Saturday, December 24, 2016

My 12 Favourite Yuletide Movies

Today being the day before Christmas I thought I would list my twelve favourite holiday movies of all time. Here I have to stress that, except for the topmost films, this list does change from time to time. I find it very hard to narrow down my favourite Christmas movies to just twelve! If one of your favourites did not make the list, then, keep in mind it may have almost made the list. In composing this list I limited the selection to films I consider to be Christmas movies. While I adore Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), then, it did not make the list because I have never thought of it as a holiday movie (in fact, I prefer to watch it during spring and summer).

Here then are my favourite Yuletide movies (the list will probably change before Twelfth Night....)

12, Scrooge (1970): Albert Finney was only about 34 when he played Ebeneezer Scrooge, which makes it all the more incredible that he is great in the role. Besides Albert Finney's performances, Scrooge also features some great songs (I still can't believe "Thank You Very Much" lost the Oscar for best song). It also happens to be one of the more faithful adaptations of Charles Dickens's novella.

11. Die Hard (1988): There are those who would question if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but to me it has all the qualifications. It is set on Christmas Eve and begins with a Christmas party. It also deals with themes common to Christmas movies, such as reconciliation and redemption. Those things already make it more of a Christmas movie than any version of Little Women (none of which I consider Christmas movies). Of course, in addition to being a Christmas movie, it also happens to be one of the greatest action movies ever made.

10. Love Actually (2003): Love Actually is the only 21st Century film to make this list and one of the few holiday films made in the past thirty years that I actually love. The film follows a number of different characters from Britain through the weeks leading up to Christmas. While some of the stories are stronger than others, all of them are enjoyable and there are some particularly strong performances in the film (particularly Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and Bill Nighy). And I guarantee "Christmas is All Around" will get stuck in your head!

9. A Christmas Story (1983): I love A Christmas Story because it sums up Christmas as seen by children in the mid-20th Century so well. While the film seems to be set in the late Thirties or early Forties (I always thought it was probably 1939), anyone who grew up from the late Thirties to the Eighties can probably identify with Ralphie in his quest to get an official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. It certainly reminds me of the holidays when I was a child in the Seventies.

8. A Christmas Carol (1951): While A Christmas Carol (1951), also known as Scrooge, does stray a bit from its source material, in my opinion it remains the best adaptation of the novel. Much of the film's success rests with Alastair Sim's performance. He gave what may be the greatest performance as Scrooge ever. The film also benefits from Brian Desmond Hurst's atmospheric direction. In A Christmas Carol (1951), Victorian London is much as it was in the novella--a very dreary, very grim place!

7. Holiday Affair (1949): In most romantic comedies in which a woman is pursued by two men, it is inevitable that one of them will be a heel. This is not the case with Holiday Affair, as both Steve Mason (played by Robert Mitchum) and Carl Davis (Wendell Corey) are both likeable fellows. What is more, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey,and Janet Leigh all give good performances. That having been said, Harry Morgan steals the show as a befuddled police lieutenant in what is easily the funniest scene in the movie. It is one of the funnier, more delightful Yuletide movies out there

6. It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947): It Happened on Fifth Avenue is one of the lesser known films on this list, but there really is no reason it should not be better known. Victor Moore gives one of his best performances as  Aloyisius T. McKeever, a hobo who takes up residence each winter in millionaire Michael J. O'Connor's boarded up mansion. Complications arise after McKeever takes in homeless ex-GI Bullock (played by Don DeFore). It's Happened on Fifth Avenue is a truly wonderful movie, with just the right amount of humour and sentimentality. Frank Capra had considered the script before making a certain other holiday classic, and it is easy to see why Mr. Capra might have liked it.

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947): Miracle on 34th Street often tops lists of greatest Christmas movies of all time, and it is easy to see why. It contains some fantastic performances, including Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and Maureen O'Hara as Doris Walker. It also has a fantastic script with some truly great dialogue. It is also genuinely funny and touching at the same time. It is easy to see why it has remained popular for all these years.

4. The Bishop's Wife (1947): Arguably The Bishop's Wife has one of the best casts of any movie ever made. What is more, Loretta Young, Cary Grant, David Niven, and Monty Woolley are all in top form. The film even has a great supporting cast, with Elsa Lancaster and James Gleason particularly standing out. As to to its script, The Bishop's Wife has one of the best of any holiday movie ever made.

3. Christmas in Connecticut (1945): Over the past few years Christmas in Connecticut has gone from relative obscurity to being one of the best loved holiday movies ever made. And it is easy to see why. Christmas in Connecticut forgoes sentimentality for screwball comedy. Quite simply, food writer Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) finds herself in trouble when her publisher, Alexander Yardley (played by Sydney Greenstreet), insists she host war hero Jefferson Jones (played by Dennis Morgan) for Christmas dinner. The problem is that Elizabeth can't cook! Christmas in Connecticut is a very funny movie with a great cast that includes S.Z. Sakall, Reginald Gardiner, Una O'Connor, and Dick Elliott.

2. It's a Wonderful Life (1946): I am guessing this would top most people's list of favourite Christmas movies. Indeed, I really can't think of anything to say about It's a Wonderful Life that hasn't been said before. Quite simply, it is one of the greatest films ever made in any genre. Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra each counted it as the favourite movie they ever made, and it is easy to see why.

1. The Apartment (1960): The Apartment is my favourite movie of the films Billy Wilder made, which is saying a lot given Mr. Wilder is one of my favourite directors. There is just so much to love about this film: its incredible cast, its remarkable script, Billy Wilder's direction, the film's score. For me The Apartment is one of the few movies ever made that I would describe as perfect. In fact, it is my second favourite movie of all time (after Seven Samurai).


Caftan Woman said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on those favourites. I won't go into detail, but here are 15 of the movies I think of, and often watch, this time of year.

1. Scrooge (1951)
2. It's a Wonderful Life
3. A Christmas Story
4. Holiday Inn
5. The Holly and the Ivy

6. Remember the Night
7. March of the Wooden Soldiers (Babes in Toyland)
8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
9. Three Godfathers (1936)
10. The Bishop's Wife

11. The Shop Around the Corner
12. We're No Angels
13. Holiday Affair
14. Beyond Tomorrow
15. Kathy O'

KC said...

I love these choices. A Holiday Affair is an especially sweet and easygoing movie for the holidays. Need to buy that one!