I'm Dreaming of a Celluloid Christmas
With the holidays just around the corner, it's time to revisit those old Christmas movie classics. And while we're at it, let's think about adding new ones to the list as well. Some films mentioned below are more Christmassy than others, and some feature the magical holiday only in a few scenes, but here are my picks for the best Christmas movies of all time:
It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Tops on any list. I watch it every year, and it just keeps getting better.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Definitive proof that Santa really does exist.
A Christmas Story (1983). I double dog dare you not to like this one.
White Christmas (1954). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye head up this Christmas classic. But the real star of the show is Irving Berlin's score. A little "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" anyone?
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). I know it's a made-for-TV movie, but to ignore this one would be irresponsible. Generations have grown up with it.
Elf (2003). Will Ferrell drives this great-for-the-entire-family Christmas comedy. Of course the uncredited appearance of Peter Billingsley is a special holiday treat.
The Nightmare before Christmas (1993). Tim Burton's stop-motion feature has already become a holiday classic. "And they call him Sandy Claws!"
The Chronicles of Narnia (2005). Not really a Christmas movie but Santa Claus does make an appearance so it must be included in the list. A fantastic movie experience!
Bad Santa (2003). Come on, admit it! You know it made you laugh. There's just something funny about a drunken Santa.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 - TV & 2003 cinematic). It's fun to watch the TV version and the movie version back-to-back.
The Bishop's Wife (1947). Who doesn't like Cary Grant as an angel? Features a great movie quote: "The only people who grow old were born old to begin with."
Home Alone (1990). The first one, not the sequels, is a really good family film for the holidays, except… there's no family! Funny gags, hilarious antics and truly feel-good moments as well.
A Christmas Carol (1938). The best version of the well-worn Dickens literary classic. At only 70 minutes runtime, it's a short but sweet classic. Beautiful set designs and powerful acting performances make this a must-see holiday film.
The Santa Clause (1994). Features one of Tim Allen's few successful big screen performances. So full of heart and charm it's becoming a holiday season staple.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989). Gotta love the holidays with the Griswalds! Watching Clark's ineptitude makes us all feel a little better about ourselves.
Yes, Virgina, There Is a Santa Claus (1991 - TV). Richard Thomas, Ed Asner and Charles Bronson star in this cheerful and uplifting version of the 1974 original. Will challenge you to look at things a little differently.
Holiday Inn (1942). Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire bring this oldie-but-goodie to life. Bing Crosby does Christmas so well, especially in the magnificent debut of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas."
King Kong (2005). Okay, I know it's not a Christmas movie. But this is such a magnificent piece of filmmaking, and Christmas does play a significant enough part that it must be included on my list. Ahhh...Christmas in New York. Nothing like it!
Swiss Family Robinson (1960). Here’s another one that's not really a Christmas movie, but the big holiday plays an important role in keeping the stranded family together. Kind of dated Disney fare, but a classic nonetheless.
Trading Places (1983). This hilarious movie starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd is a timeless Holiday comedy.
(Also posted on www.franksreelreviews.com. Photo: Frank Wilkins in his home theater.)