I love Christmas movies and I have a collection of the ones I consider to be the best. I watch them every holiday season without fail. I’m always surprised when someone tells me that they’ve never seen a movie that I consider to be one of the ultimate Christmas classics. Nothing will ever replace these old favorites.
Christmas movie watching season begins on Thanksgiving day when my family sits down after dinner and we pop an old video into the VHS player. The movie is always the same— Miracle on 34th St. with Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood. This movie has been remade several times but the original black-and-white classic is so charming and delightful that it continues to be our season opener.
From Thanksgiving and on through Christmas the movies run fast and furiously. Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire is always one of my top, early-season choices. It has a jarring moment or two which sets off my political correctness alarm but otherwise this is an entertaining musical.
Another classic musical is the popular White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. This is one of the most watched Christmas movies ever and it continues to be aired on television every year. I can watch it several times each season and I never tire of it.
My black and white copies of It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart, Holiday Affair starring Robert Mitchum, The Bishops Wife starring David Niven and Cary Grant, and my all-time favorite, Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck will never be replaced no matter how many remakes Hollywood tries to sell me. Despite not really being a Christmas movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s also joins this list. Collectors will want to add Remember the Night to their Christmas shelves. Although the story does occur at Christmas time it is not lighthearted enough to be a movie that I would want to watch annually.
The original version of A Christmas Memory starring Geraldine Page is unfortunately difficult to find. A remake starring Patty Duke has pretty good reviews but I’ve never seen it. Both versions are based on the original novel by Truman Capote. I dearly love this heartwarming story of seven-year-old buddy and the elderly simple–minded Sook. Each year I look forward to watching their annual Christmas venture of gathering pecans, purchasing whiskey, and baking fruitcakes for friends and neighbors and even President Roosevelt.
More recent additions to my Christmas shelf include Jacqueline Smith’s The Night They Saved Christmas. No, this is not a great movie but for some reason I find it cute enough to rate a space in my movie watching line – up. Others that I enjoy annually are Christmas Vacation, the Santa Clause, Home Alone 2 (the one that takes place in New York City), and Christmas comes to Willow Creek (starring the two Dukes of Hazzard boys). Also in this category are several that I may or may not watch. They are good enough that I own a copy but I don’t necessarily watch them every single year. These movies include Prancer, Jack Frost, Deck the Halls, Christmas with the Kranks, and Jingle All the Way.
My favorite version of Dicken’s Christmas Carol is a musical called Scrooge and it stars Albert Finney. Another good version is the one starring George C Scott and even the Muppets do justice to this classic story in The Muppets Christmas Carol with Michael Caine.
Modern movies that I found good enough to want to keep a copy of include It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year which is a pretty good romantic comedy made even better with the addition of Henry Winkler. Kelsey Grammer’s Mr. St. Nick is fun and following a similar story line, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus is even better. The Christmas Visitor with Meredith Baxter Bernie and William DeVane is a touching drama with a lost soldier theme. Whether or not these made-for-TV additions will last through the years remains to be seen.
One that I am sure will still be around in another 50 years is A Christmas story. In my house it is a favorite that often gets saved for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
There are plenty of other Christmas movies out there that I have no desire to purchase but which you may want to add to your own collection. Many are atrociously bad. Others are more tolerable or even good depending on your point of view. Some of the more popular ones are Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, Scrooged, and Santa Claus the Movie.
Pop some popcorn, pour a glass of eggnog, and happy viewing!