Throughout cinematic history, filmmakers have struggled to convey the virtues of Christmas without succumbing to overwrought sentiment (see: the Hallmark channel). There are, however, a select few Christmas classics that capture the idealized spirit of the holiday without denying the attendant stresses of the season. Like a gift for movie fans, the Riverview Theater is offering weekend-long screenings consisting of three of the Yuletide's greatest films, each of which measures the joys of the season in direct proportion to a variety of disappointments. It's a Wonderful Life (1946), for example, spends the majority of its running time driving goodhearted protagonist George Bailey (an ideally cast James Stewart) to the brink of suicide before an angel-in-training provides some Christmas Eve perspective on the true value of his life. The revered musical White Christmas (1954) delivers its lovesick cast (led by Bing Crosby) through a Technicolor-filmed, Irving Berlin-scored series of mishaps en route to holiday rehabilitation. And A Christmas Story (1983) follows the plight of a young boy whose yearning for a Red Ryder BB Gun survives the admonishment of every adult in sight (including Santa). With a portion of the proceeds going to the Minnehaha Food Shelf, Christmas at the Riverview not only depicts the spirit of giving, but allows for a contribution. $2 per film; $1 with a nonperishable food item. White Christmas (4 p.m.), A Christmas Story (6:30 p.m.), and It's a Wonderful Life (8:30 p.m.).
Dec. 21-23, 4, 6:30 & 8:30 p.m., 2012