LA CAÑADA, California
One of the most affecting moments in the movie, “The Monuments Men,” happens when one of the characters, Bill Murray’s Richard Campbell, receives a recording from home, with his granddaughter singing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
Who is really singing?
An absolute unknown, Nora Sagal – at least at the time she recorded the former Judy Garland standard.
Who is she?
Nora, I’m proud to say, is from my hometown – La Cañada, California! She was only 16 at the time she recorded the song, and she is the daughter of Warner Brothers executive David Sagal.
Actor/director/screenwriter George Clooney told a fanzine site how Ms. Sagal was selected: “We wrote this Christmas scene knowing that we were gonna be using that piece of music. A good friend of mine, his 16 year-old daughter is just an insanely talented singer. I had her record that at her school and we just used it. It was spectacular.”
Check out the fanzine’s page on this, plus a bonus clip of Ms. Sagal singing, “Fever.”
Not to take anything at all away from Ms. Sagal, but “Merry Little Christmas” has been used as a tear-jerker in a war movie before, with arguably even greater effect. Frank Sinatra’s gut-wrenching version in” The Victors” (1963), is played out against an execution inspired by the death by firing squad of Eddie Slovik – not to be confused with the nearly-as-powerful “The Execution of Private Slovik” (1974) which Sinatra once owned the film rights to. Slovik was the only U.S. soldier executed for desertion in World War II- or actually since the Civil War. The Victors was so disturbing, more than 40 years later, it’s hard to find a version of it on VHS, CD or DVD.
February 9, 2014