Top 5 Christmas Movies

Wednesday, December 22, AD 2010

There’s nothing quite like this wonderful time of year to gather round with the family and sit by the warming roar of a television set.  Christmas has inspired some of the finest cinematic classics – as well as things like Jingle All the Way. Most of these movies revolve around themes like peace, love, togetherness, and Santa.  Every now  and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season.  And doubtless right now some cable channel is showing one of the approximately 4,845 versions of A Christmas Carol – two of which are mentioned below.

So as my Christmas treat to you all, here’s my list of the five best Christmas movies of all-time.

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41 Responses to Top 5 Christmas Movies

  • A Christmas Story doesn’t have a heartfelt, endearing message? Come on, I get a lump in my throat every time when Dad brings out the BB gun and shows how much he actually cares about his son — and listens to him — despite seeming an ogre most of the time. Maybe I’m just a sucker for good father-son stories.

  • What? No Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with the beginning of the epic film career of Pia Zadora? For shame Paul!

  • Wonderful Life and Christmas Story (in that order) fill my top spots as well.

    “Every now and then you might even hear a mention of the birth of Christ as the reason for the season.” I do ponder the fact that neither of these movies (nor the Scrooge tales) demand that the viewer have any particular faith whatsoever. In other words, even the best Christmas movies/stories tend to have equal appeal to a secular audience as they do to a believing audience. This not a criticism, just an observation.

    [Charlie Brown must stand as the exception that proves the rule, although, as a thoroughly unbelieving child, it was my favorite.]

  • Every year my wife forces me to watch “White Christmas.” All I can remember is Danny Kaye prancing around in a black beret and leotards. I suppose two hours is the least I can suffer for the sake of domestic tranquility.

  • Pal, yo’re right about Sim being ‘the Scrooge’. Nobody comes close to equaling him in that role!

  • A scene from one of the Great Christmas movies, the Lemon Drop Kid:

  • Maybe it’s the wrong genre and belongs in a different category, but I always liked Jack Lemmon in “The Apartment,” which has a holiday feel to it. RIP, Jack, one of the greatest actors ever.

  • I do ponder the fact that neither of these movies (nor the Scrooge tales) demand that the viewer have any particular faith whatsoever.

    Yeah, when I was thinking about this list I pondered the fact that there really aren’t a lot of very good overtly religiously-themed Christmas movies. I’m not even talking about movies that deal specifically with Christ’s birth – there are very few that are even tangentially spiritual in nature. Of course maybe there are some older films that I haven’t seen would apply.

  • Actually, Paul, “Ben-Hur,” made in 1959, could qualify because it begins with the birth and ends with the death and resurrection of Jesus. One of my top 5 flicks of all time.

  • Best Scrooge ever is the musical with Albert Finney. It will make you laugh and make you cry, but that is Charles Dickens for you. We watch this one every year and progressively let the little ones see more and more of the scary parts until they are “young” enough to appreciate them, not make fun of it, and not have nightmares.

  • 1. It’s a Wonderful Life
    2. White Christmas
    3. One Magic Christmas (w/ Mary Steenburgen)
    4. Disney’s Christmas Carol (w/ Mickey and Uncle Scrooge, not Jim Carrey)
    5. Christmas Vacation

    I have to say that Jingle All the Way didn’t make the top 5, but it definitely makes the top 10 😉

  • I agree with Joe Green. I like all of the 5 mentioned, and although “The Apartment” isn’t religious or mention Christ, the mature love that Jack Lemmon exhibits toward Shirley MacLaine in the completely hard-boiled secular world at Christmas is wonderful. The classic office Christmas party. I watch it every Christmas season. “We’ll send him a fruitcake every Christmas”.

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  • I’m not much of a movie connaisseur and fairly unfamiliar with what is available. I recall hearing about a French film, Joyeux Noël, dealing the with 1914 Christmas truce but have not seen it.

  • Addendum to my previous post: “Ben-Hur” will be on Turner Classics Movie channel on Christmas Day at 1 p.m., EST. Tune in.

  • I didn’t realize that the video at the end of my note on It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t embed properly. Here it is – courtesy of Saturday Night Live.

  • Paul, that SNL alternate ending makes me cringe.

  • Joe,

    Yeah I can see it being a bit dark there at the end. Just be thankful I didn’t link to the SNL/TV Funhouse spoof of my number five movie.

