Christmas Classics

Christmas is a great time for festivity, family, food, and … well you know.   Snuggled into the family room or den, part of the delight of this season of celebration is family togetherness.  And when “the weather outside is frightful,” what better time than to break out some of  those ‘ole Christmas movies?

So, stir up some steaming mugs of hot chocolate or apple cider, fill a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn and gather ’round with your loved ones to re-watch some of the best.  Here, in no particular order, are our favorite Christmas-themed movies:

It’s A Wonderful Life. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without George and Mary Bailey, Bedford Falls, Zuzu and Clarence Odbody, A.S. II.  ( One caveat: Around here, the one and  only *official, authorized” version of this Frank Capra classic is the B&W version.)

The Christmas Box. 1995. Based on the wonderful novella by best-selling author Richard Paul Evans. Stars Richard Thomas and Maureen O’Hara.

White Christmas. 1954.  Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby as a song-and-dance team that hits the big time after the war.  They meet Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen – the Sisters act, famously- and hilariously – echoed by Kaye and Crosby later in the movie.  The foursome wind up in a snowless Vermont inn at Christmastime and hatch a plan to help their former general who’s down on his luck.  A little thin on plot, but great Irving Berlin tunes.  Nobody sings the title tune like ‘ole Bing.  A classic.

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. 1971.  Okay, okay.  We can’t stand the mother and father they recruited for this made-for-TV movie set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Depression, but it’s still a good story about a large family awaiting their Daddy’s long overdue homecoming on Christmas Eve.   The movie pilot that launched The Waltons.  “G’night John-Boy.”

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. 1958.  Ingrid Bergman as Gladys Aylward, British missionary who “wasn’t qualified for service to China.”   Undeterred, Gladys follows God’s call to China and saves one hundred orphans from the invading Japanese – and then some.  (Also read the biography.)  Shows how God can use one person who won’t take “No” for an answer.  (Not a “Christmas movie” per se, but a brief story about The Birth is included.)

Scrooge. 1970. We’ve seen every production of A Christmas Carol ever cranked out – from Reginald Owen and Alastair Sim to George C. Scott to Mr. Magoo.  This musical version starring Albert Finney as the cantankerous old curmudgeon is our favorite.

A Thousand Men and a  Baby. 1997.  Never heard of it?  Well, now you have.  Solid performances by Richard Thomas and Gerald McRaney in this remarkable, heart-warming story about the crew of a U.S. aircraft who adopts an abandoned Korean/American baby.  Based on a true story.  One of our favorites.  (Bring Kleenex.)

Little House on the Prairie: The Christmas They Never Forgot.

For the Younger Ones:

A Charlie Brown Christmas. 1965.  An oldie but a goodie.  Linus’ response to Charlie’s, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?” is worth the view alone.  Doesn’t get much better than this.

The Little Drummer Boy.  1968.  Hard to find, but wonderful.  We meet Aaron the drummer boy and journey with him to Bethlehem on that Night of nights.  Poignant and heartfelt.  A claymation production.

The Littlest Angel.  1969.  Delightful animated  story of a little shepherd boy’s difficulties in adjusting to heaven.  Imaginative musing on how the Star of Bethlehem may have “originated.”  Based on the book by Charles Tazewell.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Forget the Jim Carrey version, which had the appeal of a plate of canned spinach.  The original 1966 version can’t be improved upon:

That’s the abbreviated list.  What are your favorites?

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