Each year we have a tradition of holiday movie watching. Our list is not unique, and most of you may have seen one or more of these classic films. We digest these movies each year in a certain order. While we have watched them many, many, many times we always manage to discover or notice something new in each of them. Sometimes it is the layout of the resident actor’s fictional movie set home. Oddly enough, we have sat down and drawn floorplans for homes in at least two of our favorite films. Other times its furniture or décor (we love lamps), clothing, and sometimes it’s a spoken line we didn’t remember from an earlier viewing. There have been times we have placed one of our holiday favs into slow motion to catch items in a shop window, or to identify a continuity error. Since our entire holiday movie watching is from a bygone era we also spend a considerable amount of time Goggling information. That’s a condition started within the last few years. We designed our annual holiday 027 Train display based on scenes from several of these movies, as a joint gift one year we got a Red Ryder BB Gun, we have a blast flipping flapjacks, and we always take a sip or two of Sherry during the holidays because it does energize the spirit.
We hope that you too have enjoyed some of these wonderful films, and if you haven’t, look for them on DVD, on cable, or maybe even on your favorite streaming service.
Sun Valley Serenade – 1941
This is not a traditional holiday film, but it does feature a lot of snow, and great music by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The train depot arrival in Sun Valley is a short scene in the film, but filled with great imagery. Like, horse drawn sleighs, picking up the passengers and carrying them back to the lodge. If you need a Christmas connection before you add this picture to your list then how about this. According to Wikipedia: Sun Valley Serenade was shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for the first time on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013.
Christmas in Connecticut – 1945
We start the season with this Christmas film and romantic comedy. This holiday classic has it all; great story, great cast, great house in the country, snow, food, and fun. If you pay attention, you will also learn something about cooking, and pick up a few recipe ideas. Viewing Note: Make sure you watch the original 1945 edition, not the 1992 remake.
The Bishop’s Wife – 1947
Wow, we cannot write enough wonderful things about this film. Sometimes we watch this movie in the summertime or on a rainy winter’s day. More than a holiday classic or a romantic comedy The Bishop’s Wife touches on a host of themes and emotions that just grab you from the inside. The cast: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and Monty Woolley is perfect. This is an example of storytelling and seasonal filmmaking at its finest. Viewing Note: Avoid at all cost the 1996 remake of this film The Preacher’s Wife.
Holiday Inn – 1942
This movie introduced Irving Berlin’s White Christmas to the world. While not set completely during the Christmas season, it is rooted in the holiday spirit. Anchored by two Hollywood legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, this film will put a smile on the face of any Scrooge. What made this film so exciting for us was the wrap around use of the set for the Inn, first as a real location, then as a movie set toward the films end.
The Man Who Came to Dinner – 1942
Heavy on slapstick and bizarre craziness, this holiday film is a fun afternoon delight. No film can go wrong when it features a Mummy’s Coffin. That thing would look so cool standing in the corner of our living room. (Said the male half of this blog writing team.) This motion picture is not for everyone, because it almost has a late 1930s comedy feel about it, which can take a little getting use too. However, it has grown on us over the years.
Miracle on 34th Street- 1947
Going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is still on our bucket list. This film puts Santa in Christmas. Surprisingly the 1994 remake featuring Richard Attenborough in the Santa role is also a good film. Some of the charm of the 1940s era is missing, the films more serious tone captures societies more modern feeling about season.
Remember the Night – 1940
We first picked up this movie during the holidays in that bargain bin of VHS Tapes in WalMart one year. Remember the Night isn’t a classic but it still captures the family theme of the holidays. Spoiler Alert: This movie doesn’t end with all things right, but one that is much more rooted in real life.
White Christmas – 1954
We still always find it amazing that the same man who directed Captain Blood, Robin Hood, and Casablanca directed this musical, romantic comedy. White Christmas filmed in VistaVision plays well on today’s wide screen televisions. The set also has that same look, feel and layout of the original Holiday Inn. It could be because this movie was intended to reunite Crosby and Astaire (think musical Lethal Weapon 2), but it didn’t happen.
It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
Had the great privilege of meeting meet Frank Capra, Sr. when, It’s a Wonderful Life, was in the midst of a resurgence thanks to television. Worked as part of the crew at the local ABC affiliate that did the Nightline satellite uplink for the interview with Ted Koppel. His son, Frank Capra, Jr. was a resident of our little coastal town, and before he passed, he donated an original print of the movie to the community. Each year that print is shown in a local historical theater on the big screen.
A Christmas Story – 1983
In the beginning, this movie didn’t strike a chord with us. We saw it in the theater and enjoyed it, but it would be years later before we embraced it. Today, so many of the elements of this film have found their way into our holiday celebrations. If you thrilled for Christmas on the radio like Ralphie Parker does in this film, then check out the link in our blog on seasonal audio selections.
A Christmas Carol – 1970
There are many versions to choose from dating back to 1935. Our go to one stars Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge. However, a close second is the Muppet edition. Better yet, read the book. It’s a short novella structured a little different from most silver screen adaptions. Suggestion: We saw the new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, in theaters now. It is a great way to enjoy this classic from a new angle.
It Happened on Fifth Avenue- 1947
This holiday movie is a rough gem. Awesome concept, good acting, but it has more of the feel of a TV movie than a big screen feature. Yet a fun film to watch over the holidays.