2. See a Christmas classic set in the Midwest
Bob Clark's classic film A Christmas Story gets a 24-hour marathon on Christmas Day courtesy of one of the cable channels, but it's chopped up by commercials. Come see it unsullied by the crass commercialism of the season in a bar — Jean Shepherd, whose book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, is the inspiration for the film, would appreciate it. He was a guy who liked beer and salami in equal measure, and since he's the guy who's narrating the film, so why not order a beer while you're there and hoist it in his memory? Relive Ralphie's quest for a very specific model of BB gun, remember every great gift you ever received, and then spare a thought for all those kids anticipating Christmas morning right now. Culture Shock presents A Christmas Story Thursday at 7 p.m. at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Boulevard, Maplewood; www.afilmseries.com). Tickets are $6.
3. Check out the Compton Heights Concert Band
For 40 summers the Compton Heights Concert Band has been rocking Tower Grove Park with Sousa marches and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with cannon blasts. But the band also performs one show every winter: its Holiday Pops Spectacular. Joined by special guests Hugh K. Smith (tenor, pictured) and St. Louis' own Gina Galati (soprano), the band performs a family-friendly program of Christmas carols and sacred classics. The big finish is the best bit of Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus, with all hands on deck and additional vocal reinforcements in the form of the East Central College Combined Choirs. Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.chband.org) is the only building in town that won't get its roof blown off during the crescendoes, so that's where the concert takes place. The Holiday Pops Spectacular starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $30 to $75.
4. See a great old film at Webster U
In the era of remakes and reboots, it's difficult to imagine a time when any film was the first of its kind. Henry Edwards' 1935 effort Scrooge was the first "talkie" version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and it made a few key innovations. Edwards spent more time developing the London that created the miser Ebeneezer Scrooge, a city in which incalculable wealth and grinding poverty exist cheek by jowl, and he keeps the spirits that haunt Scrooge invisible to the audience. There's a sense of reality that pays off when the Spirit of Christmas Future reveals the corpse of Tiny Tim to Scrooge — no euphemisms or niceties here. Kids end up dead and Ebeneezer is damned unless he changes his ways. The Webster Film Series screens Scrooge at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday (December 22 and 23) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.webster.edu/film-series). Admission is free.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.