  • Boo hoo, George. My dad never gave me a bank, and if he did I wouldn’t have run it into the ground. Ungrateful jerk. Clarence was lying to you – the world doesn’t revolve around you, George. Your wife could have done better.

    Sorry that slipped out.

  • The Bishop’s Wife is a must see for me each year along with It’s A Wonderful Life.

    Thanks for the reminder of The Apartment. Yes, that will go on my list.

    Only a thought. If you consider that what is not detailed in It’s A Wonderful Life is the Great Depression. Perhaps that taken into consideration might reveal that George’s temptation is out of love for his family. Remember, he was told that he was worth more dead than alive. As for the comment about George’s father leaving him a bank, I would recommend that person research the difference between what we know today as commercial banking and the community-building cooperative that was the legacy George received.

    Blessed Christmas!

  • How can this be? You’ve left out the two greatest Christmas movies of all time. Who can ever forget the original version of Miracle On 34th Street?
    And, then there’s the greatest Christmas love story of all time, Christmas In Connecticut. Not only are the acting and writing great and both, they both feature male lead characters are grown-up, tough, intelligent, charming, tender and either active duty military or veterans. Not much like most movies today.

    On the other hand, my next two on the list are Scrooged and the first Die Hard.

  • Does “The Godfather” (Part I) count as a Christmas movie? I think it does!

    Seriously, though, in addition to many films already listed, Christmas fare for us definitely includes “Little Women” (the 1990s version w/ Winona Ryder).

    I am definitely in the Alistair Sims camp.

    What did everyone think of the animated Zemeckis Christmas Carol from last year?

  • CrazyLikeKnoxes,

    I saw the film you mention, Joyeux Noel, and I’ve got to say that it is very good. It’s not without it’s problems, but nevertheless, I recommend it.

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  • “Yeah I can see it being a bit dark there at the end.”

    Actually I’ve always wanted the film to end with a sequence of Potter being arrested and wheeled into a jail cell as Hark the Herald Angels Sing plays in the background.

  • I always liked The Bells of St. Mary with Bing Crosby. I think there are Christmas scenes in it (I haven’t seen it in years) and I think it was usually on TV during the Christmas season.

  • I agree with David Ulmer on Albert Finney’s “Scrooge”, it’s my favorite version by far.

    My all time favorite is a “Wonderful Life” hands down. I never watched “Scrooged” so I have to put that on my list to watch. I watch “Groundhog Day” every Advent, it is a great story of redemption.

  • My favorite scene from Bells of Saint Mary, Bing singing O Sanctissima:

  • I’d like to mention a couple of overlooked TV movies from the 1970s that might be worth checking out on You Tube or other video rental/download outlets:

    — “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” the pilot/inspiration for “The Waltons,” with Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton and Edgar Bergen as Grandpa Walton. Most of the remaining cast members are the same actors that appeared in the TV series. Worth seeing just for Neal’s performance.

    — “It Happened One Christmas,” a gender-reversal remake of “Wonderful Life” done in the mid-70s before the original became a TV staple. In this version, it’s Mary (Marlo Thomas) who inherits the building and loan from her father and does most of the same stuff Jimmy Stewart does in the original. Wayne Rogers is her husband George (I think he is supposed to be a mechanic!) and Cloris Leachman is the guardian angel. Yeah, I know it sounds cheesy, and it is, but for those of a certain age who grew up on Movies of the Week, it’s kind of an interesting nostalgia trip. Certainly no worse than the Klingon Christmas Carol 🙂

  • Few things are worse than the Klingon Christmas Carol Elaine! 🙂

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  • We watched Polar Express last night, and I thought it was enchanting. The too realistic animation of the characters was a little creepy. They look too much like a video game, but the story is great. The message is the usual hidden spiritual message. Santa says something like, “I’m a symbol for the real meaning of Christmas. The real meaning lives in your heart.” Well…sort of, but I really liked it.

  • Warning: Don’t read this if you have not seen Its a Wonderful Life

    It’s A Wonderful Life tops my list.The movie starts off with people in the town praying for George Bailey – one of the prayers is to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is through prayer that God is going to transform George Bailey’ life and show George all the good he has done in the world. In fact, just before George is about to commit suicide, he makes a short prayer to God, saying, “SHOW ME THE WAY.” It’s hard to imagine a more powerful prayer. And God hears George’s prayer and begins to unveil to him (George Bailey) the rich tapestry of his life.

    Everything is accomplished through PRAYER.

