My 7 Favorite Christmas Movies

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.christmas

(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?

My Favorite Films of the 1940’s

All of my favorite movies by decade lists always have 50 titles. Normally that amount of titles is an easy task except this one. The 1940’s was such an inventive golden age of cinema that I could’ve easily done 100 titles.

There are classics and some guilty pleasures thrown in here. As for this list, collaborating directors Powel & Pressburger loom large with three in the top ten. Howard Hawks and John Ford each have three mentions as well.

I’m sure there are ardent film buffs that are going to go apoplectic over placing Citizen Kane at #2. Also, those same critics might go ape over my opting for “The Time of Their Lives” over “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Most critics claim that the latter was their best work. However, I truly beg to differ. “The Time of Their Lives” is a much more comedic venue, with an interesting and creative story. For me, “The Time of Their Lives” represents Abbott & Costello at the top of their game.

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Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

After WWII, some French film buffs noticed a darker world view and subject matter in American movies. They dubbed it “Film Noir.”

50. Sahara…d. Zoltan Korda

49. The Bells of St. Mary’s…d. Leo McCarey

48. Stray Dog…d. Akira Kurosawa

47. A Letter to Three Wives…d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

46. And Then There Were None…d. René Clair

45. Going My Way…d. Leo McCarey

44. The Woman in Green…d. Roy William Neill

43. The Song of Bernadette…d. Henry King

42. Nightmare Alley…d. Edmund Goulding

41. Double Indemnity…d. Billy Wilder

There are quite a few films here for paranormal fans. The paranormal theme was used as a venue for horror, comedy, and drama.

40. Come to the Stable…d. Henry Koster

39. My Darling Clementine…d. John Ford

38. Angel on My Shoulder…d. Archibald Louis Mayo

37. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon…d. John Ford

36. On the Town…d. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

35. I Was a Male War Bride…d. Howard Hawks

34. Sergeant York…d. Howard Hawks

33. My Favorite Wife…d. Garson Kanin

32. I Married a Witch…d. René Clair

31. The Keys of the Kingdom…d. John M. Stahl

It was the decade of World War II, and therefore, war movies were a staple. Some of these films sum up the attitude, resolve, and plight of the greatest generation. The recreation of the raising of the flag in Sands of Iwo Jima stands as a great cinematic moment.

30. Topper Returns…d. Roy Del Ruth

29. Casablanca…d. Michael Curtiz

28. It’s a Wonderful Life…d. Frank Capra

27. Passport to Pimlico…d. Henry Cornelius (UK)

26. Sullivan’s Travels…d. Preston Sturges

25. Anchors Aweigh…d. George Sidney

24. Roma: Città Apertà…d. Roberto Rossellini (Italy)

23. His Girl Friday…d. Howard Hawks

22. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre…d. John Huston

21. The Best Years of Our Lives…d. William Wyler

Italian directors took their cameras into the streets and created what the French called “Cinéma Verité.” This style of bare-bones filmmaking would later become the standard for The French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

20. The Time of Their Lives…d. Charles Barton

19. Laura…d. Otto Preminger

18. Miracle on 34th Street…d. George Seaton

17. The Uninvited…d. Lewis Allen

16. Twelve O’clock High…d. Henry King

Be sure to see my other listing of my favorite films from the 1950s 1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s

15. The Fountainhead…d. King Vidor

14. Sands of Iwo Jima…d. Allan Dwan

13. Santa Fe Trail…d. Michael Curtiz

12. Kind Hearts and Coronets…d. Robert Hamer

11. The Angel and the Bad Man…d. James Edward Grant

If the 1940’s belongs to any single actor, then this list grants that award to Cary Grant. Six of his films made it onto this list with three in the top ten.

10. Fantasia…d. Walt Disney & many others

09. I Ladroni della Bicicletta…d. Vittorio De Sica (Italy)

08. Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House…d. H.C. Potter

07. The Bishop’s Wife…d. Henry Koster

06. Arsenic and Old Lace…d. Frank Capra

05. The Shop Around the Corner…d. Ernst Lubitsch

04. Black Narcissus…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)

03. The Red Shoes…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)

02. Citizen Kane…d. Orson Welles

01. A Matter of Life and Death…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)   a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven (U.S. Title)

I remember back in the 1970’s, “A Matter of Life and Death” was advertised and listed as “Stairway to Heaven” when it played on TV. Currently, my DVD carries the original British title, and a recent showing on Turner Classic Movies did the same. However, on IMDB’s top box office list, they still use the U.S. title.

How does my list stack up against yours? Have you seen all of these movies? Are you interested in seeing some of them?

Not shy? Then leave a reply!

Go to Ernesto San Giacomo’s author page.

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My Favorite Films of the 1950’s

O.K. Movie Buffs, here’s a list of my favorite movies from the 1950’s. Now I’m sure that some of you are going to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me?” for a few selections. But, although there are some cheesy sci-fi flicks listed, they are part of my favorites, the ones that I like to curl up with on a lonely night or rainy day.

