Christmas is upon us. It’s time to gather with friends and family, eat candy out of socks, and watch sentimental holiday movie classics that allow us to believe in Santa and angels, and remind us to find the good in ourselves and others.
- ‘It’s A Wonderful Life‘ – This is hands down my favorite Christmas movie, and typically at the top of Christmas movie lists. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) struggles to accept his place in a small town, but with the help of Clarence the angel, discovers the value of his life. As much of a classic as this is, I’ve found that many people still haven’t seen this gem. These people may have been put off because it’s in black-and-white, and they usually smell bad. If you’re saying, “Hey… I don’t smell bad!” then you need to watch this movie.
- ‘Miracle on 34th Street‘ – I prefer the 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara and a young Natalie Wood, but the 1994 version isn’t totally awful. A man claiming to be the real Kris Kringle shows up as Santa at Macy’s. O’Hara plays a single mom raising her daughter not to believe in fairy tales and nonsense like Santa. But this guy keeps insisting that he really is Santa, and he’s pretty convincing, but he might also just be insane. Eventually, the issue is taken to court to determine if Santa exists.
- ‘A Christmas Carol‘ – The 1938 version with Reginald Owen as Scrooge is a great traditional telling of the tale. Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit is adorable. (Lockhart also plays the court judge in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.) Terry Kilburn plays the quintessential Tiny Tim. Also good is the 1951 version with Alastair Sim and his Mad Hatter take on Scrooge.
- ‘White Christmas‘ – I feel obligated to put this in the list, even though it’s not a personal favorite. Did you ever go to a party where everyone was nice, but you just didn’t feel like you fit in? That’s kind of what the actors in this movie are to me. I just don’t relate to them. However, the film builds up to a very heartwarming ending that honors veterans and has some nice music along the way.
For me, those are the fireside musts, but here are a few more classics to enjoy:
- ‘The Bishop’s Wife‘ – Cary Grant plays an angel who comes to Earth in answer to a Bishop’s prayer. Trouble is that upon arrival, the Bishop takes a disliking to this angel, especially since his wife seems a bit too fond of him. I can’t say that this movie completely comes together, but it has so many nice moments, and well, it’s Cary Grant, and it’s Christmas after all. Speaking of which, if you need a little more Cary Grant, Christmas and romance, you could also watch ‘An Affair to Remember’.
- ‘The Shop Around the Corner‘ – You may know this plotline from ‘You’ve Got Mail’ or ‘In the Good Old Summertime’. This earlier version with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan is a warm telling of the story, without the politics of corporate bookstores or people breaking into frenetic song.
- ‘It Happened on Fifth Avenue‘ – I like this one more every time I see it. Victor Moore plays a loveable bum named Aloysius who takes up residence in a 5th Avenue mansion during the winter months while the owners are away. Hijinks ensue when the owners return early, but they play along when Aloysius thinks they’re homeless too. This kindly intruder helps the family reconnect and rediscover the value of love and family.