I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas movies. Mostly I like the old ones–the warm, fuzzy, Frank Capra-type movies. I already wrote about Charlie Brown and George Bailey, so here are a few other favorites.
White Christmas – This is a fun story about two army buddies who make it big in show business after World War II. One Christmas, they have to use their musical talents to help their former commanding officer–while wooing two beautiful sisters. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, this is full of musical numbers, including Bing’s signature song. And I love the end scene with the reunited troops singing “We’ll Follow the Old Man” to the General.
Holiday Inn – Bing Crosby seems to be the king of Christmas movies. In this one, he’s in show business with Fred Astaire, until he decides to start Holiday Inn: an inn only open on holidays. The movie actually covers the entire year, and Fred and Bing do musical numbers for every major holiday, in between vying for the same girl. This movie has worked its way into my brain, and I find myself quoting the most random lines. If you ever hear me say something will be as easy as peeling a turtle, I don’t know what it means either, but Bing Crosby said it.
You Can’t Take It With You – As far as I know, no one but me has ever connected this movie to Christmas. And Christmas actually isn’t in it at all, but the feeling is right. Lately I’ve been watching this while I wrap Christmas presents. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s directed by Frank Capra, and repeats half the cast. Lionel Barrymore stars in a role so different from Mr. Potter, I didn’t recognize him the first time I watched the movie. He presides as the kindly patriarch of a blissfully cheery and decidedly kooky family where everyone does just as they like–writing plays, dancing ballet, or designing fireworks. Barrymore’s granddaughter falls in love with Jimmy Stewart, who comes from an uptight, big business-type family, and when the families come together, lifestyles clash with funny results.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The old, animated Grinch is so fun with the rhymes and the song and the familiar animation. I won’t claim it’s a work of great art, but it’s one of those cozily familiar Christmas movies.
Joyeux Noel – By far the most modern movie on my list, this is about soldiers in WWI. In opposite trenches one Christmas, the Scottish and French troops begin talking to the German troops, and the end up spending the day together. When Christmas is over and everything is supposed to be normal, they can’t bring themselves to fight each other. My favorite part is shortly after Christmas–the Germans get the word that the opposite trench will be shelled, so they go over to warn them, and invite them to stay in their trench for a while. After it’s over, the French point out that their artillery will probably retaliate, so the Germans had better come over to their trench. It’s so ridiculous and so beautiful!
I know there’s lots of other Christmas movies–what should I add to the list?