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Public Domain Image courtesy of Pixabay

One listing has its controversy. There was a bit of a burning question in Cinema Studies during the 80’s and 90’s. Who really directed “The Thing”? IMDB currently lists Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks (uncredited) as co-directors, so I guess the mystery has been settled. By the way, this film has some of the best dialog ever written for the silver screen.

I still believe that it was Howard Hawks. He had a somewhat legendary status by 1950, and he probably didn’t want an association with a Sci-Fi film. The story was incredibly original and the film looks, tastes, feels, and smells like his fingerprints are all over it. I also once recommended this film for authors who want to write better dialog.

50. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers…d. Fred F. Sears

49. Umberto D…d. Vittorio De Sica (Italy)

48. Sunset Boulevard…d. Billy Wilder

47. Rashomon…d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

46. Paths of Glory…d.Stanley Kubrick

45. Witness for the Prosecution…d. Billy Wilder

44. Showboat…d. George Sidney

43. Le Journal d’un Curé de Campagne…d. Robert Bresson (France)

42. Pickpocket…d. Robert Bresson (France)

41. Sanjiro Sugata…d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

40. The Seven Samurai…d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

39. A Face in the Crowd…d. Elia Kazan

38. Mr. Roberts…d. John Ford / Mervyn LeRoy

37. North by Northwest…d. Alfred Hitchcock

36. Rear Window…d. Alfred Hitchcock

35. Bob Le Flambeur…d. Jen-Pierre Melville (France)

34. The Man in the White Suit…d. Alexander Mackendrick (UK)

33. I’m Alright Jack…d. John Boulting (UK)

32. Them!…d. Gordon Douglas

31. House on Haunted Hill…d. Robb White

30. The Caine Mutiny…d. Edward Dmytryk

29. Rear Window…d. Alfred Hitchcock

28. From Here to Eternity…d. Fred Zinneman

27. The Quiet Man…d. John Ford

26. The Day the Earth Stood Still…d. Robert Wise

25. The Captain’s Paradise…d. Antony Kimmins (UK)

24. The Rose Tattoo…d. Daniel Mann

23. High Noon…d. Fred Zinneman

22. 12 Angry Men…d. Sidney Lumet

21. Singing in the Rain…d. Stanley Donen / Gene Kelly

20. Written on the Wind…d. Douglas Sirk

19. Touch of Evil…d. Orson Welles

18. The Seventh Seal…d. Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)

17. Throne of Blood…d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

16. Creature from the Black Lagoon…d. Jack Arnold

15. Les Diaboliques…d. Henri-Georges Clouzot (France)

14. Invasion of the Body Snatchers…d. Don Siegel

13. All About Eve…d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

12. Ikiru…d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

11. Forbidden Planet…d. Fred M. Wilcox

10. Les Quatre-Cent Coups…d. Francois Truffaut (France)

09. A Christmas Carol…d. Brian Desmond Hurst (UK)

08. Les Jeux Interdits…d. René Clément (France)

07. Hiroshima Mon Amour…d. Alain Resnais (France)

06. The Wages of Fear…d. Henri-Georges Clouzot (France)

05. Stalag 17…d. Billy Wilder

04. The Searchers…d. John Ford

03. The Thing From Another World…d. Christian Nyby / Howard Hawks (uncredited)

02. Ben-Hur…d. William Wyler

01. The Ten Commandments…d. Cecil B De Mille

Check out my other lists of favorite movies from the  1960’s  1970’s  1980’s  1990’s 

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My Favorite Films of the 90’s

You may not agree with every film on my list, but that’s o.k. These are my favs from the era. They may not all be Academy Award winners, but who cares?

50.   Ace Ventura: Pet Detective………………..d. Tom Shadyac

49.   Star Wars: The Phantom Menace………..d. George Lucas

48.  The Matrix…………………………………….d. Andy Wachowski

47.   A Bronx Tale………………………………….d. Robert De Niro

46.   Saving Private Ryan…………………………d. Steven Spielberg

45.   Independence Day…………………………..d. Roland Emmerich

44.   The Usual Suspects………………………….d. Bryan Singer

43.   The Fifth Element……………………………d. Luc Besson

42.   Life is Beautiful………………………………d. Roberto Benigni (Italy)

41.   Interview With The Vampire………………d. Neil Jordan

40.   Starship Troopers…………………………..d. Paul Verhoeven

39.   The Coneheads………………………………d. Steve Barron

38.   Bram Stoker’s Dracula……………………..d. Francis Ford Coppola

37.   Unforgiven……………………………………d. Clint Eastwood

36.   Contact………………………………………..d. Robert Zemeckis

35.   My Girl…………………………………………d. Howard Zieff

34.   What About Bob?……………………………d. Frank Oz

33.   Twister………………………………………..d. Jan De Bont

32.   The English Patient………………………..d. Anthony Minghella (USA/UK)

31.   Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls………..d. Steve Oedekerk

