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The Best Holiday Movie You've Never Seen Is Available To Stream

It's getting to that time of year again when families and loved ones have to make the tough annual choice: what do you want to see first? Clarence getting his wings or Hans Gruber wishing he had some before falling to his death? These too pivotal moments make up what many believe to be the required watch lists of the holiday season. Besides "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Die Hard," there's a stocking full of potentials like "Home Alone," "A Muppet Christmas Carol," and "Elf," guaranteed to take up screen time. Even some of the more macabre moviegoers might consider putting on "Black Christmas" for the season of goodwill (which we do not judge you for).

However, one festive favorite may easily go off the radar when it absolutely shouldn't. It's from a name as synonymous with Christmas as Santa Claus. A writer-turned-director that gave us a female-led Jason Bourne with added baubles and a whole lot of swearing. It starred Samuel L. Jackson in what might be the most Samuel L. Jackson-y role we've ever had and Geena Davis as a homemaker with a killer edge. It might also be one of the best Christmas films you've never seen.

The Long Kiss Goodnight is Shane Black's forgotten Christmas gift

At a time when Shane Black was already on Hollywood's naughty but nice list for writing "Lethal Weapon" and "The Last Boy Scout" (both Christmas films themselves), his script for "The Long Kiss Goodnight" earned him an impressive $4 million in 1994 (via The New York Times). Directed by Renny Harlin and available to stream on Paramount+ and Showtime, the film saw Geena Davis as Samantha Caine, a squeaky clean schoolteacher, wife, and mother suffering from severe amnesia. Unable to remember before the last eight years, Samantha discovers that the patchy period before her family life was spent killing bad guys as a government assassin, just in time for some of the remaining ones to show up seeking vengeance. 

From here, Samantha slowly uncovers her previous life as Charly Baltimore with the help of a private investigator, Mitch Hennessey (Samuel L. Jackson), who has been on her case for years and helps retrace her steps. What unfolds is a brilliant buddy movie with Davis going through a shift from PTA head to headshot extraordinaire, dropping great Black-laced one-liners while she does so. Ahead of its time with a great female lead dashing through the snow and aiming for bad guys' heads, there's so much "The Long Kiss Goodnight" has going for it that action stars today would kill for. Better villains, prime action sequences, and one secret weapon that only few come close to matching since — and he comes packed with a truckload of F-bombs.

Samuel L. Jackson is the gift that keeps on giving in The Long Kiss Goodnight

Acting as our eyes and ears for most of the film, Samuel L. Jackson's Mitch Hennesey might be one of the best characters Shane Black has ever written and one that the actor that brought him to life still has a soft spot for. Like a lot of Black's protagonists, Mitch isn't a model hero. He's a rough-around-the-edges ex-cop turned P.I. on a dangerous road to redemption paved with golden one-liners. "I never did one thing right in my life, you know that? Not one. That takes skill." In Jackson's hands, skill has nothing to do with it. Mitch comes naturally to him, and watching him work here never gets old.

Whatever he had left over from his similar role in "Die Hard With a Vengeance" (released the year before), Jackson trickles over here as the two bicker on their long drives and play verbal tennis in between shooting down bad guys. And yet somehow, it's this role, and not his similar stint in the more well-known franchise, that Jackson has more love for. Deeming it a highlight of his career, he told Jimmy Fallon in 2019, "I love that movie, man. I had such a good time with Geena Davis." It's clear that's the case. Their back and forth is the film's highlight, and it only gets better when they come up against another massively overlooked element of this underrated pearl — its villain.

The Long Kiss Goodnight's brilliant bad guy

A movie villain that gets as neglected as the film he's causing trouble in, Craig Bierko's Timothy is the knife stuck in Charly's side and has far too much fun twisting it throughout. There's a comedic streak running in Renny Harlin's movie, but with Timothy, the gags are sharper and more unsettling when fired behind Bierko's punchable grin as the ex-CIA bad guy. Timothy is everything a classic action movie villain should be, thanks to Black's script and the actor that had a good gauge on how to play him.

During a 2021 interview, Bierko admitted while Harlin allowed him to play around with his character, there wasn't much demand, thanks to Black's script. Speaking to John A. Daly at JohnDalyBooks.com, Bierko explained, "Renny was very generous with me. If I had an idea, he'd always give me a take. Timothy was word funny and that's tough because funny releases tension and a movie like 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' requires a well-gauged balance." In the end, though, what Bierko was given was more than enough, as his antagonist makes threats against children and when radioed by a henchman, "I'm hurt real bad. I think I'm dying," he responds with an all-time great. "Continue dying. Out." For the most part, Bierko couldn't take all the credit. "I snuck in some stuff, but Shane Black's script didn't need me to improve it. Everything was on the page." As was the iconic protagonist opposite him.

Charly Baltimore aka the original Atomic Blonde

With all this going for it though, somehow, the stars just weren't aligned for "The Long Kiss Goodnight." Welcomed critically, it sadly only made $90 million against its $65 million budget (via BoxOfficeMojo), with Davis still riding the rough waves of her box-office bomb and near career-ender, "Cutthroat Island." Regrettably, there's also the caveman-like perspective that a female lead in an action movie was hard to come by unless they had James Cameron's name on the box. Nevertheless, that doesn't take away from what is a great action movie with a perfect heroine at the center of it all.

Davis' deadly assassin feels cut from a similar, brighter cloth to Cameron's work thanks to Black's writing and a brilliant performance from the lead. For her infectious and hugely entertaining transformation into a cold-blooded killer, Baltimore feels like a fleshed-out character you want to see more of. She's the original "Atomic Blonde" we almost came close to seeing again in a sequel (via ComicBook). Nevertheless, "The Long Kiss Goodnight" is enough for Charly's name to line up with Sarah Connor and even McClane at the time of the year he dominates. It might suffer from somewhat dated moments, but let our gift to you this year be recommending you sit down and watch a chain-smoking Samuel L. Jackson shoot his way out of a snow-laced fortress with Geena Davis and crack-wise doing it. Isn't that really what Christmas is all about, after all?