    Coming in second on my list is The Bishop’s Wife. If you have not seen it you are in for a very special movie with a very special meaning. This is a great movie for a husband and wife to watch.

    Tom Mulcahy

  • “Warning: Don’t read this if you have not seen It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Can you think of anyone above primary school age who hasn’t? 🙂

    Merry Christmas!!

  • The 1951 Scrooge with Alastair Sim is unsurpassed by any Christmas Carol rendition or other seasonal work – like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sim’s dropping of the spoon into his soup/gruel, the look over his shoulder in anticipation of something invading his room against his lock-up measures – all classic and true evidence of his theater training. His annual derogatory conversation with Cratchit over the taking of a holiday – the whole day – is so natural and fitting. The only acting part that comes close is Jimmy Stewart’s angst in the bar when he’s living the nightmare over the lost money before crashing the car. I watch Scrooge DAILY in the week before Christmas. THansk for a good article.

  • Ted Joy, I’m with you – I love the original “Miracle on 34th Street.” I am mystified as to why Hollywood felt a remake of “Miracle” (or a remake of any classic film) was or is necessary. Normally the remake is no great improvement. Do they think nobody will be interested in watching a film from the Stone Ages long before cell phones and Ipods existed? Or is it just that they have become so deeply uncreative that they can’t come up with new plots and characters any more?

    I haven’t seen it in a long time, but I’d like to second Elaine’s recommendation of “The Homecoming.” I was not a huge fan of “The Waltons” TV shows but their debut on the small screen was impressive.

  • Speaking of Hee Haw and Its A Wonderful Life:

  • A CHristmas Story has become a classic because it is realistic and everyone can relate to it. It’s a wonderful life is my absolute favorite movie ever! The ending is amazing, It gets me every time regardless what mood I am in. Scrooged/A Christmas Carol is awesome in film or book version.

  • Although thin and flaky, we’ve always loved Christmas in Connecticut, and I’m deeply shocked that White Christmas didn’t make the top five list! But all lists are subjective, especially those which end with A Christmas Story. 🙂

One Percent/End the Fed (Nader-Paul, Paul-Nader American Presidency!)

Sunday, May 16, AD 2010
I just watched the documentary “One Percent” with my wife and I have been reading Ron Paul’s book – End the Fed. Very interesting points of contact and dissonance between the two viewpoints.
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3 Responses to One Percent/End the Fed (Nader-Paul, Paul-Nader American Presidency!)

  • The little guy is getting shafted by the World Bank?

    Today’s little guy will usually be the least prepared to weather economic changes. Tomorrow’s little guy has the most to gain but he doesn’t know it yet. Thus, the appeal of protectionism. It’s better to aid the adversely affected than to shield them.

    Lots of little guys depend on big banks and multinationals.

    Both Nader and Paul are experts at proposing the wrong solutions to the right problems. I was swept up in the Ron Paul Revolution in 2008 but I’ve recovered. My biggest issue with him is that, to my knowledge, he’s never articulated how he expects to pay for anything.

  • So the very wealthy investor class member has found a way to get government to print up money to cover the biggest of losses, and enough extra money is spread around giving people some unemployment bail out monies, dubious temporary stimulus paychecks, and other little social service type funds- so that no one wants to completely overturn the current establishment.

    For the record, the folks receiving ‘bailouts’ thus far are as follows:

    1. The Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

    2. Citigroup and the Bank of America.

    3. Chrysler and General Motors

    4. The American International Group.

    5. Miscellaneous finance and insurance companies who received access to the soft loan windows opened by the Treasury department and the Federal Reserve.

    The last were ancillary beneficiaries. The shareholders of the American International Group saw their stake in the company diluted to the tune of 80%. It was the creditors of AIG who were bailed out. That would be institutions like Citigroup who bought credit default swaps from Mr. Cassano’s outfit, and miscellaneous others.

    The shareholders of Citigroup saw the value of their holdings fall by more than 90%, and those of Bank of America more than 60%. Who got paid in full were the owners of bank bonds. Bank bonds are owned by insurance companies and pension funds, whose clientele may be affluent as a rule, but far from ‘very wealthy’.

    The shareholders and owners of mortgage backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac likely are an affluent crew, maybe even ‘very wealthy’. Commercial banks held about a quarter of the outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt, and commercial banks have depositors. Sovereign wealth funds held another large bloc, so defaulting would likely create a political problem with the Far East. Please recall that these are leftover New Deal programs and that efforts by the Bush Administration to reform their accounting practices and increase their capital cushions were sabotaged by Barney Frank, whose boy toy was a Fannie Mae official. Frank ‘cares’ about housing, dont’cha know.