30.   Liar Liar……………………………………..d. Tom Shadyac

29.   Bhaji On The Beach………………………..d. Gurinda Chadha (UK)

28.   Ed Wood……………………………………..d. Tim Burton

27.   The Remains of the Day…………………..d. James Ivory (UK)

26.   My Cousin Vinny………………………………..d. Jonathan Lynn

25.   Robin Hood: Men in Tights……………………d. Mel Brooks

24.   Pi…………………………………………………..d. Darren Aronofsky

23.   The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc…..d. Luc Besson (France)

22.   Much Ado About Nothing……………………..d. Kenneth Branagh (UK/USA)

21.   The Doors………………………………………….d. Oliver Stone

20.   Star Trek: First Contact………………………..d. Jonathan Frakes

19.   Reservoir Dogs…………………………………..d. Quentin Tarantino

18.   Stargate…………………………………………..d. Roland Emmerich

17.   Star Trek: Generations………………………..d. David Carson

16.   El Mariachi………………………………………d. Robert Rodriguez

15.   Nine Months…………………………………….d. Chris Columbus

14.   Casino…………………………………………….d. Martin Scorsese

13.   Secrets and Lies…………………………………d. Mike Leigh (UK)

12.   Rush………………………………………………d. Lili Fini Zanuck

11.   Indochine………………………………………..d. Régis Wargnier (France)

10.   Land and Freedom…………………………….d. Ken Loach (UK/Spain/Ger/ Italy/ Fr)

09.   Cyrano De Bergerac…………………………..d. Jean-Paul Rappaneau (France)

08.   Eat Drink Man Woman………………………d. Ang Lee (Taiwan/USA)

07.   Different for Girls…………………………….d. Richard Spence (UK)

06.   Tank Girl……………………………………….d. Rachel Talalay

05.   Johnny Stecchino…………………………….d. Roberto Benigni (Italy)

04.   Goodfellas……………………………………..d. Martin Scorsese

03.   Better Than Chocolate………………………d. Anne Wheeler (Canada)

02.   Kundun…………………………………………d. Martin Scorsese

01.   Mediterraneo………………………………….d. Gabriele Salvatores (Italy)

Yes, the small budget film Mediterraneo ranks as my number one. It just gets better and better every time I see it.

My Favorite Films of The 1980’s

Some of these might not be the greatest or even have any appeal to anyone. Some of these films are here because of the experiences I have had with them. Hanging out with my college buddies and watching these movies brings back many fond memories. While other films I discovered while taking classes in Cinema Studies.

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Public Domain Clip Art courtesy of Pixabay Openclips used under CC License

 

50. Raiders of the Lost Ark……….d. Steven Spielberg

49. The Terminator……….d. James Cameron

48. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off……….d. John Hughes

47. The Princess Bride……….d. Rob Reiner

46. A Passage to India……….d. David Lean (UK)

45. Ran……….d. Akira Kurosawa (Japan)

44. Full Metal Jacket……….d. Stanley Kubrick

43. Victor / Victoria……….d. Blake Edwards

42. Aliens……….d. James Cameron

41. The Elephant Man……….d.  David Lynch (UK/USA)

40. Airplane……….d. Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker,  David Zucker

39. Mephisto……….d. Istvan Szabo (W. Germany / Hungary / Austria)

38. Radio Days……….d. Woody Allen

37. Salvador……….d. Oliver Stone

36. Fast Times at Ridgemont High……….d. Amy Heckerling

35. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home……….d. Leonard Nimoy

34. The Blues Brothers……….d. John Landis

33. Big Trouble in Little China……….d. John Carpenter

32. Highlander……….d. Russell Mulcahy  (UK)

31. Caddyshack……….d. Harold Ramis

30. Easy Money……….d. James Signorelli

29. Conan the Barbarian……….d. John Milius

28. The Money Pit……….d. Richard Benjamin

27. Back to School……….d. Alan Metter

26. Labyrinth……….d. Jim Henson

25. Pale Rider……….d. Clint Eastwood

24. Ghostbusters……….d. Ivan Reitman

23. Amadeus……….d. Milos Forman

22. Brazil………..d. Terry Gilliam

21. Fitzcarraldo……….d. Werner Herzog (W. Germany)

20. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan……….d. Nicholas Meyer

19. Clash of the Titans……….d. Desmond Davis

18. Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears……….d. Vladimir Menshov (USSR)

17. My Beautiful Launderette……….d. Stephen Frears (UK)

16. The Empire Strikes Back……….d. George Lucas

15. Under Fire……….d. Roger Spottiswoode

14. Gandhi……….d. Richard Attenborough (UK / India)

13. Spaceballs……….d. Mel Brooks

12. Raging Bull……….d. Martin Scorsese

11. The Shining……….d. Stanley Kubrick

10. The Natural……….d. Barry Levinson

09. Pink Floyd: The Wall……….d. Alan Parker (UK)

08. The Right Stuff……….d. Phillip Kaufman

07. Blade Runner……….d. Ridley Scott

06. Sammie & Rosie Get Laid……….d. Stephen Frears (UK)

05. Cinema Paradiso……….d. Giuseppe Tornatore (Italy)

04. Koyaanisqatsi……….d. Godfrey Reggio

03. Queen of Hearts……….d. Jon Amiel (UK/USA)

02. Stop Making Sense……….d. Jonathan Demme

01. Wings of Desire……….d. Wim Wenders (W. Germany / France)

How do my favorites match-up with yours?

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