Starlight Diner novel will know there is a little nod to this in the book). Let alone the greatest moment in a Christmas film.
Though I thought I might be able to strategically crow bar Die Hard into this list on the basis that John McClane is a New York cop, I ultimately decided against it. Because the truth is, and please keep this to yourselves, I’m a sensitive little sucker. And all the good will flying around at this time of year makes me melt faster than Raymond Briggs’ Snowman. Thus, if I’m going to write a piece about my top five festive film moments in New York City, I’m going to do it right.
5. You’ve Got Mail: Meg Ryan Decorates Her Christmas Tree.
Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) is too cute in this film. Firstly, she owns an independent bookshop. Secondly, she’s writing letters to a dreamy mystery man (well, alright – emails. It’s less romantic but still, it’s pretty hot), and she gets to utter this truly brilliant line: “all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.”
But the moment in You’ve Got Mail that really makes my heart throb is when Kathleen Kelly dresses her Christmas tree. Carefully placing hand-made decorations on the boughs, thinking about her absent mother and watching shoppers drift by in the snow while talking about one of my favourite songs: River by Joni Mitchell. The whole sequence is so thoughtfully-composed it’s impossible not to relate to the many feelings Kathleen reflects on, as many of us do when the year is drawing to a close.
4. Ghostbusters 2: The Statue of Liberty Takes a Stroll on New Year’s Eve
Desperately looking for a way to lift the spirits of the disgruntled, slime-conjuring New York citizens, Venkman, Stantz, Zeddmore and Spengler take the Statue of Liberty for a New Year stroll along the streets of Manhattan*, if awards were being handed out for Most Surreal Festive Film Moments, this one would definitely be in the running.
I love how unapologetically bonkers this scene is on a conceptual level, especially as the statue is inspired to walk by a Jackie Wilson tune. The second Ghostbusters film isn’t quite a match for the first in terms of razor sharp dialogue but this sequence is worth watching if only for the classic line: “I don’t think they make Nikes in her size, Ray.”
* Those readers wishing to keep Ghostbusters 2-related fantasies intact should avoid visiting Liberty Island for real. I went there on my honeymoon and, on seeing her in the flesh, I was unconvinced that Lady Liberty is tall enough for the Ghostbusters 2 finale to take place in real life. I explained my concerns to my husband in some detail, who at the time had only been married to me for nine days. He gave me a hug, but the sense of loss is still very real.
3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Kevin’s Christmas Tree monologue.
Macaulay Culkin does a stellar job of conveying the more meddling elements of Kevin McCallister’s character in the first two Home Alone films but he’s also able to dial it down for the quieter, introspective moments that give the movies their heart.
His monologue to the Christmas tree outside the Rockerfeller Center at the end of the film is enough to put a lump in anyone’s throat as he speaks from the most selfless part of who he is. Asking not for presents, but for the opportunity to take back ill deeds and see his family again just so he can say he is sorry for the trouble he’s caused. Though this film relies heavily on jokes established in the first outing for its laughs, messages about forgiveness and redemption are woven through the merciless brutality and regular screaming at the fourth wall. For this reason, it is still a firm festive favourite for me. This, and the fact that Ally Sheedy puts in an entertaining cameo at JFK airport. A well-placed in-joke for fans of John Hughes’ earlier works.
2. Miracle on 34th Street: This man IS Santa Claus
Santa arguably already has enough on his plate at this time of year without having to prove his identity to disbelieving Manhattanites, but in A Miracle on 34th Street that’s exactly what he’s charged to do.
There are lots of delicious little moments in this film. Such as the discovery that Santa lists his work colleagues Dasher, Dancer, Comet and Blitzen as next of kin on his work permit. But the defining moment of this film for me is when Kris Kringle is officially recognised as Santa Claus by the State and the naysayers have no choice but to admit defeat and believe. Regardless of the time of year, I don’t think there’s a more important ideal to hold to than holding onto faith and believing in ourselves, and in others.
1. When Harry Met Sally: Dancing cheek-to-cheek.
At a New Year’s Eve party, best friends Harry and Sally dance cheek-to-cheek only to secretly realise there may be more between them than friendship. I know that at the end of the film there is another BIG New Year moment but actually, this one is just as beautiful as the iconic speech Billy Crystal delivers later.
It’s the first time the pair acknowledge their potential for deeper intimacy. Meg Ryan’s face perfectly captures the heady excitement and paralysing fear that grips us when we first realise we care deeply for another. Her expression gives me butterflies every time I watch this scene play out. It’s a moment that fizzes with unspoken desire. And since I’m a romantic at heart it’s the moment tops my little list with ease.
If this has put you in the mood for more festive fun set in New York City, you might want to order Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner which will hit e-readers this Friday.