    The Chrysler and General Motors deals were a gift bestowed upon the United Auto Workers, whose clientele are certainly better off than the average American, but not ‘very wealthy’.

    The folks who were bailed out were those whose defaults might generate systemic problems and those who had connections. The latter are not the generically wealthy, ‘very’ or not.

    They are both very good at identifying the wastefulness of most of the wars that now seem to be perpetual,

    Identify for me a bloc of years prior to 1940 when there was not armed conflict in progress somewhere on the globe.

    If you are speaking about the United States in particular, we have not been subject to a general mobilization since 1945. In the intervening 64 years, we were at war for 3 years in Korea, 8 years in Indo-China, < 1 year over Kuwait, and 8 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. That would be about a third of the time, which falls short of 'perpetual'. The wars in Korea, Kuwait, and Afghanistan were initiatives of the other party without qualification and none of our opponents in any of these wars were of the character of the Hapsburg or Hohenzollern empires.

    and they both see that the little guys in this country and around the world are basically getting shafted by the global econom

    Yeah, they are being shafted by reductions in excise taxes on imports.

  • I certainly agree with both men in the video. Both parties are owned by the same people behind the scenes. It is easy for us to fall in lockstep with that idea because we hear that American Electorate process is so civil and gives the people real choices.

    The more I learn what it means to be Catholic, the more I reject our broken political process. I really can’t believe my choices last year were John McCain and Obama just like people were forced to choose between Bush and Gore. Believe what you will, but they are all the same people. They are basically owned.

It's a Wonderful Life-Updated Version

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

In the above video we have George Bailey, brilliantly played by Jimmy Stewart, attempting to stem a bank run during the Great Depression.  Just in time for Christmas the indispensable Iowahawk updates this story.  We join Senator George Bailey attempting to explain his support for ObamaCare to his angry constituents:

It’s A Wonderful Bill

(with deep apologies to Frank Capra)

Scene 14: Christmas Eve, inside Bedford Falls Town Hall. Senator George Bailey confronts an angry mob of constituents protesting his vote on the new health care bill.
MAN #1
Come on Bailey, you can’t hide forever! Let us in!

Yeah, what is this mandatory insurance nonsense? Stop cowering behind that podium George! We want answers!

crowd erupts into shouting

Now now now, everybody calm down, see? If you’ll, well, see, just let me explain…

MAN #2
You should’ve explained these death panels before we elected you! Let’s get ’em!

WOMAN #2 (shaking pitchfork)

MAN #3
Hey, pipe down youse mugs, let the man talk. It’ll be 15 minutes before the tar is hot enough to pour. Out with it Bailey!

Well well, thank you for that Pete. Now folks, see, you just gotta understand how Washington works. Remember how you, you sent me there to bring back free things to Bedford Falls, like free heath care and jobs and that new George S. Bailey retractable midnight basketball court for the high school gym?

MAN #4
Hey Bailey, do know how many kids drowned at the prom last year from that stupid thing? 

Well, now now now, Clem, sure a few kids drowned. But look at all the jobs it created down at the Potter Retractable Basketball Floor factory. And that’s my point. Now, see, down in Washington there’s a whole Senate full of regular guys like you and you, and me, and we represent thousands of places just like Bedford Falls. And all of those places want their own jobs and healthcare and retractable basketball courts. And it turns out all of this costs money, so we have to get, well, revenues…

You mean taxes?

Well, yeah, Helen, if that’s how you want to put it. See, we put all those revenues in a, a, a, big pile there in Washington, and then we start making deals and such, to make sure we can all bring some home. Sometimes we run out, and have to make up for it with other fees…

MAN #2
You mean taxes? Why don’t you get it from Old Man Potter?

Yeah! Get it from Potter!

Now, now, I hate old man Potter just as much as the rest of you. Maybe more. He lives in that cold old mansion up there on Beacon Hill, while you’re getting laid off and trying to make ends meet. It just isn’t right, and that’s why I organized the big ACORN march against him last year. But I’m telling you, even if we confiscated every penny he has, we couldn’t pay for your free universal health care. That’s why we have to charge you for some of it, and make sure you don’t use too much. But don’t worry, I sent my top trade representative Uncle Billy over to China to get a payday loan for the rest.

 Go over to Iowahawk here to read the whole hilarious thing.

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