That special time of the year has rolled around again. During the final weeks into the Christmas Season, I really do not want to hear anything about politics, Colin Kaepernick, or Kim Kardashian. My wife and I prefer to relax (after little Frankie is asleep) with some appropriate ‘feel good’ movies.
Honorable Mentions: These features did not make this list of the best movies because they were specials made for Television and they don’t run the length of a film.
A Charlie Brown Christmas – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I can hardly wait to watch these with little Frankie.
(7) Come to the Stable: (D. Henry Koster 1949: Starring Loretta Young & Celeste Holm)
Two Naïve French Nuns come to America to establish a children’s hospital. Of course they wreak havoc upon a sleepy New England town, but miraculously succeed in the end. I ranked this at #40 on my favorite films of the 1940’s
Best Scene: Celeste Holm in full Nun garb playing a competitive game of tennis.
(6) It’s a Wonderful Life (D. Frank Capra 1946: Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed & Lionel Barrymore) The simple but heroic George Bailey plods through a perceived mediocre life. Later, his guardian angel shows him how his life has affected others for the better. There’s a dark side and something of a sci-fi quality to parts of this incredible holiday favorite. This film ranked as #28 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s
(5) Miracle on 34th Street (D. George Seaton 1947: Starring Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn & John Payne)
What happens when you hire a Santa Claus who thinks he really is Santa Claus? Some mischief and mayhem ensues for Maureen O’Hara. Edmund Gwenn received a supporting Oscar for his portrayal of Kris Kringle and there’s a very young Natalie Wood. A delightful ‘feel good’ movie if there ever was one. I ranked this film at #18 on my list of best movies of the 1940’s
Best Scene: When the mail bags are brought into the courtroom.
(4) Babes In Toyland (D. Gus Meins & Charley Rogers 1934: Starring Laurel & Hardy)
Stannie Dee and Ollie Dum have a hard time surviving in Toyland. They even botch Santa’s order for wooden soldiers at the toy factory. Throughout the story they help young lovers get together and foil the plans of Silas Barnaby. The tall wooden soldiers save Toyland from the Bogeymen. I ranked this film at #15 on my list of the best movies of the 1930’s.
Best Scene: The invasion of Toyland by the Bogeymen.
(3) A Christmas Carol: (UK) (D. Brian Desmond Hurst 1951: Starring Alastair Sim)
A truly literate adaptation the Dickens classic. At first this film was panned for its dark content but nobody and I mean nobody has ever given a better dramatic portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. This film also sits at #9 on my favorite film of the 1950’s list.
Best Scene: Scrooge on Christmas morning.
(2) The Bishop’s Wife (D. Henry Koster 1947: Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester & Monty Woolley)
What an incredible cast! Will the angel help the Bishop? Loads of fun laced profound moments. The Bishop and the Angel begin an unhealthy competition for the affections of Loretta Young, Ooops, she’s already married to the Bishop. Of course, nobody (except The Bishop) knows that Dudley is an Angel. Some of his off-hand remarks bear a deep meaning but go over everyone else’s heads. This film ranked as #7 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s
Best Scene: The Angel and the Bishop’s wife go to an ice-skating rink.
(1) Scrooge: (UK) (D. Ronald Neame 1970: Starring Albert Finney & Alec Guinness) None of the beauty of Dickens literature is lost in this musical version. Catchy lyrics, melodies, and an incredible performance by Albert Finney make for one of the finest films ever made. This film ranked at #11 on my best movies of the 1970’s list.
Grand production musicals were not in vogue in 1970 and I feel that is the reason why “Scrooge” never received the recognition it so truly deserves. This absolute gem of British Cinema has regretfully fallen through the cracks of history.
Best Scene: “Thank You Very Much” Probably one of the most side-splitting examples of dark humor ever!
How About You?
What are your favorite Christmas movies?