Lighthouse Christmas Film Favorites


It’s A Wonderful Life
It’s that time of year again. It is time to make some popcorn or holiday treats and watch those old and new Christmas films – classics for the aged tradition of Christmas and New Year’e eve. Here is a list of my favorites:
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) … This has to be the classic of classics and my all-time favorite. Frank Capra directed this Christmas classic and Jimmy Stewart portrayed a fellow by the name of George Bailey. George is a desperate small-town family man at the beginning of the film and is considering suicide on Christmas Eve, until he gets a visit from an angel (Henry Travers) and discovers the real meaning of Christmas and the fact that everyone makes a difference in other folks’ lives. It is a bummer that this great film won no Oscars, although Capra and Stewart were nominated. Goes to show that the Oscars was off beat then as now. I know, it’s corny to some, but the story is great and Henry Tavers makes a great an humorous angel — and who doesn’t like angels?

 

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) … This is the original film (remakes have been made since) and is a great story about a man (Edmund Gwynne) who claims he is Kris Kringle. Maureen O’Hara is a Macy employee who cares for the man, but doesn’t believe in Kris Kringle/Santa Claus – not wanting her daughter (Natalie Wood) to grow up believing in Prince Charming or other childish nonsense. Of course, Natalie Wood becomes fond of the old man and the story ends in a happy ever-after setting. Other versions of this story cannot beat this 1947 film.
White Christmas (1954) … What film list about Christmas wouldn’t include the voice of Christmas caroling and song, but that of Bing Crosby? A musical Christmas tale that is full of Irving Berlin’s songs, like “Blue Skies” and “White Christmas” and teaming up with Danny Kaye as a war buddy who perform song and dance after World War II, it is a classic of classics. The scene takes place at a Vermont resort and becomes the location of an army unit’s reunion. Fun film, with the usual Danny Kaye antics and the added singing and dancing talent of Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. The film as well as the song has become the all-time Christmas classic.
A Christmas Carol (1951) … Also known as “Scrooge” starred Alastair Sim, who is probably the best Scrooge ever played, except for the musical, listed below. This is the Dickens classic adaptation about the character Ebenezer Scrooge that kids of all ages know about. Complete with the three ghosts that take Scrooge on a memory voyage and the final voyage being the future. The scenes let the viewer see what life was like in 19th-century London and Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber brings out the casting’s professionalism.
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) … Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth, a food writer and “hard-working farm woman”, mother and “excellent cook.” At least that is what her boss thinks, but in reality she cannot even boil an egg. Then the fun begins when her boss decides to send a sailor (Jefferson Jones) to spend Christmas with her. Elizabeth thinks the jig is up now and her real home life will be revealed. A fun film, filled with nostalgia.
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) … Bob Hope provides Christmas humor in this Damon Runyan adapted classic, where Bob plays Sidney Melbourne (The Lemon Drop Kid), who causes a gangster’s girlfriend to lose his $10,000 and must come up with the money or else. The film also stars Marilyn Maxwell and William Frawley.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) … Although not a bonafide Christmas film, there is holiday theme in the film when Judy Garland, one of four daughters (Margaret O’Brien, Lucille Bremer, Joan Carroll) sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and who are upset when the father accepts a transfer to New York. Directed by Vincent Minnelli (his third) and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
The Polar Express (2004) … With modern animation that makes it realistic, this story for kids of all ages is about a doubting boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole and finds himself in quite an adventure. Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg and is rated G.
A Christmas Story (1983) … This list could not be complete without the story about Ralphie, a young boy growing up in the 1940s and has his heart set on getting a Red Ryder BB rifle for Christmas. All he hears from adults is: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) … The animated talent of Chuck Jones combined with the delightful story of Dr. Seuss combines to make the Christmas animated classic tale of a cynic whose voice is Boris Karloff making a diabolical plan for the Whoville residents at Christmas.

The Grinch (2000) … Ron Howard directs this film with Jim Carrey as the Grinch in the live adaptation of the Dr. Seuss tale. I can never decide which I like better – the animated original or the live version.

Home Alone (1990) … Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone by his family while they fly to France for Christmas vacation. Ken not only loves the freedom, but also has an adventure with two bungling burglars.

Gremlins (1984) … A Christmas tale with a different twist. About a Christmas present that is a mysterious little creature that is cute – but must not be fed after midnight and never, ever, get him wet!
The Thin Man (1934) … This may be an odd entry, but I really like the classic detective story set in New York, and it takes place at Christmas with the great couple Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy). Also available in a collection by Amazon.
Scrooge (1970) … A great musical adaptation with Albert Finney (Scrooge) and Alec Guinness of Star Wars fame as his deceased partner.
Scrooged (1988) … Bill Murray (as Scrooge-like character), Karen Allen and directed by Richard Donner. Murray portrays a modern-day Scrooge in this Christmas comedy.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) … With Chevy Chase, lovely Beverly D’Angelo, and direction by Jeremiah S. Chechik, this is a comedy Christmas classic.
What is YOUR favorite Christmas film? Let me know via e-mail and get it to me by next week (21st) and I will post it.
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