Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

I watch the same four black and white Christmas films each year.  I know the plots, of course,  but choose to forget them each time so that I can participate with the actors in the rediscovery of what is most important in life.  These films are all about ordinary people whose lives are changed often with the intercession of the divine or the supernatural.


First, not in date but in prominence: “Miracle on 34th Street,” whose St. Nick embodies wonder, miracles, a young girl’s faith and the essence of New York City.


Then comes “The Bishops Wife.” Cary Grant shines as the angel who visits David Nivens, the bishop who is so involved in patronizing a rich benefactor to get a cathedral built, that he has turns away from what is important in life. Loretta Young is stunning as the bishop’s wife.


“This film,” writes Stacey Bewkes at Quintessence, “should be on everyone’s Christmas classic list. And it is a great movie to watch at this time of year as it will most certainly put you in the holiday spirit, both aesthetically and psychologically, for lack of a better word. It is the story of an angel (Cary Grant) who comes down to earth to answer a busy Bishop’s (David Niven) prayer. Loretta Young plays Niven’s lovely yet neglected wife and there is a great supporting cast with Monty Woolley, James Gleason and Elsa Lanchester. Grant is as charming and debonair as ever and Young so perfectly plays his naive foil. The movie is worth watching for the famous skating scene alone.”

Of course, no such viewing schedule would be complete without the perennial It’s a Wonderful Life Who doesn’t hope for an angel named Clarence to show the light to the misguided and reward the just? And the banker scenes have renewed relevance these days.


Finally,  A Christmas Carol. This Charles Dickens tale has been told in five film versions from 1938 to 2009. In each, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve who show him past, present, and future Christmas Eves and transforms him from bitter old Scrooge to happy, loving, and generous Ebenezer Scrooge. In this humble reviewer’s opinion, this 1938 version of the Dickens classic Christmas story, starring Reginald Owen is a lot more genuine than the exuberant 1951 version with Alastair Sim. I remember watching it every year on television and being terrified at Marley’s ghost (played by Leo G. Carroll). The original version now available on DVD in glorious black and white includes a special treat! – the original theatrical trailer and two festive vintage featurettes: Jackie Cooper’s Christmas Party and Judy Garland singing “Silent Night”.


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


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  • S. Bewkes December 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    LOVE them all – and thank you for the mention!! I watched Bishop’s Wife in the wee hours Christmas Eve as I finished my wrapping – it never fails to enchant!! Hoping you and yours had a wonderful Christmas!!